Saturday, November 19, 2011

Her Pain Is Gone Now

"I'm feeling much better. Thank you." Her thin lips showed an appropriate smile. Her pain is gone now.

Those "moments" - times of intense pain squeezing her mind into compressed agony - had gone away, marooned on an island lost to the world. Now she sailed on the ship SS Serenity, eager for passengers to climb aboard. Floating, sailing, drifting - no more high seas of drama or raging storms of unquantifiable torment. She was a vessel of calm waters leaving nary a wake.

The "Church Incident" had triggered her downfall. Of all the places to have a meltdown! But perhaps because it was the one place she felt she could least afford to show her true face that also made it the flashpoint of her dire unhappiness. Suddenly, she resented everything, right in the middle of choir practice. Her voice turned cross and vexed with the announcement of her condemnation of re-rehearsing a song she felt they sang well enough already. At the time, she saw nothing wrong with her behavior. She was speaking honestly in her mind.

But the world values the mask, and despises the face beneath.

The "moments" came at the most unlikeliest of times: cutting lettuce while preparing dinner for the family, waiting in the school parking lot to pick up her youngest, even chatting on the phone in the middle of idle conversation. It was as if the minute she allowed herself to breathe the anguish came flooding in. She once had read of another who spoke of the unexpected happening while busy making other plans, but that was of a songwriter speaking of moments of inspiration. Was this all the result of a long, lost path not chosen?

Illicit toe sucking in public!
Stop them before it ends society!

It was exactly that thought that had preyed on her on the drive into Wednesday night choir practice and her resulting branding of infamy. Like a stilt carrying too much weight, she snapped, voicing her thoughts aloud in unvarnished emotion. She was unsparing in her sharp criticism of the organist's iron hand and in the heat of the moment felt no shame in airing her displeasure. It was if a ghost from her childhood had come alive and reached out for life. Ironically, many silent heads nodded in approval - and yet no one stood to defend her frankness.

As soon as she realized she'd done the unthinkable - tarnishing her image - she excused herself immediately leaving the room. Her racing mind panicked in the church basement lavatory. She stared at the faded white of the sink and its rusty stains dripping down from the faucet. What a vile and despicable thing that sink! The church has plenty of money. Why don't they change it out? Why don't they ever change anything at all? Everything just stays the same no matter what!

But it was that lack of change what had driven her to the church to begin with; safety from questions.

Like a torpedoed ship, damage control swung into full operation. She was pleasantly and gratefully surprised at the few who publicly professed sympathy and understanding for her. And those few also loved the rising in the stock of their image. But far more common were the pursed lips of those whose lies had yet to be exposed, they who maintained decorum and responsibility. To them she was an outlaw, an agent of chaos, a punk rocker refusing to conform. Condemnation was her just and holy dessert - if the accusers were to keep their lives allegedly holy anyway.

Grasping and flailing she needed a defensible defense - and here's where modern science came to her rescue. No longer was she at fault, her body made her do it. It was lacking chemicals that only an American pharmaceutical company could provide. She pitied those of yesteryear whose unhappiness was both unnamed and undoctored. She forced this face-saving explanation down her throat and carried on with a quiet, quivering lower lip. Her husband glowed at having help "fix" her with his scientific suggestion.

She worked quite hard on her act, telling the tale of illness discovered and cure found. "I was blind but now I see," she cooed. She spoke of how the Incident was actually a Blessing In Disguise, God speaking to her in infinite wisdom. It became the most prized possession in her life: her Success Story. And she used it like a force field against all possible criticism, both real and imagined. Putting effort into this new face became the new moral purpose to her life.

Used to be, she worried about everything to the point she could no longer function. Now the almighty functioning was back. Who could argue with that?? At her feet the family cat cried in pain on the kitchen floor but that too no longer pierced her heart as it once had. Yes, nothing could shatter the mirror-like stillness of her waters - neither life nor death. From flesh and blood she metamorphosed into crystal and glass, forever running from the hammer of life. The pain was gone now - just like all her feeling.

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