Today would’ve been my 20th wedding anniversary.
But I cheated on my husband and left him for another man.
A man who left me high and dry and alone.
Everything in my life since then has been shit.
Most of the time I think the reason is because God’s punishing me.
How did I turn into somebody I don’t even know?
I often fantasize that when I die, my spirit will stay here long enough and be omniscient enough to know how people react and feel. I’d like to see my own funeral like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
First one and then another pair of eyes followed the minister’s, and then almost with one impulse the congregation rose and stared while the three dead boys came marching up the aisle, Tom in the lead, Joe next, and Huck, a ruin of drooping rags, sneaking sheepishly in the rear! They had been hid in the unused gallery listening to their own funeral sermon!
– The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Don’t worry. This isn’t a cry for help.
But I wonder about particular people. Would he be sorry? Would he miss me? What would he think? (It’s him I think about and wonder about the most. It’s a sickness.)
Would she come all these miles for my funeral? Would she be able to go on?
What would my funeral be like? I know where I want it to be and who I want to do it. I know what I want done with my body. Would those things happen?
What would people say at my funeral? Who would stand up and tell stories about me? How many people would be there? (Who would run sound? 😀 )
How long would people remember me?
Who would remember me?
Why would they remember me?
by Jay Varnedoe
Scripture: Psalm 71: 1-14
Over MLK weekend, I was driving my 92 year old grandmother to church. On the way she started talking about the Lord, and she said, “Jesus is my rock, and with him I shall never fall.” I thought, “For 92, she is so full of wisdom.” For most of my life, my grandmother was a quiet woman who didn’t talk about religion with me. However, in the past few years, she has opened up more to me and it has been nice to connect with her on a different level. When I sat down to write this devotional and I read these verses, there was an immediate connection to her.
In Psalm 71, the psalmist is declaring the message that the Lord is my rock and in him I have no shame. This message not only spoke to me on a personal level because of the recent conversation with my grandmother, but it also spoke to me as a member of the LGBTQ community. So many of us have been taught to be ashamed of who we are due to the religious views of others. However, in this verse I read that in him I have no shame. I choose to favor this verse over the negative views of others. I also feel that this is a primary reason that most of us are drawn to St. Mark – we realize and celebrate that we don’t have any shame for who we are. This is part of what makes St. Mark unique, a quality that we should share with the rest of our community.
Prayer: Lord, let us realize that we are created in your image and we should have no shame. In times of trial or tribulation, let us come to you as our rock and our refuge. Amen.
Reposted from a message board comment I made elsewhere today…
Van Gogh, Sorrow
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the meaning of “forgiveness.” We talk about this as something we give to the person who has “harmed” us. “I forgive YOU.” But really I think we need to find another word to use because we’ve twisted the word “forgiveness” so badly.
The forgiveness and letting go we need as professional resenters and progressing healers isn’t really about letting the person off the hook and telling them it was OK. In some cases, it absolutely is NOT OK. (As in the case of my molestation throughout my childhood. I did NOT have a role to play in that. You didn’t have a role to play in your trauma either.)
But we need a word besides “forgiveness” that implies wiping the slate of your own heart clean of the pain and sadness and anger that memory still causes you.
Forgiveness isn’t really about the other person. Forgiveness is about freeing YOURSELF so you can live without the shackles that incident has placed on your life, on your ability to be proud and self-confident, on your ability to live your life without something you can’t control playing over and over in your mind and making your stomach and heart and brain grieve and ache and rage all the time.
That’s totally why I drank. It feels so much better to feel nothing than to feel all that sadness and pain.
But if you can find a way to let that shit go and also stop drinking, think of how light your brain and stomach and heart would be! That’s what we need.
(So let me know when you figure out how to do it!)
*Now we all join hands and perform our inspirational, synchronized dance routine to “Let It Go!”*
I’ve been having more vivid dreams lately. I’m not sure if it’s the increase in the dosage of my lamotrigine or if my brain is just full of stuff it needs to chew up.
I woke up this morning remembering three dreams.
In the first dream I was supposed to go to some kind of party like a baby shower or a wedding shower or something civilized and girly like that. I was just going to walk because it was close, but the more I walked through the subdivision, the more lost I got. The houses were big and fancy, but similar enough where every place I walked looked the same. I couldn’t find any landmarks even when I walked through the woods and backyards behind the houses.
The second dream was about my daddy, who in real life died about ten years ago. We were in a house (maybe in that same subdivision from the first dream, I’m not sure) and he and someone else had come in from doing some kind of hard work like yard work or cutting trees or something. Daddy came in and sat down and was having something cold, I don’t remember if it was a drink or ice cream or what. He was talking and laughing with us and suddenly he stiffened and I knew something was wrong. It was like he was having a stroke or something. I jumped up worried while everybody else in the room was joking about it, not thinking anything was really the matter. Then Daddy looked at me and struggled to whisper, “Call an ambulance.”
All the emergency vehicles arrived and the EMTs came in with the gurney. It was so crowded and there were so many colors with all the fire trucks and flashing lights and uniforms of the emergency response guys. I was scared, but Daddy seemed a little better. He told the paramedics, “I had come in from working hard and was having (that cold thing) and suddenly the top third of my brain got squishy.”
What I remember of the last dream is very short. It was the only dream that was black and white. In this one, I was in the dream, but I also seemed to have the consciousness of an outside observer. I saw the action from inside myself, like you do in real life, but I was having observational thoughts from the outside like when you watch a TV show. In this dream I was in the basement conference space where Boo and I work together sometimes. I kissed him goodbye. It was one of those casual kisses you give somebody when you know you’ll see them again soon. The observing me thought, “Oh, this must mean that we’re (they’re) finally in a relationship. Finally!”
Thinking back on the kiss in the dream, it was very much like our last kiss in real life – a peck goodbye without much real meaning.
It’s interesting when I think about these three dreams together. They’re all about loss and desire and searching. These are certainly the major themes of my internal life right now.
But why can’t dreams come with more answers or CliffsNotes or something. I need a more specific guide! Or maybe I just need dreams to come with heart Band-Aids or something that makes me feel nothing at all. Looks like I picked a bad decade to stop drinking.
I started thinking about Tae Kwon Do on the train on the way home, which made me remember the horror of 6th grade square dancing in PE class which made me think about the goals I’ve set for myself throughout my life. (Yay, stream of consciousness!)
As I’ve noted before, one of the things that broke me down in Tae Kwon Do was the regularity with which we had to choose partners. Imagine not only having to TALK to somebody you don’t know, but also having to work directly with them and maybe even touch each other. *shiver!*
The first time I recognized the pain of partnering up was in that 6th grade square dancing section of PE. I LOVED PE up to that point. I loved to play games and be physical! But suddenly, I was betrayed. “Everyone grab a partner!” *sigh*
PE had turned into an activity based on being chosen by a boy for your popularity and looks. For the first time I realized I was a fat, ugly, naive nerd. And at about the same time, I started being picked on because of my awkwardness. I didn’t want anybody to think they’d made me cry or hurt my feelings, so I developed an armor of smart-ass, loud words and held my tears and pain in my stomach and my heart. And then I ate more to comfort myself.
The thing that helped me power past all of that was my goal of being an athlete. My brother, Mike, had played high school football and baseball. My cousin, Scott, was a state wrestling champ. And my cousin, Dennis, played baseball at the University of Tennessee and had an amazing, glittering collection of his trophies on display in the living room of his house. Every time I went there to see Granny or Aunt Jo or Dennis, I would stare at those trophies and count them and covet them.
I was the only girl on either side of the family and I wanted to prove I could keep up with those boys. They were my heroes! I wanted to letter in as many sports as I could and have a high school letter jacket just like they did. I wanted to get more trophies than Dennis had in that living room!
So I didn’t build myself in adolescence (not that I even would have known where to begin) as a pretty, soft and social girl. I set out to accomplish those athletic goals. (You didn’t have to be pretty or accepted to shoot free throws or hit homers. #marlahooch )
Concentrating on sports made the hurt from the bullying, and the lack of attention from boys secondary.
Even though I was a terrible player, I made the middle school basketball team on sheer hustle. I remained an outstanding softball player. My basketball team went undefeated and won the county championship my 8th grade year. I was one of three or four freshmen who made the softball team when I moved to high school. I continued to play basketball, and in the spring, threw shot and discus on the track team. I wound up lettering in three sports: 4 years in softball, 4 years in track and 2 years in basketball. I got that letter jacket and I wound up with more trophies than Dennis!
That goal I set for myself in elementary school had come to fruition after eight years of hard work.
In college I decided I wanted to work at Camp Glisson during the summers. This was just a matter of making it through the application process, but again, it was something I wanted to do, set my mind to and accomplished.
In high school, I decided I wanted to go to seminary after I graduated from college. I followed through, applied and got in.
But this is where everything starts pulling out of focus and heading off the rails. Yes, I got in. But I didn’t finish. For various reasons, seminary whipped my ass. It whipped my pride. It whipped me socially. It whipped me emotionally.
I started drinking to cover the pain that time, and really floundered for a couple of years until I met my future ex-husband playing coed softball. We got married and built a future together. But I didn’t really have any goals in mind. (And certainly didn’t have the goal of getting divorced 10 years later.)
And I haven’t had a real goal since then either.
I’ve finished three marathons and busted my ass to reach my goal in the last one. So my ability to set a goal and work like crazy to meet it is still there.
But I don’t really have any meaningful goals I want to reach. Isn’t that something grown-ups are supposed to have?
Shouldn’t there be something I want to accomplish? Something I want? Something I really care about?
Couldn’t someone just tell me what those things are?
Frankly, I still feel exactly like I look in this picture from when I was two or three.
Can’t we just play ball, eat supper, have somebody read us a story and fall asleep? Isn’t that enough any more?