“I just wish I was good enough to be who everybody wants me to be.”
An Anonymous Friend
Paul Cezanne was famously endlessly dissatisfied with his art, legend having it in fits of pique he would hurl his unfinished canvases out his window. And despite extraordinary accomplishment positioning him to be declared the father of Modernism by those who followed him (the likes of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso), he wrote this:
“I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.”
“I have made some progress. Why so late and with such difficulty?”
He died deeming himself a failure. (Confidence is hard to come by for some.)
And now your baby is born addicted to heroin, as you are yourself. Your grandmother loves you, but having been bankrupted trying to save you from yourself, cannot house you any longer. For the baby’s daddy, it’s bros before hos, as it’s always been, his parents shunning you, wanting only the child, maybe hoping for that foster parent check. Your father, white-knuckling it at the bar, absent, love a silent prayer held within. Your mom on crack, ready to pimp you out for another hit. You with no teeth, knocked out a couple guys before the last one.
No wonder you say: “I just wish I was good enough to be who everybody wants me to be.”
(I wish you could feel yourself to be the good person you are.)
I like how Virgil Stucker defines mental illness: “separation from yourself, your family, and your community.”
We are all on the spectrum; we are all complicit.
(I think of Elisif; we all let her down.)
The other day, I came up with the title of the book I want to write: It Ends with Tears. I picture (but cannot yet write) the flow of words: a rushing tide; my ceaseless crying; our gurgling springs of grief.
In the end, our tears are our atonement… an absolution; the redeeming grace of a Cezanne masterpiece.
(You and your baby are perfect, and we are enough.)