Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Endless games of Solitaire ...

After yesterday's post I found myself unable to disengage from the past. For more then 3 hours I sat playing Solitaire; absently, tearfully. For just a while there the lapse back into time caused by the sudden reminder of our anniversary totally blocked out the present ... . Strange. May 24th has slipped by unnoticed for many years now, pushed aside by anniversaries being amassed by time and events more worthy of celebration. After all, that marriage ended painfully long ago, and another had replaced it fairly quickly. Yet, here it was; delivered by a fragment of notepaper from some place deep in my subconsciousness -- and freshened into the present as if summoned.

It was that oddness that I'd struggled with during the years diagnosed as a period of "mental illness" -- that feeling of being out of sync with time and place. Was there some knowing place in me that guided my movements over the past weeks into these old papers? I'm tearful and when not, I'm feeling dry sobs that cause quick intakes of breath from time to time, as if I'm forgetting to breathe... .

One thing is becoming clearer with each new revelation. Those strident lyrics must have come near the point where I was still searching hungrily for strength from outside myself. I was still without a sense of having control of my own destiny. Still looking for my man to deliver completion. For all the brave words in this anthem of defiance, I was still a very lost young woman screaming for self-definition. I was forced to do that in the midst of also learning the hard lessons of racism and irrational societal rejection, and all while trying to meet the challenges of motherhood. The convergence of traumatic events was devastating and had to be vented somehow. Had I not found a way to express the pain my personality might have splintered hopelessly. I had to find a way to travel great distances in such a way that my brain-damaged 3 year-old could cling to my skirt and not become lost. The only possible escape was to move ever deeper into myself.

By virtue of hindsight, I'm beginning to see that the mental break may have marked the point where I came to terms with the fact that the source of all power was internal. Where I stopped looking for completion from outside myself. This may have been the place where I grew up, so-to-speak. The imaginative idealist and deeply-knowing little girl of six reappeared (disguised as psychosis) and took over control, eventually. She'd survived into the Sixties -- a childhood lived in a poor but proud black family during the uncertainty of the Great Depression; an adolescence supported by 2 or 3 imaginative and caring school teachers (that's all it takes, really), and those few remnants of her were still there to save me when the persona that I'd so carefully created to cope gave way. She was the one with the magic and the ability to survive, I truly believe, and still is.

It was at the age of 7 that First Communion training took over and all power was relegated to "God!" That is undoubtedly where the quiet acceptance of male dominance emerged and where I dared not ever even think that a lowly little girl could create anything of note. After all, creating was the province of The Almighty! The concept of Divine Intervention worked against my need to claim my own 'edges;' to know what I could or could not control, create, or define. I'd grown painfully into the ability to assume personal responsibility for my own life. I'd grown out of orthodoxy and into I knew not what, but whatever it was, it was mine.

I wonder if it's really this simple? Could be. For all those reasons and more, I shut that little girl down early in life, though she surely remained in the subconscious and learned to sing Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry in secret behind the garage at around age 11, and to read Maxwell Anderson and cry with Maria in Winterset; and to pretend the world of Camelot into being when the real world became too painful. I probably shared all that as sins to Father Kelly in the confessional on some misguided Saturday afternoon before receiving Sunday morning communion. What foolishness! How on earth is a child to know?

And now, here she was -- meditating while ironing his shirts ... .

I know that at some point early in life I put a lid on my own spirituality -- my individuality -- and settled for being an appendage to others. That, fortunately, ended when it was no longer sustainable.

I don't think that I can blame anyone for that.

Except maybe those guys at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, who still believe they hold the keys to the kingdom and the rights to define power (god) in their own image.

Guess you can count me among the uncompromising feminists.

...and how on earth could I have not ended up an atheist?

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