I Had A Beer, Alone

Trigger Warning: SA

I don’t remember much about the night. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t warm. 

I had terrible news from home with one more night and another work day ahead of me. I’d been out of town for work for two long weeks (excluding weekends) and it was taking its toll. 

On the last night, after the group of colleagues failed to escape Al Capone’s speakeasy at an Escape Room, we talked our loss out over some appetizers and a beer. By 8:00 p.m. we parted ways to our respective hotel rooms. This is when I got the bad news from home. It wasn’t the type of bad news that could be resolved over a phone call, nor was the situation at home something I could even begin to understand without being there. 

Grumpy and ruminating, I recalled the karaoke dive bar not far from the hotel that my work group and me visited the previous week and I made the unfortunate choice to head over for a beer before going to bed. I sat at the bar- to the left where there were no people. I ordered “whatever IPA is on tap.” There was a short, older than middle-aged man writing in a notebook two seats to my right. My right hip was aching from my arthritis, two weeks of standing on my feet, and the exhaustion from being away for work. 

I awoke at 4:06 a.m., naked and bruises forming on my mid-back down to the back of my knees. My face hurt and I had an imploding headache. The head was the first thing I felt. As soon as I started moving around in my bed I felt sick. Though I was still unaware of my injury, I was coming to an awareness that I was exposed, uncovered, cold, and in pain. 

Like a cyclical obsession I drank water from the sink and retched. I tried to remember the beer. I put a straw in it. The writing man. The bearded bar tender. Who else? I Showered.
Vomited.
Looked at myself.
Showered.
Vomited.
Cried.
Called the front desk. No answer.
Stared in the mirror.
I saw it was 7:09 a.m. I knew I needed to start walking to the building next door for work by 7:45 a.m. My room wasn’t packed. I applied makeup. I straightened my hair. I told myself to hush. “Hush, Jamie!” I said again to my red eyes in the mirror. I put on some leggings and added a dress and a light sweater. I left my room with lights on and mess on display. 

Before heading out of the hotel lobby, I asked the front desk lady if I could check out at 2. She told me I had until 12.  I asked if she had surveillance. She said they monitor but don’t record. I asked if she worked the night before. She said her shift started  at 7:00 that morning.

I wondered where my car was. When I found it where I parked it for two weeks, I wondered how I got to the hotel. I considered I might need to wake up from this very realistic nightmare. I then walked to the building next to hotel to give the last make-up state assessment of the journey.

My student didn’t show. 
I sat in a chair atop my bruises and pretended I was whole while my colleagues still at the testing site chatted. I even chimed in, I’m sure. 

I got home April 29th determined to fix the vibe in me that made me the object of yet another rapist. I was chosen by depravity again. 
Closing in on 41. Overweight. Sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Tired and unimpressed. 
The chosen one.

By June 13, whatever he or they did finally took full effect. My spine was compressed and frayed like a horse tail (Cauda Equina) due to both a shattered disc and a bulging disc mangling it up.

3 surgeries. Deep pain. Deep deep pain. 
Anesthesia induced a resurfacing of repressed trauma. 
Brain/spinal cord infection. 
Numbness on right hip to toe (still).
‘Within hours of paralysis,” they said.

Never forgetting something I cannot remember.
Random flashbacks to darkness and fear.
No clue what happened to me. 

All because I had a beer, alone. 

Swell of the Pillage

With sweat still dripping from his naked chest, 
Seeing my tear drip from my eye to my ear,
My vicar traded guilt for my reticence:

He whispered, “So deep is the slumber,
That death is the only awakening.

Comfort is the god of the complacent-
Defended and free 
to allure even the kindest heart away from his maker.

Confronted are those who call themselves redeemed 
as the God of mercy presents a distraction-free Jesus 
to those he desperately wants to set free.  

To wander and hunger is salvation. 
‘Come out of the darkness!’ is the whisper of the unseen giant.

The demonic forces tremble 
as the Saints 
worship the Defeater of Death- 

-knowing that his rise upon the mountain
casts a shadow that shall comfort even the coldest soul 
if it were willing to reach out for him.”  

__

With blood still dripping from my naked breast,
Seeing his eye drop to his ear,
I offered the rebuttal for his guilt:

“So deep is the slumber,” I objected,
“that Truth is the only awakening.  

Justification is the god of the religious,
defended and free
to allure even the most elusive prey.

Lofty are those who call themselves forgiven 
as the they present a confrontational Jesus 
to those they desperately want to bind.  

To wander in the darkness is hunger,
and salvation is lamenting
the barbaric yawp of broken humanity.

The antagonistic forces tremble 
as the Defective 
worship the Defeater of Injustice-

-knowing that their rise upon the mountain 
casts a shadow that won’t comfort even the coldest soul
of the redeemed.” 

Reflection

Is it normal to have your flesh wretch and scream out in the fire? The refining fire. 

“I’m spotted silver and your reflection is not clear. I yield my soul to you, yet my flesh hangs on for death! Tears for all your suffering saints are easier to shed than tears of my own yielding!”

“Take the path of life” you said, showing me just the next step. 

I’m no longer standing still staring at the crossroads, afraid to move. 

You said, “Walk the path of life” when things got worse, and I kept falling down.

Quick deep love cannot reach the shallows; I reduced myself to the image the world created me to be and made it my identity. Yes, I took advantage of the light that is in me.

Yet, I moved my feet in spite of myself and I followed. I dragged the luggage that no longer contained my baggage.

You said, “Let me be your Light ” And I said yes.  Which meant saying no to self-created controlled catastrophe. And no to many things I treasured in the dark. The path I chose has brought many more sufferings.

The past that brought me shame Now In ashes. When the billow awakened the ember, my eyes were burned. Conflagration wildly blazing in my heart. My soul, hot. Refining fire. 

In my youth, my innocence was stolen-I was given knowledge I couldn’t conceive and fought to control. The fire replenished that.

Rescued from deep rooted self-destructive unhealthy coping habits. The fire replaced that.

Set free from an identity I no longer recognize. The fire blazed that. 

Nothing makes sense! It looks as if all things are falling apart. Doors that I wouldn’t shut have slammed. Doors I wouldn’t open have fallen off the hinges. 

“Forgive my fear of the path! My will fights yours, my evil persists!”

You say to walk with strength and dignity. You say to laugh at the days to come. Like Sara, my laughter is doubt. My bitter taste is control. 

Please continue to refine me. Until you look into my eyes and see only your reflection. 

6 Feet Within

6 feet apart. Masker or anti-masker. Virtual learning. Quarantine. Flattening the Curve. Covid-19. 

These words have helped define 2020. It seemingly has become the most difficult year of this era for the entire world. Yet, in a way, it makes the world seem smaller. While Covid is the main conversation in almost every circle, the US is more divided than ever on virtually any topic, and conspiracy lurks at every corner, I have never been better.

In January I returned from a mission trip in Liberia, Africa. While there,  I visited the filthiest and most forgotten prison on the planet.  With prison cells smaller than my own bedroom packed with young men (some probably younger than my 14-year-old son) and a smell so thick and putrid that I can still bring it forth from my mind’s nostrils, I came face to face with my own stinking rotten prison. I bellowed out my crackly, tone-deaf voice to sing praises over and with these men. I clasped hands with them, noting their dry, cracked skin embedded with filth. I heard their voices cry out in loneliness and desperation for human connection, hoping they mattered to someone-anyone. They begged for food and money. They were thirsty for more than just water- though they were in desperate need for clean water (which was provided). 

 In a blind orphanage I was told by a preteen blind girl that she was my missionary. And she sang “I once was blind, but now I see…” and I knew she saw more than I could. 

I stood at the shore of the mightiest ocean in the world (or at least in my world). It was crashing with the waves I’ve only seen in my dreams…And the waves of my nightmares full of brokenness, pain, and loss. It cleansed my dirty feet and gave me hope in a bigger God. One bigger than I thought He was. 

And I cried at night for my sons, who I left at home. Worried and desperate for their presence. Paralyzed with fear, staining my pillow with tears. Night after night surrendering them to God saying, “You are bigger than I know. You are mightier than I believe. You understand me,” and falling asleep in His arms knowing they too resided there. 

I came home on a windy day in a rocking plane that made passengers vomit and anxiety fill the recycled air. 

I went back to work. I went back to treatment. I went back to chronic pain and insomnia. I went back to sports and exhaustion and forgetting that God is the one in control.  Forgetting he holds my soul in his heart. Forgetting He is bigger. 

I prayed for time to stop so I could heal and slow down. I prayed for the world to stand still so I could have peace in my heart. And hope. 

Then, one day, we were quarantined from a disease that days before seemed so far away-so other side of the world. 

And time stopped. 

Suddenly I was home all the time. My sons were home. No sports. No busy life. No other people. Nothing. 

It was difficult at first. I felt I had to do something. So I made masks. Tons of masks. 

But I caused myself to have a flair up in my back due to the arthritis. So I quit. 

Then I began spending hours in the Word. I spent 3-4 hours a night pouring over the scripture asking God “and what does it mean to be still?”

I’m not a still person. My mind is always filled with revolving thoughts, narratives, memories and what-ifs, self deprecation, regret, worship lyrics, Bible characters, desire, my past and future. Even when asleep, my dreams indicate a constant cycle of thoughts. 

For 2 months, the boys and I were on a flipped schedule. Each night we went to bed later and woke up later. 

We had a routine: Watch iCarly, play MarioKart, talk, watch the daily Corona briefings, do schoolwork, Bible study, play video games, etc. Also, they ate a ton of food. 

But something else happened.

Because I sought, I found what it means to be still. 

My body began to feel less pain. My mind slowed down. My spirit awakened.  I poured over the Word and got to share my journey daily with almost 70 people who were also praying over these things. 

Then, the quarantine ended. Life picked up again. My first day back in church was a day of joyous weeping because I got to worship with those I share life with the most. 

Sports started back up, treatment became more focused, and the boys and I established a new routine. 

Yet, something was different. Like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon, my spirit danced in the air. My soul became uplifted. Old wounds suddenly were healed. My loss and regret were no longer luggage I pulled behind me. My cycles were shattered and their roots were pulled. My mind regenerated. My hopelessness was supplanted with joy.

I wore clothing of strength and dignity; and my soul began to laugh at the days to come.

I danced in my living room again.

Did God stop the world for me? Certainly not! Yet, I can’t help but know that He knew what He was going to do in me when He gave the virus permission to infect its first victim. 

Call that egocentric. Call it what you want. But my God is bigger than You (and I) think He is and His thoughts towards us are more than the grains of sand on the earth. 

This has been a year of blessing. How has 2020 been for you?

Nowhere

Nowhere is where I belong.

 Certainly not in this druxy union- This dilapidated foundation. 

Lies and false hopes and secrets kept tight in a secure safe. 

Ignorant promises that fade like the day does to night.

 Ideas surrounding ideas with no action, leaving no goal to pursue. 
Comfort isn’t surrendered, but worshipped. 

Lost in a state of misery and regret, knowing I once found peace within myself- With who I am-Traded away for constant questioning; never comfortable as me.

Mocked and labeled with convincing falseness. 

Stranded without even a shred of confidence that once carried me faithfully. It kept my back straight, shoulders squared, jaw set, head up- It walked me through the depths.

Even that which almost destroyed me was not enough to murder my confidence. 

But this. 
Now I’m lost.

Trying not to feel and laboring to conceal. New weakness replaces my strength. I feel selfish and am selfless; Should I be sorry it hurts?

Ah bitterness, You are a liar! Regret, you deceive!


Life isn’t about what isn’t but about what is. Currently what is, is nowhere. 

And it is where I belong.