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.
SueAnn 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.
If this spoke to you, here are five similar articles.
- Living in fear: Being raised by a mentally ill mom was like walking on eggshells
- Living in fear: We appeared to be the perfect family
- Living in fear: The day the music died
- Finding, and losing, love
- How to find your voice