Tuesday, October 17th 2017

Living in fear: Recovery, redemption and realization

Part 4 of 4: My father jokes that I have a league of guardian angels


BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — There is, of course, a much more to my story than what I recounted in the first three parts of the Living in fear series published here. It’s taken me 43 years, four months and 16 days to get to Soul’s Code. Every time I thought I was ready to write “my” book, God changed the story. I wrote earlier today that I was concerned that readers might come away with the idea that the only thing I have to say as a human being is “my mom was mean and then she killed herself.” It is anything but that.

Tragedies will happen and people will let us down, that’s part of living. It’s what we do with it that matters. I don’t want to speak in bumper sticker theology or platitudes because it is different for every person within their own truth. I deeply and passionately believe in free will and that our perceptions can cripple us — or free us. I could have spent my life blaming my mother, blaming my father, and destroying myself. But perception is a choice. You can perceive events as insurmountable — or you can choose to go forward. It’s about shifting perspective.

I equally believe that there is a loving God who helps us to marshal that free will and choice into something that lasts beyond all misery. (My father jokes that I have a league of guardian angels — Oh, how I hope I’ll get to thank them one day.)

There is a fascination in the macabre things that happen to people, in child abuse, in drug addiction/alcoholism, in suicide. I keep waiting for Augusten Burroughs to write a fairy tale ending.

I, too, spent a lifetime getting people’s attention with the horrors of my childhood; because I wanted them to accept me. I didn’t feel worthy of acceptance just being a kid on Oxford Drive; just being. What I hope, what I pray, is that they will read the rest of the story.

After my mother died, a part of SueAnn went with her. I can remember my Aunt Renie asking me, “Why don’t you cry?” I couldn’t. I didn’t for years.

The same day we traveled to Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, I discovered what alcohol would do for me and I wasn’t 10 years old yet. At 13, cocaine followed suit with a young girl who decided she needed appetite control. And with all of the bad poetry of teenage angst, I lost myself slowly and with determination.

Dar Williams
’ wrote a song called You’re Aging Well:

Well I know a woman with a collection of sticks
She could fight back the hundreds of voices she heard
And she could poke at the greed, she could fend off her need
And with anger she found she could pound every word.

But one voice got through, caught her up by surprise
It said, “Don’t hold us back we’re the story you tell,”
And no sooner than spoken, a spell had been broken
And the voices before her were trumpets and tympani
Violins, basses and woodwinds and cellos, singing…

We’re so glad that you finally made it here
You thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell
And now you’ll dance through the days while the orchestra plays
And oh-oh oh-oh-oh oh-oh, you’re aging well.

That’s what happened to me. A voice got through to me — Margo H, my AA sponsor, who became my dear friend. And another voice got through to me — my step-mother (who lost the ‘step’ qualifier in 1983). In fact, there was an entire choir of voices that got through, despite my flailing and self pity.

Maybe I’ll get to thank them one day when I publish my book.


salsm.jpgSueAnn Jackson-Land is a writer living in Sudbury, Ontario. She would like to be a chaplain, but is mostly just grateful to still be breathing, to be given the opportunity to learn, to forgive (and be forgiven) and go on.

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7 Comments on “Living in fear: Recovery, redemption and realization”

  1. SueAnn; Thank you for your brave, detailed, open and trusting account of your journey.

    Thank you for your generous and insightful comments to others who have shared their own pieces of themselves on Soul's Code.

    It's often said in spiritual circles that you're never given more than you can handle. This thing called life has asked a lot of you, and you've matched it.

    We honor you, and appreciate you with our prayers of loving kindness.

    We also support your intent to develop this into a book. You are gifted with words! Paul K

  2. Good morning, Paul K!

    I got up this morning like a kid at Christmas. Thank you, so very much, for making my dream come true. Some of the story is told and it was the hardest part of my childhood that you allowed me to share. Hopefully, there will come a day when I can share the better news. We'll see what the Universe has up its sleeve.

    I would only ask one more thing... that the article above my story be the beautiful, uplifting and right-on prayer that was given to us by Jayne Schaffstein Veld. That says more about what I'd like to say in a few stanzas then the entirety of any articles I could scribble.

    Much love, much peace... and more days to learn,

  3. Sue Ann, I'm running out of the office this afternoon for a few days of vacation and I solemnly promise to spend lots of time with you when I get back next week! Meanwhile, you know I have loved you for all these years, and now I'm just crazy about the wonderful, strong woman you have fought so hard to become - you are just AWESOME, Girl!

  4. "You can perceive events as insurmountable — or you can choose to go forward. It’s about shifting perspective."

    What you'e done in your writing SueAnn is shift the perspective and I bless your heart for the guts to go through with it and come out stronger. Rilke said something like "the darkness of every infinite fall and the shivering blaze of every step up"

    You are heading for the light, you're ageing well, he said, ducking a flying barstool . . .

    Misc Mike

  5. hey mom i read all of them but i'l leave a comment on this one for all of them... its awesome, not what happened of course, but your story. You tell me all the time how strong i am, but your strong for even dealing with this and growing up through it. I'm super proud of you... :)

    LOVE YA!

  6. Ok -- now THAT was worth the writing. Kid -- it's just the beginning. I hope.

    Love you too...

  7. SueAnn...

    You still shine through. I know. I saw it the first time I glimpsed you sitting in your office. There is that sparkling jewel of light and warmth of soul radiating from you for all who have a moment and wit to notice.

    Peace and double groovy, eh.


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