the floodlights

I know you don't feel quite whole. And I can't promise that you ever will. But I can tell you that you don't have to wait for a big moment to know that who you are and what you've seen and the tears you've cried are plenty OK. 

the floodlights

I'm on a stage in a black auditorium. There's a floodlight shining up on me but it doesn't hurt my eyes at all. When I look out to where the people are, I don't see anyone. It's not empty, but the point is that it's not about anyone watching. It's about space. Space where I can put things and where no one wants to shove them back.

I have a microphone—like one from the 80s with the giant foamy cover. And I'm telling the truth.

About how when I was a little girl, I was abused. For years. And how finally I told and hearts broke and we moved and cried and I never felt quite whole ever.

And about how it's OK for me to be here, 20-something years later and still feel like it is the ugliest most awful thing that's ever happened. And about how whoever is listening and also feels that way is OK too. About how we're more than what was done to us.

I talk about how there is meaning. Not because I'm on this stage but because we have survived it—this hideous, ugly, awful thing. And how every day we are the people we are because of and in spite of that hurt. I talk about how the fact that we're even here means we're incredible. 

We talk about how there's not some beautiful ending. How it didn't happen for a reason and it wasn't part of a plan. But that we get to decide what to do with it. That the truth and the story and the pain and the rising are ours. And we nod at each other with glistening eyes because as much as we want this all to be true, we still have our doubts. We still wonder if we're really OK.

There's never applause. Which is good because that kind of thing makes me uncomfortable. There's just calm silence. There's knowing. There's stillness and there's peace because we all know now. And we know that we're OK even though it's out in the world. We're OK and it's not too big. We're not too big. We're not too much.


You guys, I have imagined that scene in my head since I was 6 years old. I have dreamed of the day where everything would line up and I would make sense and meaning out of the worst thing I can remember. I think I believed that one day, this would just happen and that when it did, I would finally be OK. 

And I've learned recently that my vision is a little flawed because this isn't just going to happen. I'm not just going to wake up one day and find myself next to a stage with a handy old-school microphone and suddenly feel fine about everything.

There's work involved. 

And I'm the one who has to do it.

That and: me 'being OK' doesn't have to hinge on some gigantic culminating ring of fire coronation with floodlights. Maybe it hinges on me realizing that I already am OK. That there's nothing I could do to finalize all this. That there's no bow to be tied and that every single day that I have lived since, is me being OK. 

Every single day.

Friend if you are waiting for one day, like I have been, hear me now:

You're already OK.

Every single day that you've gotten out of bed and done good work and loved and cared and made art and slept all day and cried and yelled and smiled and laughed is a day that you have made it. 

You are already OK.

You don't need the floodlights for proof. You don't need a giant 80s microphone or applause or approval from anyone but you. And you are already living proof of OK-ness. 

I know you don't feel quite whole. And I can't promise that you ever will. But I can tell you that you don't have to wait for a big moment to know that who you are and what you've seen and the tears you've cried are plenty OK. 

I think one day I will have the floodlights. Who knows, maybe they're already there in ways I don't even notice. But even if I never do, I will remind myself that the lights aren't what make me OK. I have made meaning out of this every single day for the last 30 years. 

And I am plenty OK.


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