“The feeling of being doubted…is an ever-present background noise…”
Did you ever wonder if people believe you? Is that only the mental stomping ground of the addict? The alcoholic?
The feeling of being doubted, of my integrity being questioned, is an ever present background noise…especially when I am sick. I was even afraid, just now, to write the word ‘sick’. (wouldn’t it be better to minimize?)
One very HUGE contributing factor to this constant was the years upon years of describing extreme pain to a plethora of physicians who could find no ‘easy’ or ‘obvious’ condition to label me with. There were no broken bones, I had a history of drug abuse, I had a history of a mental illness diagnosis, and I am a woman. I was also very strong, working difficult physical jobs normally held by men, which may or may not have been a factor.
My experience has not been an isolated one when it comes to women who have Fibromyalgia and/or similar diagnosis. During the years before the medical profession widely recognized this condition I was one of a multitude who went thru years of mental anguish and physical agony before finally being given a smidgen of relief.
Finally a Diagnosis !
It took real determination (and very real disability and pain) to keep pushing on towards a diagnosis. I was told it was all in my head, that I was just overweight and needed exercise and that what I was experiencing was just a consequence of aging. At this point I was crying every night from the burning in my joints, in my muscles and in my spine. My best description for that time was as if I were wearing a dense heavy coat that was soaking wet, all the time. A coat that weighed about 100 pounds and was crushing me.
At this point my work was suffering, a kind boss had taken me aside after noticing my wincing, and suggested a Rheumatologist. Initially even he was sceptical until he got back the results of the CT Scans and MRI’s. (He was the first to order these types of tests!) I distinctly remember the initial shock at him gently taking my hand and apologizing, so sincerely, for not believing the severity of my discomfort. He went on to ask me if I had been in a car accident, the images showed that level of damage to my spine.
There were a myriad of issues the films brought to light, and from that point on my care finally addressed them. The physical relief was matched and even surpassed by the rush of validation! I was taken seriously!! I was, finally, believed!
Everyone want’s to be pretty, or beautiful, I think. I know I was obsessed with the thought my whole life, and deprived myself of much happiness for what I thought was a severe lack of it. I had no sense of my own “looks” till about 8 or so, my parents told me I was pretty before that, and my Sicilian Grandma would pinch my cheek and say , “Bella, bella!!”
Then, one summer day, my Mom decided to enter me in a local child’s beauty contest…She started by fussing with my hair. I was busy digging up bugs or something in the yard, so her newfound interest in me was a bit unsettling. I was an obedient child, so I let her fuss and fiddle. I remember it being spring, and the yard was full of bird’s chirping and golden light. Mom was in a good mood initially, then she asked me to sit a certain way on the back porch, and she whipped out a camera. Well, that seemed fine, and I asked her what the occasion was. Oooh, a little contest, and you are going to win! This made me more agreeable, initially.
. The session took quite a while, and Mom wasn’t satisfied with the efforts, so we kept pressing on. I think I must have gotten too fussy, because I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to this memory. I just know we got thru it somehow, and I went back to my scientific bug experiments.
Weeks passed, then excitedly the local gazzette prints the photos for review. All the other girls had their hair in pigtails with ribbons, lacy ruffled collars, some even had little dot earrings, or a pretty necklace. We raced thru the names to my photo…oh…my photo. Here was a ‘new’ look! With half of my little face in shadow, you could see right away that Mom hadn’t had the right lighting. Or maybe it was the bipolar side showing up even then!!! More than that, though, I was wearing just my favorite tee shirt, and my short “pageboy” haircut was in stark contrast to the other, pretty, girls. No necklace, no cute little dot earrings. And no prize.…Sigh… Mom was more upset than I was initially, I had never compared myself to other girls before that, as I recall. I do remember Dad criticizing her photo-taking ability, as he conitinued to do for the rest of her life, and thereafter for a good portion of mine(till his death!). There were rumblings inside the jealous side of my psyche, the newspaper had it all there in black and white : Susie is different. You would think that would be a good thing for a little tomboy like me, but I did not like the way it felt.
. And I really hated having my photo taken, for a long time since. But now that I am past childhood, even the one that lasted till I was 40 or so, and now that I have a wonderful electronic device to photograph myself, I like to. From time to time I get really down on myself, and I am afraid I may turn into my Mom, who would gaze at herself in the mirror and say, “I’m so ugly.” When I found her doing that it made me cry , for her, and get angry, for me, because I am her identical twin!!! We are all beautiful.
. Make sure you hear me: we are all beautiful. All of us, all the time.
There is no “wait until” time to be beautiful…until I lose weight, until I get a tan, until I grow up, until I get some body changing, unnatural surgical procedure. And you don’t lose your beauty when you age, either, so don’t fall in that rut. Or try not to.
. Be gentle in your assessment of your appearance, don’t judge yourself by peering at your reflection from 2 inches away. Everybody has enlarged pores from that distance! And scars? Honey, I have scars if you wan’t to compare them sometime. From acne, to road rash due to jumping out of a moving car, to adult chicken pox that were even in my mouth and on my bottom as a 40 year old….to all my surgery scars and beatings I received, chipped teeth and all, even the scar where my husband stabbed me, or the ones on my neck when he strangled me unconscious. Yes, I have scars.But it is really true: What is on the outside is of no importance. Some may say, that’s easy to say if you are beautiful, but what if you are disfigured? I watch alot of documentaries, and one of the recent ones was about the Young woman some years ago who had her face torn off by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. This woman was nearly dead when help arrivived, and her story is a traumatic one.
. But her daughter just says it all when she says that she used to not believe those sayings that “what is on the inside is what makes someone beautiful”, until she was with her Mom again after the accident. Her Mom is so beautiful, without a face, or hands, her inner strength and love prove the old saying true. If you are strong and can watch stories like that she really is an amazing and wonderful example to all.
. So, finally, when I was bumming out on my looks the other day, I kicked myself off the couch, put on some colorful makeup and clothes and had a silly photo shoot. It really was nice, in this isolation, to just have a play day. And the fun wasn’t over after the pictures were taken, then I had more fun editing them until I really thought , ” I am pretty!”
P.S. I did mention the make-up and photo-editing, didn’t I?
I do silly things sometimes. Fairly often, in reality. Most of the time they are thoughtless mistakes, quickly forgotten by all who have been effected by them. There was a time, in the past life I lived, the one I talk so much about on this site, that I did intentionally bad things. Things that hurt people. People who loved me, acquaintances, strangers, it really did not matter. My warped bipolar, drug addicted brain could only seek it’s own gratification, usually with no apology attached. Selfish. Mean. Low down.
. I lived 20 years of my life in Pittsburgh, and went to school in a large predominately white suburb. In the large community I lived in there were 4 black children in my school, that I knew. Out of hundreds. I never wondered why, never asked why, it was just “the way it was”. These were times before forced bussing and desegregation. I never had learned to be predjudiced, it was a non-issue. The first black child I ever saw was about 4 and so was I, I clearly remember running down the hedgerow and meeting him at the opening, breathless.
Baby me in my favorite coat
. He looked at me, and I at him, and I loved him. I wanted to play with him, and he smiled happily back at me. That was 40 years ago-I remember it like yesterday. Mother used to tell visitors that I ran inside that day telling her I was going to marry him and have gray babies. That seems bizzare for a four year old (black plus white making gray) because I don’t think I even had a concept of my being “white”. (A born artist, I probably thought I was pinkish yellow or something…) But I do believe I loved him, on the spot, at first sight.
. I never saw him again, when I ran back outside the family was gone. No black people ever moved in next door, or anywhere on my block for that matter. After I grew older and went to secondary school I saw the other black children who were my age, but we never made friends. But they are stamped on my memory, because they were beautiful. They had a hard road at that school, I know, because they were talked about as being half white, like it was a curse or something. When I brought them up at home, my parents knew exactly who they were, because a “mixed race” couple must have really blown up the town’s skirts back then.
. I must have been talking about it in front of my Tennessee born Grandpa, because I remember being shocked at his reply, and the venom in it. He then said that I had black in me, because I had big lips. So, the realization dawned that prejudice was closer to home than I realized. But I still didn’t feel it, I just thought how nice brown skin would be, it wouldn’t show my pimples. A few years passed and I got my first real job, in a Sambo’s restaurant (yes, that was really the name). I was 15 and my manager was 30. He was black, and very handsome. I was besotted and we dated a couple times. I thought the age difference was exciting, and so was his skin color, and the danger was exhilarating. A danger I was now old enough to understand. He spoke of love, but never wanted me to meet any of his friends or family. I told my Mom about him, and she nearly fainted. She was not racist( I don’t believe), she sat me down and talked a long time about how my grandpa and my father would disown me, how hard the world was on mixed race couples, and it was, at that time. I said goodbye to him on the telephone and that was the end of our friendship.
When I turned 20 I moved to Florida with my Mom. I was very addicted to cocaine before I got there, and I was now living in a county where the sheriff had shipments landing on his own airstrip! It did not take long to land in jail, and then I had an epiphany. I did not hate black people, but they hated me! At least in that jail they did. There were 21 girls in a 6 man cell, we laid on the floor like sardines. When the matron first shoved me in, I saw only one other white girl, and she the meanest of the bunch. “Who did you kill? ” was jeered at me, and the verbal abuse began. I was scared, alone, jonesing and locked up for the first time in my life, and I could not understand why they hated me so bad.. I hadn’t done anything to them, had I?
. I became the brunt of their jokes, being called things I hadn’t heard before. The girls made a habit of stealing my food, taking my blankets and making my life miserable. I was learning, though. When they saw that I could draw and write pretty, I started a little letter writing racket for 1 cigarette per letter. I wrote fast and soon made some memorable friends. When I took the time to learn about my cell mates I began to be enlightened about racism. I was enlightened about my own sense of entitlement, I saw how unequal we were in our education , and in how we were treated by the guards and the police. My fear had subsided, but now I knew that racial differences could be dangerous.
. The turn my life had taken led to being around very racist white people when I got out of jail. Hateful, gun toting people. I wanted to be accepted, I wanted friends, it was not long until I learned the drawl and wore the flag. I never talked about my northern roots, I talked about my relatives in Tennessee. I played the part, got high, got drunk and said the “N” word. I hated everyone who was different, hated everyone who looked at me cross-eyed. I disliked myself most of all, for my two-faced , hypocritical ways.
. Yes, I finally cleaned up my life, got away from violence, cussing, drugs. Got away from my abusive, hateful husband when he went to Prison. Been clean and sober 20 years now, and I am a baptized worshipper of God. I preach to others about love of neighbor, love of family, obedience to God. I changed my wicked ways, I yell it from the rooftops…
It made me physically ill to watch George being murdered. I was, and am outraged. I felt like he was my friend, and all those feelings I posted in my last post. But when I went to the store in the days after his death, and a black man walked down the aisle I was in, I felt terrified. I could not look him in the eye, my face burned with shame and I wanted to run away. I did not mention this in my last post, yet that was my motivation to write it in the first place . I actually wrote about it, then got scared and deleted it! Rewrote the post without talking about my discomfort, my shame, my guilt, my anger at myself. I wanted so much to understand why I reacted that way, why I felt scared to reach past his wife to get my margarine. Why I think if she had said Boo to me I would have peed myself. Why I was unable to say how outraged I was, how I understood their anger, why I was unable to say Anything…
. But good old Sue, she changed her chameleon colors, again… Instead of peering deep into the wound to get to the heart of that ugly splinter, to pull it out and see it in the light of day, to clean the wound and bind it up to heal…I chose to cover the wound, leave the splinter, let it fester some more.
. In my dishonesty, not only to you, gentle reader, but to myself, I had the audacity to presume that my family’s history is comparable to the Floyd’s. While I am sure my ancestors experienced the pain of predjudice it was not a bit helpful to bring that up in this context, as if saying what happened to their son was just a predictable passage in the history of mankind. No, I have to do better if I truly want to clean my heart of the stain it bears. I am part of the problem too. I am not the one to act like I know what black people feel. I tied that emblem on my forehead too many times to be so saintly now…
. I’ve still got work to do, tonight and tomorrow and every day hence. I have to go sharpen my knife, and sterilize my tweezers and get that damn splinter out…I think it’s time.
This is me now, the pain has mellowed, I see love ahead!
. There is often some bright speck, a teeny-weeny glint, in the midst of devastation. Often this tiny glimmer of good goes unseen for years, decades, even centuries. I’m sure there have been major disasters where no bright side was ever found, the loss being only that. A loss. Losses. Deaths. Dying.
. We could only see that, if we got tunnel vision with this Covid Pandemic. Only the disease, the fear, the grief, the bodies stacked up like cord wood. It could just open it’s huge great-white-shark-sized mouth with it’s blood-covered-razor-sharp giant teeth and swallow us whole. Then our lives will have ended, with a dark shroud of sadness enveloping our memory. Is this how you are feeling? Are you frightened?
. It certainly is a normal reaction to this situation. But there IS a silver lining… Have you heard about the animals? They are coming out of the woods, out of the forests, out of the bushes, out of the darkest recesses and back into the sunlight! With humans staying quiet, staying out of their cars, letting the Earth rest from it’s gasping, the animals are out!!! It thrills me, it brings joy to my weary heart to see images of river otters playing in a grassy median, rolling and romping, and laughing!(I’m sure they are laughing, they have to be!)
. I see cardinals again , and osprey flying low. I hear owls, and see ‘coons and possum. Oh, I know, I’m talking about “less desirable”wildlife, but let me tell you, it fills my heart near to bursting. As a child I would read “Born Free”and Miss Anderson’s Cheetah stories, gobbling up the word images of animals running free across African Savannahs. I dreamed nightly about my wild Stallion that I would ride someday, and about Bambi becoming a Stag.
. My Mom’s Bible Study books had images of happy people hugging lions and petting tigers, and I physically yearned for those images to come true. As I learned about God and thought about His love in creating puppies and kittens, I found Bible passages that promised a paradise one day. And as the years have past my faith has become brighter, and the day for me to hug a white tiger, or play with a wolf pup has gotten closer ,too.
. Yes, there is much sadness, sickness and death. There is injustice and corruption and pollution. And , sadly, there are worse things to come in the future, no matter where you live on this planet. But it all is bringing us closer each day to God’s fulfilled promises, such as the end of wickedness, pain, crime and hatred. To days of joyful work for humans, building houses, planting gardens. Many people think that God is causing this horrible pandemic, and that He is a God who throws people into Firey Hell.
. I have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, and was baptized in 2003…but I had many things that I changed, only with God’s help. I was a full blown drug addict and alcoholic for 23 years, beginning at age 13. I only knew abusive and violent relationships, having my nose broken twice, being tied to a tree, stabbed and shot at, being choked unconscious more than once, and more. All this by my own husband. By the time I was 33, I looked like a 50 year old, and I felt 100. I had so many health problems, pain was my constant companion and still is. I smoked Crack, Pot, snorted coke, meth and used drugs intravenously for years. I drank my first beer most days by 9am, and lit my first cigarette before my eyes were open in the morning. I now have PTSD, and COPD. I had Hep C . I was dying and wished I was dead. Finally, before my husband killed me, he was arrested by the ATF and was convicted as a habitual offender, 15 years to life.
. Oh, how I cried. I thought my world had ended. I really went wild. He wanted me to work with the law to get his sentence reduced, I thought ATF agents were behind every tree. I refused to work with the Feds, because I thought I was smarter than them. I hooked up with a member of a MC club, and planned to tell the FBI about it… After all the humiliation and abuse they told me they would never use any info I gave them…I wanted to die… But I didn’t.
. I called my Mom, and begged to come home. She let me. I was the proverbial daughter. Near death and bankrupt in every way I moved back to my parent’s house.
Lots of things happened that I could go on about. Bad things. And worse things.
. But there was a glimmer, a glint of good in all that mire I was in…
. I got on my knees before I took the last step to suicide, and I begged, pleaded, beseeched, cried and screamed my anguish and remorse out to God.
. He heard. And He helped.
. I was able to get clean and sober, 21 years ago this September. I quit smoking the next year. And then, after calling God my “Higher Power”in AA for another year I learned that God , Jehovah God, could and would and did forgive me.
. Yesssssss….deep inhale…..Yessssss!!!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
seems like an eternity ago, when my hair was long, and I still felt pretty. This is before all the accidents, surgeries and injuries and before Mom died.
. You can feel this forgiveness too. I hope you do. Then I can meet you, in paradise on earth when all this badness is finished, for good.
(if you want to learn like I did, JW.org is where to go… You’ll be able to read and study the Bible, watch videos and learn precious truths…and you will learn how God sent His Son, Jesus to sacrifice his life for ALL humans…yep, me…and YOU TOO !!!)
I must not complain. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN! I MUST NOT COMPLAIN!!!!!
I hope I am getting better about that. When so many have, and are, suffering SO MUCH. I shudder to think how it must sound to people who had to say their last goodbye via cell phone. My own little issues are so insignificant in the face of the reality of Covid-19. I suppose I’m like the rest of humanity in the face of enormous grief, enormous death… all we can really see is our own little corner, our own miniscule lives…
. That’s the thing that is SO remarkable to me about God. How can he love us so much? How can He care about a selfish little worm such as I. It is because He Is Love. Not “He has love.” Not “He feels love.”
. He IS love. He IS LOVE.
. Some people have been fed the lie that it is God who causes suffering. In reality, the Bible teaches that it is the evil one who caused death and suffering, by lying to the first human pair in the garden of Eden. That one caused them to die by his lie that they could eat the forbidden fruit and not die. “You surely will not die.”, he claimed.
” Then death spread to all men”
. But God made a way out for us immediately. Immediately, right there in Eden. He spoke about Jesus, about how His Son would ultimately kill off the devil, do away with death forever, and by his willing sacrifice would give humans a way to forgiveness and a clean conscience before God.
. Even little worms like me! Isn’t that amazing. Yes. It really is.
. So, don’t ever doubt God’s love, or that HE IS LOVE. He did not cause this pandemic, nor will he allow such things to continue forever. There will be an end to all human suffering very soon…you can count on it. Don’t give up, keep on seeking…
. I will meditate on these things today, and stay upbuilt, and focus my mind on helping others…and I wish you all peace. We will give a great shout of praise to our God, all of us together, in the not too distant future…
I wish I looked like this right now, because it looks like I feel pretty good about myself in this photo! And I did! I think it lasted a couple weeks, it was after I was alost finished moving in, and I was enjoying exploring my new home town.
I had gone into ma cute little salon for a haircut, a new look for my new beginning, and the young man who did it was a true artist!
Then I saw the prices! Forty bucks, just for a wash and cut! Ahhhhh!!! I never paid more than 20 bucks for a cut, and most of the time that included a five dollar tip! As I paid my bill and thanked him, I still felt on top of the world! This was my new, fresh start!
I was full of hope about my financial situation, I still had money after buying my new (1970) mobile home and land. And I had also purchased a car, cash, so I would not have alot of expenses and bills! OOh , I was SO smart!
After all, in a month or so, I would be selling my art in a new gallery, and be in new shows, and my fame would spread like wildfire! I had a big opportunity to be in ” a really big show”, as Ed Sullivan used to say, and I worked so hard-sure that I was a shoo in.
Months passed, money dwindled, but my hopes were steadily pinned on my huge success in this upcoming event. I spent more money, remodeling, new furnishings, paint, welding class, tons of art supplies.
I worked round the clock, taking photos of my work, even going to a free class to learn to present my work just right. I bought black sheets as backdrops, spent hours setting things up, months agonizing over artist statements, resume, biographies.
I wanted to really knock ’em dead, so I got a little dramatic with my entry, really emphasizing my struggles with trauma and mental illness.
I sent my entry in at 11:30 pm on the last day they accepted entries, and the cut off was 12 midnight. I even thought this was brilliant, to make me shine even brighter.
Even thinking about it makes me feel a little queasy, I put so much worry and sweat into the process. I told friends about the show, and I said that I was not pinning all my hopes on it.
That was a BIG Fat Lie. I had pinned EVERYTHING on that show. I even planned how humble and gracious I would be.
Then the e-mail came. The same e-mail I got last year:
so here is my inner rotten, little Susie-In-A-Red-Devil-Suit-On-My-Shoulder, whispering in my ear: ” You stupid, stupid girl, You should have known you aren’t good enough, they are all laughing at you, you LOSER!!” The little Susie-On-My-Shoulder even has the audacity to make an L with her hand and hold it to her (my) forehead.
She has not stopped this horrible dialogue yet, but she will. VERY SOON. VERY, VERY SOON!
“Ha, I DARE you, you loser, nya!nya! You don’t have the guuut, HEY!, What are you DOING! PUT ME DOWN! PUT ME DOWN! AHHHHHHHHH!….”
“bloop!” Oh, my, what did I do? She slipped out of my fingers and into the huge pot of scalding Turkey soup I have boiling on the stove! Oh, my!”
Her tiny little mouse-sized red suit boils to the surface, I scoop it out and toss it in the trash. There is no trace of that rotten little monster!
I will brush the dust off of me, off of my canvasses, off of my paints, and do what I love best: Create Fresh and Relevant ART! YAY!!!
In my last post here on The Wind, I shared how ashamed I was to not want to help myself get well. Upon further reflection the episode was cringe-inducing, and I must confess, my statements were frightening!
Back in pool playing days my motto was, “It’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog!” This , of course, referred to my uncanny ability to get behind 1-6 in a race to 7, and the saying fueled more than one come-from-behind upset. (remember Chanelle?) So, I always believed I was not a quitter. I was in for the long haul, and nothing was ever going to slow me down again!
I forgot something in my rush to judgement on myself, in my fierce denunciation of my own weakness. I forgot that I am human, and that I am made of dust. I forgot that I have a real, unmistakable disease, one among many, yes- but I believe the worst one:
I have Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Manic Depression, The BIPO, and it is deadly. In this instance it stopped me, blinded me from recognizing a simple fact: I was physically ill and needed a medical doctor. I had become so discombobulated in my grip on reality that I did not realize I could not breathe!
I blamed my lack of sleep for my headache, for my terrible weariness. This I believed was due to a myriad of different causes, ranging from the bi-pap machine not working right, my bed not feeling right, the fact that I had too much caffiene the day before, even so far as to think I was being persecuted by the devil himself. The brain fog was so bad that I just lay in that agonized state, unable to pry myself from this bed of torment even long enough to take my medication, which would have at least enabled me to get to the doctor.
Finally, only through an extreme exertion of prayer, and a HUGE inner push did I roll, reallyroll out of bed and onto my feet. Still berating myself as a failure, and feeling hateful towards the entire medical community, I was going to cancel the appointment with my PC. For some reason, though, just due to my suffering, I suppose, I did find clothes and the courage to leave the house and fall into the car.
The heat stifled me, and the weather was blamed, the sun blinded me- so it was complained about. My car wasn’t right, my head wasn’t right, NOTHING WAS RIGHT!!!
Then she walked in, in a ray of golden sunlight, thermometer in her hand…
” Hello Ms. Martin, I hear you are not feeling well…”
“grrrr…mumble, mumble…headache…grrrr…pneumonia….grrr…sinuses…mumble, mumble….no sleep…rotten sleep apnea…grrr, mumble mumble….”, says I.
Doc replies, ” Alright then, lets have a listen to your lungs!”
“grrr, wheeze,,,grrr…well I did use some spray paint….grrr..wheeze…”
“OK, Susan, let’s get you a breathing treatment! I’ll be right back with the nurse!”, pipes Dr. Wonderful, as she floats out on her golden cloud of I-Know-What-I-Am-Doing-ness…
(Twenty Minutes and 1 Treatment Later)
“WOW, Doc, I really feel BETTER”
———————————————————————————————————————————- THE REALIZATION DAWNS
In retrospect, I DO NOT KNOW MORE THAN Highly trained Physicians. I do not recognize when my manic episodes have overtaken me, and I am unable to recognize how sick and confused I am when my Bipolar Disorder is not being managed properly.
Should I hate myself for giving into weakness and despair. THE ANSWER IS
NO-NO-NO-!!! A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!!
I would not berate someone with a terminal illness like Cancer for giving in to despair, especially when they are sick, sleep deprived, manic and lonely. I deserve the same consideration, and yes, LOVE, from myself. If my GOD, JEHOVAH loves and forgives me, then who do I think I am not to???
PostScript: My choice of featured Image reflects on feelings of Love for my puppy Izzy, who I had to put to sleep last month. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, because she was not at death’s door, of having a life threatening emergency.
No, my darling girl was just suffering. Suffering the pain an injured spine can bring, and the indignities of age on tiny Arthritic Feet. She lay awake every night panting and groaning, and spent each day unable to walk without crying.
She and I had a long, heartfelt talk, and she finally helped me to see that she loved me enough to let me go if I was suffering. And I recognized that this was also the most loving thing I could do for her. It was a hearthwrenching and agonizing decision, but for her, I did it. She would have done the same for me.
Goodbye my dear friend and ever loyal and dedicated companion. I will remember you. I thank God for the gift of our fuzzy cohabitants on this glorious planet He made for us.
The decision to enter my painting in an art show at a real art gallery was easy to make. I believe I am being motivated by fear, having learned while Pops was in hospital that I will basically be destitute after he dies or if he must be placed in a home. I had always hoped that I could make a living with my art, knew I could, really, but I never wanted to let anyone see it. It isn’t that I am ashamed, it is just so personal. That is my heart on the canvas, my veins torn open, my blood on the page.
I never wanted to sell out. to allow complete strangers to dissect my innermost thoughts, to critique my self expression. My life has been so full of can’ts:
You aren’t a boy, Susan. You can’t play ball like that.
You can’t just draw from your imagination- you must be trained properly.
You can’t go to art school, it is not realistic.
You are too sensitive, you can’t take everything to heart.
YES I CAN!!!!
The latest critic in my life is an elderly aunt, who believes she has my best interest at heart by terrifying me about my future. She wan’ts me to look into selling my antiques, selling my china, selling my whole sense of home and safety in preparation for the big nothingness that she keeps reminding me that looms ahead when Dad dies.
I try very hard to be smilingly pleasant on the phone with her, but it is the most negative words she can say. She totally does not understand my bipolar disorder or depression. I absolutely CAN NOT focus on what MIGHT happen. I will dwell on it, I will obsess about it, and if I am not careful, I will drink and drug over it. Her constant warnings of doom will be a self fulfilling prophecy for me.
I was on my own for many years without any material possessions, and those were some of the most meaningful years of my life. Meaningful in that I learned how to survive happily with nothing, that I appreciated every single meal, blanket, pot, pan, article of clothing, tree, water faucet, sunrise- and every single human being who crossed my path.
I was much younger, sure, but I learned how to SURVIVE. And I succeeded.
Jesus had no place to lay his head- he lived by faith. He lived free, and appreciated all His Father’s blessings. He did not fear not knowing where he would sleep, what he would eat, and the Bible counsels us to follow in his footsteps.
I do not want to sell Mom’s china, and I won’t. If I have to eat dog food on it in the dark, then that is what I will do. I will use my considerable brain function to keep my head above the proverbial water, but not by selling the things I hold dear, or by giving into fear of what may or may not happen.
If something good can come out of my anger at her doubt in me, it is that I am taking a leap of faith and taking my painting to the Gallery.
And I might just take a binder on my writings to an editor while I am at it!
So thank you Auntie Doubtful for the motivation. I remember that I am still the brave girl who jumped on a freight train and rode across Arizona, hitchhiked through 6 states, dumpster dove for greasy Mcdonald’s burgers, and that they tasted like T-bones!
I am the brave girl who worked 27 jobs in 25 years, rigged for the crane building Missle Silos, worked with Belgians and Shires and Clydesdales and Andalusians, and groomed the Atlanta Police department’s horses, learned to decorate cakes and operate forklifts, did lawn maintenance and worked on the tip of an island in the Atlantic. I have befriended train tramps and illegal immigrants, and helped a 15 year old Mexican kid hide in a grain car to get to his uncle’s house, his only relative in this world! I have accepted gifts of food, and given some, accepted rides and given many, and I have loved and believed in the very best of my fellow man, and I also believe in myself.
I am the brave girl who survived rape ad beatings, being stabbed and shot at, falling in holes and having horses roll on me, having a riding lawnmower flip over on me, divorcing a dangerous man, jail, drug addiction, alcoholism, hepatitis C, and the death of my beloved Mom, and losing my sanity, and I am still standing, even if it is crooked.