Garth Brooks, God and Getting Real

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As you may or may not know, I was married in another life, lived in Mississippi and was an Air Force wife of a man who was gone most of the year on TDY (temporary duty) and mother of a wonderfully active and bright son. During this time, my first time away from home and hearth and all that I ever knew, things were pretty tough at times for me, emotionally. I not only left my support group but I also moved into a different world within a world within the South. The Air Force is a family of sorts and it wasn’t all bad, but I really hated the term “dependents” that was used to speak of non-enlisted personnel (spouses, children) because it made me realize just how dependent I was on the kindness of said Head of Family. But that’s for another time…

During this time, I would pray and pray and pray until I had made up for all the prayers I didn’t say in the prior decades. I didn’t pray for endurance, wisdom or courage; I prayed by telling Him what to do, how to do it and when to do it, which was NOW! I prayed that my husband would do this and not do that, I prayed that the guy I thought I was falling in love with would come in and sweep me off my feet, a la “An Officer and a Gentleman” style. I prayed that I could stop drinking, I prayed that I could drink enough to make myself not miserable. I prayed to change any and every person (other than myself, of course) bend their will to mine, make my priorities theirs; my battles their missions and my vendettas their reason for living. See? When I say it was difficult, it was no small part due to me and my manifestations of madness. Slowly and surely, I was slipping into a dark and dangerous place and there was no one around to save me. Hence, the praying. I could count on one finger how many of those prayers came true, if that is even the accurate term for what happened. Which brings me to – 


The one thing I remember about my time in Mississippi is country music; specifically, Brooks and Dunn and Garth Brooks. When I heard “Unanswered Prayers” for the first time, I liked the music but didn’t really pay much attention to the lyrics. I listen to it now and it hits home in so many ways. Now when I say God, I draw from my Roman Catholic upbringing of course but also from my own personal place of belief. I am not saying my God is the only God, etc., just that God and Garth Brooks rolls off the tongue, where Higher Power and Garth Brooks just doesn’t. Glad we got that out of the way.

I think back and shudder at the prayers I’ve sent up…

Take me now, stop my heart

Silence these voices that tear me apart

From the inside they claw and tear

It’s really more than I can bear.

Send your angels, send the demons

I’ve had enough, no more reasons to stay

Take me away, please take me away

I’m happy those prayers went unanswered and I am still here to tell you this tale. I feel as though I have just come away from a perilous edge, an appetite for my own destruction and a swan dive into the abyss (why wait for it to stare back when you can stab into it’s heart?) and regained a knowledge that has given me a strength I lacked before, a perspective from that edge and an acceptance of a sliver of darkness that will always live within me, but will not rule or ruin me. One does not become one with the abyss and walk away unchanged, after all.

Getting real about it all means accepting that prayers of any kind will not manage mental illness; having faith is not being weak, nor is it delusional to believe there is a Higher Power. Everyone has to find their own way through the train wrecks of life and whether you mount a Harley or ride the subway, the only thing that matters is you arrive at your destination. I choose to leave things behind that no longer serve me and I will continue to adjust my course and the winds require and I will keep moving; it’s progress I want and change of scene I seek. I will pray for wisdom, compassion, enough love to heal the world tempered with the understanding of what the soul needs. Pray big or go home, right?

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