I am sitting in bed alone. I am agitated. Words have been spilling out of my mind and spilling all over everything inside my head all day. A long, hot shower usually quiets them. Not today. I had no heart for a long shower. Still, by the time I come out of there, I had tears pouring out of my eyes. But I’m not crying. They are just spilling out on their own. Something needs to come out. It demands it.
Sitting here, in the dim light of my lamp, with a laptop on my lap, typing… feels like a heavenly release. I don’t know what I am writing about. I just trust the process. It will flow out if I let it. All I know is obedience has brought relief. Obedience. That word gives me pause. Suddenly I know what I am writing about. Deathless death. Have you heard of the boiling frog?
The boiling frog is an apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.wikipedia
There are tears again. This time I’m crying. I’m crying because I can see it now. I can see what is trying to come out. The more words I write, the clearer I see it. It’s like the words were squished too closely together and letting them out allows them all to be seen a little better. To tell their story more freely. Pent-up words suffocate their story. They suffocate me.
I died a deathless death for a few years. I think I left my body during that time. I don’t know how else to make sense of it. How else do you make sense of being trapped in an unlocked room? Obedience. It made me pause because it hit me that obedience is only relief when you obey what is true to you. For many years I obeyed everyone but me. I obeyed the instruction to stay inside a burning hot room and smile while my skin scalded.
I tried to change
Closed my mouth more
Tried to be soft, prettier
Fasted for 60 days
Abstained from mirrors
Abstained from sex
Slowly did not speak another word
And that time my hair I grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
Into the basement
Confessed my sins
And was baptized in a river
Got on my knees and said, “Amen”
And said, “I mean”
I whipped my own back
And asked for dominion at your feet
I threw myself into a volcano
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God
I crossed myself in thought
I saw the devil
I grew thickened skin on my feet
I bathed in bleach
And plugged my menses with the pages from the holy book
But still inside me coiled deep was the [knowing]Beyonce
The knowing that I was dying. That I was living, breathing, smiling, cooking and dead. The knowing that the emperor had no clothes. That the people desperately trying to convince me that he did were lying to themselves and to me. The knowing that this was not my life. Yet, despite that, I did not open the door. I stood close to it. Put my hand on it once or twice. But I did not open it. I just stood there and cooked. Boiled maybe. A human boiling frog.
In hindsight, I know what I was waiting for. I just didn’t know it then. I was waiting for permission. I’m a 36-year-old woman and I was waiting for permission. I survived being orphaned and destitute in a foreign country and I was waiting for permission. I beat a man who tried to molest me at thirteen with a broom and I was waiting for permission. I gave birth to two beautiful babies whose every life decision I made and I was waiting for permission. I miscarried a baby I didn’t know I was carrying early in my now-ended marriage, alone in the airport bathroom and I still got on the plane and went home and I was waiting for permission. Despite being a child myself, I raised my siblings as best as I could after our parents died and I was waiting for permission. Make it make sense.
Take me to churchHozier, Take me to Church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
Seeking permission was negatively and positively reinforced my whole life. Permission to go to the toilet. Permission to speak. Permission to wear this. Permission not to wear that. Permission to write this. Permission to throw away that. Permission to wear long hair. Permission to cut it. Permission to date. Permission to walk there. Permission to play this sport. Permission to pick up that hobby. Permission to try a different church. Permission to enter. Permission to exit. Permission. Permission. Permission. Give me permission to breathe why don’t you? Is it any wonder that we grew into adults that need permission to breathe. Adults who will live a deathless death in a burning room waiting for permission to step out. Permission to turn the handle… a handle on an unlocked door. An unlocked door.
I know why I am crying all of sudden. I wrote my way to it. I am crying because I am alive again. I am crying because my desperation for air finally overrode my need for permission and I opened the door and stepped out. My God… no one died. The sky did not cave in. Instead, I could breathe again. I am alive. I am dying no more. The dead can not be resurrected. Some parts of me died in that room. My innocence for one. My naivete. Others parts are in ICU. My ability to trust. Yet more parts are absolutely new. Like the me that smiles at herself in the mirror. The me who maxes out at one glass of gin & tonic. The me who cries because she needs to write. The me who dances with her babies for no reason other than she can. The me who dances alone everyday. The me who feels vulnerable and so very happy. The me who finally gets that the only permission I need is my own. That I can not ask for directions from people who have never been where I am going. I am the traveler and the map maker. Good God. I am frightened and so very excited. I am alive.
I’m not agitated anymore. I’m not crying anymore. I have a smile of relief on my tear-streaked face. It’s out. I obeyed something true.