Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving of Saved Souls

This year, I am going to focus on One Gratitude. The center of my heart began to thaw when my son Dakota Wolf was born, continued it's long melt in the arms of Ian Oliver and Lola Moon and is finally through the long winter by the side of my husband, Mr. Curry.

I am grateful that Mr. Curry and I stuck it out. Things were very, very bad for a while. It was a very hard two years. Two years that entailed moments of complete despair for both of us- financial, mental, emotional, and the tremendous, soul sickening guilt that you experience when you fail to offer the kind of life to your children that you desperately want for them.

I am grateful for the four years of therapy I had in my early twenties, helping me move forward backward step by forward skip- skid back, straighten shoulders, move forward. In this ridiculously frustrating manner I worked through the abuse of my childhood because I was determined to give my son a beautiful life. This therapy, prayer and a stint in AA (began at 17 and something I will always be grateful for, it was free therapy when I had nowhere to turn) taught me something essential: I am a survivor, I always look for a way up, and even when my own life feels like a tunnel of waste with no end, I can always help someone else. Being of use, even if just to the earth at your feet, is essential to spiritual health, in turn, mental and emotional. This foundation gave me the strength necessary when Mr. Curry became sick and left me and became a person I had never known.

At the time we did not know he was Bipolar. At the time I just thought the man I knew and loved was truly a person I had never known and did not love me anymore, and I had no money, no idea what I was going to do, a shattered heart and panic attacks. This could have gone so many ways.

The way it went is a long and hard earned story, but the piece I am focusing on here is what I am grateful for: Mr. Curry did not give up. Momentarily, in places, he did. This is human. He never gave up the novel, only long paragraphs he couldn't stand to read. Many people run from mental illness. I have known and lived with them my whole life. They spend their whole life running from it's stigma, it's sufferings, and most importantly it's healing. They refuse diagnosis, medication, therapy. Mr. Curry had many reasons to do so, which I won't go into here. He did not. He got help. He accepted help. He asked, eventually, for help. He took the medication, he made changes, and began to grow as a person.

Here is where the miracle occured. I am a person that has been around struggling people my whole life. Actually the only people I lived with and knew closely were people who profoundly struggled simply to survive daily life. Thriving was something I never saw. I knew it from literature and movies only. It was a concept I had to believe existed out of pure desperation, stubborness and hope. I grew up with alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, anxiety ridden depressives, bipolar untreated, skitzophrenia, and all other kinds of sadness and despair.
I know all about it. How it works, how it looks, sounds, smells, feels...and what the end of the story is.

Mr. Curry went and defied the storyline. He got help, he did what was suggested, and he changed.

Read that line again.

I can count on one hand the people I know who have done this when confronted with serious personal struggle. I know there are families of people out there who live this way as a matter of course, but I have never been of them or around them. I thought, until Mr. Curry, that I would have to live out that particular story line on my own. Survivor turns to Thrive.

I am so grateful that while we worked, we set boundries. I am grateful that while we worked, we expressed love even under the most trying and painful circumstances. I am grateful that we now reap the benefits of that, have one of the best friendships I've ever seen ( the best I've ever known), a soulful connection- in addition to an entirely adult, exploratory and ellecit sex life that completely defies the fact that we are also the parents of three beautiful young children.

Mr. Curry has shown such humble willingness to change that it humbles ME. It makes me want to be better than I am. He has been courageous. That is not a word I use lightly. To meet your personal demons head on, in the broad light of day in front of the people you love and want to look strong and whole in front of= to do that and not. give. up. ? That is a miracle.
Like a man recovering from a coma, I have seen him every day become stronger, smarter, able to use his limbs and brain and spirit more readily and engagingly, trusting himself more and more to meet the challenges of life. To experience joy.

In Mr. Curry and my own family, we have a history of madness, alcholism, lost souls.

Yesterday, we took the kids to the canyon. It had been raining ferociously, and there were signs that said do not enter, no hiking during rain. We've gone to this canyon, both of us, since we were little kids, so we know it's still safe. We trudged through huge mud puddles and hiked anyway. Lola fell in a puddle and was soaked. I fell in the stream and was soaked. We all, eventually, got completely wet, muddy and disgusting, and Dakota picked up a crawfish that was pregnant. The shiny maggoty looking babies disgusted him, and he threw the crawfish back in the stream immediately. Trees towered over our heads, wet and green, slick and potent with smell- the air was incredible. We splashed and jumped and touched the grasses, the trees, the water.

This is the primal soup. Where we begin a new history, with new stories, new life forms making way from the water to the shore to the sky.

I love you Mr. Curry.

" Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it "
- Bible
Happyflower said...

Very beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes, and I don't cry that easily. ;-)

Countrybelle said...

what a beautiful thanksgiving post. you tell your stories with such charisma and grace. the details about the pregnant crawfish belong in a poem, i think. and congratulations on your recent publication!

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, I am printing this post, so that I can keep it with me at all times. You have no idea how much I needed this... right freakin' now.

molly said...

wow. that is an awesome story to share. so, i'll pass my giving thanks your way, as well. thank you.

ButtonHole said...

You know, of course, how often and easily negative traits and tendencies are passed from generation to generation more often than not. What I've been interested in for some time is WHY sometimes they are not. Do you have a theory about yourself? Why the buck stopped with you? Was it intelligence that saved you? Luck? Grace? An indefinable inner strength? I'd be interested in your take on what caused you to refuse to fit into the mold that might have been your destiny. You say that you wanted a better life for your son; but why do you think it's so rare that many in a similar situation end of creating for their children the very lives that caused themselves so much pain?

Lola said...

Wow! What a great tribute to Mr. Curry. I've stared bipolar mania in the face my whole life with my sister, but sadly she does not take the courageous path. I still love her, but I wish she could be as strong as Mr. Curry.

You made me cry, but in a good way. I'm happy for your family, and I love the muddy romps with my son following the brook that runs through our property. It's the simple things...

Happy Thanksgiving, Mama!

Magpie said...

That is deserving of thanks indeed.

Tamara (TC) Staples said...

What a wonderfully moving post.

Annie said...

A beautiful story, of courage and intelligence, grace, and love.

Maggie May said...

thank you all very much for your sensitive replies.

buttonhole i have two immediate thoughts:
a child going through trauma that can find anything to cling to, to hope for, has a better chance. i found this through literature. it gave me a gateway.
also, i do believe that people are born with innate strengths and weakness- i don't believe in 'tablu rasa', or blank slate birth. i have always felt strong spirited, even my depressions rest up against something stubborn.

it's a fascinating thing to think on, there have been some great books written on resilience that i mean to get around to reading.

ButtonHole said...

Actually, you know, those would be my two main answers as well. I'd go as far as to say literature has saved my life. More than once. But maybe only because I had the stubbornness to let it.

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