Did I know growing up that I was half awake? No, indeed not. And I don’t think my parents knew either. They nor I realized that I wasn’t fully experiencing life. Last night over dinner, it became a funny anecdote that I began smoking at 37 years of age — What most people explore at 17 or even less. I laughed too but it was bitter-tasting. No one was laughing at me but I felt in that moment the loss of all those years. The resounding echo of emptiness.
I found myself telling my story to these new friends and as I did each season of my life, each transition, began and ended with an aspiration I had and my father shutting me down. He had very different ideas about what I should do and become. I think he was afraid for me on some level and I don’t know why.
Now if you don’t know me well, let me reassure you that I can be a formidable person. I ran my own communications department for many years in my twenties. And my brilliant husband sometimes quakes when he knows I’m out of sorts. But as I described “allowing” on each of those occasions someone (usually my father) to tell me no it hit me again, very hard, how much loss I feel for a life half-lived. I acquiesced to his will over and over again. As my kids would say, I caved.
I am a strong person, but I lived most of my life seeming weak. I got the message that I could not make good decisions — that my choices were poor and would result in consequences that I couldn’t see.
My mother’s Feng shui coach described her recently as an incredibly a “strong and self-aware person.” And I was shocked and almost corrected her. As I tilted my head, looked from her to my mother, I thoughts about it further. Was my mother strong? Is my mother strong? She has always seemed weak to me. She didn’t leave my father when he put her head through a wall early in their marriage. She rarely stood between us — defended us — when dad was on a tirade. She gave up her career choices, her health, her aspirations so that his career moved forward. Things I always saw as weak. But to have survived my father’s anger, his cruel behavior and abusive treatment for 40+ years she must be strong! The same must go for me.
I never stood up to my father. I learned to be quiet, to not express my opinions or sense of humor. I learned quite early that it wasn’t worth it. I have up. Being sensitive and a peacemaker by nature and being intuitively aware of others emotional world was a combination that made for a devastating childhood. But the same must be true for me. I am strong to have survived. Strong to be able at 40 to say I want to know myself. To be able to bravely face the fear of not knowing your inner self and pursue it.
It is too easy to look back on time with regret. Much too simple to think of all I could have done, or should have said. Especially in an abusive relationship, you think of what you wanted to say sometimes years later. Too late! Especially when the perpetrator is dead!!!
Ah, but if only we could live in now. Carpe Diem, yes, seize this day. Goethe, said this:
“Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest?
Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
I am longing for the power and magic needed to live for today. I do not want to linger another second in yesterday and wonder what might have been. There is too much grief there. Too many regrets. I must forgive myself for not being the person I might have been. And, surely, forgive my father which I have. I must make today what I like.
And, it is very important for me to know that I need not repeat that legacy in my own children. I will not, I do not. I want to embrace their unique interests, fan the flame of their passions, allow them to dream.
If it is true what CS Lewis said: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” then I must figure out not the past any longer, but what the future will be.
I wake from a recurrent dream. It unsettles me. Always
in slumber I am Searching for meaning
to life. For love,
taking on many forms. Assurance
of the illusive, improbable God to talk. To me. Give me some sign.
Speak my LORD, won’t you? Prove [again] that you are real.
Shake the heavens — Flood the earth– Heal the sick — Give sight to the blind, yes sight for me. Today.
I feel ashamed of my doubts. Fear
that religion is some celestial apothecary, erected by the weak in our need
to silence our spiritual afflictions. A contrivance.
And yet that very Truth that I seek is a need — So exacting.
Out of my heart comes my deepest longing for God, meaning, Truth. How do I sometimes know
so clearly, so absolutely? And other days I feel a universal, colossal Absence. And I am terrified
of the possibility — Are the heavens vacant?
of my heart, so quick to Doubt — Demand — Need.
So many crazies, I do not want to be one of them. I want Knowledge. I Seek Truth.
I Seek absolution and forgiveness.
I Need reassurance that our buildings, our rhetoric, our activities aren’t simply tokens
of our need.
Anne Rice rejects
the bricks and mortar of faith — Stepping
away from judgment and scorn to something else.
A Floridian pastor chatters hollowly about prayer for God’s will to burn a Holy Book, taking a civic stance
against America’s “enemies.” A lesbian cleric challenges us to love our enemies, meaning her.
I try to stay open, loving, faithful — and some challenge the very core of my faith.
Absolutes come with human judgment. Scriptures wrongly translated
and easily misunderstood. For thousands of years Men
have held their power over women, crushing spirits, and then questioning
our faith when we stand up against this treatment.
Why would a loving God not give me complete access and authority?
Why would a loving God not accept the prayers of gays and lesbians, dear faithful people
seeking Truth as much as me? Why do Absolutes bring judgment and misunderstanding, when put in the hands of misguided men and women?
Thank you, but I’ll take my doubts and questions to scripture. I’ll stumble my way through original meaning, cultural influences and climate. I’ll implore the mystical and Holy Spirit of God. [who on most days I know is active and real]
to teach me, a Woman, but also forgiven
sinner first before a sexual being. Teach me, I am humanity
with desires and longings unfulfilled over a lifetime. Teach me, I am humbled.
And I fall prostrate and hope that I am not one of the Crazies.
That God hears Me.
** I use the term “Crazy” for the lunatic fringe.