Monday, April 11, 2005

a small measure of peace

For the first time in a long time, I can say that I had a great weekend. Got off to a shaky start, but improved rapidly.

Duckie and I went shopping (always nice to be able to buy new spring clothes, even if they’re for your daughter), then dropped by another baby shower Saturday afternoon. By dumb luck, Buffy wasn’t busy Saturday evening so Brian and I dropped Duckie off at her house and escaped into a gorgeous black-and-white (mostly) gore-fest called Sin City. Wow.
Here’s a review of it that I happen to agree with, for once.

Sunday morning back to Wal Mart, looking especially for a booster seat to use at the grandparents’ this weekend – no luck. A pretty day and a nice morning nonetheless. Duckie spent most of her time either riding on my shoulders or walking on her own (except in Wally World which is too nuts to let a toddler down from the cart).

Duckie refused to nap until late in the afternoon when we went to drop off Friday night’s movies. I pulled her limp, sweaty body out of the truck and let her sleep for a while longer, then made efforts to wake her up, hoping that she would still be able to sleep when bedtime rolled around. Didn’t work – she was in a lousy mood and didn’t go back to bed until 10:30. Grey’s Anatomy couldn’t keep her awake, either. (Note to other TV addicts: I am continuing to give Grey’s a shot even though most of the characters do little to nothing for me.
Sandra Oh is a fantastic actress and I wish they would just cut out the rest of the garbage and do a half-hour on her character. It’s too late to be spending time on Sunday night watching a show I really don’t care much for.)

I wonder if we’re not feeding her enough (Duckie, not Sandra Oh). She gets bored so quickly in her high chair that I think sometimes she wants to get down even if she’s still hungry. The child can eat nonstop, grazing all day long, which makes it tough for Brian and me to get anything done. (Although come to think of it, I shouldn’t be surprised. She did the same thing when she was nursing.) Anyway, last night at dinner she ate a prodigious amount of meatloaf and potatoes, and then asked for more. (Lest you worry about her vegetable intake, rest assured I mix a generous amount of steamed broccoli into the meatloaf. It’s actually pretty good. Improves the flavor.)

Once Brian and baby had finally gone to bed, I had some time to myself for the first time since my last session with Brent. There were things I had to do, and there was no point putting them off.

Brent suggested last week that maybe I hadn’t done a lot of development emotionally since Mom died – mostly because of the substances I’d indulged in since then. And now that I’ve gone through a couple of clean years due to pregnancy and nursing, feelings are starting to come up from that time period that don’t seem to fit with what’s happening in real-time. He suggested I start to look at that relationship again, so we started talking about it in session. Lo and behold – a huge emotional response, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a long time. Talking about Mom was hard and scary and painful – and we both thought he was probably right on the mark.

I’ve kept this little flowered book for thirteen years. On the front, there’s a picture of Mama Rabbit from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. Mom started this journal when she was, I don’t know, maybe 40-45 or so. There’s a note in the front asking anyone who picks it up kindly not to continue past the first page. Sorry, Mom. I couldn’t help myself – I never could. Only when I read it before, I was usually halfway through a joint or a bottle of something or other, and wouldn’t ever really look at the reality of what my mother was writing about. I would just feel bereft and sad and self-pitying. Important, certainly, in the grieving process, but the fact is I never got past the idea of my mother as some kind of gorgeous martyred saint. I never wanted to really go much deeper than that.

The journal consists of maybe ten or fifteen entries, spaced pretty wide apart, with a rash of six-week entries roughly around my sophomore or junior year. Most of the book is blank. So after reading through what she had written, I picked up a pen and began to write back to her. I didn’t write much – just enough to remind myself what to notice the next time I wrote.

Then I went to bed, woke up Brian, and bawled all over him. (Better be careful here, the fishbowl allows no privacy and these aren’t the kind of tears that can be cried quietly.)

There’s an enormous amount of resentment, anger, frustration, you name it, caught up in my mother’s death, and for thirteen years, it’s been sitting there unexamined. They say your relationship with your parents can define your intimate relationships for the rest of your life. It’s no wonder I spend so much energy fighting off anger, then. No wonder at all.

Last night I started to examine it. Instead of avoiding it, covering it up, running from it, or screaming back at it, I just sat there and felt it. For the first time since Mom died, I felt something other than poor-me-Mama’s-gone self-pity. What I did feel… well, it was complicated. And powerful. And scary, because there’s a lot more there to be excavated, and more work I have to do in that place. More time to spend there, whether I want to or not.

So now there’s this open door in my heart. And no, it doesn’t look like a garden door or a pastoral scene, although with some guided meditation it might. Right now it looks and feels like the closet door in Poltergeist, complete with all the screaming souls and gross gooey ectoplasmic jelly that covers you up when you go through. Messy. Ick. I hate messy.

Once I was able to calm down enough to sleep (around 2 AM, according to Brian), I did not dream. I woke up to Brian’s cell phone alarm at 6 AM, cozy and snug in our dark blue cotton jersey sheets, Brian’s warm presence close by. Just us.

Duckie had slept through the night, in her very own bed. And I did not feel bereft of her presence, or sad, or lonely at all. What I felt was a small measure of peace.


Let tears flow of their own accord: their flowing is not inconsistent with inward peace and harmony.
Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)


EB said...

Wow. Five words for you my dearest woman: I am SO proud of you. Wanting to be an archaeologist, your use of the term excavation is particularly evocative to me. Reading your posts is kind of like being on the dig with you as you reveal these artifacts of a life deeply and truly lived, and it is an honor to be a part of it, even virtually.

As each artifact comes to light and you reveal its significance to yourself and the rest of us privilege to share it, I begin to see the city of your soul that is at once glimmering with hope and wonder- and the light that shines from it casts other things in shadow. Shadows that are not mired in pain or hopelessness, but the shadow of mystery, or curiousity to see what lies underneath.

This 'archaeology of the soul' that you are engaged in is a wonderful thing to witness and I am privileged to call you my friend. Love grows.

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