My master yoga teacher often cautioned us to “keep our souls in the room.” I took him to mean that we should be present and aware, not off on a daydream or locked in some form of spinning thought. I was reminded about how I never finished Huck Finn because my eyes would glaze and my mind would leave and I’d have read page after page and caught none of it.
I don’t want to glaze over my life. I want to be present in it. And I want to feel free in writing and speaking about the rich, full life I lead. So I’m back here after several years of silence.
Part of that silence was in the business of my life: the 300-450 miles of commuting a week; the mothering of a baby; the business of owning and fixing up and maintaining an old and somewhat scarred house; the ever-commitment of marriage. When there was a moment, sometimes I slept. Sometimes I soaked in hot bath. Occasionally, I went in for the $25 foot massage. I even managed, thanks to the ease of Submittable, to submit and place most of my unpublished work. But write? Write beyond email and other assigned tasks? No, not much. Certainly not much more than a fragment here or there.
Another part of it was feeling violated. At one point in the last few years, I was called as a witness in a court case. One of the lawyers, a man who in my opinion lacks ethics and compassion, mined this blog looking to slander me, and to mis-represent my life by quoting me out of context. It made me feel violated and touched at the core-wound I carry of being misinterpreted for the benefit of others. I had a similar experience in fighting for the charter of the school I have been working at. My detailed, data-filled letter to the state board of education was completely ignored, and when my boss and I tried to verbally summarize some of the data in the letter, our words were stripped of context and used to say that we – two people who have dedicated our careers to serving underserved children – were morally corrupt and not fit for leadership.
These experiences are hard for me to rumble with. They fill me with shame, even though I have nothing to be ashamed of. And as they were intended to do, they try to strip my truth from me and bend me into silence. It is so hard, when I have built my career learning to listen deeply, that I am so easily mis- or un-heard. It’s enough to make me want to step completely out of any public arena. Even an arena as rarely-seen as this blog. They’ve also made me decide that I don’t want to be anyone’s fall guy ever again. I am much, much more comfortable in the shadows and to the side than my younger me would have guessed.
And I feel called to be more than that for my daughter. Of course, I want her to know her silence is her own whenever she wants it. I also want her to know that truth matters. That truths, because they are many, matter. I want her to know that her mother stood her ground and said, “I am worthy to be here, and I have something to say.” Something tells me this may be the great struggle of this next phase of my life.