I’m not going to lie, finding “me” time was already difficult before COVID-19. When the kids were in school, I was “just” juggling their school, bus, after school activities, while … Continue reading Finding Time for Me in the Age of COVID-19
A Little Bit More
Days bleed one into the next and the next and the next My laughter mingles with the salt of my tears as tiredness walks hand-in-hand with the joys of being all … Continue reading A Little Bit More
In the Quiet
In the quiet of the night That billowy deep silence Where the creaks creaking And the distant horns beeping Are shadows of sounds That deepen The lulling Quiet And in … Continue reading In the Quiet
Ten Years and some change
So my husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary. It was the most fun we’ve had in quite some time. We ate, we drank, we walked by the beach and marveled at how far we’ve come.
All in all, the last ten years have been nothing short of amazing. My love for my husband has grown over the years – I have seen him emerge from his teenage years into a responsible, caring, silly man. And now, seeing him with our daughter and pursuing his dream to be a doctor? Well, that love has become even more intense. He can still make me laugh, even as he drives me insane.
On a completely different note, my own life seems to have gotten a bit off track.
I am not really a medievalist anymore. I like to say I am, but I don’t live, breathe, and eat the medieval world and literature any more. I am not reciting Old English to begrudging college students like I once imagined I would be doing at this stage in my life. My dreams of being a writer are, well, active, sure, but I am not being paid to write (not yet, at least).
What happened? Where did that spark, the love of all things old and medieval go? Nowhere. It’s still here. It all comes down to money – I don’t have it!
Then, these last few weeks, well, I’ve just been feeling tired. Not a type of tired that sleeping will cure. It’s been a bone-tired, stretched-too-thin exhaustion, that has made me feel close to breaking. Is it pushing myself to read and write, being a mom, and working full time, and just feeling like I’m not quite doing anything justice? Is it fear of what may come, what might not come, and the failure that now is so much closer?
Perhaps. Or, maybe it’s that I feel like I’m spending a lot of time on things that don’t really matter. I’m watching my daughter grow up and I feel like I’m missing it. I get back from work and I am too wiped out to write, recently, or do much of anything.
Maybe it’s just that I truly needed this vacation. Vacations are good for the soul after all, and this one certainly has been. It’s let me get back in touch with me, not the tired, frazzled, cranky person I felt I’ve become become. I feel like I need to let myself become more grounded and centered again. I need to find that focus on the positive in life, rather than how short I am falling from where I want to be. Or stressed by those things outside of my control.
All in all, I’m feeling a lot more at peace, thanks to a vacation and visiting family. I have a lot of self-discovery and struggling to do, but that’s okay. I’ll figure it out. Or I won’t. And that’ll be okay, too.
A Grieving Love
So, I was a pretty morbid kid. By all rights, I’m a pretty morbid adult. As a kid in 4th grade, my first novel was a horror/fantasy novel by Dean Koontz, called Twilight Eyes. By the time I completed 5th grade, I had read almost everything Dean Koontz and Stephen King had published (except “It” – as a ten-year-old girl reading about the rape of a 10-year-old girl… I had to wait more than a decade before I was able to pick that book up again). As an adult, I enjoy writing horror and graphic violence doesn’t bother me.
I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about the person I want to be for Amara. It’s been a constant journey, one that started as soon as Nick and I decided we wanted to have a child. Now that she’s here and becoming a little person so fast, it’s all the more real. I need to start modeling better behaviors for her, so she can see me trying to be the best person I can be.
The other day, feeling completely at peace and zen-like (possibly because Amara was still asleep and I had a full night’s sleep and coffee), I stepped out of the shower, and suddenly remembered a poem I memorized as a kid with my older sister:
by Nora Perry
What silences we keep, year after year
With those who are most near to us, and dear!
We live beside each other day by day,
And speak of myriad things, but seldom say
The full, sweet word that lies within our reach
Beneath the common ground of common speech.
Then out of sight and out of reach they go —
Those close, familiar ones who loved us so;
And, sitting in the shadow they have left,
Alone with loneliness, and sore bereft,
We think with vain regret of some fond word
That once we might have said and they have heard.
This is the cruel cross of life — to be
Full visioned only when the ministry
Of death has been fulfilled, and in the place
Of some dear presence is but empty space.
What recollected services can then
Give consolation for the “might have been”?
For those of you who know me, you’ll probably notice I apologize a lot and say “thank you” a lot. For those of you who’ve known me a while, then, you’ve probably heard me say “I love you”, because, heck, I do. If you’ve tolerated me for more than a few years, then by, gosh, you can bet I think of you fondly.
I am thankful for all the tools that shaped me to be the kind, compassionate, and loving (if very flawed) person I believe I am (ok, endeavor to be) today.
But a love based on loss is a grieving love. It predicts the end – it knows and fears what will come (not what may come). If loss is your center, the end will always be inevitable. It knows all joy is fleeting, and is waiting for the final hammer to fall. All relationships are tumultuous. But I want more than to be waiting for the end. I want the joy I have in each friendship, each moment, I want that to be my center. I want to express love simply so each person knows that they are loved, not because I fear that I may never have a chance to express that love again, in the worst of worst worlds.
My daughter, my husband, my siblings, my daughter’s godparents, my in-laws, my friends – they all have my love, and I find joy and peace in that now. There is no sadness or worry anymore.
Just joy. So, thank you, Nora, for giving me focus, but I won’t be needing you anymore. I won’t be afraid of the might-have-beens anymore, because I am living in the here and now. From here on, I will do my best to just be.
Sooooooo, it’s been a while. Sorry! (Not that those who read this are generally missing much.) Sickness has plagued my house, but we’re finally through the colds, ear infections, then repeat of the colds. Oh my, is being sick tiring! I haven’t been this sick since, well, I don’t know. I guess when I was pregnant and had kidney stones. I’d like to not repeat that. It was akin to the pain of labor, but without the joy (or the constant uncomfortable feeling that a BM was nearly imminent, which to me tipped labor into being a little more unpleasant).
Anyway, draft two of Waking Dreams is coming along. Slowly, but coming along. My writing group is kicking back into gear for the school year, so hopefully the final draft of Waking Dreams will be polished by Summer of 2013. *fingers crossed* Although, this is a hobby, so my general rule of thumb for the things I enjoy is pretty simple: Don’t set strict timelines for the things you enjoy – they quickly become an obligation and lose their sparkle. And if you know me, you know I like me some sparkle! It’s funny – I like shiny things, I just don’t like wearing shiny things. I’m the magpie that collects shinies to look at.
Life is going really well. Grampa Phil’s health is improving after a post-op scare in the hospital, Hubby is enjoying his new job, I’m enjoying my work, and I’m enjoying my favoritest job of all: being a mommy. It’s amazing how being a mom has completely changed my priorities. I don’t mean to sound cheesy (although I realize that’s impossible to avoid), but it’s absolutely true. I don’t stress about work (as much), I don’t worry so much that people may not like me, or fret that I suck at the greater part of social niceties. Because, frankly, who gives a s&*t? My little girl is happy, healthy, and growing into a sweet, beautiful, laughing little girl. I love visiting her on my lunch breaks because it just lifts my mood the rest of the day. If I succeed in that one job, then life is golden. That being said, I’ve been given a temporary little promotion at work that is also amazing. I had forgotten how much nicer it is to do slightly more complicated and varying tasks. It makes work much more enjoyable, so I’m going to savor every single moment of this temporary position!
I’d like to say that I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about sucking, but, well, I’d be lying. When you feel like you’re the odd duck all the time, it’s much easier to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. I used to feel like if a group of my friends arranged a gathering without me, that that reflected poorly on me – that there was something wrong with me that they didn’t want to hang out with me too. Now, I realize, it’s okay not to be invited to everything. There are different vibes to every gathering, and small gatherings allow for a greater intimacy. If we invited all our friends to every gathering, well, we’d never get to actually find out what’s going on with folks!
Of course, as a mom, I’m still finding that balance of me-family-friends, oh my! I think my sanity is finally coming back, and a lot of that is, as I posted previously, just letting go.
As it stands? I couldn’t be happier with life. I am an incredibly lucky lady.
On Darkness, Negativity, and Other Broken Things
Okay, I had intended this blog to be solely my writing blog, something to help keep me motivated in my endeavors to write… But after quite a few responses offline and conveyed to me by TMiYC (The Monster In Your Closet) about my previous post (When you know a friendship is toxic), I now realize that there may be some merit in actually posting my own personal musings. Or perhaps all that internal dialogue may be useful to others… (And, yes, I used “dialogue” intentionally – it would be a monologue if it was one voice, instead of a myriad clammering simultaneously:”Why did you say that?” “Why did you x?” “Should you have done y instead?” “What if this choice has z effect?”)
Perhaps this blog can help quell those doubt-filled voices in my head. Or air them out to dry, so they’re out in the open and I can see them for what they are and not let those niggling doubts drag me down. Especially since I am a mom and my choices now effect that precious squealing ball of happiness that is currently napping spread-eagled in her crib.
Since I posted about NPD, I have felt as if this huge weight has been lifted from my chest. But that has more to do with my being open and acknowledging that I have negative feelings about someone. And that’s okay. For some reason, I have always hated speaking negatively about anyone. Whether they deserve it or not. I do want to be really clear about something – the friends I have, the real ones who are not NPD? You will never meet a more amazing, loving, thoughtful group of people. These are the people who banded together to bring me and my family food when my mom was dying, who took me to coffee, went on long walks, or just hugged me and let me cry during that period and YEARS before that when I finally confronted the fact that my mom was struggling with a mental illness that could no longer be ignored. Some of these friends may be a generation or two older than me, but that age difference does not change the fact that they have my admiration, love, and respect. Nor does it change the fact that they rock my socks off.
My discomfort about “rocking the boat” was really my fear of making a messy, awkward situation for my friends. Combine that fear with my discomfort saying anything negative about others? There is so much darkness and drama in the world, and I hate to cause any drama unnecessarily.
Perhaps it may help if I laid all my cards on the table. I was the victim of abuse. Sometimes, it seems so long ago and far away, I feel like it happened to a different person. A different little girl.
I watched my dad beat my mom on several occasions. I hid under the bed when he broke the bedroom door down to get at her. On one occasion, my cheek got cut when my mom tried to grab a wire hanger from the closet to defend herself (and she didn’t realize I was hiding in the closet at the time). I witnessed her get beaten while she was pregnant, and only later learned that I would have had one more brother had it not been for that attack. I am 32 years old and I still cringe when I hear people raise their voices in anger.
Add that to watching my mother slowly lose her battle with a mental illness that made her increasingly paranoid such that I often lost friends because they looked at her wrong… Well, you can bet that I will probably be the last one to speak up if something is bothering me. I am so used to compartmentalizing, because, heck, how the hell was I supposed to know what was normal growing up? I got used to playing the peacekeeper with mom – stepping in and telling her that her long-time friend and my godmother was not trying to insinuate she was a second class citizen by saying or doing x, y, or z. No, the pastor didn’t intentionally look at her at x point in the sermon. He was looking at everyone. It was gut-wrenching stress for a child, but it was what I knew.
Then there was the other thing – the thing I used to never mention for fear of people finding out just how broken I was. Starting in the 3rd grade, I was molested by a family friend. For years, I told the court and my mother that he had threatened to hurt my mom and siblings, and that’s why I didn’t tell anyone that it was happening. This man came into my mother’s house (before the mental illness had really even done more than make her unpredictably irritable) and pretended to be a friend to her while assuming the role of the gentle father to me. My mom was elated. Finally, a father figure was taking interest in her second daughter ! The daughter whose actual father never remembered her (the same father showed up on her 7th birthday to take the older, favored daughter shopping for My Little Ponies. (Thank you, TMiYC for sharing them with me!). This guy, hereafter dubbed “Pervert” (as an homage to my mom who yelled this loudly while pointing at him whenever she ran into him on the street, in the library, or at a restaurant), used my mom’s brokeness against me. After that first time, when he touched me (and I knew it was a “bad touch” because my mom had told me about it), he asked what it would do to my mom if she knew what he’d done? How would she feel if she knew just how unwanted she was, that he chose me over her? Wouldn’t it hurt her, break her to know what she had let happen to her child?
I was very good at putting on a game face. My mom didn’t suspect a thing for years. Pervert and mom drifted apart naturally, and I couldn’t have been happier. I got to be a kid and do kid things without feeling like I was living double lives. My mom had finally kicked my dad to the curb, and he had finally been forced by the State to pay child support, so my mom wasn’t terrified of losing the house.
It wasn’t until I was 10 and at the Country Fair when Mom went to go get me lemonade and returned to find me sitting cross-legged on our blanket, looking up at someone with absolute terror etched across my face. She dropped the lemonade and dragged me and all our things immediately back to the car with no more than a “Get away from my daughter” as a greeting to the Pervert. Over a course of several days, she asked me repeatedly and quietly, “What did he do to you?” When I insisted he didn’t do anything, she refused to believe me. I had no idea what to say – what was I supposed to say? When I was 7 I started lying because I was afraid to hurt you? You were happy for the first time, and dad wasn’t hurting you anymore and all I wanted was for you to laugh and smile, because when you were laughing and smiling the world could be whatever we dreamed it could be?
In the end – I broke. I told her everything, with the slight tweak on my own little lie. And I watched with a broken heart as her world crumbled and shattered around her. She had given up everything, worked multiple jobs at the same time, buckled under her own feelings and accepted food stamps (she hated charity), pushed to get each one of us into alternative schools so we could have every opportunity, and then this. The Pervert was right. Where Dad had failed, he had won. She broke and she broke hard. Did she hit me when I finally confessed, like somehow the D.A. convinced her she had? Hell, no. She held me, cried and said “I’m so sorry, my poor baby” over and over again. The crying didn’t stop for several weeks. The number of times I heard “I’m a terrible mother” coming from her room, sometimes punctuated by a dull and rhythmic thud as she hit her head against the floor, well… That broke me. For many many years, I carried a guilt around with me. I blamed myself, not the Pervert. I should have told her after that first time, my so much smarter ten-year-old self tried to tell my seven-year-old self. It was the years of letting it happen that was what destroyed her. I had broken my mom where my dad had failed. Little me and my big lies.
Counseling helped, and boy did my mom choose a good counselor. But nothing helped quite so much as the entry into my life of one person who believed in me so fully, and whose gentle support and guidance helped me learn to believe in myself. I don’t know how a 17 year-old boy possessed the wisdom, grace, humor, and comfort to bring the solitary Rambler out of hiding, but he did. I am forever grateful to the love of my life, my husband, for that.
As a sidenote, I never did tell my mom about that big/little lie. Even as I held her hand and she breathed her last breath., there was always that lie between us. The guilt created a huge gap that I didn’t know how to bridge. Right before she succumbed to a three year bout where she gave in to her mental illness completely, and barely recognized us, my mom had walked up to me and begged me for forgiveness. I blithely hugged her, laughed and told her she didn’t need my forgiveness. She was my mom, I loved her, and she had done nothing that needed forgiveness. She looked at me with such sorrow, that it haunts me still. She begged that someday I would find it in my heart to forgive her, and everyone who hurt me, because forgiveness was so important. I wish I had said the words she so needed to hear. I didn’t understand what she wanted me to forgive, but she needed it. How hard is it to say “I forgive you”?
Anyways, this is a rather dark post because I have, like so many people out there, lived through some dark times. It has made me who I am. Am I emotionally scarred? Sure. We all have our scars, whether we choose to hide them, bare them, or flaunt them. I used to cling to positivity like a lifeboat. I had to believe people could change. I hated how much people talked about my mom, and rather than lending a helping hand, they pulled her down with criticism. I hate to feel like I could be one of those people, standing on the sideline and judging someone as they struggle. It just feels ugly to dwell on anything negative. Add to that all the doubt of “is this just me being sensitive because of all this baggage?” The simple truth of it is that there is ugliness out there. Just as I try to deal with in my novel, there is darkness out there. It hides within us all, and we get to choose how much of it we let in and influence who we are and who we will be. While I may often choose not to comment on those glimpses of shadows I may observe in others, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. It doesn’t change the fact that I know it’s there.
I know now that speaking about it won’t make me a worse person. If anything, it makes me a stronger person.
– The Rambler laid bare