Saying “No” is Not a No-No

I feel off- not myself. I advocated for myself today, and the whole thing just felt wrong. I sat with this feeling and others for quite a while, and then it hit me. Since my voice, my choice, my song was taken from me right from the start of my life, I don’t know how to speak up for myself. I don’t know how to say “no.” No, this isn’t working. No, I am not being true to me. No, this feels awkward, confusing, forced, frightening, etc.

Now, I have no problem taking up for two people: God and the underdog. God because from those crazy years of torture and abuse to now when I am stricken with the pain of grief, He has never left my side and has never forsaken me. I may have walked away from Him, but He remained and even left the ninety-nine to come and find me. God because He got in the mire and the muck of the abuse with me and ultimately saved me from it, from them.

The underdog is a different story. It’s really my story played out in another person. I see myself in them and the talons come out, and I scratch and scrape to help them out of their pit-or I used to. I got tired along the way. Lost my passion-even for people which was my greatest gift.

I am searching for my passion now. My voice. My song. My story. My strength to say “no” and “enough” and many other powerful magical words. So, if you see any of these things of mine out there, tell them I am coming. Tell them I am on my way back home to me.

Hell Hath No Fury

He had just exited the scene of the crime. My Tweety Bird nightgown was still pulled up to my ears. My cheeks were wet- both of them. My labored breath detected something else moving in my bedroom. Isn’t it funny how you can smell with your tastebuds? I slowly lowered my nightie down into the urine and semen around my waist.

Bubbles. I could see bubbles. They were coming out of its’ mouth and circling my crown. So dizzy. It perched on the end of my bed so full of light that it lit up my room. An angel. God had answered my prayers. He DID care!

It held up a weapon so fierce that I could have my life back. Shiny and sleek. But, I had seen it before. He had one. Its mouth opened and explanations poured out. Your sister and brother are too old. I am too experienced. You are only five. You are still innocent.

It put the gun in my hand. Cold and hot. I liked the way it felt- powerful. It would show me how. Aim at the chest and squeeze the trigger. No more nightgowns choking around my throat. I handled it in my unusually long fingers and built my courage up to say No.

Suddenly, the brilliant angel turned black with clawed talons. Hell glimmered in its eyes and it’s mouth curled out as it mocked my No. Coward. You are just like him- a coward. I remembered my Bible and screamed, “Get behind me, Satan”!

Mom slithered out of my room only to return when the “mood” struck her fancy. My angel had become my demon.

How Dirty Are Your Hands?

I believe that a problem now is that we all have to feel special. I don’t mean special as in unique; God made us all different on purpose and for purpose. I mean special as in entitled which can be very dangerous. I prefer the Shaker motto: Hands to work, hearts to God. My husband died in February. There have been days when just a smile from a stranger has made my day. Helping others is so rewarding for everyone involved. I love James in the NT. I believe in jumping in and getting your hands dirty. Walking by a starving human and saying, “God be with you” just isn’t enough anymore- it never was. But, it makes us feel as if we have fulfilled our moral and religious obligations. In the hymn, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Christ’s lesson of if you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me is personified by a man we see in different types of need. His “helper” can’t understand why he is so drawn to him until the needy man is revealed as Christ. However, only when the man who is truly in need agrees to die for Christ does he realize that his Savior was testing his heart and faithfulness. When we view the hymn in this light, we find ourselves re-examining the story of the Good Samaritan and realizing that Jesus was the man left for dead alongside the road.

All of this being said, we are all called to help one another which is why I don’t trust people with super clean fingernails.

Tall, Dark, and Hands-some

When I was five years old, I fell in love for the first time. He was tall, dark, and handsome. His ears were a bit on the large side and his voice was high, but I didn’t mind one bit. I had the privilege of seeing him at least once a day if not twice! He could sing and dance, and he was so funny. Yes, Mickey Mouse was all that and a bag of chips.

They knew that I would be too excited, so they didn’t tell me. About two nights before we were leaving, my family broke the news to me- WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was not an excitable child by any means- the women in my family wouldn’t have allowed such a thing. But, here I was running back and forth between the den and my bedroom getting all of the appropriate stuffed animals and blankie so that I could ask serious questions. Are alligators real? Do they all live in Florida? Did sharks come in near the coastline? Did they all live in Florida? Would Mickey like my hair better in pigtails or a ponytail? Would Minnie Mouse be around us? Could she handle the competition? You know, things every normal and abnormal little girl asks.

To be continued in This is MY Story, a memoir by Susan Morgan

Sweet Tea with a slice of Thea

Braveheart is one of my favorite films, but, please, let me share a memory.

My sister and I are watching the trailers for Rob Roy and the one for this movie comes on. As the box office plays, they may take our lives, but Thea will never take our freedom. Now, hear what Beth and I heard by replacing lives with wives. Picture me laughing and spitting Coke all over the poor man in front of me.

Join us, as we are discussing Rob Roy during post movie time. I say something like, Ya know, if they took their wives, wouldn’t that…” And, Beth answers, “have given them their freedom?” We both sip our sweet teas and agree as we think and nod, “ Yes.” So, then, “Turn back, lads” would have been a good ending. Yes. Yes.

Pain’s Stain

Pain has a heartbeat of its own as it adds itself slinky and subtle to our lichen bodies. We breathe within and without pain every day of our lives. Pain hurts! It pushes and pulls and stabs and robs and beats us down to the ground- if we let it. It’s “my boss was on my back again” sciatica pain. Fight back. It’s “this project has put the world on my shoulders” neck pain and tension headache. Fight back. It’s “if I lose this account, I will absolutely die” nervous breakdown. Fight back.

When pain pushes, push back. If pain trips you up, get back up. There is nothing more stunning or climactic than dueling with your pain. Pushing past the tar baby as the ick peels away from your mind and body is like diving head first into a breath of fresh air. The final stain of tar snaps away like static. A star takes her first full inhale, because she fought back.

The Nitty Gritty: Because I love you so

I remember you as a baby, and, when you are truly expressing yourself, I see those same eyes and am bewildered at the young man pleading his case with truth and passion before me. I call it a great injustice that all of the true matriarchs, the ones who taught me, have died before your time, before they could see your eyes asking for truth and answer them.

Dearest Hank,

At your mother’s behest, I have stayed away, have clamped my mouth shut, have shamed those women who went before me by not doing what needs to be done. Damn it all! You will know our side of the family if I write the last sentence of this book with my dying, smoke smelling breath from cigarette slimmed lips. You are a Martin, a Hamilton, a Bell, a Hill, and, unfortunately, a Vest. Everyone deserves to know where they come from, their roots, and you will know yours.

There is a reason you are creative. There is a reason that you play video games in your “bear, and bare, cave.” There is a reason that you used to believe that the devil lived in the bathroom. There is a reason you have anxiety. There is a reason you are so highly intelligent. You should and will know by the end of this book.

You will know the truth; truth is one of the most powerful forces in the world. As Uncle Ben reminded Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Jim Qwik was eager to point out that the opposite is, also, true. So, use the stories, the truths, and the lessons in your book, this book, with wisdom, compassion, and honor- traits that many have fought to have passed down to you.

Read slowly, and digest what you take in. Learn the truth; it will truly set you free. As Marcus J. Borg promised, “Honesty begets candor.” However, prudence goes a long way, too.

This book will give you grit which, when nurtured, will give you courage. Courage will give you strength and strength gives rise to passion. Ignore zeal until you are firm in your foundation or you will flounder. Passion will ignite a thirst for knowledge, and knowledge leads to truth. And, the great Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was correct, “The truth shall set you free.”

Every person deserves to know his roots; these are yours. They are not for boasting or bragging rather for knowing the why of deep longings and of things abhorred. These truths are not to be picked through and tossed to and fro willy nilly but to be taken as a whole and honored in your being.

So, it is that I give you your birthright. Cherish it. Know that I did it in love for you and in respect of your becoming a man. I wrote to those eyes, wide and wild with wonder, begging for truth. I turned a yarn of honesty, because I love you so.

Turf War Strategies

I am taking a Quest for Personal Mastery from Mindvalley University. Today’s assignment is to take a situation that you have labeled as bad and show how you can see the good in it. The following was my answer.

My late husband and I moved to a small, “blink and you’ll miss it” town late last fall/early winter. He had become blind and had been on dialysis for about two years. Right before Valentines Day, he died. I knew of three people here. I felt like I was in Russia in Rocky IV- out in No Man’s Land struggle in every way just to survive. Sometimes, I still feel that way. About six weeks ago, it occurred to me that I have gym equipment, a room that I could use for ballet and piano, a memoir to write, and a new puppy (as well as my Sweet Mila) to play with, and a huge kitchen to learn to cook in. I decided to set up an office, an exercise room, get a piano, set up a doggy play room, fix a cozy bedroom, and more. I am working hard on it. In the recent Wonder Woman movie, Diana crosses No Man’s Land to save people enslaved by Nazis. I will cross this land and be closer to the best version of myself along the way.

This scene gives me chills, because Santa/Mom gave me a Wonder Woman outfit for Christmas when I was four years old and told me that I was a heroine who could conquer anything I put myself into. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the show.