Saturday, April 24, 2010

Four-Leaf Clover

My daughter found a four-leaf clover. Of course she was thrilled. “Momma,” she shouted, “only like three people have found them in our time, right?”

According to my daughter’s scale, “our time” means the everything-post-dinosaur epoch. I nodded anyway, even though, according to sources, the likelihood is 1 in 10,000. But who cares when you have a daughter hooting and hollering over her find, which she found without even looking for it? You see, she’d been having a very bad day. Second grade betwixt and between girl drama— pinched arm, spilled bubbles, teased over her laugh, ostracized at recess. When I picked her up from school, she was sobbing; great drippy tears streaked her cheeks.

“Let’s move to the farm, Momma. The one in another state,” she said. “I want to go to a new school. I want to be homeschooled.”

So it was lovely serendipity later that afternoon: she rolled down the hill and landed in a patch of clover. Voila! The four-leaf clover was right beside her hand. On the way home, she waved it over my head in the car and whispered, “Please get me a new Webkinz.” (Webkinz: stuffed animals that have online counterparts; my daughter’s latest obsession.) Then she waved it over Christopher’s head and whispered, “Please get me a pack of GoGos.” (GoGos: cheap plastic inaction figures; her other, equal obsession.)

“A four-leaf clover brings you good luck,” I said. “It doesn’t Bippity Boppity Boo a new toy.”

“Oh,” she said, momentarily crushed, but then her face brightened. “So like today. I was having a bad day and now I’m happy again. I’m going to show it to everyone at school tomorrow and they’re going to be amazed!” Just like that, she was already imagining herself back in the classroom with her friends (and by extension, I wouldn’t have to teach her about the Revolutionary War and long division). Oh, beneficent, felicitous luck.

1 a : a force that brings good fortune or adversity b : the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual.

My daughter’s got the green force of good luck pressed between the pages of my Life Recovery Bible—given to me by a traveling minister who led a prayer service at Rosewood, the inpatient Eating Disorders treatment center where I spent the better part of two months. As providence would have it, the four-leaf clover lies within Psalm 25, which coincidentally contains these lines,

Turn to me and have mercy,
for I am alone and in deep
My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!...
Do not let me be disgraced, for in
You I take refuge.
May integrity and honesty
Protect me,
For I put my hope in you.

My skeptical self would say this is mere chance, but Dr. B. would say, as he has been saying recently, “No such thing as coincidence when it comes to you.” So I’ve been uncannily lucky or specifically chosen by the universe to receive this prayer, a disturbingly accurate depiction of where I am these days—in deep distress, struggling with ITs escalation, living in disgrace. Because of the Bipolar and Eating Disorder craziness, I am the source of shame, living outside of grace. Nothing more self-degrading, humiliating, and shameful than exploding in body-shaking, senseless anger in front of the kids or desperately trying to cut my arm with a too-dull knife or furtively vomiting, like some sick dog, behind a tree.

I’ve been relying on a more dangerous luck these days. Fingers crossed, in constant motion, trying my best to outrun IT. Failing. IT nips at my heels, lunges for my neck. There are my terrified backward glances, so I know IT has caught up with me once again. And yet, I so often go about my day without a plan, without the necessary weapons to do battle with IT. And in the Bipolar/Eating Disorder epoch, I need an arsenal at hand. What Dr. B. calls my toolbox. “What’s in it?” he asked me yesterday. “I hand you these tools and they just disappear.”

He’s right. I’ve been given an entire armory, and yet, on a day-to-day basis I forget to go in through those doors and select the weapon most appropriate for battle that day. I could choose to practice radical acceptance, call someone on my team and be honest about my struggle and ask for help, say a Lovingkindness meditation, admit powerlessness, and more importantly, believe that my life is unmanageable, give up control, yield to the IT free perspective of my team, get mad at IT instead of me, read through my anti-IT packet, distract myself from urges by: taking a walk, baking a cake, reading a book, saying what I’m thankful for, writing a blog, cleaning the house, playing with the kids, having sex, sitting in stillness and breathing. I could say, aloud, my list of mantras: I deserve to live. I deserve to love and be loved. I deserve to eat. I give up the right to punish myself. I have hope for myself. I want to live.

Instead, I make asinine statements like, “Luckily, I’m not dead yet.”

IT scoffs at luck, shreds the four-leaf clover, and says, fangs dripping, “Luckily, Kerry, I’m still after you.”

I don’t want to lose it anymore—like yesterday, panicked and crying and shaking over my own very bad day. I don’t want to lose my family, my mind, or my life. It’s time to lose IT and suit up in armor and defend myself with sword and dagger, mace and battering ram. With the four-leaf clover in my pocket, determination in my mind, and hope in my heart, I say aloud my battle prayer: May integrity and honesty protect me. And you. And all of us.


  1. Integrity IT cannot have. Nor the clover. Keep writing. Let's walk soon. B (not Dr., just amiga).

  2. I hopped on over from the comment you made on my blog (thanks!).

    It sounds like you're going through a lot right now. I so appreciate your openness and honesty as you are working through it all. Your words blessed me today!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog. sounds like you've had a tough journey!!

  4. I don't believe it was a coincidence your daughter found the clover, or that it was place beside Psalm 25.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing openly the tough time you are having.

    Wishing you well,


  5. Wow Kerry! Thanks so much for visiting me and leaving me a comment... I am honoured to meet you. I love the way you write, even though the subject can be difficult you tell your stories beautifully. Thanks for sharing and I hope to see more of you... our boats may be slightly different but I hear you loud an clear, and I relate. Luv and hugs from Simone

    PS following you now xx

  6. Hi, Kerry! Thank you for stopping by my blog today. I am so glad your little girl had a great day after she found the clover. Don't we wish we could just let go that easily and forget the bad day and start all over again fresh and new with just one small bit of luck?

  7. Kerry, It sounds like the 4 leaf clover was meant to be found by your daughter. It's amazing how, when you need God, he just always seems to be there ready to help. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I'm glad I found yours and had the chance to read through it.

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I truly appreciate your honesty. I have a brother with bipolar disorder and it is very hard to understand what he is going through. I am praying for you.
    I hope that you daughter has a great day today. I am a teacher and nothing irks me more than kids treating other kids badly. It is very infuriating especially when you see it happening as early as kindergarten nowadays. Thinking of you!