[I] may be crazy but I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason.

30 May 2011

Wild Horses /The Rapture, ch. 3


Childhood living
is easy to do.
The things you wanted
I bought them for you...
You know I can't let you
slide through my hands ...
I watched you suffer
a dull aching pain ...
I know I’ve dreamed you
a sin and a lie...

Faith has been broken,
tears must be cried 


Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses, we'll ride them some day
The Rolling Stones

The worst part about the worst thing, is that there are ALWAYS things that can be worse. Are worse. And there are always worse versions of your personal worst. My personal worst. There is an unending supply of things that are worse than the worst thing any of us have experienced. So, to my way of thinking, the challenge is to nod in acknowledgement, like strangers passing on a night street. The nod that says, I see you. The nod that says, Your face is imprinted upon my mind like the redness of the naked sun upon my eyes. The nod that says, So don’t even fucking imagine you can hurt me.

That’s how I handle my memories of my worst days. I don’t compare. Comparison just suggests that I have not suffered enough. Suggests that before I can call out my demons and name them aloud, I must prove I have gone through the worst of the worst. As a society we tend to honor only the worst of the worst. We tend to label. We tend say, to so many we say, Stop complaining. It could be worse.

What is, exactly, the difference between complaining and naming? What is the difference between naming and blaming? What is the difference between blaming and simply calling out?

I was just out of graduate school and working for a jury consulting firm when one of the very first sexual abuse suits was brought against the Catholic Church. How many years of abuse had occurred before the day of that trial? How many children? How much of their experience was labeled as complaining? How many adults violated as children were labeled as sinners blaming the Church?

Things have changed since that ground-breaking trial, a trial I was lucky to be a small part of; the consulting firm I worked for told the plaintiffs to go full steam ahead, the Church be damned. By the end of the mid 1990s, not long after that lawsuit, more than half a billion dollars had been paid out by the Church in jury awards, settlements, and legal fees. That was in the United States alone. That was a decade and a half ago. And the lawsuits just keep coming. So, has the worst that could happen to the Catholic Church happened? Did things change?

I have a friend who spoke with certainty in her voice when she said to me, “It’s different now. No one believes sexual abuse is okay.” But I disagree.

If we thought sexual abuse was wrong, we wouldn’t be blaming the Catholic Church. And the Boy Scouts of America. And that creepy man down the street whose wife runs a daycare. If we thought sexual abuse was wrong, we’d be willing to talk about this one little fact: incest comprises the bulk of sexual abuse that is committed. Notice I said committed, not reported. Here’s what I told my friend: If we thought it was wrong, there would be no sexual abuse.

But here’s the rub. Wikipedia tells me that incest is sexual intercourse. You know intercourse, right? Most of us call it fucking. My American Heritage Dictionary tells me that incest is a “statutory crime” of “sexual relations” with a “near relative.” It also tells me that sexual relations means intercourse.

So, it’s not incest if he uses his mouth? his hand? mine?

So, it’s not incest if it’s a cousin I’ve never seen before? How about a cousin I know but who is once removed? twice removed?

While we’re doing definitions, how about this one. Statutory crimes are not taboos so much as laws against things we say are taboo. Like that 18-year-old punk down the street who’s fucking your 16-year-old, fully-consenting daughter. That’s statutory rape. Which we enforce at will.

Like I told my girlfriend, if we truly believed sexual abuse was wrong, we’d be looking for abusers where they hide in plain sight. Families. My family. Maybe yours.


II

When you are sexualized young, there is no innocence, there is no childhood. When you are sexualized young, what remains of innocence is only the ritual, much like wine is the ritual replacement for the blood of Christ; a prayer and a priest saying it’s holy doesn’t necessarily make it so. Even God knows this. God especially knows this.

I’ve thought a lot about innocence. Sexual innocence. I remember being a child, and later a teenager, and knowing when what I witnessed was innocence. The eleven-year-old girl on the playground hanging from the bars and twisting her legs, saying “This feels good.” I watched with the other girls who pretended not to notice - I mean you may KNOW it feels good, but for God’s sake you do not SAY it feels good - and I knew. This girl was innocent. I could feel it. I wanted it.

In junior high, my best friend told me about her and her boyfriend as they explored their sexuality. Not too much. Not the body grinding details. But she told me enough for me to see two things. Her innocence. And his thoughtful response to her innocence. I wanted to be able to be her in the worst way. On my very worst days, I would say to myself what if. What if I were that kind of girl? But I wasn’t. I couldn’t be. I couldn’t even imagine being. For a girl sexualized before she could even read, achieving innocence would be akin to unbreaking the spirit of a wild horse. What’s done is done.

When you come early to things stuffed into the crevices of your small body; hard things; soft things; when you still feel those things in your mouth, though you can’t say why because your mind doesn’t remember even though your body stubbornly does; you train yourself to feel around them, like horses trained to race around barrels. You learn to move as if they aren’t there, flowing at high speeds with agility and grace, slowing down only long enough to miss what blocks your path to the goal. You perform.

I spent my childhood performing innocence. Thousands of Catholic boys and girls have spent thousands of years performing innocence. Or worse. Moving on to perform the same ritual of abuse performed upon them.

Like I said, there are worse always things. Always.


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18 May 2011

Amazing: He Called Me Baby // The Rapture, ch. 2

Now there is no sin, in anything. It’s amazing.

Dear Sweet Readers,

It’s time for the next big adventure in the saga of my sins. Before we commence, however, one note. The zero birthday that was impetus for this blog has come and gone. I survived it. Thrived even. I’ve embarked upon a brand new decade, and so I’ve changed the subtitle of this blog from My Zero BDay Blog to YEAR ONE. Seems appropriate, don’t you think?

And now, on with the sin!

In my last post, I told you that I’ve begun my next book. I’m calling it The Rapture, after the blog post that started it all. The official first chapter is Amazing: Spring Tease ^_~. And, yes, I’m totally excited. I’m more than a little frightened as well, because I’ve decided to write The Rapture here on Sins of the Eldest Daughter, post by post, which feels a lot like performing without a net. Scratch that. IS performing without a net. Just my bare ass hanging in the wind. ~ahem~ No photos, please.

Because you are reading as I write, literally; you, my dearest and sweetest of readers, get to be a part of the book. Just give me a shout out any old time. Tell me what you like. Tell me what you don’t like. Tell me what leaves you dizzy in the dust, which for the record, I consider a good thing. You know, like the bio says, I drive real fuckin’ fast. Try to keep up. ^_~


HERE’S WHERE WE LEFT OFF:


It’s here. It’s happening. This transformation. It’s amazing.

This feeling...
It’s in the stars, in the sun.
It’s everywhere in everyone and it will be
Everyday
From now on...
It’s amazing.


When I say transformation, I’m not talking about a religious conversion. I have not been born again in Christ. Or Buddha. Or Mohammed. I have been born again in sin.

You heard me.

Born again.

In sin.

Sin is the most amazing and transformative thing I know. Where the hell would we be without it? Sin is the ultimate catalyst. From the idea of original sin, to the commission of so-called sins, and best of all, the way that forgiveness is sometimes treated as a holier-than-thou, get-out-of-sin-free card; everything to do with sin is an amazement to me.

We all sin. Every single one of us. It’s what binds us together in this amazing technicolor dream world we call life, and I am certain a case could be made for the idea that a human being without sin is no longer truly human. This is, in part, why I named this blog Sins of the Eldest Daughter. Fact is, all my online avatars carry sin in their names. When listeners ask about my DJ name on Blip.fm, which is 4sins, I tell them that sin is my first, my last, and my middle name.

And my nickname. ^_~

Actually, the meaning of my name is relevant to this story, although it’ll be awhile before you see how. Indulge me. I was born Dina Renée, Dina being the Italian form of Dinah, which is the Hebrew word for judged. Wait, it gets better. Dina, daughter of Leah and Jacob, followed her own star and judged by her own heart, and for this she was either
a) raped and thereby disgraced or
b) found lying with her man before holy wedlock and thereby disgraced and called harlot (see The Red Tent).
Regardless of which story you subscribe to - and three guesses as to which I prefer - Dina was doomed. My given name is four little letters that together spell out: she who is judged, vindicated, and avenged. And reborn. Renée, remember?

Okay, time for a little background.

First there was the Garden. You remember the Garden. Lush. Verdant. Abundant in everything but the rain that made it so. It’s amazing, that trick, God-like. And here in rain sodden western Oregon we would dearly love to learn the secret to that trick.

First there was the Garden. Then there was the Fall, otherwise known as the Original Fuck Up. At least that’s God’s side of the story. CliffsNotes version: The Fall is when human beings took the long walk off a short plank and found themselves “transitioning” from a perfect state of innocence - innocent obedience to be exact - to an underwater-and-in-danger-of-drowning state of guilty disobedience.

Okay, right there I got a problem. Who the hell says obedience makes us innocent and disobedience makes us guilty? God. I know. But isn’t that just a little short sighted? In case you haven’t noticed, humans suck at guilt. Oh, we feel it often enough, but it doesn’t actually change the way we act.

The way I see it, Adam and Eve fell from grace because they wanted to learn the truth, in this case, the truth about good and evil. They desired to know the whole world, not just their little slice of it. Being children - mere babes in the garden - they didn’t figure on the down side, which is that once you know good and evil, you can’t be innocent. Not anymore. That is the human condition.

In Bali, newborns are considered to be gods sent straight from heaven, and so for the first six months of life, all children are revered as minor deities, but afterward they become mere mortals, capable of falling from grace like the rest of us. Because the loss of innocence is the essential human condition, a human being without sin is not human.

Oh for God’s sake! I don’t mean that we’re all born sinners who must be redeemed in Christ, yadda yadda yadda. If that’s your schtick, cool. God bless. After all, Jesus was a radical dude. But I’m talking about a whole new paradigm here.

Are you ready?

On the one hand, we have parents, human parents, and any parent (any half-assedly decent parent) knows that children do not get it right the first time. Big surprise, I know. Good parents know that just because the kids have gotten into the forbidden cookie jar doesn’t mean they have sinned. It means they’re curious-as-shit, teeny tiny humans. On the other hand, we have God. One little nibble of a mistake and it’s Get the hell outta my garden! WTF?! This says more about his (excuse me, His) parenting than it does about sin. Or us, for that matter.

Wikipedia (yes Wikipedia, not the Bible, is my go to book) tells us that “sinfulness... consists in the guilt of Adam and Eve’s first sin: the want of original righteousness... [which is] commonly called original sin.”

Translating loosely - by which I mean translating the Dina way - this means that truth (aka, righteousness), not sex, is the original sin. God knows, truth was the first casualty. Always is.

Truth; the whole, unadulterated, complicated, covered up, dug up, ugly-and-divine-at-the-same-time truth; this is what lies at the center of God and Man. Truth and Sin.

Those of you who are regular readers of Sins of the Eldest Daughter know that I’ve had a life of challenges. And if you’ve been paying close attention then you also know that I hold the radical belief that sin - every sin and every sinner, no matter how great the magnitude or how ugly the act - is ultimately forgivable.

This is not a religious stance for me.

This is not a philosophical or political belief. Nor is it faith.

This is the triumphant total of what life has thrown at me.

From sexual abuse and a locked-down childhood in which I was permitted to show up only as a pretty doll speaking lines that came when you pulled my string, to a decade-long illness and a bipolar brain that demands constant balancing, I have drawn not only great strength from my challenges but also the courage to face any and all foes. This includes the shadow side of myself and my choices. I don’t flinch at ugly.

It is these challenges - and more importantly, the knowledge that what I struggle with is what every human being on the planet struggles with, namely the will to face the ugly truths and make something worthwhile out of them - it is this that spurs me to write and share my journey with you.

This year my journey brought me something wonderful. Something so amazing that it leaves me as speechless as my friendship with Jose once did. As luck would have it, this amazing thing, this thing I would say yes to under any conditions, is a sin. Oh yeah, baby. It’s a sin that everyone fears deeply. A sin that everyone hates self-righteously. And a sin that pretty much everyone has indulged in at one time or another. Or wants to. The best sins always are.


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All contents of Sins of the Eldest Daughter / dinarozellebarnett.blogspot.com
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