WIth no disrespect intended, I hope that someone takes her place

I grieve quietly the passing of Maya Angelou. A poet who has known some of the same suffering I’ve known, and many that I haven’t and will never know, because I had the luxury of being born white.
I’ve thought myself a tolerant and forgiving person, but my experiences with these words pale compared to what she has done in her lifetime.

I’ve been afraid to read some of her text because I know where the words stem from. She corrals the ugliness and turns it into something far more beautiful than I’ve managed. Especially now, when years after my experiences I still have these ugly hateful outbursts and loathing for the persons responsible. I long to not wish them harm, and most of the time I don’t, but then sometimes it’s as though I’ve gone on an untraceable vacation and am nowhere to be found while the skittering shadow left in charge of my space takes its toll and spews vile things.

Wishing harm on some stupid mute girl who’s no less a victim than I, but I am frustrated by her pride and unwillingness to see the value in my words. The truth in them. 

How much could I have learned, had I listened to the voice that spoke to me before mine…Somehow I knew then that you were speaking the truth but I thought myself above that. Protected. I thought myself better than those before me because somehow I’d achieved something they hadn’t managed.

And for awhile we lied like that. We passed as a much improved series of events to those before. I was so happy and proud.

But then to realize the ugly truth that I was no different, I just managed to be more tolerant. More time passed, and he was given more privilege than anyone else could have given. For someone in his position, who indeed would be willing to give that up and be noble, except for noble men. And he wasn’t. He’s done and continues to do noble things. But noble men don’t rape their wives, and insist that such a thing isn’t possible. Noble men don’t hound their wives into the things that they want, and then turn their interest on their daughters, and then in the same night back to their wives.

Noble men can own up to their mistakes. And I long imagined you one of these, even without your actions, because the times you did things right had to be worth that. It had to speak of your ability to do valiant and noble things, right?

But in this time I’ve lamented your absence. Of missing how it felt to sleep next to you at night. Of wishing for that same sense of dishonest safety you’ve long provided. In this time I’ve come to learn this hard hard lesson you left me.

None of this made sense. How could I be so capable of sacrifice, and yet succumb to your poison? How could i endure harrassment and abuse from brothers and sisters in uniform and return home to let you continue doing the same and worse? 

How could I feel so righteously forgiving and yet spiral down into a fountain of hate and shame and vitriol against you, your mother, and your new victim? You and your mother, role players in our destruction, in the betrayal of me and your daughter. Her constant overt affection to our son, insisting it wasn’t favoritism when it so clearly was. Her refusal to honestly apologize to our daughter, forget me. She was definitely owed an apology and explanation for your mother’s willingness to choose you over her. Your victim, some idiot girl who didn’t know better, but had been seduced by your charisma just as I had been. Taking from me my place, my things, my dog. And though I expressed kindness, empathy and trust to her in the beginning, she soured it completely with her ignorance and willingness to bathe in your lies over any possible truth any other could offer.

Your abuse is magic. Lasting.

And here is this person who has experienced sour things, and yet spouts beautiful poetry, and hope, and understanding.

Someone I admire. And I will never meet her in this life. I will never hear her tell me the things I should hear. I hope that I can find her in the next life and thank her, for the ways that she inadvertently helped me stay alive.

I hope that there are thousands more of our daughters and sons who can express the things she expressed in their talented and creative ways so we choose to live even when it hurts. To help us believe in the light even when it feels so dark.



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