A Bathtub Epiphany

little moth, wing torn

Circling in the dark, like a moth without a flame, I gave up hoping for the light.

There’s a sadness born in the absence of light, that never truly goes away. Returns in the silence and it’s no longer haunting but neither is it comforting. An owl with knowing eyes and razor sharp talons that could hurt you if he wanted.

Truth is, I was dead before I ever thought of death. An extremely convincing actress in a highly compelling drama, no one suspected my make believe.

It occurred to me just now, soaking silently in the bathtub, that it never was my fault. I carried my family’s pain like an heirloom, displayed but not discussed. I carried their secret shame.

After you’ve chosen death, it’s a long walk back to life. I don’t know when, or how or why I decided that it was good to be here, but I’ve never changed my mind. I can’t get back the dead years, the empty, sad and silent plodding. I wouldn’t want them. But I live with a scary honesty that some can’t handle. “Intense,” they’d call it. And I’ve been shamed for my “too much-ness,” and thought it was my fault. (“I like you, you’re just so overwhelming!”)

The epiphany is this: I’ve never been wrong for wanting to be understood. There‘s no need to apologize! Perhaps, not trusting in my own, I looked to borrow light from others. They might have seen it as a compliment, and kindly re-directed me. Shame is so corrosive to the soul. A predator of innocence.

And so I am alive. Doubly alive. Like a woman finally pregnant after miscarriage, I am happy to be having what I once lost. And I refuse to water myself down, though a very reputable psychiatrist deemed my passion pathological (I even bought his book! A brilliant book, though the man’s an idiot.)

I think that’s all I need to say. I feel better (ah, there’s shame in the poem that is “confessional.” Add that to the pyre for burning.) I am what I am. I have found my own flame. These luminous wings have carried me through suffering, and they have never been more beautiful.

LBM 6/21/09

William’s first partner, Sophie 2008
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