Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not my fault, not my fault, not my fault...

Started Mermaid's Chair last night.

I enjoyed the style of Secret Life of Bees, but really had no intention of reading Kidd's second attempt at best-sellerdom (probably out of jealousy, if I'm honest with myself - and, well anyone who reads this). But, because it was within view of both the children's area where my son was occupied and the New Fiction stacks at the library, my choices were limited. A quick glance across the bindings for the slice of green tape (indicating essentially, "there are oodles of requests pending for this title and you're lucky to find this one-copy-we-keep-in-circulation-regardless) led me to pluck The Mermaid's Chair from the shelf in spite of my hesitations.

It is engaging so far. Character driven (I like that) and filled with symbolism (like that too).

But here's the main reason I feel compelled to write about it today...

I've been praying for the Lord to reveal the reason(s) for my self-sabotoging ways. To unleash some revelation about why I hold myself back from what I really want to do: finish my novel.

It appeared at the end of a couple paragraphs meant for setting-up the main character's interior justifications and current mind-set.

Lately Hugh (main character's husband) had pushed me to see Dr. Ilg, one of the therapists in his practice. I'd refused on the grounds that she had a parrot in her office.

I knew that would drive him crazy. This wasn't the real reason, of course--I have nothing against people's having parrots, except that they keep them in little cages. But I used it as a way of letting him know I wasn't taking the suggestion seriously. It was one of the rare times I didn't acquiesce to him.

"So she's got a parrot, so what?" he'd said. "You'd like her." Probably I would, but I couldn't quite bring myself to go that far--all that paddling around in the alphabet soup of one's childhood, scooping up letters, hoping to arrange them into enlightening senctences that would explain why things had turned out the way they had. It evoked a certain mutiny in me.

I did occasionally, though, play out imaginary sessions with Dr. Ilg in my head. I would tell her about my father and grunting, she would write it down on a little pad--which is all she ever seemed to do. I pictured her bird as a dazzling whit cockatoo perched on the back of her chair, belting out all sorts of flagrant opinions, repeating itself like a Greek chorus: "You blame yourself, you blame yourself, you blame yourself."

Anyone who knows me, and anything about my upbringing, will understand why this last line makes infinite sense to me. I believe it is THE ANSWER I was praying for. That my enlightenment comes from the least expected of places only confirms its validity for me.

Where most people labor under a fear of failure, I am coming to realize my issue has more to do with fear of success. Which I think is tied to forgiveness and guilt.

So, while I've done a lot of work in the past years forgiving everyone I can think of who may have contributed to my ragged past, I think I've left someone out.


Perhaps I have only this little bit of work to do before I can really do the work I want.