L E A H
H E A L
I STARTED WRITING THIS BOOK IN FEBRUARY.
HOW COME IT TOOK ME, AND PEG TOO, EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE WE REALIZED THAT THE NAME
IS AN ANAGRAM OF THE WORD
When I stare into the HEAL LEAH square,
L E A H
H E A L
LEAH HEAL HEAL
HEAL HEAL LEAH
LEAH LEAH HEAL
LEAH LEAH HEAL HEAL
HEAL LEAH HEAL
HEAL HEAL LEAH LEAH
HEAL LEAH HEAL LEAH
How does a writer give birth to a character's name? Is there a subconscious process involved? Evidently there is.
According to Psychology Today, "the subconscious is recognized as the source of creativity, intuition, inspiration, inner knowing, interconnectedness, and spiritual enlightenment."
I can't say I knew why I decided to call my protagonist Leah. The name just popped into my mind and on the page. But it's reassuring to see that she is very directly connected to my very deep desire to heal.
And this morning after speaking to Mary I learn once again that
HEALING IS FEELING
ALL OF MY FEELINGS
FROM LOVE AND JOY
TO HATRED AND ANGER
is BEING HERE
RIGHT IN THIS
AND feeling all of
THAT COME UP.
So now the block gets bigger:
L E A H
F E EL
A ALL YOUR EMOTIONS
H E A L
LEAH, REMEMBER THIS:
YOU ARE HEALED WHEN YOU FEEL ALL OF YOUR EMOTIONS! AS MARY SAYS,
ALL EMOTIONS ARE SACRED EVEN THE ANGER YOU FEEL WANTING TO RIP THE
PRESIDENT'S FACE OFF.
T========his ANGER========== thought occurs to me now:
I recall, WHEN I was 12 YEARS OLD, lying in my twin bed in the morning, I remember hearing my father coming up the stairs to take his shower because the upstairs bathroom had a shower stall and I remember so clearly feeling hatred toward him. I FELT HE WAS REPRESSING MY SEXUALITY, HE WOULDN'T LET ME WEAR NYLON STOCKINGS LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS HE WOULDN'T LET ME WEAR LIPSTICK FOR THE CHRISTMAS CONCERT HE WAS ALWAYS WORRIED THAT I WOULD "GET EMBROILED" Which I guess was another way of saying i would get pregnant.
CAN YOU LOOK BACK ON ALL THIS AND SEE THAT YOUR HATRED WAS A SACRED FEELING? IT WAS YOU TRYING TO BE ALIVE AS A YOUNG WOMAN?
In my first novel, there is a scene that my husband Richard has talked about repeatedly. The character Eileen Rosetti, based on me, keeps a journal, and her father finds it and reads it and later she locks herself in her bedroom and she won't come out and her father takes an axe and hacks the door down.
HATED YOUR FATHER
BUT this FEELING was there
but then my father was a scary guy. My childhood friends would say that he looked kind of mean.
BUT HE WAS A WONDERFUL GUY TOO AND I LOVED HIM THEN AND NOW but his
explosive rage was
REALLY HARD TO LIVE WITH!!!!
WE USED TO SIT AT THE DINNER TABLE EVERY NIGHT -- after Mom had cooked such delicious meals -- WITH MY FATHER PONTIFICATING IN HIS AGGRESSIVE BELIGERANT WAY AND I FOUND MYSELF ARGUING WITH HIM ALL THE TIME HE WAS A BARRY GOLDWATER CONSERVATIVE
AND I WAS/AM AN ARTIST AND FREE SPIRIT!
FINALLY WHEN DAD WAS 85 I FINALLY SAID "DAD I WON'T FIGHT WITH YOU ANYMORE" AND HE WAS ANGRY BECAUSE HE THRIVED ON THE INTELLECTUAL ENERGY OF THOSE ARGUMENTS!
My dad had no place to express the energy of his great intellect!
Thanks Mary for helping me get in touch with this memory and all the rest of them, these feelings, scary and sacred too.
Here is the last photo I took of my dad, he was pretending he had the brand new baby DANI (I was going to write LEAH) in his hands.
I LOOK AT THIS PHOTO AND I KNOW THAT I LOVED MY FATHER DEEPLY BUT THERE WERE TIMES GROWING UP THAT I HATED HIM TOO.
We had so much anger as i challenged him, his racism, for one thing. SITTING AT THE DINNER TABLE HE USED TO TALK ABOUT HOW THE WHITE RACE WAS GOING TO TURN DARK AND I SAID TO HIM
"I am going to marry a Black man if I want to."
CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW ANGRY HE GOT AT ME?
(As an aside, my dad never wanted my younger sister to go in the sun too long because he was afraid she would turn too dark. And his mother powdered her face with pink powder to try to lighten her skin.)
Dear Dad, when i woke up this morning, i was feeling
but Mary told me,
"Boredom is anger without enthusiasm. It's still you sitting and trying to repress emotion. To be bored, to not let yourself feel good about anything when there is so much magic and beauty in the world, that's definitely hostile and aggressive. It's hostile and aggressive to be bored. It's like a little kid sitting in the corner with his arms crossed over his chest and saying, "I WILL NOT ENJOY THIS DAY!"
So Dad, I am feeling a lot of feelings this morning, I'm certainly not BORED.
And now that you have passed, I realize that your anger and rage were emotions that you felt probably because your mother
She didn't encourage you to go to college, and you would so have loved that. You were so incredibly bright and inventive! You were always building things, big and small projects in the basement.
And when you told your mother that you were going to build a house even though you had no money or experience, she told you you were crazy. (That house was the one I was born into.)
AND WHEN YOU AND MOM WERE IN THE PRE-CANA CONFERENCES WITH THE CATHOLIC PRIEST BEFORE YOU GOT MARRIED AND THE PRIEST TOLD YOU HOW TO USE THE RHYTHM METHOD TO AVOID GETTING PREGNANT,
YOU RAISED YOUR HAND AND SAID, "WELL, THEN WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE, IF YOU
USE BIRTH CONTROL
OR THE RHYTHM METHOD
ISN'T THAT BIRTH CONTROL TOO?" (This was in 1949!)
And when word got back to your highly religious mother, she was furious.
She told mom one day, "You are living with the devil!"
So no wonder you had rage.
You also had a huge amount of love for all of your family. You were the world's best grandpa to my children, and to Karen's too. You were Pa Rick, a sweet and gentle and generous and encouraging grandfather. A grandfather who loved to play "last touch" when he was saying goodbye to his grandchildren.
I LOVE YOU DAD. AND I MISS YOU A LOT!!!!
I feel sad that we fought so much as I grew up,
but now I understand why we did.
And now I know more than ever why I had to write this book.
To forgive you.