Once upon a time I tried to die. But it wasn’t my time. Too much was unlived, untapped, unknown. So much not yet done, if it had even begun, so busy had I been stuffing and hiding and numbing so as not to feel the ever present sense of far away from love, from home, from myself… frantically trying to fit into a box I thought I was supposed to fit in, not for not having tried, and finally, despairing of mending the gash I felt had been rent in the fabric of me, I gave up.
It ain’t pretty to try and not succeed. You wake up not to oblivion but to shit, which I wish I only meant metaphorically. But no. I’m talking violent shit: your body screaming NO from every orifice and pore, every which way out, with no consideration of letting you make it —in your dizzy semi-consciousness— to basin or bowl in one’s one-room studio apartment.
One. So young. So 26. So sad. So homesick and greedy, above all, for connection. For a lap. For cool hands on a forehead. For arms around. For laughter. The smell of home. A kiss. One.
It ain’t graceful, either, how you grope on hands and knees, the world swirling about madly, and manage not to fall to your death —suddenly now, for some unfathomable reason, you care about not dying —managing somehow to make it down the ladder from your sleeping loft where you’d closed your lids the night before but not until after swallowing the pills and falling asleep oh-so-un-Snow White-ly.
If you were to ask me if I believe in God I would now be honest like I wasn’t then, and tell you that no, not as such. Certainly not in a man with a beard in a heaven, ordaining for things to be such and such, calling this bad and that good, this one right and that one wrong. And not a God narrow and circumscribed enough for us to really grasp. And certainly not a God who’d send people who don’t fancy him to his arch nemesis’ lake of fire.
“But I do believe in Morning Glories,” I might add. “Does that count?”
When the Morning Glories learned that one of them had tried and failed, they came to visit the state-run facility where she was. And they sat with her. Quiet. Then crying. Then laughing. Then holding hands in a circle saying the Serenity Prayer. But all the while there, with her, keeping company. And when they learned that she was to return home alone in a few days to the one-room shit hole she’d been carried out of in the wake of 44 pills that had not wanted to stay down, they asked her for her keys. And then they went to clean.
I lost touch with the Morning Glories over the years. They were an Alcoholics Anonymous women’s group I attended in Harvard Square 16 years ago, and, as much as I could relate to what it was that made them or anyone pick up a drink or a drug or a whatever, my whatever had never been Jack Daniels. My pints had not been beer but sweet fill-me-ups like ice cream, nice cream, smooth cream, comfort cream, love cream. And people. But not alcohol.
Truth be told, I also felt shame. Even after they cleaned, upon my return, the smell of the wreckage of my past, lingered. The thought of them there cleaning what I had left, was more than I could bear.
Today, the thought of Morning Glories invariably makes me cry. Words barely touch what is there. This here is a try: it’s something like gratitude. And humility. And love, oh my, love. They were kind enough to clean my shit so I could have a fresh start. They knew, I am certain of it, that it’d take everything I had to pull forward, and that I’d have to do it —the real middle of the night and ’round the clock work of it— on my own. Not without help, but yes, on my own.
So do I believe in God? Maybe. But only if I can call her Morning Glories.
[I love comments! Love notes? Your own stories? What this makes you think of? Bring it on. But I kindly ask that you refrain from advice or preaching or Jesus-saves kind of talk.
Oh and too? Just so no one worries, what I write of happened 16 years ago. Much has changed since. Life can still feel hard sometimes, but I love it far too much to abandon it before my time.]