"When I tell any truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do." --William Blake
I've learned that truth is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty is. My father was an alcoholic and, at times, the house was full of jubilant noise, while at others it was full of angry violence. You never knew what was coming. It seemed normal, even if I hated it. I began saying to my father, "You're drunk," when he was drunk and yelling at me, but it always ended badly, maybe a table pushed over on me while I was doing homework at it, or a hole punched through my bedroom door after I ducked in there to get away from him. My father could be as equally lovely as he could cruel.
Though this is my memory of my childhood, my siblings memories are different, and we stopped talking about them some time ago--I suppose I cherished my truth too much to have it placed in doubt.
It's just as true that I'm my father's daughter--I take after him in many regards, and while I don't drink any more, I can still fly off the handle with very little notice, particularly if someone is telling me something about me that I don't want to hear. For instance, someone recently told me I needed to work on my anger issues, and I turned, angrily, spouting, at the top of my voice, "I don't have any anger issues!"
This, for some reason, seems hilarious to me in retrospect, though at the time I was trembling with, well, anger.
I don't really want anyone else to tell me what my problems are. ("You know what your problem is?" Actually, I do, so shut up, please.) I have a lot of problems. I mean, there are still many parts of me that don't measure up to my own ideal of who I want to be, even if I've grown through persistent effort, excellent mentorship, and God's grace over the past several years. For instance, I still have a weakness for pie as well as cheeses of all kinds, though this inclination tends to keep a few more pounds on my body than I like. Also, I do way too much--I take on too many commitments, spreading myself too thin and am not able to do any of the things as well as I like. Also, I can be judgmental, hard on people. And of course, there's the anger. My house isn't as well kept as I'd like. I don't get enough sleep or eat enough vegetables. My finances are a disaster.
But still, but still, I can be a very lovely person--especially when I'm well rested, have taken my daily exercise and performed my daily prayers and meditations and am not too hungry.
I love helping others nurture their talents and gifts, and I can talk to all sorts of people. When I spend a little bit of time and care on what I wear and do my hair, I can even look lovely. I love cooking for others and cook and bake delightful meals and desserts. I love loving. When I am in relationship, I like to write little notes and send them to the beloved in the mail. I can sing, dance, write poetry, teach children with developmental disabilities, working adults, college students, and high school students at juvenile hall with equal ease. I laugh loudly and enjoy making others laugh. I play bass guitar and piano. Even though I can be judgmental to those who have hurt me, my friends find me open-minded, and an excellent confidant. Also, I'm a survivor. I've had many health challenges and I live with them generally with grace and acceptance, even if there have been difficult periods for me over the years.
Whoa. It felt very uncomfortable to write the list of my good qualities! That discomfort is a revelation, though it shouldn't be. Six years ago, a spiritual mentor told me to look in the mirror every day and say "I love you" to myself, and I couldn't do it.
Well, the mirror awaits. It's time to test those waters again.
You are lovable and I am lovable.
Here's one more truth: my heart popped back open this week, the locked box broke loose, and I am happy and hopeful in a way I haven't been since I started this blog in July. Thank you for going on this journey with me.