I remembered part of a dream I had last night. I was talking on the phone to my friend Lyn and was having trouble figuring out some bit of technology I held in my hand. I kept telling her I didn’t know what would help. Maybe if I lifted the antenna? This conversation went on and then we were together. She said something like, “This part of you that doesn’t know…it’s the part of you that keeps you open and innocent.” And I got what she was saying and everything fit.
For I have been fearful since birth. As a child my father stormed at me because in junior high he could not easily teach me how to work a combination lock. My mother said I was such a dreamy child she had to help me get dressed in the morning. “Put on your sock. Put on your shoe.” She grew exasperated. I couldn’t tell my right hand from my left. Luckily I had a birthmark on my right little finger. “That is your right hand,” she said. And that was a great help to me.
Understand, I have a high IQ. It’s just that visually and spatially, things don’t always add up for me. Bob drove me on the freeway because I have such poor spatial judgement and I can’t make much sense of maps and I can’t measure things with a yardstick or ruler.
Now Lyn was saying to me, “This is your innocence!” Could it be possible that everything in my world is perfectly okay even when I can barely navigate through life as most people do so easily?” You see, I substituted a strong sense of shame at not being “competent, productive, normally social,” etc. The dream teacher was healing me.
She might as well have well have taken an X-acto knife and cut me from the caul I had been wrapped in since birth. These are a few of my thoughts as I lay there.
“Every day I get sad because I don’t understand how Bob was here one minute and gone the next. That’s not like being unable to read a map, but it evokes the same feeling of failure in me. A tear forms and runs down onto the pillow. And I remember what Lyn said, “This not knowing is your innocence.”
And suddenly my relationship with Peter all added up. He said that after his strokes, he couldn’t make change. As a young mother, I offered to help sell books at a school function. It was then I realized I couldn’t make change. I got so panicked I pled sudden illness and someone took over my place at the book table. I was deeply ashamed.
So I have carried this shame my whole life. And now Lyn is saying my inability to know is my innocence. And I think of Peter and him saying, “For what it’s worth I hold your hand in this.”
My God. Could it be that simple? I think it is. Our inability to be perfect allows us to remain in our innocence, unbroken by our brokenness. So this morning is truly a new day for me. I feel sad; I woke up crying. And in that sorrow and not knowing how to fix it, someone is always holding my hand.
I have failed at letting people know how hard my life feels on a daily basis. On the rare occasions that I succeed, I become more approachable. You see, I have made a life that “looks normal but isn’t.” It is a life filled with pain and I know the gift in it is meant to be shared. I had a reading with the late Betty Bethards and she said, “You could walk through a mud puddle and come out untouched. You make it look so easy.”
But I am covered in mud and have scales on my eyes and it hurts like hell. And God wants me to keep writing about the fact that I have nothing to go on but honesty and even that hurts. I am in love with the mystery of life. But I still cry about why the good die young and people like me keep on keeping on. But I am choiceless. I look really neat and clean because it keeps me safe. This safety deadens me. So Lyn was saying, “Your innocence, your unknowing, makes you who you are.” That is a very powerful thought.
I hope you like this essay. The sun is not up and I have not had breakfast. I am on my own down here on a planet that isn’t working very well. I want to hide from life but I haven’t succeeded once at doing so. It has come and picked me up by the scruff of the neck and carried me where I need to go. And apparently I look remarkably okay.