I'm not the worst mother

I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.
(Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 1892)


Every day, I know I've failed. I can feel it in my bones. The dangerous, no warnings world I grew up in taught my brain to tune to the negative frequencies. My mind as an adult is bathed in adrenaline and a very motivating sense of shame. It's taken years of therapy to understand that the picture I paint at the end of the day is not realism. It is dark, devious, like one of the Black Paintings by Francisco Goya: an incomplete representation that captures the darkness of the mind, not just the negative facts in the everyday.
Then something happens: I come across a painting like the one above, left for me on the kitchen counter by my whimsical 9 year-old, who thinks, dreams, breaths music and laughter and sunlight. It seems miraculous that anyone sharing genes with me could be so fancy-free. I read the words slowly: Beauty. Freedom. Love. Peace. Everything. Even through the sudden stars of tears in my eyes, the black letters are shouting to my soul. You taught her this!, my brain screams. All that blackness, fear, pain, suffering in your life? You've transmuted the sorrow into thankfulness for joy. You've taken the fear and transformed it into an immutable longing for peace and love. And these translated whisperings of the soul? The faintly glimmering flame of hope that life can be different and perhaps even beautiful? They have whispered their way into the depths of her heart and this is the song she sings, hope and wide-spread arms flung far toward both horizons, unafraid of sunrise or sunset, sunlight or storms.
I've spoken of this through gritted teeth: those who know the full depths of the pain proffered in this universe have unique ability to comprehend the beauty, to take each nugget of pleasure and value it, celebrate it. Locked in the inhumane routine of the psych ward in June, trying to piece together a spring season fraught with failure and old threats, I stared out the hazy safety glass at a world bathed in the summer sun. I knew I would feel the sun afresh when I walked out those doors. I didn't want it to take misery to make me appreciate life yet again. I want to remember on my own, that every day is a gift, and suffering always passes, and new seasons bring new challenges and new joys. 
I will my body to remember. Remember the significance of every small smile and momentary joy. Remember not to take it for granted. Remember that failure is often the prerequisite for success. What is it about our frail 3 pound human brains that allows us to forget this? To forget the hardest lessons of all?

And so I write. Think. Breathe. I refuse to forget that bittersweet still has sweetness and failure still has possibility and fear can be conquered. Remembering that gives me the bravery to open my eyes to each new day and believe that my scars are equalled by my sacredness and my pain is assuaged by the gifts from the universe that surround me each and every day.