Saturday, February 26, 2011

And You Shall Be Love

I have to come back to the previous post and work out some of my faulty logic. But before I do that, I have been thinking a lot about love. Such a beautiful thing - word, right? We all want it and we seek it and we acquire it and we lose it and some keep it. Valentine's Day, wedding anniversaries, babies being born, marriages. All of these events signify the love relationship. This year I got a lot of "Happy Valentine's Day" messages. I wasn't quite sure what to do with all of them. What does that mean that you want me to have a happy Monday? Or you want me to eat some chocolate? Or you want me to feel loved today? I particularly like the last one. So, yes I will feel loved today. Mind if I keep it for the coming days as well?

March is three days away. March 3rd will be the 20th anniversary of my father's death. And I never forget that day. I never forget where I was when I found out and how it sort of rolled over my and spilled down my back like the first moments in the shower or under a waterfall, should you be so lucky to stand beneath a waterfall! Now at the 20 year anniversary it is particularly difficult to see the day approach. Time should heal all wounds and make things easier to bare. But for me it just gets harder. Because I tend to think of all that was missed in the 20 years. Having my father walk me down the aisle (or through the hotel room to the terrace) on my wedding day. Being present when my children were born. Teaching my boys about football and baseball and telling them jokes and holding them on his knee and giving them pats, because: "Pats are very important." And I try not to live in regret or missed opportunity, especially with things I could not/can not prevent like death. But March is the month that I allow myself to wallow and to "harrow my own personal hell." It makes Aprils' showers a welcome baptism. Just like Jesus!

A few months ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. Now I know for a lot of people that is not a "real" thing. And as I went through school and succeeded in various ways I realized that not being able to concentrate, or prioritize or complete a simple task, was a character flaw. It could not possibly be something amiss with my brains firings. And it became a thing that caused me so much shame. I did not feel smart. So I must not be smart. And despite having a rather extreme form of ADHD I did manage to have some successes in school, partly because I had to develop my verbal and social skills to combat my inability to parse mental activities. The one place I did well was in theatre, as a director. I had stage managers, designers and assistants to help me with the details of a project so all I had to do was deal with the forest, leaving them the trees. And I loved my designers and stage managers who could pull what I couldn't say out of my quagmire of a brain. And yet, Grace would appear, often just long enough to give me a glimpse of how to fix something making the work okay. But my early work often lacked resolution or clarity at the end. And the end is the hardest part of creating a strong piece of theatre. So even there I was receiving the same critique over and over again - your piece has no ending Keisha. What do you want the audience to leave with? I couldn't make it to that point. And I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't know how to fix me. I also don't end relationships very well. I get tired of the tedium of dotting i's and crossing t's. And I just let things go and end however they will. Often not being able to do the rigorous work of making love last and of ending it with good feelings intact. So I stand eternally grateful to those who have loved me enough to stick around even when it was quite obvious that I had gone off the deep end a few times! And yes, I can laugh about it now!

Can I blame ADHD for this. Well, in a way and then again not at all. But what I can say is that I am angry. Angry at the amount of time it took this diagnosis to come to the fore. Angry at each and every teacher who didn't try to help me get through this challenge but rather wrote me off as not being that smart. And pissed as all hell at my parents for not expecting better from me after a time. And for settling on where I had gotten to and not on where they truly knew I should be. I never settled in a place. I always have berated myself for not doing better and not being more. I felt it in me - that I had never achieved and surpassed my potential. And I am made at myself for that. And now that I know that indeed there is something amiss with my brain firings, and that it can be helped, I want to jump ahead and start achieving all the things I have always wanted. But I am stuck in regret. Stuck in it deep. And I am pissed off. Wow, I am probably the angriest I have ever been in my life.

And I am discovering that anger is a useful emotion if it pushes us to work through it and get to a better place. And so this coming month of March when I am usually all sad for all the things I have lost I am instead going to focus on all that I have missed. All the ways I wanted my life to be but it wasn't. All of the moments I wanted to have but I didn't. And all of the things I wanted to accomplished by haven't. I am giving this month to myself as a gift. Time to work through my anger and my hate and my out and out fear.

So what do I regret? Missing the time with my father. Missing being able to truly engage in my studies. Missing being the academic scholar and world-shaker I always felt called to be. Missing living a BIG LIFE, instead of the smaller one I resigned myself to. Missing giving my children the home and the life and the love they so deserve. Missing the organization and the rigeur that would give me a sense of accomplishment. Missing my Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Academy Awards. Being as completely unreasonable about how my life may have actually been. And then on March 31st, I will say good-bye to all my regrets in some kind of ceremony. And on April 1st I will await the rain to wash the remnants of my past of self- hate and recriminations good-bye.

I started this post talking about love and my father. And I end it thinking again about love and my father. My father lived his short life with many many regrets. And I know it was because he was trapped in the circumstances of his birth and the limitations of his mind and I feel that pain right now. My father was 44 when he died. I will be 40 this summer. And I refuse to enter that decade with the same recriminations my father died with. This is an opportunity to get off that particular wheel of life. To end the negative karma. So that my love and gratitude and completion is the gift I give future generations - it is my good karma passed on to my children and their children and....

Kahlil Ghibran wrote this:

* When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
p. 11
All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears...For love is sufficient unto love.
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And I shall be love

in peace,

Photo Credit: Flickr best pictures of 2010


John Garrett said...

Ahhh are the Days of Our Lives...

So what specific event (if any) led to your diagnosis of ADHD after all this time? I know you'll handle this with strength and grace, though.

I'm very sorry to hear about your father. I know this sort of thing all too well, it's coming up on 16 years since my father's death. Man I have so many thoughts swirling in my head when the anniversary comes up each year...

I have regrets like anyone else, but I make sure not to live in those moments, only to push forward and keep it moving.

Anyway, it looks like you have resolved yourself to live life without despair, so I'll be right there with you. Life isn't over and we can still make it into what we want it to be.

Love, peace and SOUL!

-john g

Nanda Mama said...

Hello JG
Thank you for your, as ever, kind and supportive words. Well, the ADHD thing was on the back burner for awhile, always by me trying to figure out how to live a better life. And when professional organizers, self-help books, meditation, writing and crossing off lists, continued not to work I started seeking other avenues. My ability to concentrate is amazing and should only get better, especially since I have all those other skills already, like organizing and list making. Now I can actually focus on doing them to completion.

I am sorry for the loss of your dad as well. It is hard and it is amazing that the anniversaries bring up so much stuff, but I am beginning to be grateful because it is my inner Keisha letting me know what needs to be healed.

Truly wish despair was gone, but it remains an strong adversary. Soon.

I enjoy hearing from you and really appreciate your support of me and my writing. I am here for whatever support you need!


kare o' the mountains said...

Hi love,

Just now saw that you had a new post. i'm so behind on everything and owe you a thorough, soul-searching/sharing email as well. for the moment, please know that i think about you often and send much love.

I too have the ADHD diagnosis (since 1999). For me, having the diagnosis has made some things make more sense but it has not been an easy journey at all. Hoping for better navigation paths for you, and I'm more than happy to share any of my knowledges.

i love you girl. xoxo

elementaryal said...

I remember you telling me, "I could have been Oprah!" when the ADHD was revealed. And I said, "Ah, yes, but you are KEISHA, and that is so much better!" I stand by that statement. I am awe of you (frequently) and how amazingly brilliant you are - for realz (as Ben would say). You anger is so familiar to me, it is something I wear, like an old comfortable shirt - unwilling to part with. I wallow in March as well. And look forward to the resurrection that comes with all those rituals of Spring. I'm so blessed to have you to give words to my feelings and a reflection of my self. I love you Keisha!