Monthly Archives: April 2014

Just Mulling Things Over

Standard

So I was sitting here on my couch thinking, and it occurred to me that the computer was sitting next to me and there were no children playing Minecraft on it, so maybe I should write!

Naturally, I have nothing pressing I want to talk about, but I did read several of my last posts.  I remembered the time I read Ishmael and got completely bummed out because of it.  I remembered the time I went off my meds, which wasn’t a bad thing until I got all stressed out again [back on the antidepressant for now.]

The thing that struck me, though [that always strikes me when I read something I’ve written] is that I don’t suck as a writer.  I mean, I’m sitting there re-reading something that I don’t really remember the words to, so it’s like reading someone else’s writing…and it doesn’t suck!

Yay me!

The kids and I caught up on Glee episodes tonight.  They talked a lot about Finn, so I cried several times.  I have doubts that I’ll ever be able to watch the first four seasons again.  It doesn’t make sense, but Glee started about the time we moved down to take care of J. So it’s been with me through some of the most difficult years of my life.

For whatever reason, the damn show struck a chord [har har] and we’ve been hooked since episode 2 or 3 where Curt taught the football players how to dance to Beyonce.

All that’s to say, the kids of Glee [and by extension, the actors] are part of my life, so when Cory Monteith died last year, it hit me almost as hard as if I’d lost someone I knew in real life.  And the show hasn’t been the same without him. Somehow, he was the glue that held the show together, and things just aren’t the same.  We tried to watch some of the first season a while back, and I just couldn’t do it.

Which is stupid, but there you go.

I read an article tonight about how Generation X is really the Henson Generation [or the Muppet Generation, or the Sesame Street Generation] basically, we grew up watching the original Sesame Street and it affected our entire generation.

I get it. As much as I’d like to think otherwise, TV is a huge part of life for me.  Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were morning staples.  And I used to fight to watch The Muppet Show when it was on. And when I’d go visit my grandma, I’d watch Fraggle Rock at her house because she had cable.

And then there’s Labrynth. And The Dark Crystal.  And Kermit. Oh, how I love Kermit. He was such a sweet, gentle soul, and I always felt like he deserved someone better than Miss Piggy. She was such a bitch!  The irony is, I kinda married Kermit [but less green] and I suspect I might be a little bit Miss Piggy [minus the nose and tail].

But I love that my generation is making the transition into middle age, even though I still feel like I’m trying to grow into my body.  I mean damn. I’m 40 years old and the mother of three kids [two of whom are teenagers, for crying out loud!] but I’m still figuring out who I am and ‘what I wanna be when I grow up’.

I read something the other day about Gen Xers and it kinda hit home for me. It was something about how we mistrust authority, but we have families and kids and stuff, so we’re involved with them, and we’ve more or less rejected the ‘me’ generation’s preoccupation with stuff and McMansions.

I get that. We’re leaning toward a simpler life, both because we’re suspicious of anything our parents did, but also because we’re the first generation to do worse than our parents.  Damn Boomers fucked up the world [thanks, asshole Koch Brothers] and we’re the first generation to inherit the mess.

Here’s hoping we can get it headed in a better direction.

It’s weird to realize that my generation is starting to take over from the Boomers now. The last of the GIs are gone [or in their 90s] and the Boomers are entering old age. I find myself resenting them a little.  Turns out us Xers only make up about 50 million people in the US [or so] and the Boomers and Millennials are both about twice our size. But I think I’m pissed because they’re the generation that gave us Bush 2, Rumsfield, and the Kochs [among others], and dude.

They suck.

I worry about our future. About the world we’re going to leave our kids.  And I’m really frustrated that there isn’t much I can do to change things.  I’m a blue drop in a vast red ocean, but even more pathetic than that, I’m a housewife in the Midwest with no influence over anybody.  Well, except my kids. But they’re amazing in spite of me. 😉

So yeah. It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m getting sleepy and I feel like I never had a point but that it doesn’t matter a lot.

I read something today that a 22 year old girl wrote for her graduation from college. She’d gone to Yale and won all these writing awards for fiction and nonfiction and play writing, and she was worried that she was never going to do anything.

And I looked at her life, how she learned to sail on the East Coast. How she went to Yale and graduated with honors, and I thought, if that 22 year old girl, who had already won a shit ton of awards for her talent, was worried about not leaving anything of value behind, then two things: 1. Even a privileged, award-winning writer worries about ‘doing something’ [leaving the world better than we came in, as Henson would say] with her life, but

2. I’m 40.  My life is half over [if I’m lucky]. And as shallow as it is to say so out loud, what are the chances that now, at the halfway mark, I’m going to make something of myself?  I’ve always had this weird secret dream of being famous for something [something not humiliating or evil, so that leaves out reality TV and serial murder, and not necessarily in that order] but so much of that depends on luck.  And I’m a housewife in the Midwest.  I’m not what you’d call lucky. [*that does NOT mean I don’t have a wonderful family].

so yeah.

The thing I read about Gen Xers is that we kinda had a hard time with deciding what we wanted to be  [except we appear to be good at the family thing] because we all believed we could be anything… decision overload, maybe? and now we’re learning to deal with the fact that some options are closed to us.  There are some things we can’t be.

Which sounds goofy as all hell, but I related to it. There are a lot of things I never wanted to be that I also couldn’t be, but what if there are things I’d like to be but can’t because now it’s too late?

How do I narrow that down?  And what if I’m only ever a housewife?  Am I going to be okay with that?

I mean rationally, I know that being a wife and mom is nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m actually pretty damn good at it [crazy, right?] but somehow it doesn’t feel like enough.

So is that because my cultural indoctrination says it isn’t enough, or is it because there’s something I was called to do but I missed it because I was too fucked up to figure it out?

That’s the question for the night, I guess.  Fun times, eh?

Advertisements

Processing. Day Two.

Standard

I know it’s a dull name, but right now, I’m just giving in to the glory that is hypergraphia and rolling with it.

You have to understand, writing is life’s blood to me.  I read all the time. Hundreds of books and probably thousands of articles each year. About everything that piques my interest. But the zone that hits when I get my writing stride going is like riding a tidal wave straight through the eye of a hurricane.

I emailed a writer once. A lady who wrote about twisted murders that were incredibly dark. And I asked her how she came to terms with that darkness and found the courage to put it out there for everyone to see. Because whatever you read, a part of the author will shine through. And the many times I’ve begun writing a novel, the darkness always threatens to come up and eat me alive.

The irony is that I don’t really remember what she said to me. But I’m certain it was something along the lines of, “Do it anyway.”

Because when you write, if you do it well, you write in your own soul’s blood.  I know. Melodrama. But you have to understand that until very recently, I lived in mortal fear that everyone would read something I’d written and know just how dark my heart really is. And that they would reject and ostracize me for it.

So I wrote about politics instead. 🙂 As a liberal who comes from a very conservative family in a very conservative community in a very conservative state, it’s tantamount to painting a scarlet letter L on your chest.

But the cool thing is, it helped. I think it was part of the process. Politics are a hot button issue, but ultimately, they don’t matter much. They may reveal a bit about who you are, but for me, my politics represent my compassion for the marginalized of our society. I could never talk much about religion because there were still a lot of scars I hadn’t healed from.

So now, I’m sitting here and wondering, do I still care what people think of me?  The answer is yes, of course I do. But then the second question I’m asking myself is, “But is that going to stop me from doing what I know I need to do?”

And the answer is becoming more No than Yes, and that feels like a victory.

Jeremi moved out six days ago. Already I can feel the need to write bubbling up to the surface again. Largely because of my last post. I exorcised a few demons with that one.

So I think I won’t hide anymore. It isn’t that I don’t care what you think. It’s more that I won’t let my fear of your disapproval stop me from living my truth.

I only get one life. I might as well enjoy it.

 

Process of Recovery…Part 1

Standard

So the number one thing I do in my life when I’m coping with or recovering from a difficult situation is ‘I use my words.’

I talk.

I vent.

I write.

I haven’t written regularly in a very long time, and much of the past five years, I haven’t written more than a brief blip about politics or religion here and there, whether on this blog or Facebook. I’ve written a little about the reality of what it was like to take care of my quadriplegic brother, but between not wanting to dwell on something I was still struggling daily with, and feeling like I was indulging in a damn pity party or fishing for compliments, I mostly decided to lay low.

I used to write compulsively when i was depressed, but something about the combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion prevented me from being able to string together a coherent paragraph about my life, and while putting thoughts into the ether used to help me process and get over whatever emotional turmoil I was going through, writing about taking care of Jeremi mostly made me feel trapped.

And alone.

And miserable.

Truth is, I love my brother, and that never stopped, even during the most difficult days, but an equally valid, yet far more difficult truth to write about and admit, is that I absolutely hated taking care of him.

And maybe that’s the crux of why I haven’t written much about it. It’s hard to admit that in spite of the fact that I chose to take care of him, I hated and resented it almost every single day. And eventually, I resented Jeremi as well.

The truth is, I’m not some spectacular example of self-sacrificial love.  I never wanted to move back to this town to take care of him. I never wanted him to live with me. I never wanted to have to be the main person responsible for his care.

Steve had always dreamed of having J live with us later, but I never did. I grew up feeling like a horrible person because I used to hide out in the kitchen or bathroom eating snacks, because I knew if I went into the living room where J was, he’d want some of whatever I was eating, too, and he was likely to drool on me or bite me or choke and spit or vomit all over me, and I hated all of that.

I hated being stuck at home, of never going on a family vacation, never going anywhere as a family because it was so much work to take J with us that it was just easier for one able-bodied person to stay in the house with him, and everyone else to go on outings alone.

It sucks to love someone and resent them at the same time. I grew up feeling like a selfish, hateful, resentful human being. I grew up feeling guilty every day of my life because there was always something I resented that happened.

I felt like I never got quite what I needed because J took so much of the energy my parents had that there just wasn’t much left over for me. As a young child, too young to understand what was really going on, I just felt like he was the ‘favorite’ because he got most of what they had to give.

And all of that was before I was 12.

So fast forward 25 years and there he was. Sick and dying.  My parents were also not in the best health and would have killed themselves trying to take care of him, and in my eyes, the only option was for me to uproot my family and take care of him.

But I didn’t want to.

Because I knew.

I knew there would never be enough help. I knew we were on our own, and that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all. I knew I was going to be miserable.  But I couldn’t see a way out.  I knew that if I said no, I really would be that awful girl who’d hidden out in the bathroom so she wouldn’t have to feed her brother a damn snack, except this time, he would die because of my selfishness.

Even knowing what I know now, having lived five years taking care of him and wishing most days I wasn’t, even having nearly destroyed my mental and physical health, and because of it, endangering the well-being of my family, even knowing that the best choice for Jeremi’s health was not the best for mine or that of my family…I’m still not sure I could say no if I had to choose again.

Because the guilt of that little girl is still there, and stronger than ever, thanks to the constant reminder of the past five years that I still can’t take care of  him without feeling resentment, anger, and self loathing for feeling resentment and anger.

He’s moved out now. He’s happy, healthy and safe, and I am SO glad that is true.

But I’m not.

I’m exhausted and broken, and I’d love nothing more than to  run away to Costa Rica and pretend, even if it’s just for a short time, that I have no obligations or responsibilities to anyone but myself.

I don’t know how to process 30 year old self-inflicted wounds, and I don’t know how not to hate the fact that I absolutely do not ever want to be the primary caregiver of another adult again as long as I live.

 

And here’s where the processing begins.

The truths is, if I had to do it all over again, if I had to make the same choice today that I made five years ago…

I would say no.

That little girl who hid out in the bathroom was a child.

It wasn’t her responsibility to take care of a brother who couldn’t take care of himself.  We shouldn’t have had to be alone in the house in the first place.

Now understand me here. I’m not placing blame.

My parents did the only thing they could given the resources that were available at the time, and there are no good options in a situation like that.

But as the child who lived through it, I had a lot on my shoulders that I wasn’t equipped to handle, and that I never should have had to deal with in the first place.

I wasn’t a villain. And I was exactly as selfish as every other human in the history of mankind was at that age. I was certainly no more selfish, and probably a little less so.

Five years ago, it wasn’t my responsibility to nurse J back to health. I didn’t have to do it.

And had I been thinking clearly, I would have taken a more objective look at what my kids were going to have to go through.

They’ve lived the same life for the past five years that I had for my entire childhood and adolescence.

On some deep psychological level, I think I was trying to make up for what I believed were wrongs I had committed against Jeremi.

And I was trying to do what I’d been taught from a very early age: when it comes to family, you do what you gotta do. You make the sacrifices necessary to support family, even if it means destroying yourself in the process.

But when you have kids who depend on you, who rely on you to be the safe landing spot when they have a problem or crisis, who depend on you to help them know how much they mean to you, sacrificing your own health and happiness means that you also sacrifice their safe landing spot.

My parents did the best they could to support both of their kids, but the truth is, two people just don’t have enough energy and personal resources to support two kids’ physical and emotional needs when one requires most of their energy just to keep him alive.

It wasn’t that they were inadequate, it was that the load was too big for anyone.

And that’s the thing I didn’t realize until I lived it.  My parents pushed past physical and mental exhaustion and burnout for decades because it was their child and there wasn’t anyone else to do it.

Steve and I did the same thing, but J wasn’t my child. I already had three kids, and they were taking up everything I had just on their own.  I never had enough to give to J without sacrificing what my family needed from me, but I didn’t realize it until I was falling apart.

I’ve broken myself, physically and emotionally, and I’m working on picking up the pieces and starting again.   I’ve learned some valuable lessons, but man, sometimes I wish I could learn things without having to go through hell in the process.

So the process has begun.

Wish me luck.