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Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I keep trying to write this book about being happy. It’s only fair, right? You write a book about the darkest times of your living – and subject people to those night terrors; so, now, you need to show them the light in your living. The fact is that I’m not there right now. I’m in a place that I’ve revisited so many times in my living that I’ve lost count. I’ve removed my finger from the page in my heart and stuck it in my ear to futilely block the raging, internal dialogue.

One of the things that carried me in my life is my ability to keep track. When the controller of my company (note that word, controller) asks me where he put the piece of paper that justifies this purchase or that “clawback” – I walk into my office, know exactly where to lay my hand. It’s simple. If you always do things the exact same way, if you label the folder, if you staple the pieces together, it’s always easy to find. Then, I get my pat on the head or the back, my reward.

Why can’t I do that with my life? Why can’t I put away the pieces that hurt me? By this time, I should be able to take the story and neatly file it away, compartmentalizing it so that the tendrils of shame or self pity don’t wrap themselves around my arms and pull me headfirst into the filing cabinet, abruptly slamming in regret. I continue to offer my open arms to the past, to the things over which I had no control.

The song, “Parachute” has been non-stop repeat in my brain for the last month. I admit that it is “The Wind Beneath My Wings” kind of pop pabulum with a good, universal message.

“And when the world gets sharp and tries to cut you down to size
And makes you feel like giving in,
Oh, I will stay, I will reign, I will wash the words and pain away
And I will chase the way we push, the way we pull
You’re beautiful.”

My mind gyrates at 3:34 in the morning and I move from side to side trying to find comfort. Why did this person at work choose to send that piece of paper out into the void without asking my permission? Do I have the right to give them permission? I have the knowledge, I have the responsibility, I have the title – but not the respect. So I get in there and demand my respect because if no one in the entire universe is going to stand up for SueAnn, damn it… I will.

Wow. Now there’s a control freak on the loose if I ever heard one. Save yourself from the hurricane of “Cover My Ass” paranoia, find shelter! The truth of the matter is that the employee never thought about what kind of terrorizing effect this would have on my ego. Never took a split second before putting that piece of paper out to whoever it was and hit the “send” button on the fax. Much the same way that I didn’t have an inkling of what I was doing when I originated the same sin a couple months back in the reverse direction; the machine was in movement, get out of my way, I’m busy.

Friday morning I was in the bathtub and I had the entire day off. I was reading the last bits of a book, a cherished book, telling me to take care of myself. Not – “Hey, SueAnn, go out and seek a massage, a spa, a retreat in the Caribbean.” It was saying, “Be your own advocate.” Well, what’s the difference between an advocate and a bully? Perception. Again, and for the billionth time in my learning, it’s all about perception.

The people who have been reading The Truth About Whales get quiet. They don’t know what to say. I’m standing in front of them, as a child, a teenager and an adult with a ten foot sign that says, “I was harmed.” How long do I have to carry that sign? It’s an old sign. It’s been used a lot. And now, it’s out in print in a whirlwind of no control. The reviews I find most frightening are the ones that nail me as a survivor, as someone championing a cause. Yet, that’s the same printing on my sign, isn’t it?

Is the insanity ego? Tell me it isn’t ego because, well, that’s just embarrassing, common, and disgustingly normal. In the school of the human condition, I want to be an “A” student. I want my academy award. I want to say, in my best and most girlish voice ever, “You like me. You really, really like me.”

Secretly, the truth is that I’m sick of my sign. I’m exhausted from the worry and the anger of carrying it. I want, desperately, to take care of SueAnn and have not a clue on the face of the earth exactly how to do that. Re-runs of Glee and Hershey’s Kisses do not keep the stories at bay.

In that same book, the author says that we have to champion our thoughts. If we have no control over the things that enter our minds, or that happened to us as children; then we do have to find a way to think responsibly. Meditation might help. Taking a breath before the rant, or at least twenty-four hours before hitting “send,” might help. For me, putting down the sign and stepping quietly away from the past is a good start.

Please... by all means, go listen and buy that pop pabulum song, Parachute... it's just wonderful.

1 - Monahan, Pat and Gregg Wattenberg. “Parachute” Lyrics. Save Me, San Francisco. Columbia 2009.

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