I try to remind myself not to look at my phone. It’s the countdown—two minutes, five minutes, twelve minutes, twenty-five minutes. and so on. The text turns blue, reads delivered. What I want is to be pursued, known, seen. I want my pain to matter to her.
It’s an exercise in futility to will the person on the receiving end of the text to respond. I’m aware she won’t. If she does, it will be short, not what I need. The argument has passed the golden hour of short accounts into the beyond where the original words and gestures are grander now. They are sticky for me and for her. Our webs of feelings are harder to sort.
It has been sixteen months of fighting now. The words pass between us and whip up gusts of hurricane force swirls. We don’t see the other. Our traumas flood the space anytime we are together.
A year ago, social media airwaves were flooded with pictures, posts, thoughts, and comments about a racial reckoning—a way the country would move forward from the gruesome violence perpetrated against George Floyd. We were running a couple of miles in honor of Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor’s perpetrators were still walking without even a consideration of indictment. That’s where we were. Today isn’t much different.
My phone buzzes when I receive texts, regardless of if it’s on silent. During the long quarantine days of 2020, I counted on the buzzing to provide some connection between me and the person typing out the words coming to me. Sometimes her ignorance pierced me, and other times I responded in lengthy explanations, believing it would get us somewhere. It got me nowhere.
I wonder if I saw her? I saw her face, but I didn’t know it anymore. It didn’t matter that there was a screen between us; there was a wall of shame there too. Hers and mine. The dance we did together was quite ugly and the opposite of what I wanted, but my body moved me into deep hurting spaces that weren’t addressed easily.
A year later, on May 25, 2021, as I sit with clients of color and dominant-culture clients, I wonder whether this person and I will ever find a meeting space. The heat in my tears burn. Her tears seem cold, but I don’t know. I can’t touch them or know the ache the carry as they tumble out of her eyes and down her cheeks. Hot and cold. The hits keep coming, and the winds continue to pummel us both.
Selena sings a song entitled, “Como La Flor.” I can hear her lament lost love—it’s the loss of friendship, kinship, knowing, witnessing. Absence and silence linger where there was sweet connection. She sings, “Yo se perder…. PERO ah-ah-ay Como me duele.” This translates, “I know what it is to lose (love), but oh, oh, oh, how it hurts.”
I know what it is to lose love, connection, and sweetness. The chasm of my heart opens wide and swallows my days when I come to grip with the fact that I won’t climb out alone. It takes two to dig out of lost connection. Despair’s grip tightens on my throat.
Maybe we have to lose the ideal of reconciliation and sit in the painful realization that we have loss after loss of failed reconciliations, failed communication, failed understanding, failed witnessing of another’s pain.
The popular ideal of reconciliation often cheapens the deep work of repentance and repair.
I do not do this well, if at all. She does not do this well either. And, as I keep returning to the word “ache,” I can’t help it. My tears flow freely. I don’t want loss any more than her. There is already too much grief to bear one more significant break, but this is where I am.
What do I do when efforts to reconcile don’t work? Who answers my call to bridge the unimaginable? When we talk about bridging generations of degradation and dehumanization with simple apologies, we don’t get anywhere. I hate throwing scriptures out as platitudes, but perhaps this is why Jesus says, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
Dear Jesus, Save me. I’m crippled with anxiety, but I know this is where I am supposed to be. And yet, I’m afraid of the repair work I need to do when I’ve hurt another. Please help me.
I’m waiting. I will be waiting.
If I allow the hurt to be as real as it is, possibly my own personal and collective work toward healing and reconciliation will carry with it the weight of what it means to find love and connection again with enemies, friends, and family.
These are my thoughts today.
Danielle S. Castillejo grew up in the swirl of a mixed identity, with a German father and a Mexican mother. With her four children in school full time, she applied to graduate school at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Before her second year of graduate school, she was invited to explore her story through a Story Workshop at The Allender Center. She went on to complete Level 1 and 2 of the Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care and the Externship. Since our culture has experienced such an intense ripping and cultural identity crisis, Danielle addresses internalized racism and its effects personally, in her family, and in her community. She encourages other healing practitioners to do the same. Danielle began this process with her MA in Counseling Psychology and studies at The Allender Center. Danielle loves the anticipation of spring and summer in the Pacific Northwest, with the return of long days and sunlight absent in the dark winters. You can easily find Danielle out on a trail or working in her yard. You can also find her online at www.daniellescastillejo.com.