Thursday, September 04, 2008

worth the risk?

“Explore and expand your capacity for love and forgiveness. Love people who are unlovable. As G.K. Chesterton said, “love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all.” Who in your life is unlovable? What would loving them look like? How would it change you?” --Patti Digh

I just finished reading David Sheff’s remarkable book, “beautiful boy.” I hesitated for many months before reading this book, because I did not know if I could stomach it. If I could survive it. If I could relive it. But alas it kept popping into my consciousness and finally someone handed me the book and said, “it’s o.k. to read.” (I was also inspired by Sunrise Sister’s thoughtful book review here.)

You see the book is my story. It is my son’s story although the names have been changed as well as the drugs…well some of them anyway. It is a remarkable book. At times I felt like I was inside the pages. In fact, I had been inside the pages. Again, the places had been changed but the memories and emotions were the same. And as I read the quote above from Patti Digh’s 37 Days, I thought of my son and how many people deemed him along the way “unlovable.” I think of the judgment that has come our way. Of the many people that said “I would have given up on him long before now. How do you do it?”

And, today I think of the amazing gift that my son has given me. Because, yes, he is my flesh and blood and that alone (at least for a mother, I think) makes him lovable, but for many years and many moments he presented himself to the world as unlovable. And so I return to Patti’s questions: “What would loving them (the unlovable) look like?” “How would it change you?” and I return to my response: It is an amazing gift. It is worth the risk to love.

I am in no way the same person I was that gave birth to my own beautiful boy just over 19 years ago. I am not even the same person who bought him a puppy on his first day of grade school or the one who home-schooled him when he was 12. I am not even the same person who woke up this morning. Because, you see, my son, “the unlovable”, shook me out of my complacency. He taught me about pain and anger, about hatred and forgiveness, about fear and love.

He sent me on a path (unknowingly) toward wholeness. Loving him looks like a miracle. It looks like new breath…new life. It has changed me profoundly and taught me how to love the unlovable, beginning with myself.

I returned to school at nearly 50 years of age to pursue a career totally opposed to my ‘prior life’. (This kind of change was something I never dreamed I would do while I was “sleeping.”) I latched onto a verse. “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” I learned that I had to start with myself and that God would be alongside me in ways I never could have conceived. Before I could love my neighbor or my son or the unlovable, I had to learn to love myself. And so for me, “loving the unlovable” began a circular journey back towards myself and toward the 'unlovable.' And, the circle grows larger and larger every day.

And so, today I thank my own beautiful boy. I honor him and love him and am so grateful that I never gave up on either one of us.

So, I pose to you Patti’s questions: "What would it look like to love the unlovable? How would it change you?" Would you be willing to find out?

14 comments:

Abbey of the Arts said...

lucy, this is so very beautiful! really i was moved to tears, i know how much you've been through and how much you love your boy. what an amazing witness to the power of that love to tell how it impacted your own story.

the question is a good one, just last night i had this moment of insight that part of my "work" is simply to reduce suffering in some small way. I think a part of that way is to extend love to those people and places previously unloved.

much love to you, C

Anonymous said...

lucy, if i may, i'd like your email address. this has really touched me and i want to write to you with greater intimacy. my email is laure.krueger@yahoo.com

thank you

laure

Sue said...

I just love this post. Almost everything about it resonated strongly for me, even though I don't have any children of my own. It resonated even right down to the fact of thinking, "Is this Lucy's first post-Curry-post?" and feeling happy that you put a photo of your son and Curry in this one :)

I am on this journey in so many ways. Learning to love yourself. That HORRIBLE Whitney Houston song has been coming into my head a bit over the past few months (God seems to use awful songs to get me to think about things, it's very strange). But I really feel like it runs in tandem, that I can only love others to the extent that I love myself, that embracing my own stuff and dealing with it, whatever that means and in whatever time frame that happens (a minute, a lifetime) somehow opens up windows to love others who share that same trait.

Since I've been loving the unlovable in myself and trying to love the unlovable in others, I have swayed backwards and forwards, but it's pretty amazing stuff. Because it also turns out, paradoxically, that sometims the unlovable are the ones I feel most comfortable with, and the societally lovable are the ones who leave me most cold. Strange.

Sorry for blathering. I don't know if I really answered anything in any way that I really aimed to do, but this is ALWAYS what happens when I leave comments on people's posts at 1.41 am :)

differenceayearmakes said...

I got sidetracked with your reference to "prior life and while I was sleeping" - probably because I am just at what I call Point Zero. Been blogging a lot on it lately. I'm living questions right now - now answers - just questions. A whole new direction to be discovered.

I'm finding a lot of inspiration from so many places - what a wonderful thing blogging is.

Hope said...

I have this book on hold at the library and while it isn't in yet his son's book about his meth journey is and I will be picking it up tomorrow.

I've been the most unloveable person in my life. How has loving me changed me? The other day my sister asked me what was the best/worst thing about having adult kids. I told her that the best thing was it's not my life and the worst thing is it's not my life. Before I began loving me I couldn't tell the difference between my life and theirs.

Kate I said...

Lucy I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face...what a beautifully touching and heartfelt post. I haven't read the story "A Beautiful Boy" but I did see an interview with him and his father on TV.

Learning to love the unloveable or even just knowing that we're capable of doing that and being open to that possibility, is such a life altering perspective. Patti's essay on her blog was very profound for me in that respect.

Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart with us. Your son really is a beautiful boy.

Olivia said...

I too was deeply touched by Beautiful Boy, although I don't have any children. I was also very, very moved by your post.

I found your blog via Kate I and am so glad I did!

Blessings, Olivia

Anonymous said...

Lucy!!!! I am so glad that you read the book!!! Didn't you just feel like your life fit right between the pages? I felt so at home there! During our journey my husband kept saying "What man meant for evil God meant for good" and I know that to be so true. The paradox of all that fear turning into such transformation and love......amazing! I am so glad that you and your family were a chapter in my family's 'Beautiful Boy' book! Love, Pamela

Tess said...

I agree so much with differenceayearmakes - blogging is such a wonderful thing.

I can't answer your (Patti's) question publicly, but I will be thinking about it. It's probably time to think about it.

Sorrow said...

Loving always changes you, and i don't see how it couldn't. Learning to love, really love with out attachment to outcome, with out borders or boundaries, is a deep and powerful force. Once in those waters , you can never go back, only swept away by love.
Please give your beautiful boy a hug and love from me.

lucy said...

thank you dear friends--old & new--for your loving response to this post. you have each truly shown me your love in most amazing ways.

i would love to respond to each of you in more depth, but i have been away for the weekend and school starts tomorrow...so i will keep it short for now.

please know your thoughts and input are both comfort and inspiration to me!

blessings!

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Happy day tomorrow. Our sharing is unbelievably comforting and mind-expanding. A wonderful weekend to put it mildly!

xoxoxoxoxo

His Girl Friday said...

wow, Lucy, thank you for your honesty with all of this. My friend left(moved away from the area) her ex to remove her son from his influence(alcoholism)...only to have her son fall to prey to a heroin addiction.
Your words are thought provoking, and I will read the book; perhaps not now, but I will read it.

Gabrielle said...

Truly beautiful, Lucy, and a powerful testament not only to love, but to courage and perseverence.