After Sufjan: Accepting the Stories

Sufjan's music spans generations. With daughter B before the concert. 
Last night I was lucky enough to experience the beauty and thrill of Sufjan Stevens live. "Harrowing moodiness," is how Ryan Dombal describes Sufjan's new album, "Carrie and Lowell," in this gorgeous interview.

Harrowing moodiness, yes. It's what happens when you navigate trauma.

It's also what scores your psyche when you have a mentally ill parent.  

Sufjan's latest songs track the longing and loss of having a bipolar and schizophrenic mother. He tells stories of times shared, then haunts us with the dying moments of this near-mythic figure whose mothering was so scarce.

As I sat in the darkness, I found myself weeping.

I've written many stories, poems, and posts about my biological mother who was severely schizophrenic (and also bipolar) and couldn't raise me. Thing is, I'm sure people are tired of hearing these stories.

I chide myself for not being "over it."

But I'll never get there.

It's not that I'm unhappy or ungrateful. It's not that I don't appreciate the beautiful people who came into my life with their caring and parenting and love. It's not that I don't realize my blessings.

It's just that this story is a part of who I am.

What Sufjan has done is nudge me deeper into acceptance. When we can be present with the memories and experiences of our own trauma and grief, we can harness creative power.

I become a witness to pain and loss - and I reach out, from my most human heart, telling a story that touches others.

In this way, I bring healing into the world.

So yeah. It would be nice if I could "get over" those early searing losses.

But I have something deep, rich, and true, resonating like a song you can sing with your whole heart, for as long as you live. Thanks, Sufjan.

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