© 2018 by James Encinas


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Jun 18

A Certain Uncertainty: The New "Story" of My Life


Edited: Jun 20

The new story of my life is neither new or a story. It’s truth.


In the shape of my new days I’m now filled with easy love where my labored lungs are able to exhale without effort. I’m singing the song of play, and joy, and bounty.


The story of my life is not a script that needs to change. I’m done ripping at roots, transplanting flowers, and finding new seeds. Now, my hand are in the dirt to feel and remember that the nutrients are already here, were always there - nothing is missing.


My life is not a syllable-filled story. It is muscle, bone, and matter. It is blood and cells and heart-bursting life force.


My past is not just tragedy, fiction, or a police report where my self is overpowered and I am made a stranger or character actor in my own home.


I'm no longer burdened by intrusion, insensitivity, or violation of others - which does not mean I forget or am not impacted.


I recoil at the notion that my life is a story I just need to describe differently, as though facts and history can be glossed over with happy thoughts or different words. What of accountability, facts, and justice? What of clarity as the rock-hard foundation and truth-telling as bridge to building new pathways where moving over and moving on is possible?


There’s nothing wrong with me.


The story of my abuse does not bring up shame in me. In fact, it’s not even my own. It belongs to my abuser, and their abuser, and so on. I’ve been impacted. I understand that and complexity.


People are sometimes careless, cruel, messy and criminal. People can be tie dye shirts in the washing machine bleeding out onto anything and into everything in their shared orbit.


Sometimes tragedy is the result of sharing the same cycle as someone spinning out. It’s not always personal.


Humans are the ones who wash and the ones to be washed. We are the ones who dirty and the ones who get dirtied.  


I’m not an either or an or.


I know who I am, where I am, what I’ve lived, and lived through.


I also know people can change.


I take no responsibility for what was done to me but that does not mean I don’t remember it all or take responsibility for creating a world filled with less pain.


I will not forever be at war with my life, my symptoms, myself or my past.


I'm tired of scribbling out the same lines, crimes, deeds, and stains left tattooed in and on me.


I'm also aware that I have left marks and scars on others, that I am a person who has, in m pain, left scar on others.

I’m going to give back the pain that does not belong to me. I'm going to return the pain that was acted out on me and let it go. I'm going to take up the pain I have caused others and tend to that. I'm going to own myself, even my own mistakes, but not more so that my soul can soar.


I'm more than old or new, broken or healed, weak or strong. It's not a new me I need to be.


In my dreams, I am fluid, flexible, and free. I am running out towards the light and unafraid to be seen. Even the pen as my sword I can sometimes put down long enough to dream new dreams.


Today, I want only a spoon to feed myself with. Today, I’m hungry for a fork sharp enough to stab the dreams on my plate. Today, I want to feed on hope so I can savor, delight, devour and taste it all without leaving behind crumbs, juice, or regrets.


There is bounty enough for all of us. I want my biggest stress to be about where and how to share abundance.


I have always been and will remain - underneath it all. Dirt is older than pain. The soil, the land, the earth, my soul is ever present for the returning to.


Note: This free-write was posted yesterday on my Heal Write Now blog and here today. The title of this piece came from a writing prompt given by Donna Jenson during one of her online writing circles in which I've been an eager student.


I've been in a strange and new place where I've felt my own voice changing when it's always been clear, strong, and singular (even when I've not felt those things). Now, my voice is a bit wobbly as my center feels more firm. It's not writer's block as much as it is writer's unblock.


My feminist fury, rage at injustice, and my mid-life spirituality are all figuring out how to co-mingle and co-exist in my psyche, soul, and skin. And there's also more space. Maybe forgiveness, compassion, confusion? I'm not even sure. I still don't totally sound like me, even to me, and I've decided to share the writing anyhow because it's writing in transition. We don't have to be all the way to wherever there is to say where we're at right now.


This image is of a bag I bought at a store recently. Five years ago, when I started Heal Write Now, "be the author of your story" was my tag line and it seemed radical to me. Now, those exact same words don't speak to me the same way.


Here's where I am today. I am uncertain about certainty. I am certain about uncertainty.


Dearest, and most priceless, Cissy ~~~ thank you for your eloquent, insightful, and wise post! Your innate gift of bringing words to life and creating visions through language is profound. Inspired by the depth of your words, you've captured "transition" with grace, courage, and kindness.

You really are so kind, loving, and supportive Dana! Thank you.

Cissy, Cissy... your post conjures so many thoughts for me! I remember when conducting the Full Frame Initiative workshops and asking people - women for the most part - about a moment of joy in their lives, and their often surprising responses that they had assumed they would be asked yet again to tell the story of their abuse (not focus on a positive, happy moment in their lives). How they had been asked so many times to tell that story of abuse, as if the story was who they are. Your post reminds me of these women as more fully human - and your post makes me think that even the stories of happiness can be mistakenly overblown because they are mere words, too.


"People can be tie dye shirts in the washing machine bleeding out onto anything and into everything in their shared orbit." Now THAT is a metaphor with some traction! Not one I will forget any time soon. You describe so powerfully the ways in which people often have an uninvited and "can't get it off of me!" impact on our lives that we are forced to have to deal with. It takes some kind of strength, dogged determination and stubborn will to wash it off, or better yet, find a way to blend to something more resilient and yet something still genuinely you.


I rejoice with you and I mourn with you, Cissy - we live with and in both, don't we? Thank you so much for having the courage to speak authentically from you soul, so powerfully! I/we hear you. I/we see you.

Audrey: Thanks for taking the time to read, and to comment, and to react. It touches me. We do rejoice and grieve and grow and know things we often wish maybe we didn't. And YES to the joy questions, to the hope, to the dreams questions and the questions that assume deep wisdom already available that we ALL have.

Warmly, Cis

Jun 20

Cissy, thanks so much for your beautiful words and insight. I love the way you capture the human condition in all its light and shadow. Yes, people can change and do. Yes, hurt people hurt people. In the end, though, I am the only one I can change. I am the only one who can change my own story and not allow my pain to define me. I am the only one who can vow not to hurt others the way I have been hurt. There is so much hope and truth in the following: "I have always been and will remain — underneath it all. Dirt is older than pain. The soil, the land, the earth, my soul is ever present for the returning to." Thank you for sharing your "wobbly" changing voice with us!

Garrett: Thank you for tender reading and sensitive commenting. I was telling James that it's lovely to share writing in this form for this very reason. Thanks for sharing what resonates. I too find dirt being older than pain hopeful, and had my hands in my own dirt this weekend weeding! I'm grateful for this community James has helped create. Cis

Dearest Cissy - As I've shared with you, this piece for me is poetry. It takes us to places that only poetry can, that only the language of the soul can reach. I've read it as I've learned to read poetic work - finding a line that resonates, sitting with that line and allowing it to inform me. "I have always been and will remain - underneath it all. Dirt is older than pain. The soil, the land, the earth, my soul is ever present for the returning to." So beautiful! A truth that helps me understand that I am more than the sum of my experiences. That the moments of sorrow and joy in my life have informed who I am but don't define who I am. That I am, that we are, so much more. The great Japanese writer Haruki Murakami said, “Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” Thank you for sharing your soul. For helping us to see that life is complex, that it can be brutal and often is, but that at the same time it can also be, so beautiful as to leave you, in wonder.

I know we've talked James. THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS line. I love it and have never heard it or read this writer (so thanks for that as well).


Japanese writer Haruki Murakami said, “Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”


Oh, you dear people, you! I'm having to hold back tears of gratitude in the public space of a terminal at the airport in Austin, TX because of a re-read of this post...and all your wise, kind, insightful, supportive comments. The love I feel in my heart right now will carry me (better than Southwest Airlines) to Washington, D.C. When I get to that city, I will do whatever it takes to plant with each step the energy of that feeling...the feeling of love for humanity...that you all have assisted in creating. Thank you, all. And, thank you James. (An aside: When I opened a glass door at a Hudson-type of shop in Phoenix to purchase a bottle of water for my immediate journey, that door swung wide! It completely folded back over the next door--one where a man was contemplating the beverages there. I said I was sorry...but he smiled wide and said, "You're stronger than you think you are!" My friends, we are stronger in love, stronger together, than we ever were before.)

New Posts
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This essay explains the risks of this type of ‘therapy.’ It is unimaginable to think about someone’s sexual/gender orientation—a person’s way of self-identifying in the world—being aborted by those who otherwise claim to place such a high value on human life; many of these programs are run and supported by Christians. It is as if they are trying to extinguish a spirit that is burning too brightly, bringing their deepest fears and insecurities into full light, making them want to use religious orientation as a means of control. Eamons was able to escape from the conversion therapy facility before it was too late, but many others are not able to get away from this type of 'treatment.’ Although conversion therapy is meant to ‘save’ people, there is a high rate of suicide and “accidents” suffered by people in these programs. I wasn’t surprised that the film “Boy Erased” didn’t do particularly well at the box office. Films that bring up these types of issues and emotions are not really meant to be entertainment, which is what movies often are for us. Films like this one force you to think—and feel. They have a message. They want us to look at the parts of ourselves that may be the cause ... and invite all of us to be the solution. They want us to realize the consequences of this happening in our own backyard. Like so many other abuses that occur in this world, if you don’t acknowledge that conversion therapy programs exist and also take the time to understand what happens in them, you don’t have to take responsibility either. You don’t have to see how we all contribute to erasing at least part of someone’s identity at one time or another to better suit our personal preference, ideology or religion. LGBTQ people do not have to be subjected to conversion therapy programs to understand that it is not always acceptable for them to be who they are. They know it is not always safe to show the kind of public displays of affection that are considered mild in the heterosexual world. They overhear people they love and trust making questionable ‘jokes’ about gays or the gay lifestyle. Many LGBTQ people still have to hide who they are when in the workplace to avoid being fired. They sit in churches, with communities of people they love, while priests and ministers bash them and their identities. They wonder if there will be a day when doctors can choose not to treat them if giving medical care to a person who identifies as any of the categories of LGBTQ goes against their religion. Even with all the advances there have been, there are still countless homophobic slurs and injustices that feel abusive to their targets. I have well meaning friends and family who truly accept and want the best for me, yet they still don’t think we should elect officials who support same-sex marriage or transgender bathroom rights. Someone I love told me she accepts me being gay because I’m not one of those “swishy types.” I wonder if Jesus tried to convert the swishers. All of these attitudes and behaviors hurt. They hurt me, and they hurt society. Of course, it is not just LGBTQ people whose spirits society wants to erase. Anytime anyone else tries to change someone into what they want or need them to be, whether it’s asking them to lose weight, get a new profession, or play a sport they hate—their spirit gets erased. It is a form of abuse. For centuries, spouses have tried to turn the person they married into someone else. Insecure bosses surround themselves with people who can be controlled and kept quiet. Certain political figures wish to erase the spirits of people of other cultures, nationalities, skin colors, beliefs—by building walls—both physical walls made of metal and bricks, and emotional walls made of suspicion and fear. The insidiousness of this practice is that it is often done in the name of love. Brainwashed, misinformed parents and caregivers of LGBTQ youth may believe they are saving their loved one through conversion therapy. Politicians claim they are acting out of concern for public safety. One thing is clear: The first time someone strips you of your humanity and tries to change who you are is as traumatic and damaging as the hundredth time it happens. Abuse is abuse, so know that, and erase your hurtful beliefs and agendas. Also, erase your fears. It is the only way to leave your soul's print on the world.
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