For the past few months, not incidentally since my mother’s death, I have been feeling lack luster, uninspired and just okay. I tear-up easily and look forward to bedtime. The upshot is I haven’t had the energy to be anxious. I get what needs doing done, but not much more. So when one of my most reliable friend’s eyes filled with tears at the end of a long conversation, and said, “I wish you could see yourself the way I do, the way God does,” I didn’t know what the hell she meant. Except I did know what she meant because I started crying too, and then my insides slid out onto Peet's laminate wood floor.
I was lost to myself, again.
The exact nature of my wrongs is to forget my glory. To forget that there’s nothing wrong with me, that my humanity is my finest asset and that making mistakes is how I learn, not an indictment. My glory is real and my dead spots give contrast making the picture more interesting.
Most revolutionary: glory does not come from what I do, but who I am.
Glory is a fraught idea. In the home where I grew up, it was ascribed to God, and God alone. To God be the glory for the things he hath done, not, to Sandy be the glory for the gal that she is. Any personal entanglement with glory was a reason to feel shame. The problem for my family, (and the family in the novel WHAT YOU CARRY) is that essential belief, to God be the Glory, muddied with every vision of grandeur and Schizophrenic delusion my father had. Like a dirty cloth washing a window my Dad would become Christ and my Mom would flip out.
The novel I have written is named WHAT YOU CARRY. The subtitle might as well be The Seven Self-Defeating Habits of Ineffectual People. What those self-defeating habits look like in the Thompson family, the family in the novel, are as follows:
1 –I better figure this out on my own
2 – Keep trying--you can control crazy
3 – My best is not good enough
4 – Don’t waste time attending to the wound, chase down the shooter
5 – I’ll feel better when you’re punished
6 – Continue polishing turds
7 – Keep your sick thoughts to yourself
Or some such nonsense. It’s fun to pull legs.
Unlike me, the Thompson family does not have a track record of relying on trusted friends. Sure, there are good people in their lives, but wisdom is not what they curate. The Thompsons are swinging wildly, scared to death and blaming the sick guy for ruining their days. Set in the seventies, in rural Florida, there are few good meds available and not a lot of family services.
How easy it is to sink to the bottom where self-defeating attitudes fester and twist, where tendrils of self-loathing rise up and wrap around an ankle! To drift slowly downward and not realize the desire for fresh air has evaporated. And how powerful to know it is just as easy, if I chose to look, to grab the outstretched hand offered to help pull me back to the surface. It has to be my hand, my decision to reach, my willingness to look at my insides with curiosity not shame.
We all have a painful past. Why I love to read emotionally sweaty stuff is because I am emotionally sweaty. Literature acts like a conductor’s wand commanding bows to rise and fall over heartstrings. May that mission be accomplished in EXACT NATURE.