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Friday, January 29, 2010

#17 Sad Isn't Pretty


Yesterday I woke needing to feel pretty, so I drank coffee from a beautiful china cup but it got cold too soon and reminded me of how my grandfather poured his coffee into his saucer to cool it off so he could drink it fast.

I switched to a mug, utilitarian and not so bad looking but not the same as the feel of real china on my lips, especially if it has a platinum rim like mine.  Pretty things make me feel pretty, so I dressed dressed pretty and painted my eyelashes with black mascara and dabbed blush on my cheeks.  I have been farming my eyelashes with Latisse, and they are long and dark and sexy.

It didn’t work.  I looked like a woman who needs to feel pretty and is trying to but is failing in a spectacular way.  I took about 15 photos of myself trying to get a new facebook picture that didn’t look so dorky, but none of the photos was pretty. In fact, they all showed a sad woman with flat eyes, no soul in them.

I am especially missing My Dead Husband now.  His birthday hangs hauntingly over my head.  If he were alive, he would be 76 on Sunday.  No wonder I look like a ghostly shadow of grief.  Once again, I’m faced with one of the god awful “firsts” that happen in the year following the death of a loved one.  He wasn't an average everyday loved one; he was my loved one and I his.  He was the part of my heart that is still missing and I expect always will be.  I don't want to cry today, but I've already begun.  I hate this shit.  

In The New Yorker that came yesterday, I read an article about grief.  It was spot-on, to avail myself of today’s vernacular.  The author took several thousand words to conclude that grief is work and that each of us has to do the work ourselves.  I just summed it up in 14 words.  I’m working here, I’m working.   

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#16 Don't Fornicate with This


When I was at the FedEx store yesterday, a man came in with a cardboard box, and written on each side in big black letters were the words, “Don’t Fornicate with This.”  His words were emphatic, bold and underscored several times.  I want a tee shirt that says that.

After a good weekend followed on Monday, by a minor (or so I thought) breakdown in the car when Pet Clark’s “This is my Song” came on the car radio and I had to stop and cry until it was finished.  Need I say it was one of My Dead Husband’s favorites?  I made one more stop and lived to get back here to the safety and warmth of my little house.  I patted myself on the back for going with the flow, so to speak, and letting my tears fall, spill onto my sunglasses and my pants while I sat, head on the steering wheel listening to every word of that song, each cutting me like a knife.  Then I went to work cleaning and organizing my stuff and thought it was behind me.

Then they came in the door, Bert and Emily squabbling as they always do about the crisis du jour.   It doesn’t matter what they were yammering about, it never does.  I was more fragile than I realized, more wounded that I knew over the song incident in the car.  I got up and made a drink, Kristy got here, and while was ordering our usual Monday night pizza, there were heated words coming from my room.  It doesn’t matter what they were. They were heated and I, who had come back here to pee, left and went to the powder room.  I went back outside and lit a cigarette and sipped my drink.  The noise continued, and I lost my temper and marched into the house and told them I couldn’t bear all the histrionics.  I should have asked them if they would be acting that way if Poppy were alive, but I wasn’t that quick.  I began to weep and went back out into the cold.  I am furious with myself for giving them enough of my power to make me cry in my own home where we were supposed to be having family night.  They all came outside then to yell at me that they were not yelling at one another.  Kristy yelled that I had overreacted, which didn’t help my feelings at all.  See why I need that tee shirt?  Mercifully, as soon at the pizza box was empty, Bert took Emily home.

Emily is 13, and I am well aware that it is her job to  make her parents (and most adults) miserable.  What I don’t understand is why Bert can’t control her enough for us to have one evening a week, just visiting and eating pizza and acting happy.  Maybe we should move family night to Kristy’s house so I can leave if I want to.

So, yesterday I was tired and feeling fragile.  I organized my poems, which at least gave me a feeling of purpose and accomplishment, but then I started thinking about crawling down into the black hole for protection.  It frightened me, that thought.  I have never before seen the black hole as some kind of refuge, only a place of dark helplessness.  Am I going mad, truly mad?  I should call Sondralyn and report these thoughts, and maybe I will.  It’s like having an ace in the hole. The next time my sensibilities are assaulted by family or anyone else for that matter, maybe I’ll crawl down into the hole just far enough to drown out the toxic waste they spew so expertly.

I did a lot of weeping yesterday.  Nancy has a sixth sense about me, and after a short phone visit, said she would come see me in the afternoon.  I read her some of my poems and babbled on about the night before.  Even having her for a sounding board didn’t get me well.  After she left, I cried until the dogs did that thing when they are worried and scared at the same time.  I hugged them to me and told them I loved them a lot and I cried into each of their coats.  They didn’t know whether to climb into my lap or run for cover. My wonderful dogs.

I ended up editing some of my poems and sketching out some new ones that I will work on today.  By 6:30 I had taken a bath and was tucked into my bed with my knitting.  Hell, going to bed at 10 is my rule, so I’ll break it when I damned well please.

I have been wearing The Red Sweater since Monday night, taking it off only to bathe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

#15 Who Am I?


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, trying to figure out who I am.  I’m no longer a wife and don’t want to make a career of being a widow.  The exquisite pain I suffered for 8 months and survived has taken a more subtle tone.  I find myself staring into space and thinking about My Dead Husband, sometimes even without tears.

I’ve been thinking about sex and starting to miss it.  Have I mentioned what a skilled and tender lover Clint was?  I haven’t had a sexy thought for 5 years, and my therapist is ecstatic that my libido is coming back.   And, yes, I bought myself a toy.  She says that in major depression, the first human urge to leave is the sex drive, and that it is one of the last to return as the depression lifts.  (I think the drugs and a sick husband played a major role, too).  Ann Carol says I am coming out of a long cycle of sadness that began years ago and had nothing to do with Clint’s illness or death.  I’ve known all along that my, depression, though separate from my grief, has been holding me back.

Maybe now I can deal with my grief without all the anger - read that rage.  Last week I thought about going to the Dollar Store to buy some things to break, but I didn’t do it.  I get a point for that.

So, I’m emerging from a years long sadness because my brain chemicals are fucked up, and Clint isn’t here to know it and be happy for me.  I still want him back.

So, what now?  I have applied for and been accepted into a nursing re-entry program, but that won’t begin until March.

I need to work, but a job is just part of who I am.  I feel my inner hippie beginning to emerge after years of hibernation.  My creative side is more energized, but I’m not sure where that is going.  I feel myself evolving into my own woman, but I have no idea where that is going either.  It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I’ve decided to let it take it’s course and follow where it goes.

Do I really want to spend the rest of my life in this great big one horse town in this buttoned up neighborhood where every female (except me) walks or runs in black pants and a white top?  It’s some sort of unspoken dress code, I guess.  I think they hum “Ruby Redress” when they pass my house.  Jesus,  If they only knew.  But, can I leave my haven, my sweet little friendly house? It’s too soon to make that call.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

#14 - Out of the hole


The clouds are back and it’s not cold, so I am basking in the gloom because I can write outside without any glare on my laptop screen.

I had not been out of the house for 5 days, and yesterday, a friend of many years blasted me out to go to the movie - “It’s Complicated” - an hilarious romp that I think one needs to be at least 50 to fully appreciate.  Definite not a flick for anyone with a bladder control problem.

I came home and floated seamlessly back into the ennui of the black hole  Usually when I’m depressed, I have no appetite, but before I went to bed, I had consumed 5 huge homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies (Kristy made them for me), a ton of Cheerios, some yogurt which I laced liberally with toasted almonds.  If there had been ice cream or chocolate in the house, I would no doubt have eaten it all.  I went to sleep feeling cheated because I couldn’t find anything else to eat except a salad kit, which seemed way too healthy for the binge I was enjoying.  Oh, and I drank a lot of vodka.

I woke this morning to find myself, well, feeling like myself.  No black hole so far.  Even the clouds are my friends. After I let them out to pee at 6:45, the dogs let me sleep until nearly 10 .  I’m thinking about calling a friend and making a dinner date.

Maybe my wounds are beginning to scab over, trying to heal from the edges inward.  I almost hesitate to say that, even though I’m not superstitious, it seems a little like bragging too soon.  I’ve been writing poems, and though they are difficult to write, I am finally feeling some comfort from creating them.  I’ve stopped crying ALL the time and have even seen a couple of no-crying days.

Is that really light I see?  How long will it last?  Have I broken some of the marionette strings that keep me flipping and flopping in midair,  jerked out of a few moments of peace and made to dance to a tune I never knew, breaking open my wounds?

...................It started to rain, so I came inside and put way my Christmas decorations. My friend reminded me yesterday that it was January 15 and maybe I should do something about them.   The fact that it took only 20 minutes speaks volumes about my so-called holiday spirit.  I’m so fucking glad it’s over and my stuff is out of sight - except for a small stack of kids Christmas books that I put out every year.  I’m thinking, I’m thinking.  Where should I put them?  Not in the attic.  I’ve already been up there twice, risking life and limb, and even (in the rain) to the playhouse in the back yard that we inherited with the house.  It has electricity, water and an A/C unit, so it’s a good store house.  I’ll do something with the books later.

I do lead an exciting life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

# 13 Suspended

I am suspended in the black hole, floating around in the dark and not scrambling toward the dim light I can see above me.  Instead, I dangle helplessly, without struggling or scratching the walls or searching for footholds to climb.

An evening with friends could not bring me up completely to the light, so I pretended, a skill of which I have become something of an expert.

I am afraid of this black hole but thankful for the invisible web that holds me up and at the same time prevents my descent.  What will come of this?  Am only half depressed, semi-crazy?  Will I find the fortitude, the balls to brush aside the sticky web and take my chances?

My fear of the hole overrides any hope I may hold of acsending to the light.  I do not feel strong enough to fight.  Even The Red Sweater offers little comfort.  What shall I do?  Wait to see what will happen?  I guess so.

My dream last night was about Clint and me trying to have sex with another woman.  I didn’t know the other woman.  She was brunette and very beautiful and had a long stunning body.  We were in some kind of water tank, which made a menage a trois impossible. It made intercourse ridiculously unworkable because none of us could brace ourselves and stop floating long enough for penetration.  I woke aroused and disappointed.

It doesn't take a psychoanalyst to figure that out. Even my dreams are in suspension.  What a fucking mess.  No pun intended.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

#12 Unwanted Memories

These are some things I wrote down last year about this time.  I had been out of the psychiatric hospital for only two months.  I was shaky and typing was hard, so I didn't bother with capital letters or punctuation. Today, I caught myself beginning to clean it up, but my better judgement kicked in.  It is what it is.  So, here goes.  It's a lot, but in  my mind, it needs to be published as one piece.

01/19/09:  when i was  in junior high, it was spread over three different schools - 2 in statsboro ga and one in ft. lauderale. i wanted to be included.  the rich and socially prominent girls kept to themselves.  our little apartment in statesboro meant i couldn't have overnight oompany.  i shared a room with mama.  when I was i eight grade i read a book about a girl who started her own club and i wanted to do that.  i tried.  i wanted the club members to wear circle pins.  i never got it off the ground.  i don't know if i never really tried or if i tried and failed.  i could never afford a circle pin anyway.  in eighth grade i made friends with a girl two years older than i.  she was morbidly obese and i spent lots of nights at her house.  her name was ann.  ann beaver.  she was a kind and loyal friend.  she's dead now, died from complications of diabetes.  she was in a club called fifteen flirting females and she tried to get me in.  i didn't make the cut.  even if i got in we couldn't afford the dues and god knows i didn't have the wardrobe.  i never had  a chance, but i have always made life work for me, and i treasured my friendship with ann and her big sister jane practically adopted me.  she was the first person to recognize that i needed glasses.  they had big rooms in their antebellum house and i couldn't see tv from the sofa so i sat on the floor closer to the set.  the tv in our apartment sat in a table no more than three feet from the foot of mamas bed.  we all watched it there.  i sat at the foot of her bed.  this is all i want to write about this now.  off my meds (almost) and i am digging around in my memory for painful stuff.  i needed a father.  i really needed a father.  he died when i was six.  no wonder i eventually married a man 14 years my senior.

01/28/09:  why now?  why am i having these memories now?  when we lived in ft lauderdale, our house was arranged so that mama had to walk through my room to get to hers.  when she and way (my rich stepfather who she married and divorced twice) remarried, he came down fairly regularly.  when they had sex in the room next to me, i could hear it.  grunts and groans scared me.  i thought i knew what was going on and that made it even more gross and scary to me.  when we lived there we went to the school where mama taught.  it was an exclusive boarding school that had some local day students.  we were thrown in with one of the kellogg heiresses, the granddaughter of the man who invented alka seltzer, diana nyad who would be an olympic gold medalist in swimming, to mention a few.  i had 1 friend, joan tischbourne. she was driven to and from school by a chauffeur in a lincoln town car.   her mother owned dress boutiques in dania and in chautauqua new york where they spent summers.  i learned to eat delivery pizza at her house.  we had never had any kind of pizza except the kind that came in a boxed kit.  she had about 15 times more clothes than i, but she didn't seem to care that i was poor.  i spent the night with her sometimes.  i could never have sleep over company.  i didn't want to.  jesus.  i wonder why.

i had menstrual cramps with my very first period  my first flow was almost like chocolate.  much later i learned i had endometriosis and was lucky to ever have had a child.  that started while we were living on saint simons island georgia before we moved to the apt in statesboro.  we went there for mama to finish her b s and earn a masters.  the cramps were debilitating and i missed school one day at least every month.  in ninth grade mama took me to a gynecologist in ft lauderdale who put me on birth control pills for my cramps.  the dose she prescribed was 10 mg of enovid.  it worked but i almost immediately gained about 25 lbs, which made me feel all the more isolated.  i made good grades but i wasn't excited about school.  i dieted to get off the weight, sometimes eating only green beans from a can for a meal.  it took months to get rid of  the fat.  the dr decreased to dose to 5 mg.  i was still chubby when i went to statesboro on a greyhound bus by myself for spring break.  mama sewed me into my culottes because the zipper was broken.  they were cheap but they were the only thing i had to wear that made me feel like i fit in.  i don't like thinking about how desperate i was to feel like part of a group.  i had a small group in statesboro, but for the entire year we lived in ft lauderdale, i was a loner with one friend.  i started smoking that year and mama told me to smoke in front of her instead of sneaking around.  she wanted a friend instead of a daughter.

ann carol, my therapist, says that mama and way having sex when I could hear them was sexual abuse.  i wonder what she will think when I tell her about playing doctor with my cousins.  i don't want these memories.  i can't seem to stop them from coming to the surface.  they are part of who i am today.  they hurt me and make me feel young and helpless and afraid.  i can't write about this any more.  i don't want to do this.  not now.  not now.

02/23/09:  when i was newly divorced, in early 1972, i gave up the little cottage I rented because I needed to save money.  i liked that little cottage, but I moved in with mama and paid her a much smaller rent.  i was working 3 to 11 at the brunswick hospital with an occasional night shift.  one friend of mother's - at that time she was collecting strange friends - wanted me to pose topless for a "cartoon-like" photo he wanted to sell to a girlie magazine.  i don't even remember the man's name.  mama thought it was a good idea.   i agreed but couldn't do it.  i stood him up.  i was a young single mother, and poor as I was, the idea of posing topless for any reason went against everything i believed.  hell, I was teaching sunday school at the time.  it has always bothered me that mama didn't object, that she didn't tell her friend that she wouldn't pimp out her daughter.  and that's what it really was.  i think she would have wanted some of the money.  no wonder I moved to macon ga where I knew only one person,  a person i could trust.  terrible way to think of mother, i know.  why do i have to remember this stuff now?  i suppose i really am crazy.  i don't need this, nor do i want it.

03/26/09:   Once, way, my stepfather, made a pass at me - or tried to.   Mama had gone to Woodbine to see a friend and asked me to go along.  I said I wanted t go to the beach, and since I was a typical 16 year old, that's what I did.  I was home from the beach before her return, had showered and dressed and all that.  It was spring, and  cool evenings, we had a fire in the fireplace.  I was standing in front of it when Papa approached me and hugged me.  It was not a fatherly hug.  I pulled away and went to my room.  When Mama returned, I told her what happened.  Her response?  "I told you to go to Woodbine with me."  She put all of the blame on me. Jesus.  Who could make up this shit?

Friday, January 1, 2010

#11 New Year’s Day


Breaking my own sef-imposed rule, I’ve been in bed all day either knitting yet another pink ruffled scarf or writing.  I tried to watch LSU play football because My Dead Husband, Clint, played there on scholarship before he tore his knee and had to quit.  He really just wanted to be a doctor and though I wasn’t around at the time, I don’t think it broke his heart to leave the gridiron.  I had to stop watching because they were playing like losers, so I did the most amazing thing and started watching a Criminal Minds marathon.  What is the hell does that say about me?  I have music in my little house, lots of it, and it has been weeks since I even turned on my TV.  So, I pick today to take up the moronic pursuit of College Football and a program about serial killers.  I'm not myself today, or am I?

The dogs have insinuated themselves so close as to be nearly under my side, and the expanse where My Dead Husband should be lying has grown wider and wider, looking like an ocean leading to the edge of the earth.

I need to get out of these clothes.  On Wednesday night after dinner with my stepdaughter, Kristy, I came home and climbed into a pair of grey velour “warm-up” pants, the lower half of a set I bought last winter at Steinmart and I pulled The Red Sweater over my head and haven’t changed since - except for my panties.  Oh, please.  I may forget to brush my teeth some times, but I wear clean drawers.

I even went to the movies last night in this get-up, pulling on a big back cardigan and thick scarf and padding into the theater in my black Uggs, a gift from Clint last Christmas.  It cost me $17 to get a ticket for Up In The Air and a Diet Coke and some popcorn that was too salty to eat.  I wrote about the movie on my other blog, "Living Through It" so I won’t repeat it here.
What I really want to do is drink vodka from a crystal tumbler and keep on until I am tired of it or it puts me down.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll clean my little house and take a bath.  Happy New Year.