DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY
Over the years I’ve set some high standards for myself, goals that became more like self-imposed requirements than ideals to strive for. College, graduate school, a healthy family, a beautiful home, a satisfying career. I’ve worked hard and achieved most of those goals I set out to attain.
I’m wondering though, why I think all these accomplishments aren’t enough. Maybe it’s the Chinese fortune cookie I picked out of a takeout bag that has me yearning for more. ‘Your success will astonish everyone’ it said. Perhaps I expect greatness from myself. I crave brilliance. I’m disappointed with my mere competence and above average show. It’s a personality flaw of the highest degree. One of my sisters said it well – “I’m happy with the small things in life,” she said, “while you are not. That’s the difference between us.”
In PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Glory has just named her sister Queen Penny the Good for saving their tiny brother Davey from a car fire at the dump. But somehow, Penny can’t accept the title. Fear that she is not good enough invades even her nightmares.
“Penny woke up with a start. Tears streamed down her face. Her little sister Kit was dead, in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. She couldn’t save her. She had saved Davey but she couldn’t save Kit. Penny was heartbroken. She knew she would never be good enough, not for this family with their high expectations.
But she couldn’t save everyone – how could they expect it of her? She was only a girl herself, not a queen or anyone’s mother. I’m not Penny the Good, she thought. Not good or brave or strong. She hated her family for imposing this burden. Hated herself for her inferiority, for not being able to live up to their ideals.”
Where does this burden of expectation come from? It’s a load so weighty it can rob a young girl of the very desire to live. A goal so high it becomes a dream destroyer. A demand so insidious it paralyzes with fear of failure. I do this to myself, I know I do. I couldn’t save my brother from taking his own life. A personality flaw in the highest.
Is there greatness in me? Is there greatness in me?