I do not have faith. Never have. I am one of those never quite satisfied, relentless seekers. Oh I am a believer. I just seem to be short on faith.
Perhaps that is why I have to watch Miracle on 34th Street over and over, just to hear the line “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.” Not that I have so much of that either.
Another sacred cinema is The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy after overcoming many obstacles learns she was the greatest of all, managing to transport herself back to Kansas to by tapping her ruby slippers together, affirming her belief that “there is no place like home.” She returns to that which her heart longs for a story of faith, seeking and belief. Like these characters in make believe movies I forge on.
My greatest belief has been in me. Yes the thinking of an addict.
I am an addict. My lucky card is that drugs and alcohol skipped the in box of genes. But ice cream, cigarettes, work, security and other people are my addictions.
Love and my perception of what they may need is my crack. I can put them in a pipe and just smoke them. Needing them happy to quell my own anxiety. I want, I want. That is the think of an addict. I want, what I want, when I want it. I just roll up others lives’, inhale smoking in the “should” my drug of choice baby.
I’m getting healthier or as they say I am recovering. (Notice present tense, as the prevailing wisdom is that I will never be healed only that I have a daily reprieve based on “my fit spiritual condition.” Ha, that is just about the same conundrum as faith and believing and all. )
You can probably tell my meanderings are one of my defenses. My protective armor is to baffle with brilliance. This serves me so well that I often dwell in a state of confusion.
That is why I write, in effort to figure myself out of a hole I have gotten myself into.
Last weeks hole was a canyon. I can tell you the details, but they are redundant. If you are a parent you comprehend.
I have dwelt in a constant state of fret since the conception of my child, which can slip into agitation, anxiety, occasions of extreme powerlessness or into explosions of rage. Perhaps this perseveration on others is a spectrum disorder, not contained, all murky in the boundaries.
(When I have resolved my questions of faith/seeking /prayer etc. I will pray for a conversion experience, or at least pray to be an imploder rather than an exploder. )
But I digress.
My thinking is an issue, smoking my kid’s life like she was a narcotic leaves a taint. (Oh did I mention that she is a grown up, an adult who has lived internationally? Since her return to my neighborhood my momma radar is on a high alert.)
I was off point in my worry and cyclical thinking wishing I could check in for an intervention. I could go to the ER and bellow, “I am being crazy made by my kid.” Yet I am certain there is no treatment for this ailment.
I am an extra in the opera Aida or better said I am a human prop. I stand perfectly still for thirty minutes while the rock star vocalists voices reverberate the sumptuous stage with sound waves. This is way cool. It is meditation, a Zen practice of sorts.
During the rehearsal with the cast of 100 with resplendent voices resonating I am still spinning my mom wheels. There is no quieting my mind. Though I pray, the way my mom and dad did repetitively chanting the rosary and have spent all of a day immersed in the opera’s splendor, my mind continues going back to my crack house of fear. It was like the gallons of Cookies and Cream Ice Cream I used to engorge. Once I had taken that first bite another would call to me, “eat me, eat me.” Silence came only when the gallon was consumed.
The ever-looming momma voices of fear would not be quelled.
Drugging on misguided love I am in some sort of relapse. (This is when I wish I were sex addict. At least then I would have guilty pleasure.)
Not responding to prayer, music, talks with enlightened beings, my mind remains ensconced in a fog. A limbo purgatory of the mind I dwell in the if’s of someone else’s story.
When I told my homeless brother of my fears, he chastised me that I had no faith. He told me how he had reprimanded our mother through the years when she worried after him.
A man who lives on the streets reminds his mother, a daily communicant (in layman’s terms that meant she went to mass every day.) “You already prayed, so where is your faith?”
Stuck in this mental prison I decided to walk and pray, hoping that movement would temper my anxieties. Three miles through Detroit’s skyscraper canyons; past decrepit buildings, and along the silver glimmering thread of the river I am not balmed. My faculties are compromised. I am in a hell of distress. Rubbing a my Buddha bead bracelet and imploring any and all named deities for assistance yet still I am tormented.
I am chastising God. “Give my kid a break. Who took her bike? What will she do for transportation? She has looked for a job for a year. How can I help her? Is she safe? I will call my Yemini friend. They can call the store where her bike got stolen. I am in a vortex of past, present and future and “what ifs.” Obsessing. I am an obsessive. If it were a ganja I was smoking I would have chilled. But I am gallons into to my drug and still using, verging on an overdose.
Another rehearsal awaits me. The sun taunts me with its promise, making my dark thoughts gloomier.
This is a spiritual emergency. I do not get struck off my horse like the non-believer Saul. Yet there in front of Louis the Hatter, a haberdashery that has been decking out locals in fine hats since Zoot suit days comes a man dressed in a bumblebee yellow fleece coat with a matching rosary. It matters not that he is Black except for the matter that I am a suburban Caucasian middle age babe in a primarily African American city with a divide so big that fear has been redlined into consciousness.
His swaying beads match his jaunty walk. His beads a clacking in a fervency in some fierce prayer of his own. He is my disciple, the answer to my intercessions. I stop him imploring him to pray for my daughter. (Sometimes I ponder whether God turns a deaf ear to we faithless whiners, weary of our droning prattle and lack of faith.)
He proselytizes telling me he was just at an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. He speaks of his addiction and his spotty recovery, of his girlfriend who he says “Is a chaos addict.” He will pray for my daughter and me. I will pray for him. We remind each other that the best prayer is behavior. We hug. I feel absolved.
I want to tell you I remain a holy soul full of peace.
I do not.
When my daughter arrives in in my borrowed car to transport me home she agitated. Like some contagious plague I am lost in my effort’s to temper her mind and to manage mine.
There is a vehicular eruption. You know the kind where you feel trapped, no exit all is magnified. I threaten to bolt from the car, and great drama ensues.
I feel that nasty feeling of a user who did too much of a bad good thing, like when I smoked two packs of cigarettes with pots of coffee or ate all the Elf’s in a bag of Keebler Cookies. I feel like my yellow prayer partner, Mac when he slipped and imbibed a bit of beer and then a bit more, oh that very slippery slope.
I feel funky…yet…
The encounter with that street disciple and our conversation keeps a glint in my own dark brain. I pray some more, not for my daughter but for the release from that ever-looming limbo of parenthood, where I feel tethered to someone else’s happiness, responsible for the world. Trained by the years of burps and ouches’’ and night terrors, I cannot put down my call to quell someone else’s alarm and silence my own siren.
I chip away at the stone in the door that blocks light. That is how faith is for me; it is effort, great effort. But seeking is not. I forge on.
Though hung over from anger, I forgive me and release her. And just sort of believe that God gave me Mac the man of yellow beads and golden heart to steel me against my fear.
And my daughter, well she got her miracle. First her momma let her be. Second while running through her neighborhood trying to forget the theft of her bike she encounters a man riding it. With those powerful legs and her indomitable spirit she catch’s him and retrieves it. And now she rides, soars on. And me, I just resolve like Mac to try to pray with my behavior and try to be a “less” loving, perfect momma.