My Stony Heart

Today I find myself in a place I’ve successfully avoided for quite a while now, in the deepest parts of my heart where I’m fully aware of my vulnerabilities. Fear of hurting keeps me out of this place, but several things have happened in the last two days that make being here unavoidable. I’m facing, once again, the agony of hope.

Things kicked up for me yesterday when I met with the director of an organization in Baltimore that provides support to women involved in prostitution. My heart breaks for these women. I’ve had to wrestle with my own prejudices about why or how women end up in prostitution. I could go on about that one issue, but there’s more that I need to say, so I’ll flesh that out at another time. Suffice it to say that I’m filled with tremendous compassion for these women. And fear. I’m afraid of what is lurking in my heart. I’m afraid of leading the upcoming focus group with them. I don’t understand their situation. And, while I know that the vast majority of these women (100% according to the director) are survivors, I’m not sure how our stories are similar. And, I’m even more afraid that they aren’t very different. And there’s more…

I’ve worked with sex workers before, in DC. In my mind, there was a personal distance between them and me and my story. A cushion of sorts that I don’t have in Baltimore. At the risk of revealing more of my story in this forum than many may think is appropriate: my husband once informed me that he could, “get a blowjob on any corner of Baltimore city for $20”. I’ll refrain from explicitly stating whether or not he admitted to ever availing himself of the opportunity, but, you can imagine that there’s only one reason for me to be bringing it up. So, can you imagine my emotions entering a room with these ladies, with their stories intersecting with mine in more ways than I care to admit? And there I will be, to serve them, to inform them of the availability of civil legal services for sexual assault survivors (ie., to help them sue, divorce, get restraining orders against, get compensation from, gain immigration status in spite of their attackers.) How does this happen? Is this irony? Fate?

And then, last night, I am talking to a friend who was telling me how heartbroken he was for his cousin and his wife because they are separated and only the cousin feels like fighting for the marriage. His words were so filled with hope for what could be if both were willing to fight. I almost wrote him off as naive and idealistic, since he’s never been married, but I could really see that he believes the power of forgiveness, and in forever. That conversation, coupled with Tania’s post yesterday haunted me. I feel this poking at my stone cold heart. I hear a voice cajoling, “You want to hope. You want to believe. You know you do.” And I’m afraid the voice is right. Here’s what I want, if I should dare to be so foolish as to put it in writing: companionship, intimacy, amazing sex and a partner for life (thanks India!). Forever! I just finished telling a friend who’s wrapping up his divorce how I don’t believe in forever, that there’s no point in ever trying again. Today, I so want to be wrong about that.

And then there’s the church. Another institution I’ve practically given up on. (By the way, for those who don’t know me personally, I was married for 7 years to a man I pastored a church with for 9.) I’m so angry, disgusted and disappointed with “Christians” I could spit nails. I’ve been blogging rather irregularly about my journey with that on Unpacking Faith. Well, today I listened to my friend Kwesi’s audioblog of his experiences in New Orleans. He’s there on a missions trip. He shares my disappointment with the church, but unlike me, he is still actively engaged. His experience has called me to hope, even for the church. And sometimes this is even harder than hoping for companionship, intimacy, great sex and a partner for life (ideally in one person!). Sorry, I needed to fulfill my insatiable need to be irreverent at least once a day.

Anyway, I’m a mess today. I feel my heart again. It’s there. It’s still beating. It still hurts some, aches from longing, bleeds with compassion, and agonizes over my abundant flaws.

I’m so glad I have so many people around me who love me through this all.

Thanks.

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10 thoughts on “My Stony Heart

  1. Don’t you hate days when you feel all weepy and emotional and girly? But to feel is a good thing, even when it doesn’t feel good.

    Hope lives.

    I find your battle with the prospect of dealing with the prostitutes fascinating. Talk about a group you’d never guess you’d have to interact with… ever! What an eye-opening experience this will be.

    Talked to Kwesi earlier. This will be the first of multiple missions trips to New Orleans.

  2. Hey i came across your blog and i just would like to say that …. you should not let outer circumstances affect who you are as a person. WE all have a unique purpose here under the sun.. There has and will always be negative forces to take u off your path and out of your center. We all have to learn from our situations and grow. It appears to me that you have a great task to do here working with people and if you allow your heart to be hardened and closed…. Not only are you short changing yourself, but others as well.. We all are affected by each other… Even when you think no one is intune…. someone is. You deal with people on a cosistant basis and your energy affects them….

    One additional note… You are who you are because of what you have gone through… Don’t give up.. People come into you life for many reasons.. Some for a reason, others for a season and then some for a lifetime.. The only thing consistant in the universe is change…. Decide how you will flow

  3. Soulsista,
    I was just reading your blogs last night as well. Thank you so much for your comments here. The idea of “your center” is so interesting to me. It’s a place I’d love to be, and feel completely at peace when I believe I’ve arrived. But it is SO vulnerable. That’s what scares me when I’m off center. It’s odd. I love to be there, but I’m scared to go back when I’ve gotten off. Does that make sense to anyone?

    I SO believe that we are the some total of our experiences and that nothing happens or comes into our lives without reason. I’m just trying to make sense of some confusing parts at the moment. Thanks and please keep reading.

    Thanks, K!! I love you!

  4. Somethings are not meant to be made sense of…. In the eye of the storm find the quiet place… and you will find your answer… In my experiences when things are confusing i step out of the box… See myself from the outside in.. That way i can better assess the situation. When i do that the answer becomes obvious…

    my blogs… express the me, myself and I complex we all have. The me i am, the i others see me as, and the me i think i am….. Lot’s of times people think i am not human because i have an ability to connect spiritually with people without thougt…. So i blog to show myself and also to rant about things the gov is doing while the majority is wide asleep or sleep walking…

  5. Also the center is simply who we are withought thought. the interconnectedness we all have to the divine most high… In which ever way we choose to express it… One of my spiritual teachers one told me that we all are at the center of the universe. And what he meant was we see the world from inside out and that is where the universe starts to us… Inside…. looking out into all that is..

  6. Hey there. I have also worked with sex workers and sexual assault victims and I think that you have to keep one thing in mind when you question why they chose to sell their bodies.

    Some people do what they have to to survive in this ugly mean world. It’s not the prostitutes fault that your husband said those things, it’s his problem. And if he did use their services, remember that it’s still his problem. You’re not to blame and neither are the woman.

    That being said, I think you’re on the right path. You have to remember that these are woman just like you and I, they just chose a different path. But they are still people with souls and feelings and the future ahead of them. We should work on healing these woman instead of holding them up because of their past.

    I wish you luck in fighting your demons, Lex. We’re all here for you. Always come to my place if you need a good laugh. Or if you want to feel thankful you’re not me.

    Take care!

  7. @ Soulsista

    I agree that some things aren’t meant to have sense made of them. There are some why’s with no answers. All we can hope for is to grow from the experiences.

    @ Freshairlover

    Thanks for the reminder that we are all souls that have been wounded longing to be healed.

    I never blamed the ladies for my husband’s choices. I think that’s where the irony comes in. There’s nothing I can do for him, but here I am given the opportunity to help these ladies heal. It’s an honor. I’m afraid to blow it.

    I’m afraid to know their stories because I know they will remind me of my own. The only diffence between them and me can amount one single choice. That’s what scares me. I’ll have to face how easily she could have been me and how much she and I are the same.

    It’s a space for tremendous growth. I feel honored to be called into it. Honored and terrified.

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