Updated: Mar 24
After my experience with trauma at the hands of intimate partner violence at age nineteen, I have been plagued with the question ‘what if’?
The anxious ‘what if’ list is long but if the worries were reduced to a three point sermon or neat and succinct bullet points, it would be read as follows:
◦ What if I am fatally flawed?
◦ What if I make everything worse?
◦ What if this was all my fault?
And like every good long-winded preacher, I would add the extra heavy-duty conclusive remarks to bring everyone to the altar with:
◦ What if I’m crazy all up in my head?
If you know, you know. If you resonate with the above questions, you get it.
If you don’t, thank your lucky stars.
Naomi Judd knew. She once said,
“I believe that whatever impairment God has bestowed upon me as a performer and public person is so that I may be a voice for others.”
She knew that the sexual abuse she experienced as a young child gave her an ‘impairment’. She knew the intimate partner violence she experienced at the hands of a romantic partner changed her. After those experiences, you might say she walked with a limp in her mind, her brain; even her body. She wrote the book and song by the same title, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope. How ironic for me that I should see that title displayed in a bookstore in Mayberry, NC just weeks after she ‘died of the disease of mental illness’ and woke one day, of many days, feeling hopeless.
Her husband knew she was ‘fragile’. Her daughter said she knew she was loved. Friends and family were actively tending to her and yet, her long list of ‘what ifs’ told her the same old lies.
I had already written this poem some seven weeks before her passing, and yet I felt it should be dedicated to her posthumously. Naomi Judd admitted to the world, freely, her vulnerabilities with mental health and mental struggles of depression and crippling anxiety.
Because when you know, you know.
Those of us who share our struggles like an open book are not trying to hide the human experience. We are sharing a part of us; our limp; our impairment — as it were— to give voice to those who find it hard to speak the darkness. And bring it to the Light.
And if you don’t understand what I’m trying to say from your own experience, thank your lucky stars.
I had really hoped to start a new ‘season’ of Sadie Speaks on a happier note as a sort of hoo-rah-rah for healing and hope which I believe in with all my heart. But I also had planned to start a series on ‘love’ which is to start back at the beginning of healing anyway. For,
Love heals all wounds.
Naomi Judd, born Diana Ellen Judd, also penned poems and songs to make sense of her past. She wrote,
"Love can build a bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a bridge
Don't you think it's time?
Don't you think it's time?"
The entire song is beautiful. The power of love. She knew she was loved. And she knew that love and only love is the bridge builder between human hearts.
And so, I dedicate this poetry to Naomi Judd, walked to heaven by the reading of Psalm 23. What comfort that 'surely, His goodness will follow me all the days of my life.' May she Rest In Peace.
And to all of us who know, let us thank our lucky stars, for Love. You are loved. If ever you feel fragile, you are loved. If ever you feel crazy all up in your head, you are loved. If ever you are tempted to die of the disease of mental illness, you are loved.
We only have a short time with our loved ones. Cherish them.
Shower the people you love with love//Show them the way that you feel//Things are gonna be much better, if you only will //James Taylor
What if I’m crazy
All up in my head
What if I give in
To the fears and the dread
What if I believe
All the lies being said
What will I feel
When I’m alone in my bed
What will I suffer
When I’m no longer the ‘open book’ to be read
What will my epitaph say
When I’m dead
All the illusions gone
All the facades struck down
All one’s life reduced to a eulogy
On a random afternoon
At the funeral salon
All the sins heaped into one pile
All the piles heaped into one square mile
All the miles heaped into a AAA TripTik
On a random afternoon
Lying still, at the end of the parlor aisle
Wishing them back
Now that they’re dead
Asking the good Lord
To forgive their sins in the grave
‘Cause you couldn’t do it here
While they lived, brave
And the music will start
And the pastor will read
And the memories will flood
And the grief won’t sub-cede
And the organ will pipe out
A melancholy equal to the deceased
It will croon the lyrics of her life
Like an engine, well-greased
What if she was crazy
All up in her head?
Did she really give in
To the fears and the dread?
Did she believe all the lies being said?
Did she know she was loved, instead?
What if she felt alone
In her bed
What if she suffered like a closed book, never read
What if she feared what they’d say
When she was dead
Did she know she was truly loved, instead?
Death stings like a reality
you wish was a dream
It’s honest and frank
And wildly revealing
All one’s life reduced To a pile of sins,
Priorities for a day,
And for the one, crazy,
all up in her head
For the sweet granny-saint
Holding hands by her bed
To every single person
Made in the image of the Great-Risen-from-the-Dead
There will come a day to reckon
And I wonder
As I always do
Up in my crazy head
Will I be loved, instead?