What does it cost?

I struggle with a voice in my head telling me that a woman in my ramshackle physical condition has no business hitting ramps on a wakeboard.

It is a powerful voice.

And yet I cannot help thinking that challenging that voice and hitting those structures is a victory of the heart.

Victories of the heart are often costly victories. We are challenged to face our deepest fears of loss and humiliation, pain and failure for love.

And so with the even objectivity of a math problem you could say–the measure of our love is the measure of our willingness to overcome our fear.

Or better said by a Braver Man–perfect love casts out all fear.

Tell me you love someone and I will ask you, what dragons have you fought to preserve your beloved?

Always the same reaction

I was standing in a Walmart years ago when someone I had known for years told me she had been sexually assaulted.

She told me because I told her what had happened to us. She gave me the fragile gift of a common experience–a tragic common story.

I never knew. She is a beautiful, very together, very articulate woman. I never knew about this heartbreak.

I find my reaction to these stories is always the same. I want to hit something. I want to pound out the anger and hurt that is inherently a part of any crime

Especially against children.

Especially when they trust the person who hurts them.

I say this because if you have one of those stories you need to know you are not alone.

I grieve for you, pray for you, and long for justice for you.

300 Objects

I know that body
Of water
So big, so crashingly big
You would divide it up into
Parts, continents, islands
A string of pearls or teeth
Would be too small for a satellite
You can’t see the Great Wall from space
…or the Lido Hotel…so close to the
Airport I used to know
The “Snooker” room there
We were still young then and thought the term amusing
They had a post office.
I remember now
Somehow more civilized than the real one?
Where I once received the scrolls from him
And sent off the books–a New Testament? A dictionary
You wanted me to speak to you in English on that endless journey
As the satellite technician listened warily
Never letting on he understood
The families will grieve
For their children
First missing
Now gone
300 hundred objects
Floating across an endless
Endless sea.

How Pedophiles Groom (everyone)

Afterwards the conversation held such dreadful power.

My adopted son, 14 or 15, sat amidst his younger sisters’ dolls and toys, identifying each one. My husband and I marveled at the time. Charles was not very nice to us. Not very kind in general. His attention to his younger sisters’ toys seemed an unlikely window into kindness in his chilly heart.

It was not.

He knew the toys well because for years “playing” with his little sisters had been the sinister doorway to grooming them for abuse.

It was a blow to the gut to know this too late.

My pain over my childrens’ lost innocence will not go away. It shouldn’t. I determined to do what I could to save others from the agony.

I made a commitment to speak out.. More times than I can count I have lost people in the process.

Recently Charles began dating a young woman with very young family members. I let someone know that Charles should not be alone with children ever.

His response was swift and angry. He swore at me and told me to back off or he would file harassment charges against me.

Standard for Charles.

What was shocking was the response of girlfriend and family. Even though Charles went to prison on a plea deal for what he did, girlfriend told me she did not believe me.

She and her family have rallied around a child molester.

What happened next was equally interesting.

Once she accepted his version of his story, he publicly humiliated and belittled her. I knew what he was doing—on one hand he appealed to her naïveté to accept a lie, on the other he pushed the boundaries of their relationship to flex his power.

This is an unfortunately common story. Where is the.outrage in the media over Verizon peddling child exploitive pornography? Where is the department of justice to enforce existing laws against the exploitation of children?

We stay quiet, afraid to rock this broken boat, while our little ones get let out to sea.

Watching all of me

PBS has just aired a haunting movie about women in Austin who struggle with eating and weight issues.

I viscerally connect to their food issues, but found myself crying in the middle of the movie because of what they said about community.

The truth is I have been a community-free individual since 2010. I have my family, former friends, and a church or two to thank for that. And my own fear.

Initially my dogged insistence on transparency…

I cried for my children. The older ones create shelter for their younger siblings.

The older ones remember the years of loss.

The younger ones ask questions about family as though the units of extended family–grandparents, uncles, aunts, were classes of dinosaurs or dragons.

Mythical creatures, all of them. Afraid to face the truth on our side.

Contemplating Evil

We knew that the abuse had happened, he had been caught in the act. Because he was (and is) a child predator, he was very good at masking evil.

He was not the first child molester I knew who did this. They all do.

All do what? They all do unbearable, unspeakable things to children and then call those things by ordinary names.

It was an ugly conversation.

We went around in circles. He would say he had put his victims on his lap. He would say they played “house” or “husband and wife.”

He subverted the ordinary.

So finally I got a placeholder–an ordinary piece of luggage. In exasperation I gave it to him and said, show me what you are talking about.

He did not want to. Reenacting the facsimile of abuse was too close to the truth for both of us, but it put the lie to his words.

The devil in the details.

He grooms everyone. And he looks for weakness and opportunity the way an addict looks for drugs–relentlessly.

That night I realized how close his words and descriptions were to another child molester who had described sexual assault as “holding” on his “lap.”

Their “innocuous” descriptions of unspeakable evil were the same. The devastation and pain they created in the lives of innocent victims were also the same.

And yet we all look away. We plug our ears and turn away.

If we were brave and faced it straight up we would see the patterns in the lives of child molesters. We would be forced to face how much they rely on adults not intervening.

They count on us looking away. Because when we do we give them all the opportunity they need…

to abuse again.

What makes you mad?

Twice today I encountered people who expressed their extreme annoyance at service people.

The first situation involved late food and lukewarm fries and the second involved prescriptions at a pharmacy.

The workers of the world were having a tough day.

I was struck by the gumption it takes to tell a stranger off.

Which led me to remember who we do not confront:

When was the last time you berated a pedophile? When was the last time you raised your voice against a rapist? When was the last time you made a stink about child abuse?

I ask because over the last few years I have watched a lot–lots and lots of people be very polite to some pretty bad men.

It seems to be easy to rant at a waiter or pharm tech, but much, much harder to confront real evil.

…at some point, being so very polite to evil might be a sin of its own. A grievous sin of omission.

5% You

In the end I decided to meet you
In the same place I found you
A waiting room near bridgewater

I squeeze myself into the Fisher-Price
And wedge myself into the picnic table alcove
Has your life always been this small?

You were Thing One
He was Thing Two
And you whirled in
Nonstop noise

Your first foster mother
Expressed infinite relief
In the space around her eyes
At the imminent prospect of
Handing all 200% of you
To me

I am handing it back.

But since 95% has been
Yours for years now

I give you all that is left:

An expression about turtles and hope
A song about going to town
All the way to town
A pocketful of french fries of indeterminate age and origin

And telling the truth on the one day it mattered.