Monday, March 16, 2009

A mutant destiny

A week ago I began a post to mark the 40 years since Al-Anon saved my life. I wrote about the friend who finally got me to the first meeting and how she, her name was Jean Patterson and she has been gone for most of those 40 years and anonimity would not be an issue, convinced me to leave a poisonous marriage by simply getting in the car and driving away. I deleted the essay, it was just too real.

By beginning that story, I managed to call up all the feelings that nearly defeated me so many years ago; one of the ways my body had been shrieking at me then, which I misunderstood, as did the family doctor who should have known better, was with a chronic and disabling intestinal ailment, now I believe it is called IBS and I have been free of it for almost four decades. As I wrote and relived the details of my escape, my stomach began to hurt and, for a brief time, all the symptoms were back, as though they had never left. Let's call that revelation unnerving. And the lesson I took from it was this: we never know what alien vestige is still feeding off some part of our soul until we drag it all out into the light. While exerting what I believe was its final, punishing attempt, it was forced to let go. In its aftermath, I have felt tired yet peaceful and very much surprised at the ability of our life experiences to retain a great power, for good or ill, regardless of how long and deeply we've worked to exorcise them. We are the amalgam of all our moments.

Which makes me wonder if the most potent (again whether seemingly beneficial or harmful) of these events, when borne over a long period of time, transforms us on a cellular level; I believe so. In a way, we are mutants, life forms which differ from our original states. That in turn makes me consider that mutant is simply one of the names for our individual evolution. Is there, for each of us, a specific destiny, one which can only be reached through what I could call trial by ordeal, the bearing and surviving of the various dark nights that mark human existence? I think that is somewhere close to the truth, or at least what feels like truth to me.

Perhaps my gratitude is owed not only to those who led me away from peril but to the fact that my life has not been, shall we say, smooth and consistently lovely. My mother used to speak of trying times building character and I'd ask myself, under my breath, just how much character could one person need. For today I can accept the blessing of illumination, continue to find willingness to acknowledge that life is just life, be truly relieved for situations in which I no longer have to live and ask for the courage to keep looking back, to be sure no one was left behind.

9 comments:

grrl+dog said...

well done and congrats on picking the final scab off.

I have words tattoed on my left inner arm - a quote from Heath Ledger's Joker in Batman: What does not kill me makes me

stranger.

I am glad to be a mutant.

Jen said...

Another exemplary post, dear Marylinn. I have no doubt we are shaped - both psychologically AND physically - by our past experiences. I'm pretty convinced that many of the so-called "sudden" illnesses are brought on by issues we have yet to tackle, unearth, air out and lay to rest. As grrl so eloquently stated, "congrats on picking the final scab off". Indeed! :)

Erin Perry said...

Powerful post. I congratulate you on finding the courage to leave when you did. It took me 30 years, and somedays I marvel that I managed to escape. It's been 6 years now - and I've never been happier or more at peace. But I firmly believe that there are bits left that will arise and be dealt with over the coming years. Thank you for sharing this.
Erin in Morro Bay

Bet's Crayons said...

Yes, that was a powerful post. Keep your chin up high...I say, well done! You've moved on. Remember there are more good days than bad, and they will keep getting better. If you look back, the vision will eventually fade.

You are an awesome person.

LisaHoffman said...

You've done it again. By using your Super-Power Word Tools, you've allowed us to stop long enough to listen, reflect and nod. Oh, we know. Many of us know all too well. The ghosts might be former relationships, a larger than usual basket of grief...whatever.
Thanks for once again putting a voice to those numerous feelings that can just float and hover, making us stop mid-step and ask:
"...is something FOLLOWING me????"

I wish that the NY Times would discover you.

Crystal said...

Great post Marylinn. I've just begun my 12 step adventure in Adult Children of Alcoholics ~ a saving grace at a rock bottom realization that my life, choices, health, pretty much everything, has been shaped from these past issues. Thanks for your honest approach to blogging. It was a worthwhile read and I would love to come back again!
Crystal (found you on facebook)

Patti said...

what a great post with such universal sentiment, if we're all willing to look in and acknowledge it. totally agree about the change at the cellular level, one day science will catch up. and, I guess there's no end to how much character we can use:)
take good care!

Melissa Green said...

Our brave Marylinn, who teaches the rest of us courage, how to listen, how to know when we've heard the 'small, still voice' that will save us. We didn't know each other in 2009 when this was written, or 40 years ago when you made your daring escape, but I can only thank Jean, your own tenacious and beautiful spirit, or the benevolent universe that finagled to have it be that our paths would finally cross, and not just cross but put us on the pace of friendship, kinship, twinship for whatever bountiful time we have together. It was enormously hard work, as anything essential is, but here you are, showing us the way, bushwhacking the difficult terrain of continual growth; generously illuminating the way for those of us who walk slower, are faint of heart or are still amazed to find that we are still here. Thank you, Marylinn, for your stellar character and for showing us by example how to find a full life inside one's own lovely mutant self. xoxo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - My dear and every bit as brave companion, thank you. I just woke from a surprisingly deep and restful nap in which I navigated one of the alternate planes on which I seem to exist. We do know when we find home. Possibly growing accustomed to my astonished states, including still being here, often without a rash or general twitching. Full of gratitude born of mutancy. xo