Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Broken Parts

I've alluded to this a couple of times, but I do my best writing, which is to say my most consistent frequency of writing, when I'm involved in a group setting, with writing prompts and assignments and the knowledge that for this period of time, there are at least 10 people reading, because that's part of their assignment and commitment to the class.  Today is the first day of the new session.

I'm holding down a table at "Conference Room U", the coffee shop across the street from the office, enjoying what is, in my opinion, the best latte in town with my laptop and 55 minutes to be no one other than "The Writer".  "The Producer" can wait until after this block of time.  "The Mommy" can wait a few hours.  For now, I will be the one that writes.

Today's prompt, from Mark Nepo's Facing the Lion, Being the Lion:
"It is important to realize that Ganesh is a god of embodied wisdom who knows the life obstacles of which he is a guardian. He is a god because he has lived through all the world has to offer, not because he transcends it. Often, he holds in his right hand one of his own tusks, which he broke off in a fit of anger and hurled at the moon. But the moon spit it back, and he carries that broken piece of himself as a reminder of the earthly journey that no one can escape."

Start us off easy, why don't you, Nerissa?!?!?  Good lord, I need to be "the writer" AND "face the broken parts"?!?!?

Me and Paul, 2005

A friend of mine took his own life a few weeks ago.  It absolutely devastated me.  We had worked together, and became incredibly close.  We shared the same birthday, we always stood up for each other.  He was my sounding board when things got rough, and I was the same for him.  He loved my little boy, and often referred to him as "the spud".  He believed in me, and I believed in him, despite what other people said.  He lived his life in a bit of a spotlight.  If you did a web search for that public person, you'd see a lot of words to describe him: Hot-headed, outspoken, substance abuse problems, wildly talented, womanizing, misogynistic and I think there was a certain part of him that was so used to those descriptions that he let himself be that person.  I also think there were demons inside him that drove him to not trust in the good parts, and that let his amazing heart, loyalty to friends, sense of humor, and talent be pushed down into the darkness.  And the darkness lied to him, and convinced him that there was no place in the world for him, and now he's gone.

I've been trying to make sense of it, talking to mutual friends, and trying to reconcile the person that I spoke with a few days before he died with someone so desperate to end the pain that he hung himself to find some peace.

In talking with one friend, the subject of the public mask came up.  We talked about how our friend was not really all those things that the Internet says, at least, not inside. But the mask was more comfortable and easier to maintain than it was to let the pain show.  This mutual friend told me "But, then, you know more about living behind a mask than most."

I had to let that sink in, I had to let it roll around in my head and in my heart for a little while before I could accept that he was absolutely right.  I have masks for different occasions, because the person underneath is hurting and raw and far too tender to trust the general populous to treat me kindly.  In an argument a few weeks ago, my husband snarled something about me being "little miss can-do, who never says what she really feels".

It's hard work, being broken.  We all have our personal tusks that we carry in our right hands.  I think the trick is being able to lay it down long enough to hold the ones who love us close and to let that love encompass and balm the hurting spots.

It's no small secret that the Nields music has been the soundtrack to my life, since I first started listening in 1996.  At least once a day, I sing a little bit of one of their songs, as an example of what I'm feeling at that moment.  I've loved each album for it's own reasons, but "The Full Catastrophe" has taken it to a new level for me.  "Your House Is Strong" has become my anthem.  I sing it to my son, I reassure myself with it.

"Our house is strong, and so are you
It's the broken parts that let the light shine through".

I don't know if what's broken can be fixed.  But I believe I can be strong and honest and true, and I want to be the sort of person that will not make excuses for the pain and the darkness.  It is a part of me, a part of this journey, the challenge is in letting my true face show.


  1. I think many of us wear masks because the media shows everyone as "shiny, and whole", and the ones that aren't end up in The Enquirer or some such. We're not shiny and new, many of us have dark sides, and many of us are just as afraid to show them. "Broken" sounds so...well broken...and we are not a society that believes in fixing anything anymore, so I like to think that we're not 'broken' per se, but that we're bumped, we're bruised, we're hibernating...

  2. I am sorry for your loss and hope that you can make some sense out of what is otherwise senseless.