Damn the Words

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The universe took its time on you
Crafted you to offer the world
Something different from everyone else
When you doubt
How you were created
You doubt an energy greater than us both
― Rupi Kaur

We purchased our cabin in the mountains when the kids were small. For me, it was sight unseen. Long story short, Eric holds the vision and I try not to complain. The early days were rough. A double-wide not equipped for the frigid temperatures of the Gunnison Valley of Colorado, the previous owner winterized every year on Labor Day, returning on Memorial Day for three decades of summers. After his passing, his children tried to keep it up but they chose to part with the maintenance efforts of a 1975 uninsulated manufactured home alongside a tricky sibling relationship.

After enough visits with backed up sewage, broken pipes, fogged up storm windows, Eric overhauled the plumbing and heating systems. We also got a new paint job to minimize the vibe that resembled the possessed home in Stranger Things.

The sellers left us with all the furniture, including three vintage sewing machines, two console record player/stereo systems, a large selection of albums from the mid-1960’s, four percolating coffee makers and a host of vintage, industrial sofas that could seat a small village. The house was packed and dark and oppressive – but clean, filled with possibility and a potential for loads of memories.

After eight years of ownership, our home is comfortable in all four seasons. A pellet stove, along with some new furniture items, balance out the older pieces to create an atmosphere of eclectic ease. When we are busy in our daily lives the last thing we want  to worry about are expensive home furnishings.

Our  home away from home is the best of us, but with the passing of time, the needs of our family have changed.

Duty calls and our cabin has to take on new purpose. After a hefty handful of Gunnison summers and extended winter visits, we put the house on the rental market. Placing our home in the hands of others was scary. Would they find our humble double-wide as cozy as we do? Would they appreciate the serenity and surroundings?

Every guest is pestered by VRBO to write a review, to evaluate their visit. It’s a vulnerable thing to read the words of others about something you’ve poured your heart into, but all of our reviews have been glowing. That is, all but one.

And now we aim a critical eye at our eclectic, cozy cabin furnishings. The innocence is over. Someone wrote hurtful and condescending words which made us question our home. No longer do we view our mishmash of furnishings as cozy, we now reconsider our personal taste, wondering if it just might be tacky.

As much as we try to ignore the words, we are still impacted. The jabs lodge themselves far more than any compliment ever could and we question if we are good enough.

Harvard Business Review says it takes an average of 5.6 compliments to make up for a single criticism. The hurtful statements, the ones that attack our essence and our ways of being in the world, are the indelible ones. The simple goodness of my home was attacked with entitled, superior opinion. The words hurt. And I stand in my home wondering if they are right, that maybe I’m the one missing something, that maybe they know things I don’t. My taste, my hope for my home, my offering is all called into question.

I think of the people doing their work in the world – vulnerable people making a mark for the common good on a constant and consistent basis. I think of the women in my circles who are calling out injustice, who are telling the world how they’ve been hurt and violated, with quaking in their bodies alongside an indescribable fierceness. I think of beautiful people living into their call and purpose, knowing the paycheck will barely cover expenses for a month.

I’m not sure any of them would say they are strong or brave or courageous. I think all of them would say I’m just doing what needs to be done. And all the while they remain generous, unassailable, warm, inviting, a comfortable place to land. The attacks fly and the insults lodge but the softness remains, unyielding in love and compassion.

The words may cut us down, rendering us impotent for a time as we re-evaluate and regroup. But, my friends, the rising is remarkable. The power of adversity and defiance is holy as the divine feminine bubbles up from the soil. The flood of beauty will never be contained, no matter the scorn. There is only reverence and fierce hope.

Despite the doubt and quaking, despite the fear and trembling, we will rise. Our bodies, wombs for renewed life. Just as we are – cozy, eclectic, wondrous.

Damn the words.