God Singing While I Panic

My son finally read the essay I wrote about his meth addiction. He’s as deep or deeper into the craziness as he’s ever been. When his barbed comments began, they hurt in a way I didn’t imagine they could. In my 12-step program, they teach that as family and loved ones of an addict, we keep our emotions in check as a way of surviving. We numb out so we don’t have to feel the hurt. But lately, as I’ve worked with a wonderful writing teacher, Jennifer Lauck, my emotions will not stay neat and tidy. So I feel like a just-shot cartoon character who sprouts a thousand leaks. I’m leaking all over the place.
I think of my son and tears don’t come, but I leak anyway. I think of all the work left to do on my memoir of being a kid in a 1960s Shriners Hospital and the leaks get bigger, louder. In the background, God is singing, but it’s hard to hear above the river gushing out of some deep place.
When I was ten in that hospital, I used to have debates with myself as to the pros and cons of crying. Part of me was so wounded that I wanted to scream and scream. The other part of me always countered that if I did, nothing would change: I would still be hurting in the hospital bed, the doctors would still take me to surgery, my family would still be far away. Plus, I’d be in trouble for not cooperating. So I kept my Bible under my pillow to keep those screams locked up. If I let them out, Mom would feel even more guilty. Mary would think I was a coward. I would never be famous if I acted like anything except a star.
Today the whole fame idea looks fairly remote, but I’m still afraid to scream. Not exactly cheery holiday fare, but it’s the truth. I truly hope there are gobs of people who aren’t this depressing or depressed around Christmas, but I am not one of them. When I was in that hospital on Christmas, all of us on the ward each received two small presents, each marked, “For a Girl.” If I could do anything this Christmas, it would be to believe you and I are worth something better than a generic no-name gift. Maybe by January, when all this is past, I’ll scream and you’ll scream and we’ll all scream. And know God is listening, if nobody else.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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