Monday, May 10, 2010

New Understanding: Insight Gained from The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees was recommended to me by my counselor. I read the first few chapters and really didn’t get that feeling of, “oh yes, this book is making me better.” But I kept reading. Even though it didn’t affect me like I thought it immediately would, it was a great story, so I kept going. Toward the end of the book, page 278 to be exact, I started scribbling notes ferociously on a legal pad…it was all coming together, and I got that feeling, the feeling that said, “this book was meant for you.” Here are a few passages that really spoke to me, along with my insights. I’m sure there are tons more if I were to go back through the book, but these are my most favorite and most moving for me personally.

Pg. 278 – In a weird way I must have loved my little collection of hurts and wounds. They provided me with some real nice sympathy, with the feeling I was exceptional. I was the girl abandoned by her mother. I was the girl who kneeled on grits. What a special case I was.

I told my counselor how connected I felt with this passage. I have always felt like I was a special case, that my problems were one-of-a-kind in nature and caused one-of-a-kind pain. No one could possibly understand how I felt because no one in the world had ever experienced it. I understand that I must let go of my woundedness and the specialness it provides me, and find my identity and uniqueness in who God created me to be.

Pg. 285 – Drifting off to sleep, I thought about her. How nobody is perfect. How you just have to close your eyes and breathe out and let the puzzle of the human heart be what it is.

Stop trying to understand why my mother does what she does and how it all relates to me and how “good” and “worthy” I am of love. There is no connection between her actions and me. I am my own person with my own unique qualities and talents and beauty. I will find more peace in understanding one small part of myself than I ever would find in understanding all of her.

Pg 288 – You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside. You don’t have to put your hand on Mary’s heart to get strength and consolation and rescue, and all the other things we need to get through life. You can place it right here on your own heart. Your own heart.

I have lived a life of sadness because I didn’t have a healthy, loving mother. But, what is a mother? Mothers are all around, and simply take the voice I have within. Running is my mother. Running pushes me, strengthens me, tells me motivating things like “You will make it” and “Look how far you’ve come”. Writing is my mother. Writing gives me opportunities to create, to articulate, to express my truest feelings without fear of shame or ridicule. I’m placing my creations on my own refrigerator, praising the beautiful artwork I am forming with words. Music is my mother. Music lets me dance till I’m dizzy, encourages me to sing at the top of my lungs until I’m out of breath and giddy from the lyrics of my favorite tunes. It never matters if I know every word or miss every key; all that matters is that I am happy in that moment. Rowdy is my mother. He greets me with open paws and a wagging tail every time I walk through the door, even if I just came in from checking the mail. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect but also doesn’t know that I’m not, and licks my cheek every chance he gets with the same loving contentment that says, “You are my angel”. I have no reason to be sad; I have mothers all around me, I just have to look within myself to find them.

Pg 289 – When you’re unsure of yourself, when you start pulling back into doubt and small living, she’s the one inside saying, “Get up from there and live like the glorious girl you are.” She’s the power inside you.

The phrase “small living” really struck me. My first counselor here talked about how we have a small self and an authentic self, and my current counselor talks about these two selves as well. I like this idea. It makes it not so bad when I do or say bad things. It helps me know that I am not a bad person; I just have a smaller self inside of me that I must overcome if I want to live like my authentic self, the glorious girl that I am.

Pg. 301 – I guess I have forgiven us both, although sometimes in the night my dreams will take me back to the sadness, and I have to wake up and forgive us again.

I almost didn’t write this sentence down, I almost couldn’t write this sentence down. This tells me forgiveness is something I have not done, more toward her than me; maybe a little bit toward me, too. This tells me that I need to pray for forgiveness to come. I haven’t been able to find it on my own for all these years; this tells me only God can bring forgiveness. God is forgiveness. So I will pray expectantly, knowing forgiveness will come. And I will think of this passage from the book, and know that forgiveness will leave, and I will wake up and have to forgive again.

Ironically, my counselor and I talked about forgiveness on May 12, almost a week after I had written the above thoughts about not understanding forgiveness. I wrote the following piece after our appointment, and I wanted to share my before thoughts (which are above) and my after thoughts (which are below). God answered quickly!

My counselor and I talked about this passage today. She told me how she has to forgive people in her life constantly, daily even, and she has to ask for forgiveness daily as well. I was taught that I was bad if I did bad things, and that forgiveness only came in time if I was really good and really sorry for how bad I had been. Spilling a glass of milk and murder were the same offense in my household, and required the same long, sorrowful road to forgiveness and redemption. Now I see that each of us is only human, even me. I am only a human, and I sin and I make mistakes, and I must forgive myself daily, and I must forgive others daily.


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  2. I found this today. I'm writing about this book. You really inspired me and I feel like I should give this book to a friend of mine who suffers similarly to the way you suffer.... Thanks for being so bold and publishing this for the world to see.