It has been so long since I’ve written anything. I’m in a bit of a revolt, I think. My father said he doesn’t necessarily relate to my style, “stream of consciousness,” he called it. I will admit that threw me off a little; made me more self-conscious. It’s not that I don’t believe in my skills, but when we ask for opinions, we will assuredly get them.
True to form, since I’ve last written, I’ve had headaches, so I think that means I’ve been holding things in. Not expressing myself, feeling unconfident. I’ve also been very busy and I’m not really honoring the “creative pact” one has to make with one’s self if one is serious about creating anything. Instead, I’ve been reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about how other people commit to creating.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to keep my attention elsewhere, wandering, unsettled.
I’ve woken with two messages, or statements — one on 3/10/15 and another on 3/18/15 — which I consider to be very empowering and encouraging. I’m reluctant to share them because people will think I’m nuts. But I have decided that I will share them, because we’re all a little crazy. Besides, there’s only two of you reading.
The first message was “You have been written a blank check by God.”
That was a lot to take in. I “heard” the statement in a voice of sorts, just as I was waking. It was sort of part of a dream, but it was also not. I have been deep in thought of late about the concept of shame and guilt and blame and how to sort through those feelings. As much as I felt liberated by the dream I had a few weeks before about a female presence which I believe to be my mother’s “energy” but the visage was of several different women of influence — good or bad — in my life, occasionally something will happen which will trip the trigger on a feeling and we can be “found” skirting the boundary of it all, hence my thoughts on shame and guilt, et. al.
In the words I heard, I received my peace of mind. I am a Catholic on paper and I dig this current pope immensely. I haven’t consistently been to Mass in years and my brother is a pastor in another state and I have a cousin who is a priest across the country. They both left the Catholic faith. I absolutely have trouble with the whole trinity thing, to which my mother often said, “that’s the mystery of faith” which I apparently recited allegiance to for years in one of the creeds I would recite at rote during Mass. All that aside, I believe in God and I always have. Don’t ask me to qualify it or talk about Jesus. It’s not going to happen. I dig Mary, Jesus’ mother like you wouldn’t believe, and so that’s enough for me. The other aspect to me about God is the heavens — the sky and stars and moon and all the galaxies — that to me is proof of God. I suspect my leanings don’t align with the Tea Party (thank you) and other people who think Earth is only as old as the Old Testament guesses, and that’s okay with me.
But this statement, “You have been written a blank check by God” is about Grace and God’s limitless forgiveness. It tells me (whether I believe it or not is really the issue) that I am going to be alright and that the ruminating about shame and guilt regarding my relationship with my now 18-months gone mother (which is now a futile concept, time to get on that bus) is folly. That no matter what I do to myself, God is going to keep that blank check coming to me (and you).
The second message was “For every shame there is a star.”
Clearly, this is more direct. I had not given up on the concept of assigning myself shame and guilt. I had not let go of my dear friend victimhood which keeps me separate from love and acceptance. I also felt I am supposed to share this phrase as well. These messages are not for me only. I am not some prophet and I don’t plan to build an ark anytime soon or start a church or run off to a mountaintop, but I believe that these are concepts that are coming to me because I am seeking counsel, I am seeking relief from a really crappy pattern I’ve nursed about not being “enough” of a person and that in that crappy self-regard, I’m not alone. Hence the decision to share them here. With both of you.
The point of this, like the blank check, is that there is nothing God or the universe can not handle nor predict; all bets are off. There are billions upon billions of stars. I believe that my sense of shame is really more of one of regret for behavior and that it’s something I’m going to have to get over, this sense of failure or perfectionism which I apparently try to pursue and achieve yet never talk about. I honestly thought I was beyond seeking perfection, but I guess my subconscious (and my hamstrings and shoulders and the fact that I don’t feel confident to write these days) would disagree.
. . . . .
I have always taken to seeing coincidences as more than two things that dovetail at the same time. On Wednesday last week, 3/25, we needed to write a check for a field trip for our son. The fee was $44 to cover a charter bus. I hadn’t had my coffee yet and I just wrote the check. My son, noticed immediately that the check number was also 4400. Now, if it were April 4th and it was 4:44 in the afternoon I would have really been freaked out, but I think that was pretty cool on its own.
Later that morning, I had to prepare for a procedure I was having the next day. Even though I wasn’t supposed to have milk in my coffee, I decided, “Fuck that.” And I put the milk in my coffee. The instructions for preparing the preparation for the procedure allowed a tea bag for flavor. I decided to take a lemon ginger tea bag and place it in the container for use several hours later.
Here is what the tea bag tag (Yogi Teas) said, and I am totally and dead serious about this, I did NOT go through a box of tea bags to find this particular missive:
“Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.”
How do you not think twice about this?
Of course I was going to have to empty myself. Sweet mother of God, have you ever done a prep for a colonoscopy?
I will not go into details (you’re welcome) about this experience, suffice it to say that it was my third time. I go every three years because of family history and it’s the most humbling experience of my life. When I think of people to whom I feel inferior, I remember that they will experience this. When I think of people to whom I feel superior, I remember that I must experience this.
They say that poverty is a great equalizer. I would add that spending several moments in the bathroom to the point of thigh numbness, delirium, exhaustion and dehydration — INTENTIONALLY, peeps — comes in a very close second. What makes it all worthwhile, I decided, is the injection of the milky propofol 18 hours later and trying to communicate the sensation that overcomes your brain, your actual brain, when the drug makes it light-speed ascent to your noggin.
Anesthesiologist [as she is lining up the injection with the port on my IV]: You’re going to notice a strange taste in your mouth.
Me: Really? Like strange how? [Watching the ports line up and hearing the click.]
Anesthesiologist: Um, just strange. Like metallic. [Pressing the plunger…]
Me [watching the fluid push into my line and thinking, ‘that wasn’t very descriptive for an anesthesiologist…’]: Woah. No taste. My brain. Yikes.
Anesthesiologist: What? Tingling?
Me: Ye … [It was tingling. Like spiders crawling all over it, but in a nice way. Nice pretty spiders.]
OUT. Procedure commences.
Apparently I dreamt about my oldest becoming a soccer player for Ireland’s celtic football club. He was very good and I was very proud. Apparently I told everyone about it.
The good news: I’m fine. The bad news: I do this again in three years. I have got to turn this frown upside-down. I have got to determine that I’m lucky to be here to hear the good news and get the milky propofol again.
. . . . .
Last weekend my family and I went to brunch at a cousin’s house. My dad came along and in the car I asked him about a housekeeper / domestic helper we had when I was a child. Her name was Betty Sortino and I believe she was one of The Most Stable forces in my young years in what was a fairly unpredictable home. Betty was short. I believe I would tower over her today with my massive 5’5″ frame. She was a proud Italian American. She had a boyfriend, Al, who would pick her up from her shifts at our home. She had shoulder-length black hair, veined with an occasional silver strand. She smoked a lot. She loved Hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds and she would share them with me, even though I wouldn’t want the almond. I would take it. That she shared her chocolate with me was huge. I didn’t get that from my mother; there was no sharing of her chocolate. Betty drank cold coffee or water. I would drink milk with my share of her Hershey’s. She would come over almost every day and often stay until my bedtime. She would sit at the foot of my bed and jiggle her leg, to let me know she was there and that I wasn’t alone. She would do this until I fell asleep. She would sing to me, “I Shot The Sheriff” in her rough smoker’s voice and I remember the heavy acidic, yet sweetness of her smoker’s breath lingering as she sang.
About that song, I remember asking Betty, “What does ‘dignity’ mean?”
She corrected me, “‘Dignity’? That’s not in the song…” I remember her contorting her face, searching her memory for the word in the song.
“Yes it is. ‘But I did not shoot the dignity…'” I recited back.
“DEP-u-ty… I did not shoot the dep-u-ty…” she said back to me. “The deputy sheriff. He didn’t shoot the deputy sheriff, but he did shoot the sheriff.”
“Oh. But what does ‘dignity’ mean?” I asked.
She blushed and looked down. I remember this as clear as day. She blushed and said, “It means your virtue. Your parts of you that make you special. Who you are and how people know you… You protect that.” She indicated my heart and my body, using her hands to float around and surround my physical space.
I was confused. But I remembered it.
My father said Betty was several years older than my mother. I don’t remember her that way. I remember her as youthful and vibrant. Present and current. She knew Eric Clapton songs for Pete’s sake. My mother would’ve thought Eric Clapton was perhaps an obscure 14th century playwright.
Betty stopped working for us, probably when I turned 11 or 12. There was no issue or rift. I just remember her not being there any more. I missed her. Then about two years later we moved.
My grand father died several years later, in 1989 I believe. We traveled back to Buffalo for the funeral. It was a hard season for my mother as she had lost her aunt, her mother and her father all within 18 months or so of each other. I heard from a relative that Betty came to the funeral. She asked for me and my family. I didn’t know she was there and so I didn’t see her. I would have loved to have seen her that day, or I would like to think that I would have loved to have seen her. At 21 – 22, I was a pretty bitter person. I was focused on my studies and hell bent on getting on with my life. I’d taken what amounted to a couple years off from college (although I took classes part-time to keep me in the system) and I was very anti-my parents at that point. I do remember someone telling me she asked for me and I do remember feeling regret I missed her. Whether I would have connected all the dots as to her huge contribution to my life, I don’t know. I connect them now though. Betty Sortino was an angel. She was sent from somewhere to show me how to share, that adults can be calm and that simple constancy does matter.
In summary, I’m going to write more, not care about what anyone thinks (even though the opinion was innocuous) and just keep at it. Life is too short to get caught up in stupid thinking and there are more than enough stars to handle any crap I end up putting out there.
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