All That Glitters


I’ve been putting this off and putting it off. You know how it is, the New Year rolls around and we are filled once more with foolish optimism. Pardon me while I plunge in once more…

Ask any Eastern-leaning philosopher and they’ll tell you. Clinging to some inner hurt, rolling it around in your gut, produces more ulcers than pearls. The advice is the same, always. Let go. Practice detachment. Release.

I cannot ignore my blog any longer. But my followers deserve to know why I’ve been hiding. There’s an elephant in the room of my psyche, and it’s been hindering me long enough. When I deal with it, right now, I’ll have a clean space once more, and will be able to fill it up with good, healthy things.

I’ve said very little about the incident with my mother that happened last summer. It’s not something that decent people talk about. To spit it out, her mental state resulted in someone’s death. And I was not surprised. And I’ve been living with that. And it’s awful. I tried to gloss it over,  posting occasionally little snippets about a drawing class I took, with delicate mentions of cleaning her apartment mortised between perky phrases. If one had tried to read between the lines, I don’t think they’d have got much.

But in truth, my summer and fall became simply the ultimate wreck of a train that had been highballing toward me for years. My winter was a hibernation to recuperate. I climbed out of the scorched, mangled havoc and I’ve been writing like something possessed. To paraphrase Charles Bukowski, it doesn’t matter how awful life is, MAKE GOOD ART. So I’ve been reading and writing and painting and I don’t think my time has been wasted.

She is now in the care of the state. Where she should have been decades ago. What do you do when you know things are going to end very badly? When you try to warn people, and they just laugh? She was “so charming and fun” and I was just one of those weird, dark, moody kids with my nose in a book all the time.

She went through people like tissues, using them up and tossing them down. She giggled like a child at the gifts she was given, and I watched people line up to give them to her. In return, she gave heartache and mockery. She loved nothing better than a sucker.

A rumor once circulated that she had been killed in a car wreck, and my father had to watch two grown men, strangers, burst into tears at the thought of it. She glimmered one way when men were around and she sparkled another when she dealt with women. She had the best “dumb” act I’ve ever seen. I was nearly thirty years old before I realized she was the most cunning person I’ve ever known. When there was only me around, she was another way. She scared the living hell out of me every day for years. I tried to warn people. But people only laughed.

Even hospitalized this summer, all of the staff seemed to feel that it was helpful to constantly tell me how pretty she was, how she didn’t look her age, how she must have been a great beauty, and, frankly, most disturbing of all, in light of what she’d done, what a “cute” personality she had.

There must be a reason for all of this.

A very good friend once told me years ago that I am the sort of person that is not satisfied with pain simply stopping. I have to know WHY the pain stopped. Since he said that, I’ve found a way to channel that need into something that I think is healthier than three am phone calls to friends.

I’ve decided that the reason I knew that woman is so I’ll have something to write about. So I’ll have a reason to paint. So I’ll have a reason to clean the crud from the rubber seal on the refrigerator. But she wasn’t put in my life to make me weak.

Thanks for reading. Decide with me not to waste a nice, clean slate of a New Year.

Words and images (unless otherwise stated) are © Kathy Ferrell 2013.

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11 comments on “All That Glitters

  1. Alan Baggs says:

    I’ll drink to that… 2012 was a difficult and strange year, but the compulsion to make art kept me going, too. thanks for sharing, all the best to you.

  2. sending the best I can your way – yes, a long 2012 for so many of us – appreciate your sincere words – ayaz daryl nielsen

  3. Wow. You have my sympathies. My autobiography, Waking From the American Dream, deals with overcoming a very traumatic childhood, the centerpiece of which is a mother, nick named in the book “Darling Jane Sullivan” that people thought was adorable, so long as they did not have her as their mother. I find that a lot of people seem not to want to hear that a person could feel about their mother the way I have come to feel about mine, almost as if you are talking not about your mother or a mother but theirs and all mothers. So I for one appreciate your candor on such a subject and I understand and sympathize. I am envious of your productivity too. I have not gotten a whole lot done in awhile but do manage bits and pieces, with so much more that I want to do.~Mike.

    • Thanks, Mike. You may think you aren’t getting much done, but in truth, you are one of the most “art-inspiring” people I know on the web. I know I’m not the only one who looks at the gorgeous, thought-provoking things you post and says “Today I’m going to paint. Today I’m going to write.” Here’s to productivity in our new year!

  4. Marie Marfia says:

    It’s like living with a time bomb that no one else can see or hear. What a nightmare for you. Here’s to progress in 2013. It can only get better from here on out.

  5. Susan Bahr says:

    Wow, I’m floored and amazed at the strength in your heart and your words. I wish you the best as you continue to heal and grow from this horrid experience (and how do you do that when it represents a lifetime?). I’m wishing for you peace and prosperity and healing throughout this year and all the rest.
    I’m so glad to see you writing again!
    Sue

    • Sincere thanks, Sue. I think there are more good people in the world than bad. Why else would people do things like show art and poems and stories if this weren’t so? Be blessed abundantly in the New Year! 🙂

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