Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Open Mic at Jelly's Place

Every now and then I get requests from people who have something to say and nowhere to say it. It's important to have a voice, thus I offered my blog as a forum for discussion.

Without further ado, I present this anonymous post for your ponderance:

Way back when I started blogging, years ago, I sat perusing the vast blogosphere in search of inspiration and entertainment. I wrote in my blog only occasionally and only for the benefit of family and friends. My posts were chatty and filled with pictures of my family and I never considered what it might be like to join a community of anonymous bloggers and write in a style that might entertain or engage them without compromising too much of my anonymity.

But then I came across a blog, written by an anonymous stranger, that reached out and sucked me into her world. It was so well-written that I often sat reading it with tears streaming down my face --whether they be tears of laughter or sadness. I cared about this person. I worried about her. When she stopped posting, I feared that I might never know how her life turned out.

To be honest, I idolized her in a way. Her wit. Her writing talent. Her unique way of putting things into perspective.

Then one day I read a story from her childhood. It was written in that same beautiful, flowing style that I loved so much. I was carried along by her gentle and confiding tone but was left shattered at the end of the last paragraph.

This woman-- this warm, witty, beautiful, talented, engaging woman -- experienced horrors that I have never, and will never, have to face. Many of them she experienced very early in her life. Extremes of brutality and indifference shaped her personality.

Much of her wit was formed out of a desperate desire to alleviate anger with a well-placed quip. If she could make the grown-ups who surrounded her laugh, she could often avoid fanning the smoldering flames of their tempers. Her gentle, nurturing nature developed when she tried to shield her siblings from treatment similar to hers. Her habit of shying from praise was a result of her learning to be invisible to avoid notice and thus avoid being belittled or beaten.

To me, it seemed an unacceptable trade-off. That her stunning, magnetic personality was a result of having the stuffing beat out of her by Life--it wasn't fair. I ranted and railed against God, against Life, against societal pressure for people to marry and bear children whether they're narcissistic hedonists or not.

And the gentle writer grieved that she had brought pain into my life. Because her heart is so beautiful, she worried about me. She lived through these horrors. I only had to read about them. And she worried about me.

She said, "God lets things happen for a reason. These things happened so that I could learn and grow and be kind and help others." I refused to believe that the God I love, a gentle and caring God, would let anyone suffer such atrocities for the sake of personal growth. So I said, "That's bullshit!" (I am nothing, if not eloquent.)

And she stood back and waited for me to finish the process of sifting through the information she'd given me and the resultant anger and sadness and heavy grief that set up shop in my chest.

And now, I still hate it that she's ever suffered. But I am able to appreciate that I have a beautiful person in my life. I am able, once again, to appreciate her writing and the depths she can take me to with it. I am able to appreciate her. Period.

Sometimes, though, I am still caught by surprise by the strength of my reactions to the reality of what her life has been. Last night, I sat up late, unable to sleep, and read through the archives of a blogger who's new to me. I was turned on to this new person's blog by a mutual friend and have immersed myself in her archives for the same reason I was drawn years ago to the aforementioned writer. This new writer is witty, engaging, enormously talented and pulls me along with her through depths of despair and back again only to make me laugh until I think I might pee.

I made my way through her archives, hoping all the while that I wouldn't find what I suspected would be buried there. But I found it anyway. Tales of neglect and abuse and emotional agony inflicted on her by the very people who should have been her fiercest protectors. The fact that I had suspected as much all along certainly did not make me feel victorious. Rather, I felt beat up. I was surprised to find that my breathing was ragged, my jaw clenched, angry tears welling in my eyes.

So, this is how it is. Those among us who have this phenomenal power to pull us into their lives and to find their way into our hearts, effortlessly --it's almost always because we sense the wells of pain inside of them. We sense it, even when they are causing side-splitting laughter with their self-deprecating humor or bringing us to our knees with sadness with their uncanny powers of observation and communication.

We sense it and we try to pull them to us. We try to protect them and make it so that the bad things never happened. And because they are wise, and patient, and gentle, they step back and allow us to explore these extremes of emotion that we might never have felt had we not encountered the stories they have shared. They don't remind us that it was harder for them to live it than it was for us to read about it.

As for me, I'm so thankful to have chanced across these remarkable women in the blogosphere. No matter how limited their involvement in my "real" life, they have made an impact. I am kinder, more empathic, more gentle, and more generous because of the impressions they've made upon my heart.

But from time to time, like last night, I am still going to cry at the injustice of it all. I am still going to have moments when I question God and accuse Him of neglect and abuse for allowing such atrocities to befall the most innocent and vulnerable among us.

I stand up for them now, when I can. It doesn't help much. But the point is that I want to help and that I care and that my eyes are opened to the knowledge that not everyone gets to have the sort of life that was given to me.

If knowing the stories of these women can affect change in one person and if I can help even one child, maybe God really did know what He was doing.

Whether I like it or not.


thisisme said...

Wow. Just wow. Thank you for posting that.

John Cowart said...

This beautiful, heart-touching post reminds me that sometimes God’s most lovely flowers grow in manure!

Kerri said...

This is a post to ponder Jelly. Excellent writing and interesting thoughts.
It's amazing what the human mind can rise above. Some do, some don't (sad to say). It's hard to imagine and contemplate what some children have to endure.
Thanks for sharing this thought provoker.

along the way said...

I enjoyed your guest writer. just stopped by t visit

Alice said...

From such sad and wretched beginnings sometimes the most beautiful people emerge. They have experienced the pain and desolation of abuse and rejection, and can empathise with others in similar circumstances, or seek to find good in people, having known enough of the bad.

May God grant them strength, courage, peace and eternal blessings.

Puss-in-Boots said...

Oh, Jelly...that made me cry. I felt your pain and despair over these two women and...I know exactly what you mean. I, too, have come across beautiful, caring and gentle people who have had the most atrocious life.

I don't think I could survive anything like that let alone grow as these women have done. But they are an absolute gift to our lives, these strong, brave people.

A wonderful profound post, Jelly, thank you.

Princess Banter said...

I think that the secret to writing a good and captivating story is a stellar writer behind it -- not the plot, not the characters, not anything. The writer that holds the pen is a powerful one. Kudos to that blogger :) As she was able to touch someone's life extensively...

TUFFENUF said...

I love the posts that make me think, and wonder, and be thankful for the life I have. People that I talk to about blogging who don't know it first hand think that I am crazy, but blogging has made a difference in my life. Thanks, Jelly, for another thoughtful post.

jellyhead said...


I'm not Jelly; I am the anonymous writer whom she allowed to write this piece on her site.

You hit on the point I was trying to make with this post: That perceptions can be changed because of the blogging community.

The women I wrote about in this post don't want--or need-- pity. In fact, they are some of the strongest, least pitiable women I've ever known.

But their stories have helped me view the world through kinder, more compassionate and, sadly, less naive eyes.

No one stepped in to help my friend when she was a child. By passing on her story, me and others like me will be more vigilant in our assessment of family dynamics of children we know and love.

Awareness that the world isn't a bowl of cherries for all children is important.

And blogging is a powerful community tool.

freefalling said...

I read this post, very shortly after it was published.
Usually, I don't have much trouble leaving "my two bob's worth" in comments, but I was really at a loss when I read this.
I just didn't know what to say!
I've been back a few times and re-read it, and I'm not sure what this says about me, (probably that I lack depth), but I still don't know what to say!

jellyhead said...

*OK this time it truly IS me, Jelly!*

Tuff and puss-in-boots,

You've probably realised by now that this was a guest post by a fellow blogger. As much as I'd love to take the credit for this heartfelt and inspired post, I'd better not! But thank you for your kind and encouraging words, which I'm sure the guest poster really appreciated.

Guest poster, you have written such a beautiful, poignant post that I'm considering hanging up my hat! (no, not really - nothing can stop me talking, regardless of quality!)Thank you so much for writing this. You are a gem :)

Redneck Mommy said...

I wish I had something profound to offer you, guest poster, (waving madly at Jelly in hello!!) but the poignancy and clarity of this post were awe inspiring.

Thank you.

For so many reasons.

Thank you.

meggie said...

What a wonderful post! I dont have a "God" dont feel I need one. But a lot of what the 'believers' feel is what I believe. And fundamentally, I believe in people & the power of love.
I would like to think, I have taken some these beaten & battered, & loved them & given them hope. I am a sucker for the human condition. And I have been lucky enough at times, to have enough, to be able to share.
I loved your writing, & you are so right- blogging can be such a powerful tool for good!

Anonymous said...

Being a wife of an recovering addict I went through a lot of emotional pain, hardship and disrespect. I thought for 16 years that God was doing wrong to me, to him. It wasn't until I joined the 12 step group and went through the process that I came to the understanding that I was doing the pain to myself. After that I started devoting time into helping others who where doing the same. Now I believe that God puts people into situations so that they can become helpers of others.

It is always hurtful to know that a child has gone through those things. I wish it wasn't so.

Sandy said...

Jelly...Thank you for letting this anonymous blogger post on your site. Some of us who think we had it bad as children don't know what child abuse is really like, especially coming from the people that children put all their faith & trust in to care & protect them.

Remiman said...

anonymous blogger,
You are a very articulate writer and I'm glad Jelly gave you a forum to spill your feelings into. I wonder what keeps you from writing your own personnal blog. As you've said, the world of blogging opens up avenues into peoples lives and shows us things that have the power to change us in a profound way. Whether one be a commenter or lurker, reading the blogs of common everyday sort of people allows us to witness little snippets of lives sometimes quite different from our own...such as you've described here.
However, what impresses me even more is the similar feelings that are shared by people from every corner of the globe! Stories about the goodlife lived, kindnesses given and recieved, Anonymus friends who've impacted us greatly, they too are the stuffing which gives tantalizing flavor to the blogs we read and to the real time life interactions.