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To Anyone Out There Who's Listening

Always just hunting for that near-life experience, In fear of missing something vital from your own existence. All your emotions subconsciously thought out and scripted Less about how you're feeling, More about how you f*#@ing depict it.

I've never been a morning person. But as the school bus pulls away, sometimes I do sit in the quiet glow of light coming through my bedroom window and reflect. Last night, my son asked me if God loves children as much as he loves grownups. I told him that God loves everyone, but that children are special because of their innocence. Do you remember being young and unable to hide a single thing on your face? When do we start to unlearn that beautiful trait that we're all born with? That wide-eyed wonder and total transparency?

In high school, I volunteered with a team of abstinence educators, going into schools and teaching my peers that intimacy is like giving a little piece of yourself away. Each time and each person is another little piece. We have to guard all our little pieces because some day, we're going to find the person we want to spend the rest of our life with, and all we'll have to give that person is a tattered, tired looking scrap of our once radiant selves. I actually believed it, too.

We used this example as a cautionary tale. But there wasn't much in the way of real comfort if your life had already taken a turn off that straight and narrow path. Teens in my very insular world who explored or experimented were very quickly pushed to the outside to fend for themselves. Like a pack of wolves, rejecting one of their own with ferocity disguised as concern and savagery concealed as accountability. Purity and chastity were worn less like virtues and more like a necklace of tiger teeth.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, of course, that almost every one of them was guilty of the same crimes, behind closed doors. But nobody dared admit it. The overwhelming guilt, the assurance of alienation compelled the clever ones into a terrified silence. They became fantastic, compulsive liars, nearly every one of them. And then, when real heartache found its way, they were on their own. Unequipped to handle it, and unable to reach out for help without revealing their secrets.

There was a point in each of our lives when we didn't know what a secret was. We didn't know how to hide. We didn't know we could be punished for wondering. Then a time comes when these lessons crash over us like an unrelenting storm until we're so beaten down that we forget what it ever felt like to be unburdened and free.

And then, if we're lucky, one day we wake up. And we realize the chains can only hold us if we let them. When this happens, there is tremendous resistance. We're thrown to the outside of the pack, like we'd always feared we would be. We face the wilderness we spent all of our life trying to avoid, and you know who's there? You know who is standing there waiting to pick up each and every one of your pieces and put them back together when you're all alone in the dark?

I think you do.

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