Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Try, Try Again

The Divine Image - by William Blake

Cruelty has a human heart
And jealousy a human face,
Terror the human form divine,
And secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace seal'd,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

Sometimes we forget that fear makes us cruel. A friend told me a year or so ago that I could be mean. I was taken aback; I never think of myself as a mean person. You're mean when you don't get what you want, he said. We'd been a 'thing,' a romantic-ish but never-quite-official thing. When my friend said want, he meant capital W want, want that is the thin shell of the fear that we'll never be fully loved, fully chosen. Humans hold a hundred forms of fear. When it comes to other people, that fear comes out in unexpected ways - some never directly expressed, some unbelievably violent. Fear surprises us. Our impulses go sideways. Most people act by self-propulsion, and the fuel is fear. We all think we're fakes, or we're not fakes, but we're ashamed of something we've done. We're afraid of being seen, so we're too loud or don't go to the party at all. I try to live in the middle, within reason, but I fail all the time.

Most often, when I act out, I misuse the gift of being a writer. It happened recently, this morning. The thought having hurt someone, having deliberately hurt someone, is so bewildering. I don't know myself, when I am sharp and thoughtless like that, sending that poem I knew was cruel. Not mean, but cruel - pushed buttons, hit nerves I knew it would hit. It's not my sober self, it's the addict self, who wants and lashes out when want isn't met. It pushes me from people. It's the real darkness in me, the faithless place. You might think the darkness was something else, something less to do with people, more interior, less nameable. But this is the real root of it, I've come to realize, because I have so many people who love me, who have stuck with me through hard time. Fear, fear, a hundred forms of fear. All I can really do is own it. To claim my side of the street. To pray to whatever is there or not. Try again.

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