Hoping the past holds an answer within it.
We fill the churches,
Maybe God knows the answer.
We attend self-help meetings, assured an answer is encoded within the Twelve Steps.
We write “Dear Abby” and every other expert,
Certain that they must know the answer.
We sit at the feet of spirituality gurus,
Believing they will show us the way to an answer.
We buy every self-help book that hits the market,
Confident that a new project will quiet the question.
We consent to outrageous measures
To guarantee our fertility or our attractability,
Convinced that the presence of a child
Or a love in our arms will dissolve the question.
We sign up for diet clubs and plans and spas,
Convinced that our bodies are at the core of the answer,
Whatever it turns out to be.
We spend hundreds of dollars
On new outfits to hide the question
And on new body parts to eradicate the question.
And then at night after the day’s search is over,
We binge on a quart of ice cream or a bottle of wine,
Or we spend hours on the Internet or telephone
In tormented conversations trying to figure out
Why the relationship isn’t working,
Hoping that when we reach the bottom of the quart or bottle,
Or the far reaches of the internet or conversation,
Things will have shifted deep within us
And once and for all we will know the answer
And what to do about it.
Yet no matter what we do in search of an answer:
No matter how much we lose or how slimming the dress,
No matter how expensive or authoritative the expert,
No matter how many babies, relationships,
Possessions we have or don’t’ have,
No matter how spiritual, therapeutic, or recovered we become
We are left with the same question over and over again
As we look into the mirror horrified
That the restructuring of our relationship, our womb,
Or our breasts did not quiet the question
There it is in the morning whispering from the mirror,
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?’
A mantra that accompanies us the length of our days.
~Patricia Lynn Reilly, Be Full of Yourself
Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes