Monday, August 22, 2016

Starting Up A Brand New Day

Sleep schedule has been wacky for the last two months. Having the boys here and then not here, too much stress and mental anguish and uncertainty.  Then the floods and delay in school starting, which threw things off even more. I was sleeping an hour here, three hours there. Getting up at 3 in the morning or going to bed at noon. Not a great recipe for normalizing your life.

But today was the day!  Oh, frabjous first day of school!

So last night we did dinner, and then cleaned up and laid everything out for the morning. Nick was getting crabby, so I had him take a bath and threw in some lavender essential oil and eucalyptus epsom salts, telling him it would relax him. Whether it actually worked, or it was just the power of suggestion, he crashed early and did not move until I went to wake him up at 5:30.

Me, I crashed also. I was asleep before 10. Of course, I was also wide awake at 3:15. Instead of chasing sleep, I got up and just started doing shit. Cleaned out the fridge, cleaned the bathrooms, sorted stuff that was laying around and found a home for it. By the time I got the boys up, I was feeling sort of good about things. Which was a novel feeling.

This is a new thing for me -- after 27 years of being 24/7 mom, I'm going to be kind of a parttime mom. It wasn't something I wanted. You'd be shocked at how much I did not want it. But sometimes when someone is determined to fuck up your life, the best thing you can do is to give them exactly what they want. If you find yourself in an endless tug-of-war, just let go of the damned rope.

So I dropped the boys off at school this morning, and I'll pick them up after school on Friday afternoon. And I'll do that every week for the forseeable future. Terrifying. The big house is suddenly much bigger. And quieter. (And cleaner.)

But I'm going to look at this as an opportunity. For all involved. I'll finally get a break, and I can work and write without spending the majority of every day pulled in 12 different directions at once. The boys will learn how to adapt, how to be more self-reliant, how to maneuver without me. Their father will have the chance to be part of their lives again. At the very least, he'll have some idea of what I've done every day for the past 27 years, and how much of it I did without asking for a cookie or a pat on the head. How much of it I made invisible.   Hopefully we'll all learn something, and be better for it.

Of course, I'll be Skyping every night. I'll worry endlessly. (I'm a great worrier. And a bit of a control freak.) Baby steps. Lots and lots of baby steps.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fall, Again

It's almost fall, and this is a good thing. It's been a stupid summer. After the last two stupid years, it's been an incredibly stupid summer, made worse by the fact that things were finally supposed to settle down.

Life was supposed to change. But it didn't. Instead it was a sort of doubling down on some of the most troubling aspects of the unfortunate series of events that began like a horrifying domino cascade in July of 2014. Every time I thought I had gotten past the worst of it, I would realize it was just a lull. Nothing was every fixed permanently. I ended up living with a series of those cartoon filing cabinets, where when you shove one drawer closed, another one pops open and spills shit everywhere, endlessly.


But you know what, that's sort of the way life is. You fight for your peace. It's a mistake to think that you get to finish things.  I mean, sometimes you do get to finish things, but assuming that is the natural order of things will just lead you to heartache.

So now I find myself looking for another lull. Hopefully a longer one. Hopefully one that becomes more permanent, and hopefully a life where the waves that crash against me are smaller, and I handle them with more grace and steadfastness. When your life is turned upside down so absolutely and completely, it's hard to recalibrate. Part of that is dismay, because you've had to deal with something so utterly horrible that you never imagined it. It's so fucking horrible. It's so fucking unfair. And sometimes it's hard to get past the fact that it is SO. FUCKING. UNFAIR. You just stop in your tracks. You write more lengthy entries in your Book of Grievances. (And we all have a Book of Grievances, even the best of us.) You become flummoxed by simple things, things you might have taken in stride in your old life, the one that's now a smoking ruin behind you.

Some people can't get past it. The fall completely into that darkness. Mental illness. Suicide. They are broken and they don't get better.

Some people adjust to the degree they can. They limp along. They jump from one rock in the river to the next. Some of those jumps are small. Some seem incredibly long. Sometimes the gap between rocks seems so vast that you think you won't make it, but you do.

Some people get stronger. They get better. They incorporate the lessons learned, or at least understand that there are some lessons that can't be learned, and let that shit go. That's the hardest part, in the end, letting that shit go.

My favorite proverb tells me that for every evil under the sun, there is a cure or there is none. If there is one, then find it. If there is none, then never mind it. In other words, let that shit go.

It's a process. It doesn't necessarily have an end, even when you believe with every fiber that it should. And one things that I have realized is that I'm still angry. The events of this summer have clearly defined my anger.  Like a good girl, I've always been taught to reign that anger in. Growing up the way I did -- and living in the adult relationships I've had -- I became someone who placated others. Who swallowed the anger, or boxed it away, or attached a fucking cinderblock to it and sunk it so deep in the waters of my consciousness that it was never supposed to surface again.

But nothing is ever gone for good. So now I'm forced to deal with it some more. To find a better way to deal with it, maybe. I dunno, work in progress. But at least recognizing the degree to which I'm still angry is a start.

I recently moved house.  (And houses are important to me. Maybe the most important thing.) I left a house I had loved, but had become a museum or sorrow. I bought a house, MY HOUSE, that I fell in love with the moment I saw it. I made the mistake of thinking that leaving one house and moving to the next meant that I would leave behind the worst of what was killing me. It didn't, at least not yet.

Because, you see, in sorting out and packing up, I thought I was dealing with all the components of my sorrow, of my anger. I tried to keep what I loved and discard what hurt me. I packed away, gave away, threw out, burned, sold, returned so many things. Every thing. It was hard, it was painful, and sometimes, after cleaning out a closet I would just sit in the middle of the floor and cry and hug my dog and cry some more.

I made the mistake of thinking that getting rid of the things would get rid of the emotions. That removing the tangible evidence of a life destroyed would somehow make me magically whole. That moving away would mean moving on. Don't get me wrong, moving away was the best thing.  Getting out of that house (the museum of sorrow in my head) and getting out of that poisonous town, was necessary and in many way has made my life so, so much better. But it's not quite enough.

So now we come to the last of it. Finally finding a way to deal with what's left, and in doing so, searching for my peace. And so I'm writing again. When you strip away all the things I am and have been (a wife, a lover, a friend, a mother), I'm a writer. That's the essence of me. Words are my house.

And so I am coming home again. I'm angry. I am wounded. I am also joyful. I am determined. I am mapping my new country. This is what saves me.