All Souls’ Day

Lord, let me write—just what I’m thinking, no more, no less.

National Novel Writing Month began yesterday. I won’t write a novel—I don’t have one in me—but I will try to write more often. Perhaps a daily quota of words. Though I wrote nothing at all yesterday—so that’s not the most confident of starts.

Currently in the familiar state of panic. Oh joy, oh boy! I’m frustrated because I can’t seem to control the terrible anxiety despite my attempts to deep breathe, meditate, spend an hour in silent prayer, journal, take magnesium, tap using EFT, talk kindly to myself, exercise, eat well, etc etc etc. Trying to work at the library on a project, but very difficult to keep my head on. Just so riddled with nerves, for no apparent reason. Happens day after day—enough! Too hard to function this way. Shouldn’t I be a calm and peaceful person? By all means, I should be—but look, here’s this hell again. My legs are intertwined, one wrapped all around the other—for some reason, the anxiety makes me want to curl and twist myself up into a contortionist’s ball. Or wear a straitjacket of sorts—not the terrible Halloweenish kind, but a thunder jacket—is that what they call it?—just something that would apply pressure to my body. Or perhaps be wrapped in a tight, tight hug. I find myself wishing for a boyfriend just so he could hug me tightly or hold my hand so the anxiety would dissipate thanks to the mechanics of simple touch. But I don’t have a boyfriend, and this is the wrong reason for seeking one; and there are those indeed who could hug me now, but I think I’d recoil at their touch, because I don’t like close embraces except with very rare exceptions. Almost makes me want to hunt down my old boyfriend—he’s the only one I had, so he’s the only candidate—so he could wrap me in a hug, but he wouldn’t do that anyway now, and besides that would be asking for a great big mess of trouble. Oh, well. Scrambled thoughts borne of a scrambled mind—not to be trusted, of course.

What can I write? What did I observe today? A woman waiting at the bus stop with me, talking to another girl. I sat on the edge of the parking lot and watched. The woman was large, with long gray unbrushed hair. She had on a gray jacket with white pants—some soft, lightweight fabric. Carrying a couple of plastic bags from the Walgreens next-door. What was she saying? Talking about a massage. She got a phone call saying she was going to be scheduled for a massage; she couldn’t wait. Her body was in pain all over, she said. She’d had a bad case of bed bugs at her place, so she’d spent a month sleeping in the bathtub, or on the toilet with her head on the counter, or on a hard chair. Her family was supposed to bring her another chair to sleep in, but they never did. How awful; how people suffer. And yet she seemed easygoing, seemed almost to take it in stride.

What else? Surely there were other things I wanted to put down in words. The thoughts are with me in my head—so present, so vocal—yet they seem to dart away when I try to write them down. Oh, well. An Adoration chapel opened at my favorite church downtown today after Mass. Spent an hour inside praying. Started to pull out my journal to write a story, just to make some attempt at working toward a quota of words. Story was fairly terrible, I think, but that’s OK; the purpose was just to get some words onto the page and activate a habit.

Today is All Souls’ Day. A day to remember the dead. In his homily, the priest talked about those who have taken their own lives in despair. Earlier this morning, I’d read an article on NPR about suicide prevention in Detroit. I’d scrolled down to the comments and read the first one there. It had been written by the father of a suicide victim—a 22-year-old girl who was incredibly bright and creative, a student at Yale. You could tell the father was bereft at the loss. He’d left his name with the comment, so I Googled it in order to find his daughter’s obituary. There was an online guest book, where people left remembrances of the deceased. Two years after her death, her father had visited the guest book and written: “If you were only here. You would have made the world an even better place. I miss you almost as much as I love you. You gave me SO much joy and happiness. I will never be able to repay you. Dad” How very, very sad. I started to cry, and now I’m starting to cry a little again. May our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who have taken their lives, and let our prayers be with the souls of the departed. Wishing them a little lightness—and light—amid such sadness. God bless.