Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Could it possibly really be a wonderful life?

For which I'm expected to show up?

Not long after I finished letter #131 (to T, a public defender with whom I once worked), my husband R and I had an quarrel. Several days on I can't recall exactly how it got started, but I definitely remember something R said to me:

"You just can't let yourself be happy."

My first reaction, of course, was to object. But of course I'm happy, I told him. Why wouldn't I be? I have such a wonderful life--loving husband, beautiful children, sturdy roof over our heads, reliable transportation to take us to steady employment each day--how could I not be happy?

There's a difference, R pointed out, between saying you're happy and being happy.

I fumed, muttering away to myself (rather unhappily, I might add) about how he was just wrong. I mean, come on--at that point I'd written 131 letters, all of which made at least some reference to the abundant blessings in my life (the aforementioned marriage, family, car and job, of course, as well as the friendships of my letter recipients, happy memories created with them and hopes for reunions to come). I'm happy, damn it.

But if I've learned anything in almost five years with R (three and a half of them as husband and wife), it's that he often knows me better than I know myself. Could it possibly be true that I was running around saying I was happy, without allowing myself the luxury of actually being happy?

Well, now. That felt icky. And uncomfortable. And kinda true.

It's not that I've lied to anyone, in any letter--I do have a ridiculously huge amount of blessings in my life. But I also have, as Tori Amos so eloquently put it, "enough guilt to start my own religion." And guilt, that turd in the punch bowl, it will make you question--sadly makes me question--whether you deserve your happiness.

Yes, some of my letters portray a girl who has screwed up--I've hurt people, most times unintentionally, but on occasion with more awareness than I'd like to admit. I've broken promises. Failed to meet obligations. Haven't shown up.

But the letters also reflect someone who has grown up--I'm admitting the hurts I've inflicted, acknowledging the broken promises and unfulfilled responsibilities. I'm recognizing the places--literal and figurative--I should have been and wasn't.

This woman, that girl growing up, has been offered by the universe an immeasurable bounty. And to refuse to truly accept those blessings--my son's happy babble as he awakens in the morning, rain falling outside our livingroom window on a summer evening, a kiss goodnight from my husband--well, that's just screwing up all over again. It's time to let go of guilt, stop inflicting more hurt and honor the vows I'm living right now.

In short, it's time to show up.

1 comment:

Love from Kaz said...

Lynne, you have a wonderful way of expressing what's real in your life. I love your honesty and your willingness to face the hard stuff. I wish you all the best in your journey.

PS I decided about a year ago that I don't do guilt. It's been immensely freeing!