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.
I answered his call tonight. What a foolish foolish girl. I knew that it was wrong, to talk to the abuser, but I did it anyway. After years of being strong, of cutting out the gangrenous heart of me. How could I sell my broken soul out so cheaply? I knew he would say something that would bring it all back, and when I heard the liquor in his voice I remembered the loathing I felt for myself when I realized I had given away all that ever was good inside me, given it to a psychopath who only loved me for the pain I would suffer at his hands.
Now that I let that voice into my ears, that devil’s voice as sticky as Karo, how do I unhear it? When it professes “love” to me from a dead man’s mouth? How do I wash the blood off of my mind’s eye, when I dream of his devil fists, his green devil eyes, his devilish ways with his devilish hands on my broken and battered memory of myself?
Why did you do it?
Did you really need another reason to be afraid today?
Did you need another reason to doubt your own sanity?
Did you really need to add all those forgotten nightmares to the list of must-see flashbacks you have on file?
Now the phone won’t stop ringing, so I turned them all off. But can I turn of that record that has played in my mind ever since I broke free?
That record that keeps going round and round playing a tune called,
” If I can’t have you, then nobody will…”
How long until he’s at my door?
Did I just invite him when I answered that call tonight?
Wow. I have been asked that question many times over the past week or so. The answer is YES. I DO feel pressure. Yes, I AM out of breath. Yes, I AM terrified.
I suppose you deserve a little insight here. If you are a follower, you know I have (many) health issues. I thought Fibromyalgia, Bipolar Disorder (or is it a disease these days?),Diabetes, Chronic depression, PTSD, Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis, and a history of Hep C were about all. I am sure I missed some, too, but never mind. Now to top off the party, I did not pass my surgical clearance heart tests, so I have to go Thursday, my 50th birthday, for a heart catheterization. If they find a blocked artery they will put a “stent” in.( I thought it was “stint”, but that is something you do in the Army-ho,ho,ho…)
the surgical clearance was needed so that I can have 4 levels fused in my destroyed neck, and my previous spinal fusion fixed, due to a couple of recent accidents. I also have a suspected “labral tear” which keeps me from walking much on my recently healed, formerly broken ankles. This is when I am not to dizzy from a condition called BPPV which causes vertigo so bad that it makes me pukey, which was exaccerbated by being shot up with Narcan in the local ER in May, by a doctor with a hard on for chronic pain patients which caused me convulsions for 45 minutes with my head bashing off the stretcher until I became REALLY injured, and being tied to the hospital bed, unconcious, in the dark, and alone at 2:30 in the morning.
I will be amazed if that is a real, legitimate sentence. I think that almost qualifies as a bit of a “rant”, but I don’t want my BP to go up:). Anyway, that is only scratching the surface on my medical woes- the other local hospital misdiagnosed my spinal Cord stimulator as a Pain Pump, so they kicked me out of THEIR ER as a drug seeker, without even letting me see a physician, all while I was in excruciating pain with a broken ankle, torn knee and shoulder and a fresh herniation in my neck, from a fall I had taken the day before. I think they decided that if I had a pain pump, I could go push my little button and die outside or something… I am going to look up the Statute of limitations on malpractice one of these days…
I am REALLY getting off track here. I just wanted to say that I was not afraid of having the spinal surgeries I need, I trust my neurosurgeon, and I like him. And I feel like he really CARES about me as a human being. But this cardiologist doesn’t even really talk to me- he just prattles on onto his little device while I am sitting there with a big question mark suspended over my head. I wouldn’t be suprised if he discusses his own toilet visits with himself on his little doo-dad.
When I originally sat down with him to “discuss” the results of my Nuclear Stress Test, he held the paper down to cover the results like a 10 year old in math class! (yes, I cheated sometimes…) I just don’t feel very confident with a guy who hides my own answers while talking into a box of tic-tacs! All this in a rapid fire, oddly accented voice that sounds like Omar Shariff. (I love you Omar!)
I was going to get a second opinion before they thread this wire through my teeny little veins, to my pitter-pattering heart. I have had panic attacks in the past from being abused, and I think the stress I am under trying to care for my Dad by myself during all these medical issues has caused this pressure and breathlessness, but I don’t want to mess around. If there is something wrong- I want to know now. I was finally going to have the surgery to relieve all this pain, though. Now I have to wait at least 6 more weeks he says.
Dad keeps feeding the cat food to the birds, and the dog food to the cats. He continues to believe that I am my dead mother, and that he swam in the Pacific ocean last night with President Eisenhower. My only brother is up in North Carolina, working 20 hours a day, and drinking beer with his wife, while they run thier smoothie shop. My Mom is gone these past 4 years, 5 come the 21st of this month(her birthday, by the way…). My only other relatives are 2 elderly aunts on the west coast of Florida, and they stil think I am a weed smoking 12 year old. So I am pretty much here in my head, scared, alone, and worried.
I told my fears to you, and I am going to tell them to God now. He will be my real Comforter, My Rock and my Refuge. There is nothing man can do to me that God can’t undo, if that is His Will. And if I happen to die on that table with that little wire stuck in me, and the Doctor chattering away, well- that won’t be so bad. I will wake up in Paradise with my best friend beside me- my Confidant, my Advocate, and my love: Mom. No, that wouldn’t be so bad, at all.