Violets on Purpose

Violets on Purpose April 24, 2022


I don’t know how many different times I can say that I wish I had a different person to show you. Mary Pezzulo is boring and weak. I would like to be exciting and strong. But there’s only me here.

It’s a terrible feeling when the internet is staring at me, and I haven’t blogged in several days, and it’s Easter Week and I’m supposed to think of something bright and encouraging to say, and I know there’s only me here to show you again.

It has been an awfully hard several months and I’m not doing too well. I never am, but this Spring in particular. I haven’t really slept well or felt well since the verdict, or maybe since the court date with our harassing stalker, or maybe since last summer’s harassment, or maybe never at all. And right now I am a mess. I keep having panic attacks.

Yesterday was particularly discouraging. I’d made up my mind to see a therapist about how bad my anxiety has gotten. I compiled a list of therapists who were secular, local and had websites that seemed friendly. Of the therapists on the list, only two didn’t have anything about a waiting list on their websites, so I wrote to their “contact us” boxes. One of them emailed back offering an appointment time and I filled out all of her paperwork: I wrote out the name of the nearest police station so she could call the cops on me in case she decided I was a danger. I signed that form, shuddering at the thought of my harassing neighbor exalting at the sight of me being dragged out in handcuffs. Then I filled out her assessment form, disclosing embarrassing things about my childhood, shuddering at how on-the-nose some of the diagnostic questions were, feeling unclean just thinking about it all, reminding myself over and over that being perfectly honest on this form was a way to get the anxiety to stop. Then I photocopied both sides of my medicaid card and sent that as well. Then I got another email, saying that she couldn’t see me after all because she didn’t take my insurance.

As I sat there, my eyes filling with tears, I saw that the other therapist’s office had emailed me back. No, the therapist I inquired after wasn’t available, but they had a new one who was taking new patients, and would be glad to take me on. The new therapist was a young girl half my age who’d recently graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville and specialized in “Christian Counseling.”

Every single moment I was spiritually abused by well-meaning Charismatic Catholics rather than being helped growing up flashed before my eyes.

I emailed back a lot more snarkily than was called for, and I started searching again. My only discovery was that nearly every single therapist in Steubenville who takes my insurance graduated from Franciscan University.

That was when the panic attack began in earnest, and it lasted for quite awhile.

That was the low point of my week.

The high point was this morning, going for my walk.

Have you ever gone for a walk when you were severely anxious? Not just worried about something, but consumed with worry until you thought the worry itself would kill you? Have you ever struggled to put one foot in front of another, telling yourself that it’s just a bit of exercise to help work off the adrenaline– while really, inside, you felt like every step was a march to the chopping block for your own execution? That was how I walked around LaBelle just an hour or two ago.

It’s really pretty this time of year. The well-kept houses on the rich part of the neighborhood have beautiful gardens, and the badly kept houses in the poor part of the neighborhood have beautiful weeds. The yards are choked with dandelion, harbinger-of-spring and creeping charley. The daffodils are peaking and the tulips are out. The ancient lilac bushes, planted decades ago when middle class people around here had the money for landscaping, are just about ready to burst open, and the ancient redbud trees are blooming. Bees are everywhere, browsing among the flowers like the Bridegroom in the Canticle of Canticles. Everything looks alive. Everything smells alive. Everything feels right, except me.

I passed a yard that was absolutely choked with violets.

I stopped just to stare at it for a moment.

There are usually violets among the weeds in yards this time of year, but this was different from that. This was a lawn luxuriously carpeted with violets. Someone had done this on purpose. Someone had sown violet seed until it choked out the grass. The place where the grass was supposed to be was a riot of purple polka dots.

For a second I nearly forgot my anxiety. All I wanted was to meet the person who covered his lawn with violets on purpose.

That put me in mind of the Person who made violets on purpose.

I think I could love and trust a Father Who willed violets, not as an embarrassing blight on a nice neat orderly lawn, but for their own sake because violets are good.  I think I could respect an only-begotten Son of God through whom all violets were made. I think I could not shudder in terror of a Holy Ghost who sustains violets because violets are worth sustaining.

I think I could believe that good things might happen, in a universe where it’s possible to walk out of your house and stumble across some violets.

I don’t feel that way, but I think, intellectually, that that’s true.

That’s where I am today: scared, triggered, shaking, feeling like I’m going to die, in a grace-filled world where there are violets on purpose.

That’s all I have for now.



Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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