Hold Fast to Goodness

Type: Personal Essay Free Write | Date: May 4, 2022 | Author: Lala Jackson

A phrase I have tattooed on my rib: 
hold fast to goodness.

An alternative translation from its original Hawaiian: 
stand strong in your decisions made from truth and righteousness. 

The translation I latched onto at 19 was the “hold fast to goodness” one.

How fast does one have to hold to goodness to be worthy of its staying? 
With an anxious grasp at control? 
With the easy confidence of believing something is meant for me? 

In my best moments, I stand strong in the latter. But I swing toward the former.

The panic sits deeper now that I have great goodness to lose.

Goodness was not always a feature of my childhood, so now that it’s here, I cannot help but hold it in the way a toddler clutches a puppy, desperate to keep the squirming ball of energy from slipping her grasp. 

Good(enough)ness has not always been a feature of how I see myself — my character is delightful but I swing into feelings of being burdensome, the result of being a fatherless daughter with a chronic illness. So I am often wrought with panic, leading to sleepless nights. 

I find myself in the most loving relationship of my life, with the acute fear that — even with my managing to keep my anxiety grounded — something will happen with my health that will rob that goodness from us. Off-track him from the future he deserves because he, for some reason, chooses to stand with me. 

With the autoimmune disease I’ve lived with since I was 10. My inability to sleep. What feels like a quarterly foray into a new corner of healthcare — passing out, frozen joints, clumps of fallen out hair. MRIs, experimental drugs, the doctors appointments I’d rather never bring up.

Hold fast to goodness. 
I am grasping from fear of loss, rather than holding gratitude for what is here.

My heart gets the concept.
My soul dabbles in it. It’s unlearning old patterns. 
My brain? My blessed anxious brain. 

My blessed anxious brain doesn’t know how to hold fast. It knows how to clutch and claw and hold on like hell.

It knows the language of survival. Of resilience. Of getting through. Because every moment was one to keep myself alive through. 

Holding fast to goodness. 
Learning how to stand strong in the truth that I am worthy of it.