Pants-around-the-ankles-epiphanies (or enlightenment on the throne)
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~ John Milton (English poet, historian and scholar. Ranks second, only to Shakespeare, among English poets. 1608-1674)
I call them my pants-around-the-ankles epiphanies because for some reason, they always happen when I am on the pot — hence “throne” in the title. After all, I would hate for people to mistake “on the pot” for on pot! Perhaps it’s because I am sitting still when I am so “enthroned.” It makes as much sense as anything.
I’ve probably been having them for years — small ones, easily misinterpreted as thoughts. However, two have been so major, there is no other word for them. They were too huge, too life changing, too all-encompassing to be anything else.
I am sitting in a stall at a state agency where I was egregiously underemployed. It was not a happy place. In fact, it was a snake pit. The supervisor was later forced to retire by her quite mean supervisors because she exceeded even them. I had to put up a sign indicating that the reason I was not at my desk was I was researching something, on my break — or in the bathroom! Seriously. Teacher, can I go to the bathroom please? Gads. I was so done with it.
So there I am, in the pot, pants around my ankles, and right out loud, I say “God, get me out of here!”
As clearly as if I heard it aloud, came, “I gave you every tool you need.”
Well, thanks, God. Did I ask you to tell me I could blessed well do it myself? No, I did not. I asked for rescue. I asked You to do it for me. Geez.
But wait a minute. Did God just tell me I was perfectly capable? Directly? Seriously? Really? God actually said, “You can do it!” This was pretty special. For a person raised on the word “idiot” and never hearing “I love you,” to have God actually tell me that I had what it takes — well, that knocks a bit of the stuffing out of self-doubt, now doesn’t it?
You will note, I have a column now. And I just finished revising my juvenile fantasy novel and believe it has a real chance. And am thinking I should work on the illustrations for my kiddo pictures books – I have two. And wouldn’t it be nice to do a book showing people how to do those beaded bags? And I got that IT job I’d waited so long to get shortly thereafter. God, it turns out, was apparently right.
Once again, I’m on the pot, this time at home. I live on the third floor of this impossible old farmhouse with my beloved husband. The house came with the man. That is a very long story. Let’s just say that this bathroom is the one and only relatively modern room in the entire house. Unheated mind you, but modern.
So there I am, on the pot again, and I see her. Was it a vision? A visitation? She’s clear as a bell, this gorgeous woman at least 100 years old. She has a halo of coarse white hair with single strands of night-black scattered throughout, knife-blade cheekbones and small, snapping black eyes. All about her feet, sitting attentively, are teenagers.
She turns to me and pins me with those eyes and says “You’ve got to put it in proportion. Yes, they took your childhood and your youth. How much of the rest of your life are you going to give them?”
She looks at me expectantly as I sit, stunned by this long-overdue smack upside the head. It was true! They (parents, brother, other family, bullies at school and ever onward) had absolutely ruined my childhood and youth. I have so few truly good memories of the time; I mostly recollect self-hatred and misery heaped on misery — in civilized surroundings. But how much more of my life had I given them in bitterness, by internalizing their voices, by selling myself short? How often had I expected to be disliked just because it was me? How often had I hung back, even hidden, because I could not bear to see the looks of disdain.
I had held myself back in life, as well. I found people who hated used and harmed me — and my child. I made stupid decisions because I thought I did not deserve good ones. I created works that people loved, but I never did anything with them. I wrote books and was too afraid to submit them. I yearned to write a column — I applied nowhere. I simply never truly tried because — what was the point? It was me. It could go nowhere good.
I also knew bone deep that I could not ever truly be loved, because it had been amply proven that I was too deficient and defective to ever be lovable.
But that was long over. Done years ago. Never had been true. So then, indeed, how much more of my life was I going to give them?
God in glorious crone form had come to rattle my cage — again.
I am a Jew because I love the way we commune with God (not fond of that “worship” word, so you won’t hear it from me). But while I am not particularly religious; believing in a Divine Sentience is not the same thing. However, do I know that God has personally and directly tapped me on the shoulder (or whacked me about the head and shoulders)? Oh yes. I have no doubt.
Because of these epiphanies, I am trying harder — and succeeding. I am allowing myself to examine my past and continue to learn from it, but I am moving closer every day to a release of old self-hating thought habits. Not just that, I am toddling as fast as my short little legs can carry me toward all those open arms just waiting for me because I don’t just believe I can be loved — I know it. That sad and unloved little girl has grown up to be a woman so rich in love that my heart sometimes runs over in the form of joyous tears.