The irony of “Why I hide my truth.”

It’s ironic that my essay, Why I hide my truth, posted today at The Sunlight Press.

The irony is that yesterday, David and Goliath duked it out within me about that very thing–sharing my truth when I’m most vulnerable. Goliath fought to keep truth in; David fought for its freedom.

I’ve been battling chronic health problems now for over four years. Some days are better than others; yesterday was not one of them.

Most days, I’m able to offset the discouragement of my physical symptoms with the joy and purpose of writing, and simple pleasures like reading on my porch swing. Yesterday was not one of them. I was a hot mess.

I hate asking for help. I hate bothering people. I hate that I might be perceived as needy. I hate exposing my raw feelings, and yesterday, they were rawer than beef standing in a field, mooing.

But I know that this journey I’m on, to write the story of my difficult motherhood, made more difficult by my son’s brain tumor, is intended to help me to grow. The universe is challenging me to break free of my old habits. If I don’t, my pain will not have been worth it.

But old habits die slower than a hosta in poor soil. Yesterday, I scrolled through the contacts in my phone, and saw many friends I could call. How blessed I am. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reach out. So I put my phone down and cried even harder. Then I felt worse, because I knew what I needed, and it was so simple, but I was too afraid.

I knew The Sunlight Press essay would post today, and I thought, Have I learned nothing from this process? I understand better why I hide my truth, and writing is a wonderful outlet, but sometimes, Goliath must fall at that very moment, not weeks or months later. Sometimes, David has just one shot, and it’s now or never.

I believe our greatest fears are our greatest opportunities for growth.

So, with a deep breath and a prayer, I did it. I texted some friends, who called me right back. I cried, they listened, and I felt better. I even laughed. The physical pain remained, but the emotional pain went poof, like a cloud of dust in Golliath’s fallen wake.

New habits take practice, and sadly, I’ll have many more opportunities to learn. I expect each time I reach out, it will be a little easier. And each time, I’ll have good fodder for my writing.

 

 

The happy ending.

My memoir, when it’s done, will be a tough read, until the very end. There’s a lot of pain in it, and I imagine some readers will wonder if they can make it through. When I was living the pain, I sometimes wondered if I would make it through, too.

Note to future readers: The story has a happy ending, and you’ll be so glad you stuck it out.

.I wrote about the happy ending in a 100 word essay, published in Drabblez Magazine this week. I was surprised at how much I could tell in so few words.

The title is When muddies waters clear.

And it starts like this:

His fifth day at Rent Central was his last, after he dropped a couch in the mud. My son.

You can read the rest of it here. (Unfortunately, there’s no direct link to my essay, but you can scroll down to #18.)

It’s another writing feather in my cap. And I’m now working on manuscript revisions in the section leading up to the happy ending. I’ll be glad when I get there!

 

Gardener, writer, writer, gardener, not always in the same order.

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My back-of-the-house shade garden.

I was a gardener long before I became a writer, and it’s still one of my passions. It’s why you haven’t heard much from me lately–when the nice weather beckons me to the garden, I go. Last year, I wrote about the deer that wreaked havoc on all my hard work (in the garden, not on the page); you can read that below. Since I was losing the hungry critter battle, I started creating deer-resistant gardens. The photo is one example. (In her active potter days, my mom made that pot in the foreground–isn’t it cool?)

Don’t think that I haven’t been writing, too, though, as I have. I finished another draft of my memoir manuscript to show my editor, and she’s happy with the improvements, although more (and more and more) revisions are needed. I submitted another personal essay to a literary journal, and have a version of it ready to go to a large newspaper magazine. It’s a stretch, but if accepted, will be a feather the size of Big Bird in my cap.

Soon, it will too hot for me to enjoy much gardening, so I’ll retreat to the air conditioning and focus on writing. I’ll share another excerpt from my memoir about the challenges I faced as a mom. As you’ll see in my Stupid Deer story below, once you’re a mama, those feelings run deep, and can hit you in surprising places.

 

The deer members of Club Critter in my back yard are stupid.

There’s one doe in particular who’s not exactly the sharpest point on the antler rack. My husband named her Clarice, like Rudolph’s girlfriend.

Clarice is a regular at my popular social venue, stopping in throughout the day. I thought deer were nocturnal–sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night. But Google says deer are actually crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Clarice doesn’t know she’s crepuscular. I see her at the club in broad daylight, grabbing a snack at my all-you-can-eat garden buffet and lounging in the shade.

A smart deer would be more careful. Humans are predators, after all. I don’t happen to own any deer-hunting weapons more deadly than a broom. But for all Clarice knows, I could be a gun-totin’ sharpshooter just pining for some venison stew for dinner.

If Clarice had half a brain in her pointy head, she would at least try to blend in with the wood fence or a tree trunk. But, no, she prefers the green grass where she stands out like a lawn ornament. Or a target, more obvious than a red-nosed reindeer.

There’s another thing that shows Clarice is two hooves shy of a six-pack. She devours plants that she’s not supposed to like. Google and all the other wildlife experts say unless deer are literally starving, they won’t eat certain flowers and shrubs.

Well, I shut down the deer dessert bar at Club Critter, getting rid of every single gourmet menu item. All that’s left are essentially tofu burgers. The woods behind our house offer a much tastier smorgasbord. But what does Clarice eat? The garden equivalent of napkins and silverware.

The biggest indicator that Clarice is dimmer than dirt is when I try to boot her out of the club. When I throw up the window sash and yell “Go away, Clarice!” she just looks all innocent at me, wagging her white tail as if to say, “How’s it going, girlfriend?” And when I run into the yard in my pajamas, waving my arms and yelling “Git!” Clarice calmly looks up with a mouth full of foliage like I’m the one who’s stupid. I have to get really close and a bit crazy before she finally trots away.

And then, Clarice got sneaky. As I was in the middle of writing this blog, she showed up with Bambi.

He was tiny and downy with white spots and saucer-sized innocent black eyes that made me realize where the term “doe-eyed” came from. He had spindly, wobbly legs that barely kept him upright as he silently pitter-pattered around Clarice in the grass. Bambi gazed up at Clarice and she bent down to lick his head all over, smothering him in deer kisses.

When I saw the pair, I didn’t throw up the window or run out into the yard or yell. I just watched, mesmerized, as they nuzzled and nibbled before they tiptoed back into the woods.

Well, Clarice is dense if she thinks I’m not going to run outside in my pajamas and yell at her simply because she shows up with an adorable little fawn.

If she believes I’ll let her gobble up my garden just because she has another life to care for, she’s wrong.

She’s got another thing coming if she plans to win me over now that I see her as a mama, just like me.

I keep looking out the window, hoping to see Clarice and Bambi again. I wonder if they’re OK.

Stupid deer.