“with all associations broken, one forms new ones, as a broken bone thickens in healing”

I hear the tail end of the young woman’s sentence. She’s crying: “… it’s how you guys make me feel!” My friend M. speaks in to her in low tones, but is quickly interrupted: “It wasn’t even you,” the crying young woman says. “It was her.” I can feel her accusatory tone all the way down the hall, I swear I picture her finger stabbing at me.

Who wants to be her? Not me. I am aghast. I’ve been doing this work twice a week for almost two years and this is the first time I’m the sonovabitch, or more accurately, I can hear someone saying I’m the sonovabitch. And who wants to be the sonovabitch? Again: not me.

This is a time of transition for me. I am moving into a different set of responsibilities in some of my volunteer work; I am leaving behind other duties and letting other parties take them, just when (of course!) I was starting to feel comfortable, like I had half a clue, like I was halfway decent at this work. It makes a kind of Universal Sense I’d get this kind of jolt tonight, someone forming a grudge. It’s an apt, ignominious footnote a period of my life I’d come to treasure, and the finale of this episode. Because I’m going to miss going up to the treatment center, never missing Wednesdays, never missing Sundays unless I was in the hospital or out of town. I’m going to miss it a whole hell of a lot and I would write on and on here about it, if I didn’t think it would be breaking the trust of those I work with. So without saying more, let me just say I’m in mourning. I think there was this little bit of me who was clinging on to the thought of never letting go of it because it was becoming a part of me. But I think the right thing to do is grow a little more and try something new and put my ass on the line a little bit more.

***

I remember the first time I heard it, really heard it, when a very wise friend of mine said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” I had this instant sense of revulsion and fear upon hearing this because at the time, I knew what other people thought of me mattered so very, very, very much and I hated that it mattered like it did. I tried hard, so hard, to be a good person (wife mother sister daughter friend citizen) but how hard could I really have been trying, when what I never wanted to hear was someone’s disapproval. It drove me absolutely crazy, and I could absolutely fixate on myself and my mistakes (fancied or real); even worse, I could fixate on their character faults (fancied or real). That kind of thin-skin or self-absorption or whatever, well the practice of self-improvement is seriously compromised when you’re living that way.  Other people’s irritation was a bit scary, probably scary like the Normal Amount most people feel when someone is irritated with them – but outright hatred? My only guess is I was more affected by the abuse I’d survived than I realized; I still carry the memories within my body, not just my mind. Still carry that fear of other people; not so much the people as the Hate itself. Hate still frightens me so, but usually only when it’s directed at me or I perceive it is. If you knew my whole gory history (and some of you know a bit of it), you’d probably understand. It’s no excuse; it’s just where I’m at some of the time.

Driving home tonight I feel pangs. On reflection, I wouldn’t have done or said anything different than I did, even though it apparently did not please this one individual. & yet, I know that the pain this woman is feeling has almost nothing to with me; rather it’s a lot of horrid shit that’s gone down in her life, and her own self-pity. I know because I’ve been there and I try to treat people the way I wanted to be treated then, and want to be treated today. With kindness and directness. You know, both those things aren’t as easy as they sound, especially when like me you’ve got a goddamned brain disease. Yeah and again. I’m not trying to make excuses, just saying there are days it’s rough up in this bitch.

Yeah. Good days versus “growth days”. “Growth days” is a nice euphemism for, “here’s a wee cockpunch!”

games, changes and fears / when will they go from here

I screwed up today. I took care of other people, responded in every way to phone calls, ran errands, fixed something for someone, listened to people who needed to be listened to, gave rides, cooked and cleaned and set up the kids –

and neglected my spiritual practice and thusly, my own self care. And of course, I likely missed out on a deeper usefulness to others.

I was nearly a wreck by nine PM.

I can start the day over anytime. I’m going to start it over now. At a few minutes to midnight.

different names for the same thing

Today sucked. First? I was up all night – at least up to something marginally entertaining, watching the television show “Justified” on instant video. It was instantly deeply entertaining (Timothy Olyphant FTW), besides being more or less standard very dudely television fare (kiss kiss bang bang, ladies leave the room cuz menfolks is talkin). I eventually fell asleep and had a dream I made out with a local lawyer, non-related to any television viewing or any desire to make out with anyone besides my own actual man, and while the dream itself wasn’t the most unsavory I’ve had, it still to this moment leaves an ick-factor I haven’t entirely brushed off.

After I (eventually) staggered out of bed and washed up and opened blinds and brushed my teeth and got some laundry started, I dragged myself to the computer, cup of coffee in hand, to continue my day in a positive way – but, sadly, I was immediately exposed to something awful on the internet. And you know what? It doesn’t matter much what it was. It involved people I knew (and people I love), and ugly, soul-sucking behaviors, and apologism for the kind of social constructs I find most personally abhorrent, reprehensible, and hurtful. And I don’t know why, reading and doing the work and activism I do, I could stand to say I feel any sense of surprise to see such regressive and destructive attitudes and behaviors and why I haven’t just “evolved” (my mom’s phrase) into where I find these sorts of human behavior just kind of, shake-my-head funny. Or maybe sometimes I can – but not this morning. No, I sure didn’t.

I felt like shit the rest of the day, or most of it anyway. Depressed, overwhelmed, deeply sad. The timbre of the day’s experience felt like the rainy-and-dark depression that can overwhelm me seasonally, which I’d noted had been lifting lately. I took the best remedy I know, which was to go outside – in this case, a walk, joined by my children and later a couple girlfriends (who delivered excellent conversation). This helped, a bit. When Ralph got home he knew I was feeling bad and he did his best to take care of me, including dinner out. It helped. A bit.

Days like today I cannot imagine my life without my family. Yes, living without Ralph and the kids would be entirely different, I know that, enough it is silly to speculate on anything much. But while I have much to be grateful for, and a shared life with many passionate and incredible people who are supportive and loving and inspirational, there is something restorative about family life – and specifically my children – more constant than just about anything else. Even my daily and regular efforts in caring for them bring me to a mindfulness and in-the-moment experience that feels more Me than anything else – yes, even more than my beloved writing and sewing and my social interactions (in fact these three often distract me from my children, my husband, and my practice of mindfulness).

In the final analysis there is nothing that can take the place of the meaning and joy I find in the most simple things, plating up a ham sandwich and apple slices, or brushing hair and washing faces, or cuddling on the couch or simply bundling up and stepping outside for a walk while talking, the kids’ observations, their questions (which I feel honored to be trusted so implicitly with), their worldviews, their laughter. It’s rather confusing because people tend to frame joyful experiences with regard to grand or extravagant events, not those little things we have in our day, every day. As I get older and the more time I have with the children I feel an increasing experience of gratitude. It isn’t just that I like them, and love them, and find them my favorite people on the planet. It’s that I wonder how much passion would have passed me by had I not them in my life, and I feel grateful not to miss out on that passion.

A multi-part healing prescription: sunshine, exercise, friends, family, dinner out with my best friend and husband, and a bit of writing. Yes, I am feeling much better now – after all.