• Peggy Pepper

How to Be Hideously Human

Do you have idols? Not the golden calf kind. But the people kind. I have just a few.

They seem to possess certain of the same qualities.

They are the people who are messy and brave about the whole process of being human. They are utterly themselves.

They are the people who speak up for their beliefs or even risk looking stupid when things are murky (much to the relief of everyone else who found the same things confusing but were too afraid to look like an idiot.)

They are the ones who delight in the tiniest of things.

They live in the fine print of life and illuminate them for the rest of us.

We see the world with new eyes and hearts because of them. As twitched out as they may get, they still eventually remember they are just processing the latest evolution of their inner world as it deals with the world out there. They connect us to our own “I’m alright after all” button.

Yes they do.

No one does it better than best-selling author, Anne Lamott.

As she says, “Life is just too goddamn lifey sometimes.” And, as part of her process through the chards and gnarly bits, she gives herself permission to keep “feeling sad and damaged for a while because it is in the natural order of things.” Yes it is.

Committing to positivity as a way of life is not about “pretending” everything is fine, even though that’s often our conditioned “GO TO” in the first round of any ShitShow. The second round is feeling the depth of our feelings. It’s true.

Feelings felt fully end with peace.

Then from peace, comes clarity, new perspectives, and discernment. Finding our way back on the positive path has its very own path.

Don’t take my word for it. Anne describes it so much better than I can….I’m hoping to learn from her as she turns her head and heart, inside out…..in this article….to a place where we can all relate but would never have the guts to actually SAY IT out loud, much less…..put it down on paper, and then share it with the world on Facebook. But, that’s Anne.

This piece takes us to the “there” we have all been to but rarely share. Raw and Real. Much too good to store it in a file. It’s already been shared a couple of thousand times on Facebook….I just had to share the nitty-gritty wisdom and the stream of consciousness (more like a raging river) humor with you.

Ready. Set. Here She Is. Anne, being her best hideously, hilariously human self.


Miracles can be just awful, so painful and involving tears, not the cute dewdrop kind, but the wracking, snotty ones that leave you looking like Peter Lorre with poison oak.

I got my miracle yesterday, and the swelling is going down.

Wednesday, for reasons I won’t go into here, everything that could go wrong went wrong, mentally and in my most important relationships. While one friend got chemo, another broke a bone.

My life became an after-school movie.

I felt that all of life is shit and men are pigs and America cannot make a comeback, plus my mind is going and my body has turned into grandma pudding and I shouldn’t have had a child and the mysterious four-pound weight gain since Thanksgiving was almost certainly a massive abdominal tumor. I was in what they used to call “a state” when I was coming up, which meant with you were a walking Florida panhandle of self-righteousness victimization. Also, very sad, scared and lonely, which is the same thing.

First I did what one does if raised by the English: I put a smile on it. I stuffed down the victimized self-righteousness. I fluffed up the moral superiority. I did what my friend Marianne calls pouring pink paint over it all. And it was good. Until it wasn’t. The pain, fear and anger of the present began to shimmy inside me, in harmony, like a Goth girl group. So I came up with a plan, even though I know that if you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans. My plan was to eat my body weight in sugar and fats to numb out. I headed to Safeway to but three individually packaged servings of their great carrot cake, because buying and eating a whole cake would indicate a disorder. But I prayed the great prayer “Help!” and somehow bought sushi instead.

I went back home, where They lay in waiting. “They” were the people whose behavior had caused poor darling innocent me such distress. I am not going to name names but I was the younger sister to one of them, who told my parents “Take it back” when they brought me home from the hospital; gave birth to one of them; and married the other. If I were God’s west coast Rep, I would change their hearts so that they would come crawling to me, asking my forgiveness for their insensitivity, finally wanting to do the things and be the way that I am positive would make them less infuriating to others, ie me.

Regrettably, that does not seem to be the way miracles work.

I resent this more than I can say.

Instead, miracles seem to begin when all hope of one’s best thinking fails, and you are forced to tell someone (not the bad people) that you hate everyone and all of life. Horribly, you always see a dear friend love you anyway and in fact, love you even more, because of your pain and vulnerability. Being loved like that changes you molecularly.

Then you have to be what they call in English prisons “a personal well-being officer” to your own prisoner self. In English detective shows, a personal well-being officer helps you get gluten-free food so you are not violently ill all the time, or more books from the cart. I got more food and the new issue of People.

I let myself keep feeling sad and damaged for a while because it was in the natural order of things. Life is just too goddamn lifey sometimes. But I prayed, rather bitterly, for grace to meet me right where I was, because it always does, and to load me into its wheel barrel, because again, it always does, and wheel me away from the slag heap of teary, angry existential exhaustion.

And it did. It used a friend’s profound love—the main source of my religious faith—and the willingness to be in the truth of terrible feelings to bring me first to tears and then to loving and forgiving everyone, even (pretty much) me.

If that is not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

Now my plan is what my grandson’s 5th-grade class used to do every Thursday, on Condiments Day. Mustard was what each kid must do that day, ie turn in their history paper. Ketchup was what they needed to catch up on—studying the week’s spelling words, cleaning out their desk, whatever. And Relish was something they loved and had planned for or could improvise—reading a comic book while eating a snack, sitting outside on the bench with a best friend, giggling too loudly. So yeah, maybe I have the psycho-spiritual evolution of a ten-year-old, and yeah, I’ll take it. I really must start my taxes, catch up on emails, relish my little cloth-coat miracle of peace restored, and give thanks.


There. See what I mean? You’re welcome!


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