Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Is It Possible...

...that ten days have passed since I blogged? I know I have worked a lot. Work can be consumning. Other issues challenge me, too.

I am really experiencing God in new, unpredictable ways. That alone is disorienting. Not only did I start reading The Cloud of Unknowing on my iPad's Kindle App, I also downloaded it from Audible, and listen too it, but dude! Dooooood!!! I haven't scratched the surface of this text. It's DEEP!

There's more. I'm grieving the end of my marriage profoundly, wildly experiencing all the stages of grief. I was particularly good at denial, until my dreams shrieked, "LOOK!" What I see breaks my heart, and of course it calls for deeper reflection. Why did I not see all along? How great my capacity for self-deception is.

I feel like I'm being overhauled. I can't sleep, or concentrate. Yet, despite my sorrow, I'm not as organically depressed as usual in the winter. Vitamin D and that light box works! So, being in some ways more awake and alert than ever, the hard work of building a life without Ken looms ahead, and I've got to step over a lot of debris to get there. I keepmtrying to get back here to you. Life keeps tripping me up, but I'm here now. I'm sorry a out all my mess.

Another good thing happened, after a prophetic blast from my brt Mari Lynn, I gave myself permission to write badly. It would seem God wishes me to write the memoir. Mari said stopmtrying to be cute, and name it The Naked Pregnant Woman in the Yard, and go ahead and deal with the domestic violence I've endured, and what I learned that broken, beaten, vulnerable women need to hear. So, I wrote last night, a whopping thousand words. This is miraculous, since the most I've been able to eek out for months has been eighty-three words (other than my inconsistent morning pages). It's really very crappy. Thanks, Anne Lamott, for
letting me know that's okay. I wrote in a very conversational style, as if I was sitting on my red sofa chatting with a friend. It really sucks, but it's a start, which beats the heck out of a stall. So, without further ado...

By Claudia Mair Burney


The Naked Pregnant Woman in the Yard? Now there's a title for a book. What's worse is I didn't use it choose it purely as a devise to pique your curiosity. I happen to be her: the naked... well, you know.
Wow. Did you see that? I didn't want to say the lady was, no is, me. I've been almost twenty years removed from those colorless, lost years, yet it's still hard to own my experiences during that stormy time. Even now I feel the inner scars from those days, imprinted on my soul like brands of shame. The scars don't burn or ache anymore, although at times they go numb. Most of the time I barely notice the unsightly lumps of unfortunate history I bear in my body. Time and a good God have done a lot of healing in me. I'm not whole, but I'm heartily grateful.
May I be completely honest? The truth is I never wanted to write this book. That doesn't mean I didn't tell this story more times than I can count. It would slip out in whispers during late night chats with intimate friends, or unintentionally shoot out of my mouth at lunch, landing like a bit of food on my coworkers, who politely hide their discomfort.
I blogged some of my story once, a spontaneous response to a triggered memory. I had been watching some talk show on television. The subject was domestic violence. I don't even know what was said to break the dam and release the flood of tears that poured out of me for hours. I only know one moment, like the studio audience, I was hissing and booing an abuser, and the next I back in that yard, alone, bewildered, and unspeakably vulnerable. I cried for hour, and then all over my keyboard, but I wrote. I had to.
Turns out that blog post, and a few other of my most painful stories, ended up in a manuscript one of my best friends and truest soul sisters, Mari Lynn Griffith, was shopping to a publisher. Her agent, Wendy Lawton read the early draft of SistahFaith. Later I met her at an awards banquet, and she told me what an honor it was the meet the naked pregnant woman in the yard. She had a visceral response as she read my story, she said. I was mortified, but once you've been thrown outside a few times with nary a stitch of clothing, your tolerance for embarrassing moments grows exponentially.
According to Mari, others who read my story, or heard it from her when she did interviews promoting the book, wanted to know how I fared in life after such a wounding incident. More poking and prodding from God and others to write a memoir followed. It was time to tell my story. All of it. So here I am.
That brings me to you, dear reader. At the risk of sounding like a tele-evangelist, I don't think you're reading this by accident. Perhaps you've found yourself in a situation in which you too have been tossed out on the wrong side of love, without a cloak of goodness to cover you. You wonder how you got there, and even more, how you can escape with some scrap of dignity leftover to build a new life with. Maybe you've been beaten. Repeatedly. Perhaps, as it was in my own tragic circumstances, all signs point to your inevitable death at your beloved's hands. You aren't the deer staring at the headlights. Baby, you're the one who can smell the rubber from the tires because they're about to roll over you. But for the life of you, quite literally, you can't figure out how urgent the matter is, and how you must get up and go. Now!
Maybe you think you're not that bad off. The assaults to your person aren't the physical kind. Perhaps the person you love the most in the world has changed your name to bitch, and made it their job to tell you exactly what breed you are. I've been stupid bitch, crazy bitch, and was fat bitch for a very long time. And yes, I know I just said the "b" word three times, which will shock some. But perhaps not you, because you've been called out of your name so often you've lost count. Not that it doesn't cut. It does, every single time, even the times you don't that you're bleeding.
Please allow me to apologize in advance. I wanted the writing here to be gorgeous and evocative: Toni Morrison meets Annie Dillard, with a little Anne Lamott thrown in to break the tension. Every time I sat down at my computer to write that way the words would flee, leaving me stupefied and blinking at a blank Word document. I couldn't even come up with a title. Mari Lynn finally snapped me out of my stupor. "It's called The Naked Pregnant Woman in the Yard, because that's what you are!" She's right. Mari Lynn is always right when it comes to book titles. And, she knows me well, me and my hard stories.
So if you don't mind that this memoir is not going to be a staggering work of literary genius, please keep reading. There's a lot I need to tell you, and it won't be easy. That's why I'm going to try to keep my words as naked of pretense as I found myself that day on a strange front lawn so long ago.
Everything you'll read here is true, but I'm going to change names and locations, timelines, and even the details of some events to protect the man who, ironically, did little to protect me. I suppose if you worked hard enough you could figure out who he is. Why bother? Rafael has reaped the harvest from the seeds he's sown.
What I'm going to share emerges from among my most painful memories. In some cases God granted me the mercy of forgetfulness. Other memories have been blunted, or erased by chronic depression which, over time, impairs all of one's cognitive functions. What I can promise you is that I will write with stark naked honesty to the best of my ability. Think of this as you would any good story, be it fairytale, novel, or fledgling spiritual memoir, it doesn't have to be factual to be full of truth.
With that said, sit back and relax as if you were in my living room, sitting on the red sofa, now worn and pilled. I'll begin with a little backstory. You should at least know who exactly who you're talking to before you see me with my clothes off.

So, what do you think, lovies?



MaryAnn M said...

i like it. let it flow, let it flow, let it flow :D

Bella Scarlett said...

You've sensed the need to do this for a long time. It would seem that time is now.May God give you courage.

Kay Day said...

Wonderful. I love the conversational style. And Toni Morrison and all them have nothing on you! You are Claudia Mair Burney! and you write like only you can.
You have to be you to write this.
I admire you and will be praying as you disrobe your heart for women who need to see it.

Mrs. D said...

I think any and everything you put down on paper will be not only wonderful but inspirational. Your writing put me be on track with my Lord and Savior. And I really thank you for that. After coming across your book (which I did not know was christian reading) "Murder, Mayhem, and a fine Man" I picked it up because I love forensic psych. Anyway this book and all your others made me want to know closer the lord you write so passionate about in your books. Really changed my life. I think you are a beautiful writer and person.

Marti Pieper said...

Our best writing flows out of our pain. I'm so sad you're hurting, happy you're running to Jesus and letting it out in writing.

And of course you're the naked pregnant woman. As you say, once you've been there, bleeding across a manuscript seems like the logical next step.

Sending love and multiplied prayers.

GailNHB said...

Keep going, girl, keep going. Like many others here, I am of the opinion that when you write, we should all sit our bottoms down and read. slowly. carefully. gratefully.

I cannot wait to read the next installments.

PS. I really like the new look of the blog.

Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts said...

"unintentionally shoot out of my mouth at lunch, landing like a bit of food on my coworkers, who politely hide their discomfort" 

Oh my dear Mair, this certainly does not suck. At all.

Anonymous said...

When you write in that conversational style, it is beautiful and it is you; and you have to be you to write from your heart. It is the heart that will touch others with your words - from heart to heart. Hearts will be touched and changed from hopeless to hopeful, by the One who is our only Hope, through your writing.

I'm so glad you have sat down to write. Let it flow. Ask God to give you the words and to let you speak from your heart. Write and He will do the rest.

Jean M.

Anonymous said...

It's breath taking...in it's stark honesty. It's truth more powerful than any fiction. It's your story in your words and God will use it.

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

Loving it, Mair. Keep at it.

Pain SUX said...

I think that there was definitely a reason I just so happened upon this blog today!!! And that reason is because I soooo badly need to hear this story. I too have been there, only I wasn't naked literally, but I might as well have been....I mean it certainly felt like everything, including my clothes had been torn away from me, time and time again.

I will most certainly be back often to read this story even if you don't write again for another ten days...and besides, I've got a whole lot of catching up to do.

Wishing you the best.