I don't know when the words will come. I am like a mistress at the mercy of their whim. They want the best cuts of the meat of my time, relegating all else to the left overs of my energy. And when they don't show up I wait. I'm spending a lot of time waiting. It helps relax the waiting to engage in activities that are not jealous of my attention. I am extremely fortunate my life allows me to be busy waiting.
Being on call, I try not to make any plans I can avoid, because I need to reserve my time for the possibility of being called. It's hard to explain the commitment of this waiting to friends so I don't try, and feel I'll be lying if I say I'm busy. Because this new kind of busy isn't recognizable to others. It took me a while to accept this process that does not measure well against the usual standards of productivity. But this is my process right now. I'm learning to surrender to it; I'm putting the money up front without any promise of the goods. Just like a mistress.
I'm finally ready to write the story of my burn. To do so requires much more then looking back. It requires me to turn around completely and, with open arms and heart and mind, welcome that painful past into the present. It has taken me by surprise that as a witness to my own experiences, I am so unsettled by them. Emerging from an immersion into the past awakens me to the horror of the experience in a way I did not have the luxury to be cogent of while it happened, or anytime soon after. I was too busy surviving and operating on a deficit. The words left behind on the page are the souvenirs of a trip I do not ever want to repeat, they remind me why.
It is said that time heals all. In the light of my current experience I have a different understanding of this: That time measures the opportunity to recover strength, and creates the safe distance with which to return to the pain. The pain does not go away, it merely hibernates. The Words have offered a connecting trail to them, and to my surprise I am discovering their patient waiting within the hidden spaces deep within. I now believe pain is like a sad, lost child waiting for someone to love her enough to bring her home.
So I find myself reading what I've written to parent the pain with the strength I now have. I find myself wanting to read aloud, preferably to another, as proof of our relationship. It is as if each dose of exposure to the pain is matched by a dose of healing – I am taking my pain by the hand and lovingly showing it the way home.
It took longer to re-enter the wholeness of my ability to experience then it did to reclaim body functions. Now I get to envelop all the horror of the experience within the wholeness I have returned to. I get to weep with sorrow over my suffering and with joy over my surviving it. A quiet cry of homage for which no tears are necessary. It's a different kind of busy for which no discernible movement is necessary.
This process of integrating past into present, pain into the healing of strength and compassion takes time. And the words know. So they make me wait, coming in installments. But they want all of me, and expect close listening to be heard. So there's a lot of waiting. And all the money I have put up front as a mistress in the hope of a quantifiable result is quietly giving me an unquantifiable one: healing, in installments.