Jan 262012
 

I was at a zoo last month taking a boat ride through the “monkey islands.” The monkee islands are teeny pieces of land upon which each separate monkey lives. The islands are strewn throughout a big, beautiful body of water. There are no visible fences or barriers on the islands, but each monkey stays put anyway. I felt uncomfortable during the ride. The monkeys stood on the edges of their little islands and stared at us staring back at them. They seemed so human – and to me they looked lonely and sad. I felt a little ashamed, riding around, staring at them for my own amusement. I got the feeling that the other boat riders were uncomfortable too, because no one was talking. I raised my hand. Craig cringed. The tour director smiled and nodded at me. I said, “Why don’t the monkees just leave their islands? It looks like they could so easily escape.” The guide said, “They could, you’re right. They could easily get to each  other’s islands or escape the entire zoo pretty easily. Their problem is, they don’t know that they can swim. Each stays on her little island because she doesn’t know she can swim.”

One of the most important parts of me is the recovering part. I am a recovering alcoholic, bulimic, druggie, liar, and jerk. The collateral and internal damage of my addictions once led me to sit alone on a couch in the filthy basement of an old boyfriend’s house and thoughtfully consider suicide.

Still. I consider each of those addicted years be a gift. Yes, there was suffering, but addiction was my path, and I needed to walk (crawl) it. I am not ashamed of my demons. They make me who I am, and I like who I am. I’m wild about myself, to tell you the God’s honest truth. And here’s a magical gift that came of that suffering: I am able to remember and write about what it was like to be an addict. I am able to explain why I chose it,  how badly it hurt, and why I couldn’t escape for so long. This is something that people who are currently addicted can’t do. I certainly couldn’t have spoken for myself while I was addicted. Addiction is like being swallowed up by a whale. The addict is still in there – whole, screaming, human, precious and terrified – but all anyone can hear or see is the silent damn whale. It’s a nightmare. For those inside and outside the whale.

So I write about addiction. For all those addicted Monkees, whom I love so very, very much. So they will know that someone understands, and that someone will try to speak for them while they can’t. My Lovies – you are not bad, you are beautiful. You’re just swallowed up, and you need to start believing that you can swim your way out.

I also write for those who love addicts and want them back so badly. I don’t have advice for you. I just have stories. We share what we have and then pray that it helps.

Sisters, Everyday

My decision to get sober was more like a weary surrender than a bold march into battle. After I had allowed my life to fall into a thousand pieces for the thousandth time, Bubba and Tisha planned a loving intervention. Then I found out I was pregnant with Chase and I realized that I was running out of people and options. At the time, the path of least resistance seemed to be sobriety.

It’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.

I called Sister and told her to do that thing she always does, which is to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do next, and then make that thing happen. A few hours later she gathered up my broken, cold, shaking self and drove us to our first AA meeting. Afterwards we came home, sat on my bed together and stared at the disaster on my bedroom floor. During my drinking decades, I lived like a pig. My room was nothing but a hazardous pile of stilettos, tube tops, wine bottles, ash trays, and old magazines. I valued nothing. Everything that came into my life was disposable – clothes, opportunities, people. My bedroom looked like my insides had spilled out onto the floor.

After a few minutes of quiet, Sister climbed down from the bed and started picking things up, one piece of trash at a time. She threw away the wine bottles and the cigarettes, she folded the tube tops, she gently tossed the magazines. I watched for awhile, and then joined her. We hung up every piece of clothing, wiped down every surface, poured out every hidden bottle of booze. We worked, silently, side by side, for two hours. Then we sat back down on my bed and held hands. My room looked so different. It looked like a place a girl might want to live again. I wondered if my head and my heart might one day be places I’d like to live again, too. It was the beginning of starting over.

The remarkable thing about that day is that it wasn’t remarkable. What Sister did for me that day is what she does for me every day.

I find life to be quite difficult. Painfully difficult and equally beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing some sort of protective layer that others seem to have which keeps them from crumbling and crying more. But then I remember that God gave me Sister as my layer of protection. I feel insulated from every painful and beautiful moment, because instead of being consumed, I am usually wondering…how will I explain this to her? What will she say?That’s probably how I became a writer, because most of my life I am simultaneously living and reshaping my experiences into stories for my Sister.

I do this because when I tell her my stories, her response sorts things out for me. Her voice and her face are mirrors to me. They say, everyday… It’s allright, Glennon. It’s allright.

Please, if you can, try not to teach me that it’s not healthy to depend on another human being this completely. I’m well aware. It’s terrifying. It’s why every time she leaves my house I stand at the front door and pray that she’ll make it to her bed safely. Please God, just get her home safely. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that it is.

We have a lot of songs, Sister and I. This is the one though, that feels to me like it was written for Us.

And it’s for you today, Monkees. Save somebody’s life today. Swim.

Love,

G

May 032012
 

*This one’s for Laura and her Sister. I forgive you, and I’m sorry, too.

 

 

 

 

“On Sunday morning, the gospel choir would walk by my cottage in their robes, singing Oh shout it out! The first time I heard them, I ran to the front porch in my bathrobe and started crying. They pulled children in wagons, their voices visible in the cool air. Every Sunday I waited for this.

All I needed of religion, I realized, was the beautiful sound of someone else’s faith.”

-Megan Mayhew Bergman, Birds of a Lesser Paradise

 

Sometimes, Love Doesn’t Win. Or that’s how it feels anyway.

Sometimes we desperately need a miracle that never comes. We pray, we hope, we believe, we KNOW and we are left empty handed and broken hearted. Beloved parents and sisters and brothers and children die. Where the hell is God? We hold up our WTF? billboard prayers to the heavens. We wonder why other people got their miracles and we didn’t get ours. When we hear people say that PRAYER WORKS or that LOVE WINS or that IT ALL HAPPENS FOR REASON, we feel, well, a tad homicidal. None of it makes sense. Anybody worth talking to will admit that from the human perspective, life makes no sense. As my minister friend Anna – who lost her husband in a car crash- would promise us,  it’s all just ABSURD. GREAT word to describe life, one of my favorites. ABSURD!

For twenty years I knew I would adopt a baby. I tried actively for seven years. Craig and I poured  our hearts and energy and time and bank accounts into this dream time after time after time. We never gave up hope. We trusted in God. We followed the signs. We fully expected miracles.  As you know, our third adoption- this time from Rwanda- fell through last month. We were so close this time that I could actually FEEL that baby in my arms.

After a few weeks of mourning, we decided that maybe our fourth baby would be biological. We talked to my doctor who said, in so many words  . . . “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND? You are chronically ill. You can barely take care of yourself. No. No, no, no, no.”

When we left I said to Craig: Hm.What do you think she meant by that?

Honey, he said. You know what she meant by that. Everyone in the office knew what she meant by that. She was YELLING.

Right. Optimism and delusion are sooooo close.

No adoption. No pregnancy. No miracle.  And we know, in our hearts, that it’s time to let that fourth baby go. I’m not healthy. It’s time to stop obsessing about that miracle- it’s time to take off our miracle blinders, and use our peripheral vision.

Because sometimes we don’t get our miracle, and that hurts like hell. But the way the world works is- if we turn our heads, we can still find one. We can share someone else’s miracle. We can enter into it and claim it as our own. It takes some work and humility and a STRONG WILL, but it can be done.

Look. I’m not going to get that Rwandan baby for whom we all prayed so hard. But turn your head. Use your miracle peripheral vision and CHECK THIS OUT.

 

 

Look at her. That’s my baby Sister. That’s my lobster. Who was crumbled on the floor, three years ago, with no hope, no GLIMMER of hope, facing a divorce that would leave the faith of our entire family in shambles.

She moved in with me after the divorce. I hung a sign on her wall that said, “For I know the plans I have for you says the LORD . . . plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

And we would both look at that sign, crying together in a Sister heap on the floor, and we would silently say to the sign, to God - BULLSHIT.  Just, BULLSHIT.

 

Now please look at her. Eventually . . . . after a while – she stood up off that floor. She trusted the absurd world again. She found her other lobster, John. He is as kind and as gentle and as strong as a human being can be. And he loves her so much that I can finally, for the first time in my life, relax. For the first time in my life, I KNOW that my Sister is cared for by a man in a pure, deep, forever way.

And now she’s seven months pregnant. We are having a BABY, MONKEES!

For John’s sake, I hope that the baby’s not Rwandan. But I’m not gonna lie- it’d be nice for me.

IT’S MY PERIPHERAL MIRACLE.  Do you see? I didn’t get my exact miracle, the one in my direct line of vision. But sometimes PERIPHERAL MIRACLES are even BETTER. Because you can love them and love them and love them but you don’t have to send PERIPHERAL MIRACLES to college.

I am so in love already.

We’re HAVING A BABY!!!!!!!!!

See. Still. Love Wins. Just gotta keep those eyes wide open and sometimes –  turn our heads.

 

 

Love you forever.

G

 

 

 

 

Jul 212012
 

Here I am, and I’m so excited to be here. It feels like forever since we’ve talked. When I opened the page this morning, I got the same feeling I get when I walk into a coffee shop to meet a friend I haven’t seen for too long.

Where shall we start? How about here:

 

Please meet my nephew, Robert Doyle Lynch. He is named for his gentle, forever smiling, baseball and family loving grandfather, Bob Lynch, who died two weeks ago and is now Bobby’s Official Guardian Angel. He gives and takes away, sometimes at the very same time. It has been a brutiful month.

Monkees- how do I describe watching my Sister turn into a mama and my brother turn into a daddy? The answer is I can’t, yet. I’m storing it all up inside and letting it do what it does. I imagine it will all crystallize into a million stories soon.

I can tell you now that Sister is different. She is a different Sister than she was forty eight hours ago. And right now, our relationship is different. We can’t talk much. We pass Bobby back and forth and we stare at him and utter short, shallow sentences to each other which is the opposite of how we have communicated for thirty three years. For the first twenty four hours after Bobby was born, we couldn’t even make eye contact. It was like when Moses asked God if  he could see His face and God said no- because God’s face is so bright and so full of STRAIGHT LOVE that a mere human being wouldn’t survive a full on stare. So God tells Moses He can only allow him to see where He’s just been. It’s like that right now. Bobby is where God’s just been. It’s fresh, sacred ground, and I’ve still got my shoes off.

One evening there was no Bobby and the next morning there was Bobby. And I can’t stop thinking about him so comfortable in the dark, cramped space of Sister’s womb, knowing that small spot was the whole wide world. And then –  discomfort, pain, chaos, and bright, blinding light –  then the strong arms of a Mother and a Father that Bobby could SEE and a whole new previously unimaginable world that is all Bobby’s. Full of love and light.

Let’s just say Bobby’s arrival has pushed back, a teeny bit further, my skepticism about heaven.

 

 

But we know that Bobby is not all we have to discuss today.

The shootings are in our hearts and heads. We’ve imagined ourselves in that theatre again and again. Yesterday evening at Tish’s VBS concert, I found myself imagining how I’d react, how I’d get to all three kids if someone started shooting in the sanctuary. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of listening to the children smiling and singing about how God is in control and about how He will always protect us. I wondered if the other adults were thinking what I was thinking which was . . . weeeellllllllll???

Lots of you have emailed to ask how I’m handling this with Chase and the girls and the truth is I haven’t had to handle it. We’ve kept the news off. Chase says “the news is for people who are nosy.” I mean, it’s kind of true. I know enough. I don’t want to know the shooter’s name and I don’t want to hear from his third grade teacher and his long lost aunt and all the organizations who will pounce on this tragedy to further their political agendas –  warranted or not. The older I get, the more convinced I am that our problems will not be solved by politicians or PACS  or the media or the Big Bosses. They will only be solved in our own hearts and families. Bottom to top. And so I don’t want to bear witness to the media circus. This is no time for a circus. It’s time for the opposite. It’s time for a reverent hush to fall over our country. It’s time for self-reflection and prayer and extra-ordinary kindness.

I guess this is how I reacted: Yesterday, I was in a rush and I had to stop for gas, which I HATE for some reason. Again, I can do hard things, but not easy things, like gas getting. I spent five minutes at the pump punching buttons and finally realized it didn’t work. I went into the gas station and asked what on the heck was going on. The attendant said, “Oh, that pump doesn’t work. Use a different one.” And I got pissed. Because this woman had wasted five minutes of my precious time. So I rolled my eyes and said something like: well why don’t you have a sign on the pump?? And I said it in a very sweet, patronizing, rude way. And then I drove away.

Halfway to our destination I turned the car around, and I went back to the station. I walked in and waited in line, and when I got to the front I looked the same lady in the eye and I said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being such a jerk and making your day harder.”

I didn’t add anything else. Because an apology with an explanation attached is not an apology at all. Then I left.

That was my response to the Colorado shootings. I have no explanation. There is no way to make sense of it. So first, I want to do no harm.

I want to be kind to the people who cross my path, because just like that shooter changed the world- so can I.

 

When the world feels loud, we must be quiet. When the world feels violent, we must be peaceful. When the world seems evil, we must be good.

 

Love,

G and Bobby