I Come From a Champion Lineage
November 11, 2011
Common Roots Cafe
Sun so bright through the windows, it feels like summer indoors
I don’t mean to brag, but I come from a champion lineage–rampant alcoholism on one side, suicidal depression running a deep, underground river on the other. There are many gifts to recover from this kind of lineage, if we are lucky enough to meet friends who keep us sane, whose parents invite us over for Christmas Eve celebrations, or have a creek near our house along which we can play “explorer” and escape the thick shame inside our houses. Gifts like resilience, that overused word that means we did not end up drowning in a bottle or offing ourselves; and humor, seeing Life through a slightly tilted lens; and empathy, being able to deeply understand the pain of growing up in near-constant emotional strife.
For all of these gifts I am grateful.
But I am most grateful for the gift that was silently given to me, like it was placed under my pillow one night while I was sleeping. The gift that was given to me from Up Above, from Deep Inside, which is the simple desire to write. Not to write for a specific purpose, just to write as a place to lay it all down, to see Life and my place in it, a means through which I can navigate the incessant waves of living.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.” -Jon Kabat Zinn
The implication of this lineage, that I cannot escape or even write away, is that a fight with my husband is not just a fight–it is a state of emergency. It is here-we-go-again-I-will-be-alone-forever-and-my-kids-will-hate-me-and-I-will-end-up-dying-alone-in-a-hospital-in-Florida-just-like-my-mom. A simple argument taps into that place of unworthiness, that fear of being abandoned yet again.
But I am learning, through writing, that I can be in this place–be in a place of pain and fear, be sad, be scared, be white-hot mad–and sooner than later, like thunder clouds passing to yet again reveal the sun, these emotions will come to pass. In the safety of retrospect, I can see how just sitting with myself, sitting with my emotions and naming them, can save me.
Sunday, October 23, I was in this state. And instead of running, which was the coping technique of my past, I sat with myself and decided to write right through the storm, to feel everything, to be brave, and weather the storm. In this charged state, I wrote the following poem:
Fear feels like a weakness in my hands
sour feeling in my gut
lugging a pit
squeezes my stomach
horrible feeling. I’m lucky I don’t
live with this feeling
all the time.
I live with it time to time.
It comes. Takes up residence in the pit
of my belly.
It is the opposite of free.
But sitting here in the Treehouse
the things I fear are
I trust myself–no I don’t. I need to.
I need to know that I will take care of me
In a gentle, reflective, inspiring way.
I always have.
when I am inspired, I am also filled with
hope and love. The antidotes to fear.
I won’t become the poet laureate anytime soon, but these words got me to the other side of that storm. And for the simple act of writing, I am grateful. As I am grateful for my champion lineage.