I've made some really bad decisions in my life.
I once attempted to forge my mother's signature on an elementary school report card.
That didn't go so well.
I thought she might not notice if they "skipped" a report period. As a child in the single digits, I thought this to be completely plausible and doable as a ruse, my mother and aunt being teachers notwithstanding. I remember carefully tracing her steady, determined, and flowing autograph on the canary-colored tri-folded piece of card stock.
I held an old report card over the top of the lamp and put the newer, more regrettable record of the past three months on top of it and did my best to fool the man.
Needless to say, it was a disaster from the very first droplet of ink that came pouring out of that ball-point pen.
You just can't go back after the first drop is loosed. It just starts to smudge and ripple like a Richter scale and then, as you try to erase the mistake, the fibers of pulp break open and fray like cut flesh, and then a drop of sweat leaves an indelible mark and the thoughts come of disposing of the card the fastest, and most permanent way possible, and you come up with a list of alibis which get progressively worse even from before the first one is formulated, almost as if you had just acted on the many urges to kill that flood even the best of us on any given day.
Please don't tell my therapist I said that, OK?
In other words--you're screwed.
That was pretty bad, but it's not the end of the world. You take your lumps and promise to never to do it again and move on with your life. Hopefully the next card will be one you're proud of.
And as you grow, you make more mistakes.
Some are worse than others. Some are instantly forgettable. Some you never really recover from.
I didn't handle my mother's passing well. I made myself unavailable sometimes when I didn't need to. I did my best to anesthetize my conscious being and really put the pedal to the metal in the short term memory loss that is supposed to come with substance abuse.
The long term stuff has a tendency to bare its teeth and stick around as long as you can-- longer even, if that's possible.
My aunt handled the dirty work. She said she didn't mind. She took my mom to chemo every week and sat in the sterile, invasively lit hospital room and they talked and laughed and cried and lived as best as two people who will soon become one can.
I stayed at home and worked.
I drank almost every night.
I went on the road with my musical groups.
I kept busy in as many ways as I could and that was a great way to avoid a meltdown in plain view of the most important person in my life.
It's not that I didn't visit my mother as much as I could. I did. I don't have many regrets where that is concerned. I'm just thankful that my license was not revoked until after she passed. That would have been unforgivable, and I don't even want to think about what might have happened then.
But, as I have been all my life, I was shielded from the grotesque and harrowing experiences that the average person is unavoidably saddled with. That is one of the ways they showed their love for me. They groomed me to be as free from traumatic experiences as humanly possible.
And I had to screw it up on my own with a never ending quest for obliteration, escape, and avoidance through drugs, alcohol, greed, avarice, and sloth.
I had to invent problems for myself because I was deprived of them as a child.
Now that's about as screwed up as you can get.
As I sit here and write at my virtual podium, trying to come up with the words to help not just me, but anyone who cares to see how many of life's mistakes are universal, I am neither sad nor happy.
I live somewhere in the middle, somewhere where neither the clouds nor the sun obscure my vision.
I am in emotional purgatory, with both hell's fury below me, and heaven's mothering embrace above.
I can see what I have to do because I've seen what I've done.
I'm willing to bring the report card to its intended recipient and either take my lumps or absorb its praises.
Because what I have done, and what I am doing is in plain view. I hide nothing. And because of that I can look upon and experience what I have been shielded from, and it does not scar me any more or any less than a broken bottle to the face. For as long enough blood runs through me I can withstand whatever pain my nerve endings can convey.
Blood runs hot, and blood runs thick, and all of our blood someday will dry up.
So chose carefully where you carry yours, and may your mouth move in sync with your brain and your heart, and may they all agree and do the right thing.
It's not that hard once you get the hang of it.
Thanks for reading.