Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Dose of My Own Medicine

Well boys and girls,

The reason I called myself a hypocrite for being , in my own words...
"a fearful blob of discouragement" the other day was partially because I wrote a treatise a few years back on how I would steadfastly "refuse" to succumb to fear. Those bold ass statements have come around once again to bite me in the ass because I was not, at that low ebb, living up to my own words --hence feeling hypocritical.

But I guess you could say,

...sometimes we just get down.

Understatement of the year, huh? Hell, I can even say understatement of the decade, we're less than a month in.

But I have devoted so much of my writing to overcoming, coping, surviving, that "victor, not victim" shit, that when I'm racing through that dark, narrow log ride of fear, I'm ashamed to admit it. I am afraid to yield even one molecule to that seeping doubt, which spreads like kudzu vines in the south, wrapping their steely sprouts around my mind...

"maybe I won't make it as a writer, maybe I'll never lose this twenty pounds, maybe I won't meet a great guy and fall in love, maybe Obama won't be able to solve all the world's problems, maybe I'll always be broke, maybe bad things will happen to my family... (as if divorce, bankruptcy, a child with an incurable disease, job loss, loss of a brother, two other brothers with cancer, dad in the slammer for sex crimes, having to scoop up a dead possum in the yard with a shovel cause their ain't no man in my life to help me run the farm!!! if this isn't enough?)

But I've drunk the Kool-Aid. I've read enough books about the power of positive thinking, "The Secret", the Bible, I've even smudged my house to dispell evil spirits. My friend Michelle says "your word is your wand" meaning what you say will surely come to pass. And so I will share with you the words I wrote five years ago, when I was at a critically low ebb, and I will try to take a dose of my own medicine.

I call it Loafers From the Sky and I wrote this in April 2005.

It’s been a bit of a rough go.

In the past five years, I’ve gotten divorced, been laid off twice, and filed for bankruptcy, once. My ex-husband came out of the closet and then went in-- to prison, for various and sordid sex crimes. My eldest son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which wrings out my heart every time it twists up his gut. I lost my brother, unexpectedly, and met the love of my life at his funeral, even more unexpectedly, and then painfully learned that bad timing can trump even fate. Through all of this though, financial and professional peril, life and death and life altering events, the sweetest joys, the most devastating sorrows, through all of this drama, I’ve steered the mother ship. I have four children--who are now practically grown, the youngest is fifteen. They are wise beyond their years. And they are wise asses, incredibly funny, resilient, remarkable and ordinary in the very best ways possible.

After my most recent lay off, which is more terrifying than the last one, since I am now the sole provider for this “little family that could,” I was heading back from an appointment with my tax guy and I called a good friend to ease his mind that I was solvent, for at least a month. I’d scheduled an appointment with the taxman right away--knowing I was going to need the tax refund this year more than ever. After he’d filed my taxes electronically, in about fifteen seconds flat, saying, “sorry, you have fewer deductions and more income this year, so your tax return is considerably less than last year. And, sorry to hear about your job loss. That will be $300 please,” I headed out to the car, grateful for the promise of at least some money coming in. I called my lawyer friend, who counseled me through the first lay-off.

“I feel like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop,” I whined.

“Darlin', it’s already dropped,” he chuckled.

“Yeah, but somebody’s got an unlimited supply of loafers,” I fired back without hesitation.

No sooner had I uttered those words than I thought, “WAIT!” Do over. I need to rethink this.

I was NOT set upon this earth to be the poster child for hard luck stories. I am not a lifetime member of the “Tragedy R Us” club. I am reminded of the baptismal vows we recite every time a baby is sprinkled with holy water, “do you reject Satan and all his empty promises?” and we solemnly affirm, “I do.”

And, I do.

I say this now, for the record and for all time: “I reject you, tragedy. I mock you, pain and loneliness. I denounce you, lifetime of sadness. I challenge you, fear.”

Because my life is not about fear.

Fear of the bill collector, the tax accessor, the car mechanic, the disease merchant or the devil. Fear of the sometimes screaming, aching, violent loneliness that stands at the edge of my mind,wagging its hateful finger, saying, “you will always be alone, you will always be alone, YOU will always be alone.”

Because I am not.

I have the bill collectors.

And my children, who share my blood, my dreams, my perverted sense of humor, my journey, my neurosis, my triumphs, tragedies, my money or lack thereof, my car and my dog.

And I have my friends, who humor me, love me, scold me and cajole me so that my life is not about fear.

It’s not about frantically, desperately proving my worthiness on paper, retrieving every morsel of written communication I’ve ever earned a dime from to parade in front of prospective check signers, hoping that soon, very soon, they will be dumping my data into their data bank, so I can, once again, live the good life of automatic deposit. Nice, as that may be, my life, my time on this planet is about far, far more than this temporary Titanic.

My life is about love.
absolute boundless love, selfless and selfish love --
the flicker of desire, no matter how fleeting, and being brave enough to feel it.
friend love, the “I’ll carry the torch and help you through the dark” or
“I’ll hold the flashlight while you connect the jumper cables” kind of love,
and the eternal flame of maternal love, from mine and to mine, with the bedrock truth that this brand of love stands for all time.

And peace,
my life is about peace.
The peace that comes from understanding that my time on earth is not about fear.
It’s about the wisdom and grace, the humor and compassion which cascades and covers us in radiant warmth, when we share our human condition, helping us laugh to keep from crying, because we are indeed, not alone.

I am not alone.

The cable guy is at the door and he wants a check.

So, I wrote that five years ago. My mother has passed since then. Pete the 14-year-old "King of Dogs" has passed and we have Libby, "The Replacement Dog" now. Indeed, we have a new health crisis with my brother Don, I've dated a few more duds and I'm mostly broke as a joke. But the friends remain ever strong, the kids--phenomenal. And here's why I'm not feeling so scared tonight:
  • I have three new offers for Friday night movie dates.
  • My friend Kit says next time he's in town, he'll pour the wine while I drive.
  • Linda says, "just eat cookies."
  • Amy's on the prowl for men for me to date.
  • My friend's dad Rene' is back from Haiti, sad, but safe.
  • My friend's son Michael, is making remarkable progress and they'll bring him out of the coma in coming days.
  • My brother Don's cancer is responding AMAZINGLY well to the chemo. His tumors have shrunk some 90%.
Who am I to be afraid?

1 comment:

  1. Jean, the single life has a way of knocking the wind out of you sometimes, but it is better than being with a gas bag/gas passer you can't stand. Hold out for someone who will hold your hand AND heart. Peace and happiness starting now!