May 24, 2009

A few weeks ago, my Bible study had a discussion on creativity – God’s creativity, since he is, after all, the Creator.  We also discussed our creativity as children of God and creative people, created in God’s image.  There was the predictable comments about how people don’t think they’re creative because they’re not artistic, etc.

I had a lot to say but I didn’t say anything.  Creativity feels like a dangerous topic to me.  My mom’s family made a living by being creative.  They were all, every one of them, artists.  Amazing artists.  Very talented, accomplished, professional artists, for the most part.

In some ways, they’re everything I want to be.  There are parts of me I think I can only express through art, but I don’t have the talent, experience, or training to do so.  I have feelings that could only be expressed visually and I have some basic ideas, but I am not able to create a representation of what I feel – at least, not as well as I’d like to.  It’s possible that my standards are too high, but I was raised around some truly amazing artists.

But there’s a dark side to creativity also.  At least, in my family, there was.  It seemed like the more talent someone had to express the beauty and pain of life, the more pain was present to describe.  I don’t know if that goes together in other settings, but in my family, it did.

So, the word creativity sort of makes my heart hurt.  Partly because I have a need to express my emotions in a creative way that I don’t seem to be able to do.  And partly because the idea of creativity makes me really sad.

Does anyone else look at beautiful art and wonder “How much pain was the artist in when he created this?

Mother’s Day

May 12, 2009

I hate Mother’s Day.  I really do.  I despise it.

I realize that this makes me look like a terrible human being – right up there with terrorists and people who kill kittens.  But I hate it.

I don’t feel like I should celebrate Mother’s Day.  I resent being told that I should appreciate my mother, celebrate her, buy her flowers, or take her out.  I hate that if someone asks me what I’m doing for my mom for Mother’s Day and I say, “Nothing,” that they give me the same look they probably save for people who leave their dogs in the car in 100 degrees with the windows rolled up.  That there’s no excuse for not celebrating Mother’s Day unless your mother is dead.  Otherwise, you have to at least call her and buy her a card that says how wonderful she is and how she’s nurtured you and always been there for you.  And if you’re a good son or daughter, you’ll send her flowers or a gift, or take her out to brunch if you live close enough.

I suppose if I had a mother who nurtured me, I’d feel different.  Maybe if I had a mother who had actually been there for me, whatever that means, I’d feel like getting a card that said so.  As it is, I can’t do it and not feel like I’m compromising myself.  I wish I didn’t care and I could just lie and make her happy, but I can’t.

The thesaurus says that synonyms for nurture include “bolster, cherish, cultivate, educate, foster, instruct, nourish, support, sustain, tend, and uphold.”  Antonyms are “deprive, ignore, neglect, starve.”  OK, she didn’t starve me.  She bought groceries and we figured things out.  Sometimes she made a meal.  But cherish?  Tend?  Sustain?  Are those words that people can use about their mothers?  Because if so, then I guess I understand the Hallmark cards.  I just wish I could send one and mean it.

I know that she had it worse than I did.  I know that she spend most of my childhood in a bottomless depression and that it probably took most of her willpower to stay alive.  She couldn’t get out of bed for days at a time.  She sent near-strangers to pick us up from school because she just could not do it.  I understand that kind of depression.  There’s a large part of me that thinks that I should appreciate her for just staying alive and doing the best she could, but I don’t really.  I deserved better.  I deserved a mother.

In addition, each year Mother’s Day gets harder for me.  In college and soon afterward, I had friends who had rocky relationships with their mothers or whose mothers were no longer in the picture either because they had died or walked out.  In addition, there were just a lot of people not physically near their mothers.  As time goes on, however, many of those people are now mothers themselves.  And new mothers are the most difficult kinds of people to be around on Mother’s Day.  It is so new to them and so excited and they feel such an overwhelmingly wonderful sense of family and accomplishment… and none of those things are bad.  They are wonderful, God-given experiences.

But it makes it really hard for me.  Not only do I not have the mother I’m supposed to appreciate today, but I am not a mother.  I don’t have a family of my own, either, which seems to have been very healing for a lot of friends in similar positions.  I know that God has a plan for me and all that, and I also know that it’s a good thing I haven’t had children because I would have repeated a lot of my mother’s “parenting,” but it’s extremely isolating.  I’m running out of people to be with on Mother’s Day.

I wish I had some way to celebrate myself on Mother’s Day.  After all, I had to raise myself (and to some extent, my siblings), while I myself was struggling with depression.  And for eight years teaching, I was more of a mother to much of my class than their own mothers were.  But it doesn’t feel real.

I accidentally took a four-hour nap this Mother’s Day.  Avoidance?


May 10, 2009

I’ve been reading PostSecret lately – for those of you not familiar with the blog, it consists of postcards (and sometimes emails) that are sent in anonymously, telling the sender’s secret – sometimes cute, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes horribly sad.  An anonymous e-confessional of sorts.  I read it and sometimes pray for the people who write in.  I’ve been thinking lately of what I would send in.

Probably this:

There have been more days in my life when I wished I was dead than days when I was glad to be alive.

Thankfully, things are changing so that one day this may not be true.  But then I wonder if it is ever possible to overcome so many years of desperate sadness.  Doesn’t that leave a mark?  That maybe can’t be erased or healed?