Before We Speak

This started out as one thing and became another. I anticipate follow up posts but I never really know what God has planned for my writing. 

I have spent the last several decades as part of America’s evangelical Christian subculture. It’s nice here. The people are nice. The message is nice. The coffee is nice. We keep it neat and tidy – from the clothes we deem acceptable, to the music we say we listen to, to the shows we admit we watch, to the language we use to whitewash our sin. Stop by and if you don’t look too closely you’ll see that everything is really, really nice.

It’s like nice is our unspoken brand. We mean well. We think if we make everything nice we’ll be able to convince everyone that Jesus is nice and if we convince everyone that Jesus is nice, then maybe they’ll choose to follow Jesus. And we really, truly do want everyone to know Jesus like we know Jesus.

But Jesus was more than nice. Jesus was Real. Jesus was kind and compassionate and brave but he was also sad and angry and afraid. He was quiet and he was loud. He fasted and he feasted. He laughed and he wept. He was the Prince of Peace and he flipped tables.

People, can we please start being more than just “nice”? Can we be Real, too?

I know a lot of you are going to say YES! but have you considered what it means to be really Real? I don’t just mean honest about our feelings Real. I mean:

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Hollow

Insides carved out
Walls scraped bare
I am just a shell
Brittle and broken

I must be broken
because nothing fills me
Rains fall but never gather
rushing away in streams beneath me

Dust blows in
on sandpaper wind
gritty in the eyes, the throat
then blows away again

Leaves and flower petals flutter
down down down
only to dissolve
pixel by pixel before my eyes

Emptiness becomes anxiety
the urge to fill me up
to scavenge
for berries
for blood
for dirt and leaves
crab apples
mud
Bits of glass
and shrapnel
Things that hurt
work best
At least the pain is
Something

Familiar
I know pain
Thoughts that slash and burn
the same worn paths
Searing scars
deep into the folds of
my aching brain

Until I’m sick
and I lie here
wondering which is worse
emptiness or pain

What would happen
If I sat still in the
hollow
heavy
empty
void

If I unclenched my fists
and let the falling rain flush
the shards from my flesh

If I let myself
Bleed
Would I remember
how to breathe?

© Nichole Q. Perreault

It Isn’t in My Blood

“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood”
 
In My Blood, by Sean Mendes is like my anthem these days. My ANTHEM.

For a long time, I’ve been wondering…Why can’t I just give up? And when I say “give up” I don’t necessarily mean stop living. I mean, Why can’t I stop caring? Why can’t I stop fighting? Why does anything flipping matter to me at all anymore?

Believe me, I have TRIED giving up. Once upon a very dark time, I stood on the edge of the bridge overlooking an ice-cold, black river, just to ask myself the question…Could I? Would I? Am I brave enough? Desperate enough? Tired enough? If that freaks you out, don’t worry. I knew the answer before I stood there. But for some reason, I still had to ask.

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A New Name for that Place Between Sadness and Depression

Do you think you’re depressed?

People ask me that sometimes. Friends. Family. Even some ballsy people who don’t know me very well.

My immediate response is usually, No. Occasionally, I add something like: I’m just working through some things.

How could I be depressed? Depressed people don’t get out of bed and shower and put on clean clothes and go to work. Depressed people don’t dance when a good song comes on or sleep out for Hamilton tickets or go to Red Sox games. Depressed people don’t host holiday parties and laugh around the campfire.

Do they?

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A Poor Girl’s Music

In the blackness
A small radius:
My hands
The edge of my pillow
My face
Lit by the glow of my phone

My thumbs quick, but sloppy
Autocorrect failing to predict
What I want to say

I hold the backspace key
Watch the words fall away
One by one
But fast
Like disappearing dominoes
Satisfying

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The Truth About Parenting Children into Adulthood (reluctantly posted by a blogger who doesn’t blog about parenting)

I almost never blog about parenting.

Why not?

Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing. Parenting is an experiment. Every time. One in which the test subjects, conditions, and variables are always changing. The moment I think I’ve done something right is usually the moment just before the moment I find out whatever I thought I did right was actually so wrong it will require years of therapy to undo the damage. Why would I document that online?

Funny thing: while people often congratulate me for raising two great young women, they rarely ask me for parenting advice. That ought to tell you something. Sure, their mouths say “Wow, you must have done something right,” but what’s really going through their minds is “How did this woman get so lucky?” And I’m thinking, I know, right?! 

Second, I don’t blog about parenting because I like my kids, and more importantly, I want them to like me (or at least still visit me on holidays). Sharing their trials and tribulations with the world on a public blog doesn’t seem like the best way to engender familial affection.

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All the King’s Horses

Grief does strange things to a person
I think it’s the sense of being untethered
Unmoored
Like you’ve lost your anchor

I don’t blame her
That woman from the Wild book
Who lost her mom and then lost herself
Left everything behind
And went a little crazy

Grief sets a person adrift
The scenery changes, boundary lines shift
Nothing looks the same
Nothing is the same
Including yourself

So much of who we are is defined
By our surroundings – people and places
They shift, we shift
They move, we move
Lose them and we are lost
At least for a little while

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Yes, God Will Let You Down

The song starts off well-enough:

…let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song”

Photo by Hugo Kerr on Unsplash

The achingly beautiful melody sucks me in and I sing along. Until the chorus hits me. Like a brick.

“You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down”

Wait. What?

“You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down”

Excuse me…um…can we talk about this for a minute?

One night, while enduring said chorus from a church lobby, a young woman said to me, “What about all those people in there who feel like God has let them down?” I responded with something equivalent to, “Preach it, sister.”

Then, because it was, after all, a worship song, we had to suffer through about 5,763 more rounds of the chorus….which was long enough for me to compose most of this blog post in my head.

It starts off like this: The song is crap.

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Rejection

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

It’s Rejection that kills me
pain so similar to grief,
it’s like dying,
like being stabbed in the place just between my shoulder blades,
like being punched in the stomach with a lead fist,
like having a hand shoved into my chest, fingers wrapped around my heart
…and squeeeeezed…
slowly at first, because Rejection likes to watch the pain creep up my neck, over my face, into my limbs, my fingertips, so that I can’t move.

Rejection likes to watch me die.

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On Grief and Love

We may be tempted to believe that those acquainted with grief should take the smaller losses in stride. We may think that after the loss of a parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse, what’s so bad about selling your home or a child growing up or friends and family moving away? But I find it’s quite the opposite. Once acquainted with grief, all the other losses become greater.

Grief remembers grief. And when those feelings of loss come in like the tide, washing over my toes and ankles, in that moment my body, mind and spirit remember…I remember…I remember all the times the waves crashed into my thighs, my gut, my chest, even over my head. And the feelings, though I do not call to them, though I do not want them, though I hope against hope they will stay at sea…those feelings come anyway.

The sorrow, the heavy emptiness, like a vacuum stealing air from my lungs. “It’s hard to sleep, to even breathe, harder still to wake and leave.” The waves come and I can’t stop them. Wet and salty and cold enough to burn, they come. Until I’m drowning, full of a sorrow I can’t contain, and those wet, salty waves, spill over the shores of my eyes. Waves that run hot now, because they come from the deepest wells of my heart and soul, the place where love dwells…no matter how I try to wall it off, or pack it away in ice…there lies love, love that can’t stop, won’t stop, burning, yearning, turning toward the smallest open crack.

Oh dear friends, and oh my soul, grief remembers grief because love remembers love. And love never fails.