This morning’s reading brought me to a blog by Nadia Bolz-Weber. If you haven’t heard of her, guarantee you will not be disappointed if you look her up. Watch her videos or read her blogs. She has truly helped me see things from a different perspective.
Today’s story told of a time when a woman approached Nadia after an event where she had been speaking on stage. Wearing a scratchy red cardigan, this woman wrapped her arms tightly around Nadia and began to bless her with words. She wrote about the emotions that went through her mind. How that situation created an uncomfortable feeling that forced her to reflect on its meaning.
Reading that blog today brought up a few memories for me. I realized that I lived my childhood in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. While it remained invisible to the outside world or disguised as “weirdness,” there was an overwhelming feeling of unworthiness tucked deep inside. On the outside, others saw me as the weird girl that tried to please people or as the girl that quickly became overly emotional and lashed out in inappropriate ways. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t the case. My skin felt foreign to me. My eyes would meet their reflection in the mirror or a pool of water, and disbelief struck panic in my chest every time. The person staring directly back at me was indeed the person everyone else could see. My attempts to cover up, hide or tuck away had failed. Still yet, I remained visible to the world.
Have you ever felt like an alien in your own family? How about school? That was me during my most vulnerable years. As early as second grade, something pulled me apart from the rest of the crowd. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I became more and more unlike everyone else around me.
In those moments when I needed to fit in the most, I stuck out like a sore thumb, all while feeling completely invisible. Unfortunately, many of those traits still follow me around to this very day despite therapy, self-discovery, and growth.
You cannot fit a square peg into a round hole. A square peg may try to make itself smaller to fit into the round hole. Still, it will have empty spaces around the edges. That’s how I felt through much of my life. Empty. Hollow. As if there was something in the shadows always waiting to get me, grab me, and pull me in. My thoughts scared the hell out of me. I lived my entire young life jumpy, easily angered, emotional, and always up in arms.
There will always be part of me that holds on to the hurt, scared, and “eager to fit in” little girl of my youth. But, at some point in life, we learn that it’s normal to feel out of place and that we’re much more typical than we ever realize.
Everyone has their insecurities.
Everyone has things that make them
I’ve gone off topic a bit, so let’s get back to what I wanted to write.
After Nadia’s interaction with the woman in the red cardigan, this is what happened in her own words from the blog:
“I sat back down and think, “What the hell just happened?” My friend Sara, having seen the entire interaction, slides into the pew next to me and says, “Girl, you gotta just submit and let people bless you.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber
“Submit and let people bless you.”
The reply hit me like a lightning bolt straight into my heart. I reread it.
“Submit and let people bless you.”
My chest began to feel heavy with a tinge of pain, my pulse started pounding, and my throat tightened. The word “submit” caused a reaction inside of my body, and I had no control.
“Why is my body reacting to this, even though I am safe and well?”
In my experiences from my childhood, submission involved terrible things. When I submitted, bad things happened, and despite the years of therapy, facing facts, and speaking truths, somehow they’ve managed to hold onto me. Luckily, therapy taught me how to do the work when this occurs. But, unfortunately, I cannot avoid these feelings; I deal with them as they come and dive straight through them, feel them, and harness them.
Thankfully, Nadia’s blog today helped me practice the technique that brought me back to my center.
Her friend is right. Sometimes we need to “SUBMIT” and allow others to bless us. If we are operating in the fight, flight, or freeze mode, we could miss the good things people are trying to bring into our lives. We must have positive human connections and intimacy; Not sex, intimacy.
Thankfully, as I learn, bend, and grow into full awareness of myself, allowing people to love me is something I fight a little less every day. But, like greasing the hinges on the door to your childhood home, some things need a bit more attention than others or fine-tuning. So over time, I will need to grease the doors again, and that’s okay! Because now I know the root of the problem and how to fix it.
Cassie C. Redfearn
(Written October 23, 2013)
October 23 2013
To live and love through hurt and pain is all that I know.
My love is vibrant and enduring,
Patient kind and slow.
My kindness has been too much
For others to weather.
Pick apart and throw away
All the pieces that you hate of me
Turn me into something
That gives you more sympathy.
Change me, mold me
Until you have it all.
Lay the blame down on me
When you begin to fall.
Tell me how I’ve changed,
From someone that you once loved.
Though your ways and words formed me to fit you like a glove.
Staring into the ripples
of my mirrored surrounding
Reflecting my lost memories
There I see my mother
Explaining why Democracy is the only way forward
Her voice echos through my ears
and sticks like a tack to wall
My father laughs and jokes
“Republicans aren’t worth the sense(cents) they were given.”
Though he refers to money,
his play on words are hidden.
Fight for the small, those that do without
“THE REPUBLICANS CAUSE IT ALL!”,
They said that without a doubt
Now as I stand at this reflecting pool
Watching these shadows of my past
My family have all abandoned
the seeds they sowed at last
Propaganda wins it all
In the end we lose
Yelling screaming fighting one another
Is this the life we choose?
I am now 35
I do not understand
I’d rather separate myself from others
Than have a loved one bite my hand
The list goes on and on.
The hate behind those words
They create demons with each strand.
Words are seeds if you so choose
Or bullets you sow inside those in which you speak
The Government is doing wrong
Not those of us with pen in our hands
But curse and cut if you please
that’s what they want you to do
Slice and dice each other
Make us less to chew
Curse me if you must
Because my opinion is skewed from your own
Hate me if you will
Because we see through difference lenses
Kaleidoscope of views
A different view from every angle
All are wrong and none of right
But gather your swords and daggers of hate
In the end, you words will be victorious
And the broken hearts – well –
It’ll be too late.
Cassie C Redfearn
My soul drifts among the stars
Wandering distant places
Further unto the unknown
She sleeps in her bed at night
Finally she is able to join me
But only in her dreams
We dance and sway
Amongst the stars
The time stops at our laughter.
Our hearts create flares.
The time, it cannot stay.
Slip away, as it must.b
Away it drifts, as does a dream
And I become a fading dust.
Cassie C Redfearn
One generation will always bicker about the next.
One generation CREATED the next. One generation CREATED the habits of the next. One generation RAISED the next. The previous generation created the traumas that the next generation is reacting to.
When we start taking responsibility for our pieces on the board and stop blaming each other, we can be accountable and realize how to improve ourselves. So many people focus on everyone else but themselves.
If more people looked at the path they’re walking and stopped pointing fingers in the direction of others, we’d have a lot more goodness in this world.
I hope you know that there are people in this world that do not have to know you to love you.
There are people in this world that know YOUR life is precious, unique, and can never be replicated.
I hope you know that your value is immeasurable.
Your worth is unable to be calculated.
Your presence on this earth is necessary.
Your laughter, smile, spirit, and good and bad days are unique and specific to YOU and can never be re-created.
I hope you know that you are irreplaceable.
We are each created with an individual mold.
People may complain about our differences, but we are created by design.
You, my friend, are a masterpiece. I mean that.
Hey there I almost forgot
There’s something that I need to say
I love the way you laugh
And when I catch you staring
But you look the other way
There’s only a few things
In this world
that I adore
But if I had to list them all
You’d be among the top four
Because you make my heart run
Like wild horses in the sand
You make my cheeks hurt
Though I can’t help but smile
You bring me down
when flying MUCH to high
But you lift me up when
I’m struggling to climb
There’s only a few things
In this world
That I adore
But I had to list them all
You’d be among the top four
The Augustine set sail for what felt like weeks ago, yet only a full day and night had passed. Emma began to feel a ball form in the pit of her stomach. She had never felt more ready to reach a destination or plant her feet on the soil again. Yet, the moment her eyes fell upon Jade when she boarded the ship the day before, Emma felt her heart drop into her gut.
Somehow, she managed to avoid having a conversation with Jade. But, how would she be able to avoid one for the next twenty days?
The sun began to set on the never-ending horizon of the sea. Emma found a comfortable spot to hide away from roaming eyes at the stern, propped against a barrel of whiskey secured by rope. Tucking her body behind ropes, she sat against the barrel and began to daydream.
She spent her life being adventurous. Her father raised her to have a heart for adventure. She would stay out late into the evenings, exploring and return home just before dusk, before her father began to worry. Gathering herbs, spices and creating mixtures of scented oils took Emma to her happy place in a world where women were often thought of as property – having no opinions, education, or ideas of their own. Her father raised her in the country, wanting to avoid the social norms of societal standards.
“Everything will be different in America!”, She repeated as her thoughts rolled rapidly with mixed feelings and emotions, churning her gut from the inside.
She had no intention of staying in Virginia. She wanted to find her father if he was still alive. Something told her the trail started there. If she wanted to find out what happened to her father, she had to go. Despite not hearing from him in a year and then, out of nowhere, receiving word of his death, things seemed too suspicious.
His last letter referred to the sale of his estate in hopes she would not have to bargain her way to America. He wanted a new life for her. He wanted her to join him and grow their mercantile business as an independent company. He sent all but a small portion of his earnings to her in his last letter. He did not explain why the sale was so urgent—an uncertainty brewed in Emma’s chest as the possibilities made up their own stories in her head.
Leaving the security of the rope, Emma stood and stepped toward the rail of the ship. From the corner of her eye, Emma observed Jade peering toward a distant beach. The Augustine would sail along the coast for another day before reaching the sea. Men hurriedly rushed around Jade, clearing away the rope that lay near her feet. The boat cricked and surged forward hard as the massive mass of the ship filled with a gust of wind, causing Emma to lose her footing briefly. Jade stood solid and sure-footed, without a single misstep.
Emma briefly allowed herself to marvel at the way the wind seemed to caress through Jade’s hair. It tugged her long black petty coat against her slender body. Her breasts were held tight by a black, silver-trimmed bodice that expanded with every breath she allowed to escape her perfectly trimmed lips. A white collared shirt, stained with sweat around the neck, did not quite meet the expectations of the meticulously elegant wardrobe she wore on top of it.
It was there, on her neck, that she noticed a blemish on Jade’s skin. Squinting her eyes as if trying to recollect from memory every inch of that neck, Emma found herself lost in reminiscent memories. But, this was not simply a blemish of her beautiful skin; it was a scar, a big round scar, new to Emma’s eyes, one that she hadn’t been able to caress with her fingertips.
Emma’s mind wandered a bit too far when Jade bent over to adjust ropes near her feet before standing up with a stern expression on her face, barking an order to a nearby deckhand. Then, she recalled Jade’s features being fuller. Now, Jade’s body appeared lean and chiseled underneath her tightly dressed clothes.
“How in the hell did I get myself into this mess?” Emma mumbled under her breath. She watched Jade disappear into the Captain Quarters. “And how in the hell did she get herself in that position? She leaves out of nowhere for five years, and suddenly here we are, and she is the Captain of the Augustine. Some irony!”.
The sun finally disappeared with a final wink, as the Augustine became quiet with only distant mumbles from the crew chattering in the mess hall below. Emma made her way to her bunk. Fortunately, it was tucked away in a cabin with two other traveling women that were braving the sea to meet with their families in Maryland. Their dresses and accent, British obviously, were tell-tale signs of their Stature. Emma felt disgusted hearing their tones toward the crew and bit her tongue to avoid their begrudging stares for the next twenty days. She would have to tolerate them as much as they would have to accept her no-nonsense, witty remarks.
The rocking of the ship lulled her exhausted mind to rest for several hours until the cook stumbled into the corridor, carelessly bumping into boxes like a drunken toad.
Emma focused on the silence of the night above. It beckoned her body to greet the night air. Still groggy, she sat up, took her thin shawl, and wrapped it tightly around her shoulders. As she opened the hatch door and climbed into the darkness of early morning, brisk, damp, salty air filled her lungs. A subtle smile crept across her lips as she approached the bow, hugging her arms snug around her shapely body. The wind whipped her hair across her face and through her silk-like red curls. Specks of mist freckled her skin in the moonlight.
The stars winked at her through the clear sky. She stared in awe. Her body began to match the rocking of the ship as she leaned effortlessness against the railing, feeling utter safety and abandon of thoughts in the silence of the night. An echo of laughter bellowed from the cabin hall, and her mind began to stir as a woman’s voice approached.
Thoughts swirled like a whirlwind as memories revisited her rested, yet still groggy, mind. She promised she would never touch those thoughts again – not if she could help it! Memories caused Emma to graze her bottom lip with her teeth. Thoughts of Jade’s long brown hair draped across her chest after a series of exhaustive pleasures brought a warm, rosy feeling to her cheeks. She recalled the details so damn well, too well. Then, realizing where her mind was going and what her body was feeling, she shook her head, tossing hair away from her face, and let out a loud, groaning sigh.
“I haven’t heard that sound in some time, Miss Witley.” The voice behind her, now much closer, startled her.
It was that sweet, dreadful voice she recalled from all those years ago, not the sharp jagged tone that she had been hearing barked as orders to deckhand. Her spine stiffened, and she pressed her waist tightly against the rail. The ship rocked, crashing forward into the waves, jolting her body hard, untethering her Shaw from her fingertips, exposing her figure as it clung to her shoulders in the wind. The calm she felt just moments before had disappeared, and suddenly, she felt her legs grow weak. Emma relied on the rail a bit more than she cared to admit.
“You should mind your own business.” She responded in a sharp tone while looking into the stars.
Jade’s softened laugh approached even closer. Emma changed her gaze upon the forward horizon. A distant lighthouse faintly glowed as it warned of dangerous shores.
“I would love to mind my own business if you didn’t always create such a distraction. But, aside from that, everything on this ship is my business. That includes you.” Spoke the soft, seductive voice again.
Emma could feel the tightness of her knuckles as she clenched the knot of her shawl and the rail simultaneously. Emma’s teeth clenched, and the hair on her neck stood up. A sudden hot rush of anger trickled through her veins.
Jade knew her words could neither be right nor wrong, even if she chose to speak a bit less dominating, but she was no longer the type to shy away.
As Jade stepped beside Emma, she caught a hint of lavender from Emma’s hair, and familiar memories struck her in a way she had not anticipated. Jade’s breath caught in her chest, and she was unable to speak.
Emma turned swiftly with a glare of distaste in her eyes as they met Jade’s emerald green stare, “You certainly didn’t have a problem minding your own business in Verona!” Jade met her harsh tone with silence. Their eyes met for the first time in five years. Fighting back further harsh words and tears, Emma looked away with her jaws clenched. This massive knot in her stomach now made its way into her throat.
Jade nodded, “I deserved that.”. She yearned to tell Emma everything about the night she disappeared. She was attacked and kidnapped. She struggled and fought but was no match for the three barbaric men who took her as their prized possession for the following year. She wanted to wrap her arms around Emma and hold her tightly. But, instead, she stood in silence with a million words reeling through her mind, yet unable to speak.
“You deserve a lot more than harsh words, Jade Walker, but it isn’t going to come from me this time! If you will excuse me, I should be trying to go back to sleep now! The sun will rise in a few hours.”. Emma shifted, fleeing the rail, brushing past Jade. Jade’s knuckles caressed the hem of Emma’s shawl. Air swam past Jade, and Emma’s scent filled the air around her. Again, that scent of lavender oil Emma always meticulously weaved through her hair slapped Jade across the face.
Jade’s elbows rested on the rail as she turned back toward the onward path and peered into the distant star cluttered skyline; the bow crashed through waves. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a slim stick and placed it in her mouth, gently holding it between her teeth. In her smaller breast pocket on the inside of her coat, she reached in and pulled out a small folded sketch. It was without color, but the remarkable smirk across the lips of the drawing glorified Emma’s most favorable feature. Curl for curl, that sketch came to life as a walking, breathing, sassy memory of everything Jade remembered about Emma.
For a moment, Jade allowed herself to think back to the night everything changed. Five years ago, everything was different. Never would she have imagined that the life she lived would take the turn of events it had taken.
Even though it had been five years, she could still remember the lavender buds Emma hung to dry and the process of crushing and soaking them in oil. Emma ground herbs and lavender buds; she would beg Jade to test them on herself with a poor pitiful look on her face that could win over a million hearts. When mixtures went wrong, Jade would smell like a rotten bed of flowers, but the laughter it brought into their lives made every sacrifice worth it. Emma perfected her blends and sold them to anyone that sought her out, wanting to impress their lovers.
Memories flooded back like a storm. Jade allowed herself to bask in them, even if only for the moment. Then, to distract her mind, she pulled herself away from the rail, ensured that Augustine’s route was correct, and returned to her quarters for a few hours of sleep.
Emma settled back into her bed. Despite the rocking of the ship that would typically nudge her to sleep, she found herself unable to close her eyes. Her mind continued to reel with thoughts, memories, and questions, so many questions.
Half of her wanted to run into Jade’s arms and pretend not a day passed since they were last together. The other half had questions that needed answers. She had so much anger. “How could she?” she asked herself as she threw her arms down beside her. She felt warm tears began to build. Refusing to be vulnerable again, she briskly brushed them away and turned toward the wall, pulling her blanket over her head. Still, her mind whirled. So much time had passed. So much had changed. Emma was not the same person she was five years ago, and Jade resembled nothing of the soft, tender woman she remembered.
Again, Jade’s silhouette while standing on deck earlier that day slammed its way into Emma’s imagination like a lightning bolt. The way her breasts peeked out over her bodice, her shoulders no longer delicate and feminine but rather masculine features, appearances of strength, the scar on her neck. Why were these images so unnerving yet so arousing? “What caused the scar on her neck? It looked like a brand. What happened?” These questions repeated themselves in Emma’s mind.
With another deep sigh, Emma whisper, “Jade fucking Walker, you have the worst timing. Yet, you have ALWAYS had a way of making me feel this way.”
Across the bunk, Emma’s cabin mate, Misty, spoke out with her British accent, “Do something or shut up with your obsessing, will you? Some of us are trying to sleep!”.
Surprised at the sudden shout, Emma responded, “Fine, Go to sleep! Nosey goat!”
Laying in silence, she racked her brain. Emma could not understand how, of all voyages, this one could bring Jade back into her life through a series of untold events. Had she been able to leave the week earlier as her original itinerary planned, this never would have happened. But, instead, now, she is forced to face heartbreak all over again.
She hadn’t realized it before, but she never got over Jade. Forgetting a person does not mean getting over them. Now it was clear to her. The feelings that stirred inside of her were those in which she had not felt in years. Still, there was so much anger, and resentment despite this yearn to fall into Jade’s arms. Shaking her head again, she whispered to herself, “God, shut up already! Nothing good will EVER come of this! Don’t do it!”
Emma often spoke to herself when thoughts in her head became too loud. Sometimes, others would witness her talking to herself and give her the side glance they would only risk giving a crazy woman. However, Emma knew she was not a crazy woman, only a woman that felt intense feelings all the time and loved immensely in a cold, harsh world. Finally, she had grown into a place in her life where she no longer tried to fit in, no longer tried to explain. She merely accepted that she was different and would forever be too much for many people.
Jade’s voice in the corridor brought Emma’s attention back to her current situation. “Damn it all to hell.” she thought to herself before finally drifting to sleep.