Friday, November 12, 2010

Picture perfect projects

The next 48 hours are blurry and the chronology is inexact for me. I know on Friday afternoon we packed up my Jeep and Andy drove me from Richmond down to my hometown of Norfolk. We thought about checking me into Norfolk General Hospital, and I tried to direct him to the hospital, but I was a babbling, dehydrated, frenzied mess. It was a good thing he had gassed up the Jeep, because we took some long, lost detours through Hampton Roads, Virginia.

I was still feeling overhyped and excited. Though seriously impaired, my brain seemed to be revealing things to me. Looking back, it smacked of hallucination, but to me it seemed I was getting a picture of an altered reality, or of a different dimension, or of a future time. Or all three.

Andy just kept driving and driving past some familiar landmarks. I was so tired that I could barely peek out from under my heavy lids, but I do remember this vision of heaven on earth distinctly: we passed a public housing project on the right, which had always looked run down and sad. The bricks were always mildewed, the grass was more dirt than grass, the people were weary and poor and hunched over with what seemed like bitter resignation. There were never any children outside. When we drove past the projects on that Friday in February, I saw beautifully manicured lawns, and graceful trees and bright flowerboxes and fluttering curtains and freshly painted doors and lots and lots of kids laughing and playing in the yards. The sun shone warmly and the sky was a pure and perfect Carolina blue. And the birds! There were brilliant songbirds of every color soaring and sailing and singing in the bright sun. And there were happy mamas and proud papas and friendly neighbors and lots of smiling and joking and carrying on. The kids in particular waved and beamed as we drove by, and I can remember the spotless white teeth set against the healthy black skin. It was as if the kids were saying “Come on over, join the party!” and because it looked like the happiest place I had ever seen I wanted to be with them. I would look back later and realize I was looking at the future, at what heaven on earth would look like.

But we had no time to join the picture perfect tableau. I was about to jump out of my skin. I was sure I was dying. Andy kept following my cryptic directions. For some reason we passed up the hospital and instead checked into the downtown Marriott. I would later find out that for someone in my position money is no object….irrational and exuberant spending are the norm. We just whipped out my credit card and checked in that afternoon. I knew my parents were due back the next day, and a hotel seemed like a safe place to light.

Within a few hours of checking in, I changed my mind. The hotel room seemed like a dark tomb, a tomb that yielded no sleep. Late that night, we left the hotel and drove to my parents’ house in the West Ghent neighborhood. I was simply delirious.

We went up to the guest bedroom and I fell on to the bed, beyond exhausted. This would be a long night.

I tried to sleep but I was clearly beyond sleep. I visualized myself as Jesus, come to earth 2000 years later to love those whom love forgot, to heal those hurt by human hands. To show everyone what unconditional love felt like. Because in spite of my sleep-deprived state, I felt an overpowering, all encompassing, unconditional love for every person on earth. I felt just like God, like I had 6 billion beautifully perfect but pained children, striving to find my love but not knowing where to find me or how to access that perfect love. I felt overwhelmingly blessed to feel this God-Love, but terribly sad to think there were those out there who were lost or longing, or hurt or forgotten, or sick or afraid. I hurt because everyone was still seeking that which I had found, and I wanted more than anything to give this love to them. I just didn’t know how.

For some reason, I fixated on young women with eating disorders. Though I never suffered from an eating disorder, I knew many who had. I envisioned myself living in a stately cottage on Cape Cod, and that anorexics and bulimics would come to my house to be healed. I saw myself saying “I love you, more than you can know. You are all beautiful, so beautiful, exactly as you are. There is nothing to be afraid of….I will never ever stop loving you. Love yourself as I love you and you will be healed. We all love you more than we can express.”

I also saw myself making the same promise to the worst criminals incarcerated in the nation’s maximum security prisons. I saw myself hugging them and holding their faces in my hands and looking them in the eyes and seeing all of their pain and hate and fear, and healing the parts of them that were hurting. I saw myself, loving the parts of them that no one else had.

As sick and scared as I felt, I also felt very, very lucky. Who would not feel lucky to be the one God chose to come save the world? What got me through the darkest of hours that night was my core belief in myself, in Hilary Elizabeth Martin. The twisted ego trip that christened me the Second Coming also gave me the faith in myself that would help me survive this night and many dark nights to come. If you think you have come to save the world, suicide becomes an impossibility. At my most severely depressed, when I would playfully flick at the edge of the boning knife and wonder how long it would take for me to bleed to death, I thought “There are too many people counting on me, and waiting for me, and starved for my message, to kill myself.” That egotism saved my life on many occasions.


  1. Hi Hilary. I love the way you write and am interested in hearing more about your experiences. Thanks for leaving your link at Flirting with Faith.


  2. Thank you so very much Joan. As a new writer, that is music to my ears. I hope you will keep reading and share with others.

  3. Will do. In the meantime, how are you feeling these days?


God, to have these guys in a room together again....