The following is one of my favorite pieces from my archives because I wrote it when I was just ascending out of a very deep depression. I thought of it yesterday, when Katherine and I colored Easter eggs.
I wish you all a very happy Easter holiday!
This is just a small thank you for coming through on your promises–especially the one assuring those who “weep and mourn” (a.k.a. depressives) that they will one day smile and laugh. (That’s your third Beatitude, right?)
I remembered those words today as I colored Easter eggs with the kids. You should have seen Katherine’s expression (my bad, you did see it) when she pulled out her stunning violet egg from the cup of purple dye. Her innocent blue eyes sparkled, as though they had never beheld such beauty–until David did his little Humpty Dumpty presentation a few minutes later (you know boys these days, everything’s a weapon).
The sheer amusement in today’s kitchen mess–the cackles with each vibrant egg– made me think of that morning a month or so ago when I grabbed Katherine out of the tub, and before I could towel her naked body off, she escaped me and performed the most unusual Salsa-bunny-hop-disco jig. She moved her limbs in ways I hadn’t thought possible, and to absolutely no beat or rhythm, and I exploded with laughter.
My eyes must have projected joy, because she danced over to me and asked me, “Mom, why are you so happy?”
I couldn’t speak. No explanation came to mind. Because I had never been asked that question. Only this one: “Mom, why are you so sad?” And I try to forget how many times I had to answer that (and “Why are you crying?”), because it killed me to make up a different offender (some bogus allergy) every time. (Does someone who has lied that often–to cover up a mental breakdown from her kids–get a chance to convince St. Peter to let her in, or is she immediately sent south?)
I’ve got to be honest, God, for a good 18 months I filed the Beatitudes (and most of the Sermon on the Mount) into the “real-estate flyer” category…you know, the drawer of empty promises: the sassy ads that guarantee a dream home for just four months of your minimum-wage salary.
I mean, I love your instruction book (the Bible), and am comforted by it more days than not. But I just was in so much pain that I couldn’t understand why you weren’t doing anything about it. (It’s not like you don’t have the power, right?) So in my angrier moments I classified chapters five through seven of Matthew’s Gospel as, well, clever propaganda.
I hear you: I needed a mongo attitude adjustment. Maybe I should have watched more “Oprah” and hung out with that Australian chick, Rhonda Byrne (who reinvented the law of attraction in her mini-film “The Secret”), because they seem to have the gratitude thing down much better than I. Now I can clearly see all of my blessings, and every muscle, organ, and cell of this body thanks you.
I feel pretty crappy about losing my faith so many times in my black days. Right here and right now, I should promise you that I’ll never lose it again. But you know, and I know, and your mother knows (and we may as well throw in St. Therese), that I will probably be tempted (more than once) to give up on you again. (My mom should have named me Judas?) It’s kind of the nature of the disease (depression). Or am I making excuses?
Would it make you feel better if I told you that I freak out on Eric and my mom and my best friends all the time, too? I accuse them of not caring even though the evidence tells me otherwise. I guess I take out my anger on the people closest to me. And I figure you can handle it, being God and everything.
So, here’s the deal. I will try to be a lower-maintenance creature for you, and not demand so much of your attention and favors. (I realize you got six billion of us on Earth, and possibly life elsewhere to contend with.) Being the stage-four people (or God) pleaser that I am, I want so badly to give you delight (even though I’ve heard that you love each and every one of us, even the whiny nuts). So I will try to remember to trust you in everything, to remember that just because things don’t make sense (or are downright ugly) doesn’t mean you don’t love me or have given up on us down here.
Again, I just wanted to say thank you. Being able to laugh again is true bliss, an appetizer of heaven (if, you know, I’m headed that way). Your creature, William Styron (who is now with you, right?) wrote this as his last paragraph in his memoir, “Darkness Visible,” which brilliantly articulates what I’m trying to say with all this babble:
“For those who have dwelt in depression’s dark wood, and know its inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell’s black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as ‘the shining world.’ There, whoever has been restored to health has almost always been restored to the capacity for serenity and joy, and this may be indemnity enough for having endured the despair beyond despair.”
That’s his elaboration of your third Beatitude, or maybe it’s his thank-you note to you. Now you have at least two to stick into your Easter basket, next to the Peeps, jelly beans, and Humpty Dumpty (cracked) eggs. And speaking of Easter, God, thank you for mine. Much love to you and the Holy Family.
The High-Maintenance Bipolar Lady Who Loves to Laugh