Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Nobility of the Mundane

As I sit to write this, I've just received a series of messages from my soul mate. She resides in a castle in the Hills of Nichols, yet she intuitively knows when I need her.  She has produced the softest tears in me. They are flowing steadily but without the twisted, painful emotion that would usually accompany them. I've been beaten and broken and left for dead in so many ways; yet, this moisture runinng from my eyes, down my neck and into my clothing feels as if it could, just possibly, be cleansing me.

I wipe my neck and then notice I have soaked the keyboard with my fingers. The thought occurs to me, are  my tears being transmitting electronically through this post?

When I awoke this morning, I wasn't sure where to begin. What do I do now? Should I be working on the large trees that fell into my house or should I be working on me.  Should I write, should I walk, what should I do to begin to feel human again?

Then her first message arrived, in a Jacob Marley-esque manner, forewarning me she would be sending three thoughts to me today. They began to arrive at slow, thoughtful intervals.

Message One:  Keep waking up.  Many would be in more pain than you feel now without you.

Message Two:  This time, suffering and pain brings a lesson.  Be with it, ask it questions. Listen. Learn. Pain is the crucible that brings peace.

Message Three:  While you are 'being' with the pain, remember the repetitive meditation of the ordinary. Start a load of laundry, clean the kitchen sink. Watch Nemo or Top Gun. Find the comfort and nobility of the mundane.

I sometimes wonder if it's easier to find nobility in the mundane when you live in a castle and not a house with trees in it but I must believe the universe has gone to great lengths to bring these lessons to me. The sharp popping, cracking sound at 2am that split one tree in half and hurled it into my house, and then the fifty foot tall, majestic hickory tree that was pulled from it's roots, leaving not so much as a stump of evidence that it once stood there came thundering across the fence line at 3am. I sat up in bed when I felt my house shake, looked up to the sky and said one word to God, "Seriously?".

You see, the trees were not the worst thing that happened to me this week.

My friend may reside in a castle but it's really just a fancy nest. She made it that way by always being able to find the nobility of the mundane. She found it while staring down the same demons that have possessed me. She found it while standing strong against the storms of family turmoil and gail force winds that try to take you down when you watched loved ones dying. She found it when trees were falling, not on her home but in her mind. And she brought these reminders to me today.

That was an hour ago, and the tears haven't stopped. It makes so much sense. All I have to do is start with a load of laundry, or perhaps take a shower to wash the smell of quiet yet anguished desperation off my body. Then I will simply accept and be with my lessons until the tall trees in my mind have been stripped of their leaves, branches and bark in order to make way for new growth, tiny buds of hope and the promise of a new life.

I got it Universe, I am listening. In fact, you have my full attention. Now strip me bare, cut me down to size then let me commence to grow into the direction of the sun this time, for I am so very tired of the dark.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Aunt Saran Wrap Commitment

Last night I was using Saran Wrap to cover left overs from dinner (a fantastic pasta, smoked salmon and vegetable dish, by the way). The result was, as usual, a taught, clear and well organized film of Saran Wrap beginning at one end of the rectangular dish that slowly digressed into a series of lumps and wads of that shit at the other end of the dish.

This particular Saran Wrap experience ended in cussing, consternation and contemplation of my Great Aunt Mary Maxine. I pretty much could just call her "Aunt Saran Wrap". Not only because she used to make fun of me when I was a girl because I couldn't properly handle Saran Wrap, but also because she is so like Saran Wrap. She starts out, upon first sighting, as a taught, clear and well organized woman. Her clothing always matches. She still maintains, at age ninety-two, whatever her hairdresser tells her is the most modern hair cut and color. She wears giant, black and bug-like Jackie O. sunglasses that are, thank goodness for her, back in style. She walks as if being carried to the party upon a well carpeted litter on shoulders of her minions was 'just too much'.

But, just like Saran Wrap, she quickly digresses into a series of lumps and wads once you get within ten feet of her. She snarls the word stupid at those who cannot beat her at a game of cards, curls her lip and tells people to their face that they are fat and their hair looks like a bird's nest, and is angered to the point of spittle shooting from her lips if her host or hostess doesn't notice she's in need of a refill of scotch.

Last night, looking at the lumps and wads of Saran Wrap at the 'bad' end of my dish, I thought,

"If I believed in a God I would curse Him for the creation of Aunt Mary Maxine and Saran Wrap. I would rip this Saran Wrap from this dish, wad it up, walk with purpose and strength across this kitchen floor in a way that would insure every living being in the house knew something was going on in the kitchen, slam my foot down on the lever that lifts the trash can lid, and slam the wad of Saran Wrap into the trash. I would then walk with continued purpose and sound back to the counter, yank the dish from it, walk with purpose and sound to the kitchen door, slam it open, stomp onto the back porch, release a primal scream, and heave the dish into the woods behind the house."

This, of course, led to me standing quietly at the kitchen counter and staring down at the lumps of Saran Wrap on my dish. I sighed. I closed my eyes. I thought about a commitment I made to myself long ago. It goes something like this:

"Mongo, here's the deal - any time you are putting Saran Wrap on a dish and it causes you to think of Aunt Mary Maxine, understand you are having a very bad day. Just get with that. Understand that it's not about the Saran Wrap. It's not about Aunt Mary Maxine. Yes, she is a cranky, crusty, cruel crone that you were probably afraid of her from the time you were an infant and she leaned in close to get a good look at you and soured your entire crib with the smell of rotten scotch. Stop thinking about Saran Wrap and Aunt Mary Maxine immediately. Move. Go. Point your brain cells in another direction - the real direction of what's bothering you."

As much as I would like to tell that commitment to go fuck itself, I cannot deny it is right on track. It has never failed me did not fail me yesterday. The moment I remembered it and my brain cells were pointed in another direction - the real direction of what was bothering me - I acknowledged that I was indeed having a very bad day.

I suspect I am having another one today, but it's a bit early to tell. I suppose the best way to find out is by opening up the refrigerator and looking at the lumps and wads of Saran Wrap on that dish to see if it causes me to feel insufficient and think of Aunt Mary Maxine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Get in the Game

Note: This started as a comment to Rassles post, but it was too long so I had to post it.

Ok Rassles, I am going to tell you the truth as I know it. Be forewarned, this is my truth and doesn't apply to everyone, I am certain there are countless examples of the contrary.

In high school, I was every guys friend but nobodies girlfriend. I was the cool girl that got invited to boys only camping and boys only poker but alas, I didn't get poked. I got attention for my big boobs but that was about it. I was like a size 10 when every other girl(it seemed) was a size 4. I was hugely self-conscious in part because I got my boobs way too early. In college, I met a nerd who was a late bloomer like me and he was a good guy but very inexperienced in dating and he wore me out getting him to be a good boyfriend. Then I had a handful of other boys here and there, though at times I felt like I was kind of getting the dregs.

Then I moved to California where being a now size 12 made me virtually undateable. It was way worse then the Midwest dating scene, I felt invisible. Then I got sick of it, maniacally dieted and worked out to get to a size 6 and holy shit, they all came out of the woodwork. I had more dates then I could keep up with. I got attention at bars, my friends who were used to me being the wingwoman were getting pissed that I was getting attention. Still, most of the guys were idiots, there were just more of them. I learned to maintain a more reasonable weight/size(8) and did the internet dating thing actively(being in another city from where I went to college, I didn't have a large social network to meet people). After a handful of goombas, I met my husband.

Now he loves me, the real me, but I will concede as much as he is a good guy who is attracted to real women, it was my looks that got him first. Not that I am a major beauty but my looks appealed to him, I was petite, blonde hair, cute face, big ass, all the things he likes.

Of course years into marriage, kids, I am back to a rounded 12 but he doesn't care, because we like the same things and get each others humor, we judge people together, have a secret language and a secret handshake.

My point isn't that you have to be a size 6 but the truth is that men are attracted visually, and yes, I think you have to put yourself out there and try, it's like wrapping a present and it's retarded but it does seem to make a difference. Maybe it's about capturing their attention long enough for them to get to know you.

I know you don't need a guy to be happy but I also know that my life with an awesome co-pilot is way better than when I was single, way harder too with the kids and all the grownup responsibility but I feel privileged to have met the right guy, thinking that there just wasn't anyone out there who could handle me.

It's ok to want a guy, it's ok to be horny, it's ok to put an effort into looking attractive, you are a girl so it's kind of a biological starting point. You have the self worth and presence to not let someone treat you like crap and you are comfortable enough being uncoupled to not reel in just any guy, that is a really good place to be.

Be yourself, you will be somewhere, railing about something and some guy listening to you is going to light up and be taken in by your feistyness. I know it sounds trite but there is someone for everyone, I think the internet has taught us that.

At one particularly difficult point in my single days I was crying to my mom about how boys sucked and I was never going to find someone I liked or who liked me and that I was lonely but unwilling to couple just for the sake of not being alone. She said to me, and I never forgot it because it ended up being completely true,

"I see it as clearly as I see my hand in front of me, you are going to meet someone and fall in love and it is going to shock the hell out of you because you won't even see it coming, and when you finally find him, you will wonder why you ever worried about it."

I see the same thing for you Rossi, you are just too dynamic and challenging and interesting not to find someone who wants to look at your stupid face every morning and roll his eyes while you make your lists or offer you a footrub to make the stroganoff or extol your trivial genius to one of his friends. But I also remember the stupid adage about the guy who keeps praying every night to win the lottery and after several weeks God booms down from the heavens, son, you need to at least BUY a ticket. You have to put yourself in the game.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not My Battle To Fight

Last weekend we drove a few hundred miles down the Natchez Trace Parkway to visit my husband's favorite uncle and aunt in Jackson, Miss. The uncle has always been a bit of a mentor for my husband and they email regularly.

They're in their 80s now and not in the best of health. He was always energetic and robust, but developed a lung condition that requires supplemental oxygen at times. She suffered a stroke in January. She's made a good recovery, but is frail with upper arms the size of my wrist.

Their only child lives half a country away in Connecticut.

I've always been aware of his chauvanism and conservative political leanings, but this time they just got to me more than others.

"Hon," he'll say to his wife as we're sitting outside, "the Wall Street Journal is sitting on my desk in the office."

That's her cue to jump up and fetch him the paper.

"Hon, I think some chocolate ice cream" he says while she's clearing the dinner dishes.

Those are the obvious manifestations of his nature. There were others...

The week before, he had been in a traffic accident which very well may have been his fault according to what he told my husband. Now he's nervous about driving. (But won't admit it.) Because of her stroke, my aunt is taking blood thinners and the slightest bump causes her to bleed. My husband noticed that she had been wearing the same bandage for two days and inquired. She told him she was out of bandages, but didn't want to trouble her husband to drive her to the store (she can't drive). Naturally my husband took her to the pharmacy immediately and helped her stock up.

Because my uncle can't stand to be cool, the air conditioning stays at 80 degrees without regard for anyone else's comfort.

They've moved to a downstairs bedroom so we stayed upstairs in the master suite. When I got into the bed that night, I almost rolled right out--the box springs were broken and I hate to think of how long my aunt slept there uncomplainingly. I know that was her side because the air conditioning vent over the other side was closed.

But I think the thing that got to me most was when we were walking to the car on Sunday morning to go to church. He walked right up to my car and got in the front seat like he owned it. It's such a small thing, but it pissed me off beyond belief.

"I'll get in back," I muttered, knowing he'd never hear me because he's deaf as a post. After church we had an amazing breakfast with other parishioners. The men at the table kept up a lively conversation with my husband about his work. No one even asked about my job.

As much as I wanted to challenge him and tell him to get his own fucking ice cream, I didn't. It wasn't worth it. He's been this way for 84 years. In fact, the only time I questioned one of his pronouncements was when he called Clinton a draft dodger. My husband and I both jumped on that one.

What I wonder is whether or not the aunt ever wished for something different. She's never had to work outside the home and has always had housekeepers and gardners to take care of things. Did she trade her ambitions for financial security? Did she ever even have any ambitions? I wonder if he was this way when they first married or did the behavior increase along with his bank account?

This good woman would never, ever, consider herself abused. But I'm not so sure. I believe that if you asked her, she would profess perfect happiness with her husband and her life.

But I'm not so sure.

Monday, September 13, 2010

When It Comes to Long Smooth Stretches of Thought, I Always Go Off Road

There's no part of me that wants to say I'm different, but it's true. Of course, everyone says they are different. Everyone thinks they're special.

But the problem lies in their understanding of the concept of different, because if everyone who believes they are different gives the exact same fucking reasons, all we got are packs of liars. Their version of different has been defined by romantic comedies and crappy novels, where people are different because the author says so.

People, by the way, fucking love to tell me all about how different they are. They all roll their eyes hide their face with their hands and howl some bullshit about wanting to be normal, about how they're different because they haven't found A Job or The One, they do not Have Children or even Want Children, they have No Direction, they just Want To Travel and because of these things they feel like they Don't Belong. Then they get all frustrated with me when I laugh at them, because being different isn't the same thing as being unhappy. Idiots. Everyone feels those things at one point.

Of course, I'm reasoning from the perspective of a girl on the brink of thirty (problem: I still consider myself a 'girl' because 'woman' sounds dumb and 'lady' sounds silly) and I'm examining people that more or less fit snugly into my demographic, because it's what I know. Or at least they jigsaw niche-ly around my demographic.

And you, the readers, have levels of insight, evidence, and intimacy that I will never grow into, and I just hope you don't say things along the lines of, "you're young" or "it never goes away" or "don't worry, you'll get there" because these are very general terms of semi-encouragement that really help no one, that people use when they want to respond and they can't think of anything else to say because they're honest lies that stem from misunderstanding the problem in the first place and assuming that the answers are mysteriously evident when the problem is this:

Everything inside of me wants to scream out my differences, but I'm afraid. What if they just make me more of the same, and even typing this sentence makes me more of the same and you tell me everyone feels this way?

But I know I'm different from other people: whenever I let out something true, something honest, I'm countered with either the aforementioned general terms of semi-encouragement, or pause and confusion. Nothing is more frustrating than having people you trust trivialize and blunder over your supreme honesty.

Sometimes, though, they cast their eyes down and I can smell their guilt and embarrassment, and I'm met with some variety of, "you shouldn't feel that way" or "I didn't expect you to say that" or "why do you always have to be bizarre" or "snap out of this, because I don't know how to deal with it." Welcome to my fucking dimension, asshole. And I mean every word I write. Please believe this, and do not misunderstand.


Someone was shocked by me last weekend (surprise!), and I got that bullshit "I've never met a chick who appreciates the importance of fucking blahgiddy blahgiddy blahgiddy damn that is so hot why can't more women whatever" line, the line I get all the time, the one that is usually followed up by "how are you single? when are we getting married?" which is another bullshit line, and in the two seconds following that sentence my brain knotted and unraveled into annoyed understanding, because all at once Jeff was knocking women, specifically his wife, for not reading the right books; he insinuated that I, as a woman, can only offer sex appeal and that the highest compliment he could pay to me was offering marriage because that's what women desire; he lied about his feelings toward a woman's place, because if he wanted more women to be like me he wouldn't have married one that isn't (and she is definitely not); and he implied that something was secretly wrong with me because I am not in a relationship.

So I laughed at him, and explained why I wouldn't marry him for the reasons above.

And he laughed, and said, "Okay, that's why you're single."

"No, most of my options are idiots who think like you."

"See, you're thinking about it too much. I wouldn't have said anything if I knew you were going to go all bitch femi-nazi."

Now that makes me scoff and smile and walk away. "Dude, your brain? Is a fucking mess."

That's the kick, right there. I think too much. I am overreacting because I think too much. How am I overreacting by logically evaluating the implications of his words? It's not like I sat around an obsessed over it for two hours. He spoke, I reacted immediately. I wasn't angry about it, just kind of annoyed, like when someone takes too long at a cash register.

I told an acquaintance the story. She agreed with Jeff the Married Guy. "Well, he's right. This is why you're single. If you stopped getting mad about stupid little things--"

"Dude. Stop." I smiled at her. "The issue here is not me being single. The issue is the fact that this guy is an idiot and the conversation didn't make sense because--"

"But you know, I mean, if you just stopped thinking so much--"

And then she went on to talk about trying to find a boyfriend or something.

Do you see what makes me different? No one believes me, because conversations always digress into this. Always. And I am rarely the person to bring it up. Except for on the internet, because this is my place to vent about bullshit that my friends don't want to hear.

Are any of you single? I don't think so.

Not all single women are jonesin' to be in a relationship. But for everyone I have ever met ever, any problem I have has to boil down to a relationship, all the time, because I am single. Because I'm the type of person that comes up with a bajillion examples for everything and if one of them relates to having a boyfriend, that's the one they focus on. They don't focus on my lack of confidence in doing my job or trying to start a writing career. They read subtext that isn't there, like when I say, "let's go out and get a beer and talk to strangers" that doesn't mean "let's pick up dudes." I say what I fucking mean. I am not a girl with a dubious agenda.

Even if I don't bring it up, or if I mention that I'm horny or that some guy is hot or that I don't feel like working, everyone's response is that "you need to find a boyfriend because there is something wrong with you if you don't." Everyone's response, when I say something smart or funny, is like, "I don't know why you are single" or "I don't know why some man hasn't snatched you up." I asked a friend why no one would see Machete with me last week, and she laughed and said, "You need a boyfriend."

I just don't fucking understand why everyone tries to relate to me in respect to whether or not I have an Other since I never asked to be evaluated that way.

Now, see, people assume that because I'm talking about this it means that I secretly want a man and I can't wait to put my wifey shoes on and get to baby-makin' on the train to Husband Town or something. And it's like: of course I woudn't mind having a guy in my life, I'm not made of stone. But it is so much more important for me to keep on churning and reasoning and learning, and I'm fucking sick of no one getting that, and I'm sick of no one talking with me about it and breaking it down into logical statements about motivation, I'm sick of it being dismissed as thinking too much just because I'm thinking about shit they don't care about.

They think I'm thinking it just to be different. No. I'm different because I want to talk about stuff I think about.

Drives me fucking nuts.


I mentor other women. Eight of them. It's not therapy, not even close. It's more like having me as your own personal cheerleader who will, without doubt, slap down any denial that comes out of your mouth like the wicked, open jawed, fang poppin', deadly rattle snake that it is.

This task of mentoring gets me up close and personal to women in ways I did not always know was possible. Women to me in my youth were frightening prospects. I was always suspicious of their every move, beat up more than a few, and, though always convinced they were going to try to fuck my man, usually ended up fucking theirs.

Becoming willing to be the student of a female mentor of my own cracked me open and spilled before me contents of my soul that had become fetid with depravity along the path of addiction. With what seemed to me at the time to be brutal force, she held my eyes and arms open wide so I could see all of it for what it was. She also held and cooed to me as would a mother to a babe in distress.

This is exactly what I do for the women I mentor. I've often said it's like learning to spoon feed barbed wire to another human being in a way that won't kill them. It's the constant motion of the acrobat on the high wire; always adjusting my movements from brutal honesty to the tenderness of compassion and back again. It is dancing along the edge of another human being's cliff while always attending to my my steps in a way that will prevent me from falling off of the edge of my own.

I've been the student of my current mentor for over 10 years. She is a glorious and powerful woman in her sixties. She has seven children, 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild; all of whom know their access to her love and strength are undeniable. In a grocery store or Wal-Mart a person might come away from an brief encounter with her with a surprising desire to turn back, find her and tell her something they've been wanting to get off of their chest; a dirty secret, a hope or dream that they know is important, but continues to be defined as 'silliness' or 'time wasting'. She is gladly a grandmother to all, and can also tell you stories from her 20's of pushing her children in their baby strollers across the Arizona/Mexico border as a way to smuggle heroin. She has worked harder than most to become an embodiment of the words trustworthy and honest.

I like to think I am regarded in the same way by the women I mentor; trustworthy and honest. Goodness knows they are a varied bunch. Between the eight of them they range through married, single, divorced, never married and partnered for life. They are in their 20's and 60's and everything in-between. They have children, no children, and wishes for children that will never be fulfilled by their own bodies. They are white collar, blue collar, ain't got no collar and royal bred with silver spoons in their mouths. What we talk about is called everything; sex, drugs, rock -n- roll. We discuss hopes, dreams, failures, desires, mistakes, the dirtiest things they have ever done and moments in their lives that are so astoundingly beautiful that we cry together in the joy of it all.

The ultimate reality of being the student of a mentor or mentoring another woman is love. Pure, simple love. My own mentor feels to me as a mother. I call her 'Mama' and she often calls me 'My Child'. The women I mentor, especially the ones I've mentored the longest, feel to me as sisters, daughters and soul mates. Meant to be. On the road together, making our peace with honesty and trust.

And yet, sometimes even the love of a mentor can do nothing. If someone I mentor is desirous or janky-minded enough to bulldoze her way through her life in a way that is destructive to herself and anyone in her path, all I can do is step back about three feet and let the tornado fly. Let the chips fall where they may. Get right with the fact that the cookie is going to crumble. Square myself with the fact that the shit will eventually hit the fan. Get down with the reality that love and trustworthiness in cases like that are useless until the tornado has stopped spinning. Even then, they sometimes only stop spinning long enough to lick their wounds, take a nap, and then start spinning again. Sometimes being a good mentor is being willing to observe from three feet away for a long time.

Sometimes one of the women I mentor will get dangerously close to loosing sight of the fact that pointing her tools of destruction toward me or mine is nothing short of stupid. I've been watching one of them consider doing it for the past few weeks. She's nervous about her physical attractiveness. She's worried about it. Thinking of it too much. Forgetting that she has more to offer than her bare ass and a few good moves on the end of a cock. A lifetime of getting what she wants and believes she needs by way of fucking has done her no favors in the department of believing her words, good deeds, intelligence and simple presence is attractive.

Last Saturday my husband and I attended a BBQ. She was there as well. I watched as my husband made his way around the park pavilion to go to the restroom. I watched as she watched him as well. She looked him up and down like the fine man that he is. She got up from her seat and quickly walked through the other guests to intercept him on the sidewalk. I watched as she tossed her hair and looked up at him with adoring eyes and fluttering eye lashes. She reached out and brushed his arm with her hand and laughed at something he said with an open mouthed bawl that showed all of her mouth. She wiggled her ass and stood erect with her shoulders back to offer up her breasts as if it was Thanksgiving and she was proud to present her turkey, free for the taking, on a silver platter.

Watched her watch him walk away with frustration on her face, as he had only greeted her, looked a bit disconcerted by her open-mouthed laughter and arm touching, and then moved on to the restroom

My eye is on it. My husband's eyes are on it as well. We talk about things like this without heat, jealousy or anger. If anything, both of us get pretty offended by those who know we are married and try to seduce us anyway. It's nice to have someone to talk to about it.

I'd like to say I've been watching all of this with nothing but a kind and understanding heart. Nothing but a mature ability to feel compassion for this woman while also understanding that I am fully capable of making major changes in my relationship with her if needed.

But I'm not. I've had visions of myself standing in her front yard and throwing one crow bar through her patio window and using another to beat the fuck out of her car. By the time all is said and done I've slobbered my way into a frenzy to beat fuck all. It feels good and I like the way the adrenaline is pumping at my psyche. The way it makes me walk on air and feel like some minion should be shouting, "Step aside! Let the woman through! Step aside mother fuckers! Let the woman through!"

This is why I have a mentor of my own. She reminds me that I am not confused, only navigating rougher waters.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Funnier Now

I can only imagine what it looked like for the third officer arriving on the scene. A young mother, breasts hanging loose under her nightgown, words slurring and feet unsteady in her living room as she fails to steadily find her nose with her finger. There on the stair landing is her daughter who is fourteen but looks more like eleven in her white cotton nightgown, cooly smoking one of her mom's Winston lights as she watches the policemen handcuff her mother and take her away.

How do I wrap my head around all the things I'm angry at my mother for? How do I process this rage that has steadily built for the last twenty years? Anger that wrapped it's slippery tentacles around me even tighter after I had children of my own. Watching my mother get a field sobriety test in our living room is the least of it. It's just important because it is one of the memories I have where other people witnessed what I saw, a memory so lucid, my mother could not diminish it with her own version of events. No way to explain away that one I suppose.

My mother was seventeen when she had me. No poor, uneducated country girl, she was a popular girl, from a good middle-class family who I imagine got horny and had sex with my father, somewhere around homecoming. She graduated high school in June, got married in July and gave birth in August. My Great Aunt loves to recount how that summer, every time she went to the mail box, there was another invitation or thank you card from my mom.

My parents stayed married the cliche seven years before my mother jumped ship. I can't blame her, her and my father were badly matched from the beginning. My mother is the eternal optimist, inhabiting a world she views with the rosiest of glasses, a world that bends to her will. Whereas my father played the ever plodding Eeyore, life's perennial victim. She wanted a big house and an audience and he wanted someone to blame. I used to say that my mother could be in a field of daisies with a train coming right at her and she'd be traipsing around, oblivious to the dangerous train careening in her direction. My father could be in his own field, an expanse of nothing but daisies in every direction and he'd be grumbling looking for the nonexistent dangerous train, unable to enjoy the daisies for even a moment. Me? I imagine I smell the daisies for a few minutes, look around for dangerous trains and then continue my appreciation of the flora. Have you ever actually smelled a daisy? I don't know where the expression 'fresh as a daisy' comes from because daisies smell like butt. I clipped some beautiful long ones from my front garden and put them in a vase in my office. Every once in awhile, I got a whiff of ass and eyed each member of my family with suspicion. Finally I figured out that the real culprit was the bunch of daisies I had plucked.

Some days I wonder if I am like a daisy, pretty petaled on the outside but with something more rank underneath. When I find myself getting angry and ugly, I get even angrier because I don't know what to do with this legacy they gave me. I don't know what to do with my crystal clear memories of the bad choices my parents made and the dangerous situations they put me in. I don't know what to do when my rage turns inward on myself or is channeled outward at my husband and children in the form of frustration and impatience. When that happens I get to add shame to the pile of anger and hostility, so yeah, that's awesome.

And somewhere, at my core, I understand that this isn't my fault and that everyone, everyone, has parent inducing handicaps. But I just don't know how to process all this anger. Any small criticisms leveled at my mother just elicit defensiveness at best and war at worst. So getting some resolution with her is unlikely. I know I should go back to therapy but just the idea of it is exhausting. Many days it's fine and I don't think about it, I don't get angry or frustrated or any of it. But here's the thing, I know I could be better, do better. I just don't know where to start.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Dark Side of the Moon

"We are led to those who help us the most. I'm not sure if they change us for the better but I do know when we meet these people, they change us forever." I put this in quotes because I'm not sure if it's something I read or perhaps heard in a song lyric. Maybe I dreamed it or mixed part of a quote with a song lyric with some degree of original thought, hell - admittedly, I don't know. I do know I've been  staring at these words for a few weeks now, internally debating between the right and left hemispheres of my brain. The emotional side in a battle with the logical side, the angry hurt woman against the "ain't gonna take no shit from no one anymore" chick. How can words, simple words linked together in a quasi-inspirational way, screw with me like this?

To begin, I took exception with the notion of being led to those who help us the most. Are we really led to people? And if we are led to them, is it because they are specifically charged with the divine mission of helping our sorry asses?  I mean, aren't we placed here to fall into the paths of other souls we can inspire?  I know the obvious answer, when you help others - you help yourself, true; yet, the conundrum here, the part that is fucking with me are those two words at the end of the first sentence, "the most". Is there really such a thing as a mutually beneficial relationship? Who is helping whom, the most?

In contrast, I actually delight in the second sentence. Especially the part about how they, these illusive people we are allegedly drawn to on our journey, may not actually change us for the better. Cynical, calloused, bitchy Zen Mama (yes, an oxymoron) realizes I've allowed some negative influences into my life over the years, most often in the name of love, or rather, in the name of foolish, impetuous infatuation or sexual gratification or financial insecurity or plain old lack of fucking sense the good Lord gave me.

But the esoteric, romantic, spiritually enlightened Zen Mama (chant with me: nam-myoho-renge-kyo) is still fighting to surface above the trough of  swine slop I've been wallowing in for the past two months. I know he changed me forever but for God's sake, did he have to implode my belief system, causing me to question the instincts it took thirty years and three marriages (one didn't count) to finely hone? How is it possible to give yourself  fully to a man for sixteen months, to spend copious hours studying him, exploring his nuances and nature, questioning his past, present and future, his intellect, values, parenting style, priorities, career and  yes, even checking background and references and end up not have a clue who the fuck he was?  We waited over a year to bring our kids together.  How long must one wait before one can say they know this  person was sent to you to change you forever, for light or lesson, future or fury? A year, two years? I was the Queen of Cautious. He was the Knight of Darkness, lurking in the shadows until I handed over my last precious commodity, the hearts, faith and trust of my children.

It was then, and only then I saw the dark side of the moon that had previously shone so brightly on my life. We are all damaged in our own unique way. We all carry baggage, issues, sensitive buttons, personality flaws, triggers, various levels of tolerance and patience.  Funny thing is, what I saw during that lunar eclipse was worse than anything I had ever experienced. And this from a woman who has seen more than her fair share of ugly. I was attracted mostly to his brilliance, speaking four languages, rising to the top of his industry and standing out as a person with a one of a kind mind. Now I realize he used that same brilliance against me to perpetrate his deceptions, keeping his disturbing mental proclivities cloaked for one year and four months.

As with all endings, you find yourself looking back to see if there were signs you missed, perhaps subtle oversights or those that were colossal, nearly impassable flashing red stop lights. Yet, I cannot find any, not one precursor to what was yet to come. No foreshadowing of my fate, and that is where he changed me, not for the better, but forever indeed.

Coming back to that first sentence, we are drawn to those who help us the most. Maybe what I needed was a healthy dose of wake the fuck up, force fed down my throat until I gagged, spit it back in his face, then had to be restrained while he numbed the rest of my senses, pinched my nose, blindfolded me, shut off my hearing with repetitive stirrings of Enigma and shot the elixir directly into my veins until I sprang awake, gasping for air while proclaiming, son of a mother fucking bitch. The only way to embrace change is to stay focused on the prize. And guess what, I am the prize.