Monthly Archives: April 2015

Hope For the Wrong Thing


I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope,
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing…
–T.S. Eliot

I have been waiting for inspiration. I’ve been waiting for Not This Song to feel like my home again. I’ve been waiting for clever post ideas and juicy metaphors and words that make me feel special; words that remind me why I do this and why it’s worth doing even though I don’t have the time and energy to be a Blogger with a capital B.

I need to stop waiting and just exist. I’ve been ill in body and mind, and improvement is slow. I can’t put off writing until I feel like something approaching myself again, or I’ll lose the habit even more than I have during these last couple of months.

Having patience is hard for me when the thing I’m waiting for is myself. I want to cudgel my brain and soul into a different place, and wake up whatever is sleeping. Now. Yesterday.

Recently, when doing a volunteer speaking gig at a detox, I found myself giving advice I’ve given before, and will again, about the need for patience in early recovery. This advice whispers to me lately, because I need to follow it just as much as I did nearly four years ago.

Now that we’ve taken this step, we want to get started changing our lives, I sometimes say to those who are listening. We want to know, now, how we’re going to be able to do it. We want to know, now, how it could be possible to live without our substances of choice. We want to know when and how we’ll get our lives, our loved ones, our jobs back.

What’s hard to accept is that we can’t know. We can’t know, because the brain we have in early recovery is not the brain we’ll have in six months, or a year, or two years. We have to wait, and work our recovery program, and let time heal us.

So, when I talk with people who are trying to figure everything out while still in the acute detox phase, I try to encourage patience as much as I can. I tell them I wanted the same things, and found out I needed to wait. I tell them about my first stint in treatment and how I obsessed about my need to get back to my career, and how that didn’t turn out well for me. I tell them I needed to accept that I wasn’t equipped, yet, for much besides staying clean and doing my best to cope with everything else after that–and I share about how much of a difference it made when I got that scrap of humility.

I believe the things I say about this subject–and it annoys me to no end when I need to follow this advice even after years away from drugs. Thanks to mental health issues, I must often wait out a tough biochemical stage and try to practice the kind of patience I talk about.

Lately, I follow the steps of daily life as if they were a prescription. I take the medicine and hope it starts to work soon. I do non-productive things and consider them occupational therapy. I walk outdoors, even for five minutes, because I know it’s a good idea. My brain is foggy, and I try to accept that. I try to be “without hope” in the sense of hoping for specific things, but it’s challenging. My mind skitters up and down a list of things that need to be done, or fixed, or improved.

But I need Not This Song no less than I ever have, so I pray for the humility to start writing more frequently again. My ego only gets in the way here;  it is my enemy when it tells me to wait and only express a future version of myself.

Meeting Cersei

If I lived in Westeros, I’d want to go back in time and meet Cersei Lannister as a young girl.

(General TV series spoilers; no book spoilers.)

I’d like to meet the girl who grew up with Jaime as a twin brother, only to find her life diverging from his the day he was given a sword and she wasn’t.

I’d like to meet the girl who began to be taught that her only value lay in her beauty, or who her father was, or who she would marry and the children she would have.

I’d like to meet her before she began to use sex with Jaime as a way to rebel and as a way to bind him to her; a way to get a vicarious taste of the power and glory he was able to experience as a warrior.

Before she became the woman who lives a life fueled by anger and fear; who walks the halls of a castle never her home and plays the game of thrones because it’s the only path to power she knows.

Cersei is like all of us as she arrays herself in her finery each morning. She’s more successful than most at hiding her fear; her beauty and ruthlessness aid her with the facade she cultivates. But her internal monologue is an unending, desperate stream of rationalization and self-justification. She tells herself she is powerful and in control, while living a life she can never, ever admit isn’t suited to her.

Yes, Cersei, come to me when you are young. Let me be the witch in the woods, and instead of telling you your future I’ll tell you that your choices play a role in it. Slip away from your lessons again and again; be part of the life of the forest as you make your way to my hut.

There I’ll put a quill in your hand, Cersei, or a brush, or a sword, until you start creating things that say your name without all the modifiers you’ve learned to attach to it. Slowly, you’ll develop a secret world no father or husband or rival could ever touch.

Then, when the time comes, you’ll make choices. They won’t be easy ones. Perhaps you’ll decide, in many cases, that obedience is your best option. But you won’t be a victim, because you won’t feel like one. And you won’t have to act out like one.

How much will you change your world now, Cersei?

How much could we change ours?