This morning I saw a hawk fly down from a tree to sit on my garden fence and he stayed there until the baby chicks next door started fussing and then he flew off to investigate and I couldn't bear to watch. How any baby-anythings make it around here with all the hawks is beyond me. Yes, those hawks are gorgeous but scary too with those swoop-swoop wings that scoop air hard. They are big birds. They are predators.
I wake up almost every morning feeling as if I am already a failure at life. Then I spend the rest of the day climbing some sort of self-imposed ladder to something far short of "success" but mostly just acceptance of myself. As if. My craziness is as strong and scary as that hawk and any tenderness I may have for myself is as fragile as those downy chicks next door.
And yet, I mostly manage to do it.
It's a sort of miracle.
And then I get up the next day and have to do it again. It takes a lot of energy. More than I have sometimes.
When we did our read-through last night I enjoyed it so much but still, after we were done, I had to say ONE MORE TIME- Look guys- I am too old for this part. I love this part but I am too old.
They all told me that I am not. That it will be fine. What touched my heart was when the wife of the man who is playing opposite me said, "Mary, you are gorgeous."
She did not have to say that. She is not one to throw compliments around like confetti. She is a fairly quiet woman.
She had no idea when she said that how hard I am going to hold those words to my chest as protection, as totem, as comfort.
It was a Mitzvah, just like when Jason picked up Owen's toys the other day before they left.
I read an article in Vanity Fair the other day by Christopher Hitchens. Here it is, if you want to read it.
He has recently been going through hell on this earth being treated for cancer and in the article he takes on that old saying, "What does not kill us makes us stronger."
He doesn't believe it and neither do I.
I was reading another blog this morning and in it, the woman wrote that all of her growth and all of her blessings have stemmed from difficulties. She's religious and brings Jesus into the mix and I love her attitude about so many things but this one- nah.
Specifically, I was thinking about how different I might be had I not had to survive childhood sexual abuse. I did survive it but goddammit, I don't think it made me stronger. I think it made me fucked-up in ways that will never, ever be completely healed.
It was not a blessing.
In fact, it has interfered with my ability to accept my blessings my entire life. It has given me the fear that no matter how good things are, there will be a hawk coming from the sky to swoop in and take those blessings from me. The better I have it, the more I have to lose, the more I have to fear.
I thought, I thought...(I was nine years old) that the man who was about to marry my mother would make everything better. He would take away her depression, he would make her HAPPY, he would complete our family, he would be...my father.
Instead, he made everything worse and he filled my life with fear.
You don't really get over shit like that. At least I haven't.
And oh sure, I am more empathetic because of what I went through. I am...well, to tell you the truth, I can't really think of anything else that's very positive to talk about which came from that experience. Nope. Just can't.
It wasn't a blessing in disguise and a whole lot of other horrible things are not either.
I'm not talking about not having enough money to buy a new car or breaking your arm or all of the things that befall us that yes, we do get through and can look back and see that we are stronger than we knew because we survived them. There ARE things which we survive which make us stronger. There is pain which has a purpose. Childbirth, for instance.
But there are other things which come like the hawk- the predator- that take so much from us. Even the basic sense that we deserve a life, not of riches or ease, perhaps, but just a plain, regular old life.
And when I write a post like the one I did last night wherein I talk about the incredible blessings of my life, I wake up the next day and think, "I do not deserve this. Something will come and take it all away." I could sit here and list a hundred things that I fear to the point of almost-paralysis. It would be so easy.
And every day, every single day of my life, I get up and I struggle through those fears and I do put one foot in front of the other and I get through. Just as many of us do who have gone through, who are going through things which seem unbearable. Things which do NOT make us stronger but instead take away all our reserves of strength and leave us panting for breath.
Of course we go on. Of course we do. Unless we don't. And some do not. Can not.
And this is the way it is. We humans want so badly to give everything a happy ending. To believe that there is meaning in suffering and we make up stories and religions that tell us exactly that. That even if this life is cruel and even if we are given more than we can bear, that in the next life, we will be rewarded for our struggles here.
See- I don't believe that for a second. I don't believe that and I don't believe that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and I surely don't believe that god doesn't give us more than we can bear.
I just believe that it is what it is and that life can be beautiful and that life can be horrible and that life can be easy as walking down a dusty road under a clear blue sky and whistling a tune and life can be looking up to see the hawk flying low, heading straight for you and your babies.
And I believe that any kindness we can offer another is a good thing. I believe that we should be able to appreciate the smallest goodnesses of our lives and not dwell on that which is not a goodness which doesn't mean I am a Pollyanna but that we should do our best for our own self-interest to realize what we do have which is good and true. And that we should, in turn, be aware and grateful when those things are offered to us.
Because what else is there?
Perhaps I focus on the smallest blessings- the egg, the arugula, the softness of Goodwill cashmere, the son-in-law who picks up the toys, the kind comment from someone- because these I can accept. These I can be sure of.
Everything else is too much for me to bear sometimes- the very real and perfect weight of them in my life, my arms makes me know how much I have which makes me know how much I could lose.
So. There you go. Not very uplifting. But it's what I have to offer today.
And I want to say that if you are one of those people who carry burdens beyond what any human can bear (and I do not consider myself to be one of them), I have this to say:
I see you and I do not think that it is fair and I love you for continuing to bear that which is impossible to bear.