I am standing on a mountaintop of GOOD.
Last night was my first “feature” as a poet. It was an incredible night for me because I had my family and friends with me to share in a moment that was long-awaited (considering I have been writing for more than 20 years) hoped-for and that at one point seemed highly improbable.
I am publicly thanking Patrice Melnick, owner of Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau, LA for offering me this opportunity, for believing in me. I am deeply grateful. The event couldn’t have gone better, I think. The night before, I opened a fortune cookie which read: “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” There was no way I wasn’t going to try, but the sentiment emboldened me regardless.
I have had several severe nervous breakdowns due to bipolar disease which required hospitalizations and a few “mini-episodes” which required medical interventions. I am on medications to treat my mental illness and will be for the rest of my life. I have shared this before. I am open about my illness because I think if I shirk from sharing the facts of my own bipolar disease I am committing the sin of omission (failing to be honest) and contributing to the misguided fear and shame associated with the disease and misunderstanding of people affected by it.
For many years I have struggled with clinical depressions, misdiagnoses, incorrect medication, and whole host of bipolar symptoms, etc. I still struggle—the illness has not disappeared. Last night did not erase the low points from my history, but the terrible times seemed less threatening, farther away. The significance of my past, of my struggles related to my illness and my personal struggles related to loss, grief (death of a child, death of a parent) made last night more meaningful and precious to me. However I performed, last night was a personal triumph. I gave of myself—I laid myself bare and felt safe. I presented my creative work that has been the core of my life for years and received acceptance (self and other.)
At one point I was reading a love poem (I read a few tame pieces of erotica) and I caught my husband’s eye for a few seconds. He was in the very back of the room and I spoke the words of the poems directly to him. It was subtle but very thrilling. Of course he is my muse, my love and best friend. Oh my lover!
I wasn’t nervous until the second I stood at the podium. I could have given myself a moment to focus but I tore right into a joke. My mother was in the audience. Lordy, she is something else! She joked around and it went over well. The crowd was laughing so it was a good thing.
I was happy to be an audience member too, and offer support to those that performed after I did. It was an amazing night all-around. Many gifted artists shared their talents. Several people stuck around after the event ended, laughing and talking. I left feeling so grateful and honored. I left behind whole chunks of the desolation that has shadowed my heart.
Grace fell upon me. Amen.