Wednesday, July 9, 2008
An Unexpected Guest
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Sometimes you come across just the right words at just the right time. This weekend I listened to vitriolic voicemail after vitriolic voicemail, each one nastier than the previous. Each one mocking me, making fun of me, questioning my morals, questioning my decency, lambasting my character.
I mean, it could be laughable since this diatribe was mainly based on the fact that I wear high-heeled shoes (hence, I am a whore). But even the laughable isn't so funny if you hear enough of it.
I really wish Mom wouldn't call so often.
It wasn't my mom, and it wasn't a friend or family member — or anyone that has anything to do with me. It was a very troubled person, a person who is suffering, a person who would like to see me suffer, others suffer — anything to not be alone with such intolerable pain. In such a state, we can fire off shots haphazardly, not caring who they hit, only hoping they hit someone other than ourselves. Well, in this case the person knew her desired target.
If only they knew there's no need. Everyone suffers, you don't need to supply suffering to anyone. None of us is alone in pain.
And though I was rattled by this tirade, and though I was shaken to hear such things about myself — however untrue — I dug down deep into myself and found a shelter there. I know who I am. After all these years, after all this struggle, I really do know me. It has taken so long, and there have been many curves along the path, times I got lost and more times that I fell, but they've gotten me to where I am.
And those things for which some would have me be the most ashamed, are actually the things of which I am the most proud. I am a single mother. I had a child out of wedlock. And truth be told, that has made me who I am today. I am so much stronger, so much more resilient than I ever knew I could be. Having the strength to say "No" to those who would bully me into an abortion changed something in me forever.
I never had to take a stand before that day, or I never had the will. I never thought I was strong enough, important enough — hell, never thought I was "enough."
Well I am enough. I like me as I am. I am better for the very things you would criticize. And so bring it. Bring your criticisms and your judgments, call me a whore. Hell, sew that red letter and affix it to my chest, it won't change me. I know who I am and I like who I am.
I am remarkably human. Fragile. Imperfect.
Any other names you want to toss at me may stick or they may fall. It doesn't matter. So far as I'm concerned they're just synonyms for my humanity, and yours. You lob your pain at me in hopes to rid yourself. I see it. So toss away, toss away your pain, your rage and that profound fear that threatens to tear you apart.
If it lessens your suffering, I can take it. I know your words will fall away as I continue on my path, and I'll thank you for reminding me of who I am, and of how much love I have discovered in myself.
Namaste, suffering woman. You are a guest in my house, and I will make something lovely from your pain. Let it humble me, and let it teach me to love even more. I only wish the same for you.