Saturday, March 07, 2009

Using the Monster

Sometimes I think this illness is just a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of potential, until I remind myself that as long as I keep up this journal, none of the journey is wasted, particularly if it can help another person.

It ain't easy, though. And it's certainly not an assignment I ever would have asked for. As a young person, I always thought my "hero's journey" would take place on a grander, far swankier scale. I'd become some celebrated singer/songwriter, and that's where the drama of my life would unfold. That's how I'd fulfill my destiny--by writing and performing songs that would enchant and connect, as others' songs have done for me. It was a singular quest for many years, but all along, something about it just didn't feel right.

Strangely, as I was going through it, I somehow knew that I would not succeed commercially in music (despite the wonderful and worthy songs that came through me). Something about that world wasn't a good fit, yet as I'd never seen myself in any other role in life, I would just trudge on, even though I didn't like the path.

I loved writing and performing, but I hated touring, and I hated the music business. I also hated the deep-seated sense of unworthiness I felt nearly all the time, which in hindsight was my true enemy. When we feel we're unworthy of good things, we don't get them for sure. It pains me now to think of how much I dressed down during those early performing days (hiding in plain sight) and that I didn't celebrate this nice Irish face and slim build that I've been given. (You can bet your ass I'm enjoying it now.)

I worked on these unworthy feelings for years in therapy, and slowly things began to change for the better. But with these changes came also the realization that what I was really looking for in the music business (as opposed to music itself) was some kind of validation, my own version of keeping up with the Joneses. And, of course, no one can give you that; you validate yourself.

While it's been liberating to have had these insights, I do wonder these days where I fit into the grand scheme of things, which was so clear to me years ago. No amount of painkillers today has been able to even make a dent in this pain and I feel devoured by endurance.

At times I feel wistful for all the things that I could potentially be doing without pain or illness. My art studio beckons daily, as do countless creative ideas, all of which are lost without me--a realization made all the more poignant by my awareness of having hit the half-century mark. The future is shorter now, and I can no longer live in the land of "someday," which is so often the refuge for the young when frustration sets in.

My somedays are getting fewer, so I suppose the real trick now is to somehow turn my "somedays" into "todays," to work with what I've been given instead of mourning for what could have been.

A well Mary Ann would be working on those new paintings, taking flying lessons, dating, seeing family more (especially my nieces), volunteering, and going to flamenco classes two or three times a week.

But this Mary Ann is in constant pain, which, whether I like it or not, has put me in a place where I must accept without crumbling; where faith has been challenged; and where I watch a lot of TV. What an assignment.

This morning, a television ad came on for Batman Begins, and this text came on the screen: "I'm using this monster to help other people."

I don't know that this journal will ever help anyone else, but one thing is for sure: I'm using this monster.



Dave Scriven said...

Your monster is helping me.

Magdalena said...

We are doing the Scary Monster step in class. Perhaps they are brothers?
Please come , even if it's only to sit, wincing, as you play palmas?