Friday, April 12, 2013

Why your soulmate has got to be yourself

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~Derek Walcott

I tore that poem out of the back of an Oprah magazine so many years ago, that I can barely remember. I laminated it and taped it up to my bedroom door, right next to my full length mirror. I didn't particularly reread it often; it just kinda stuck there. Every once in a while, I would read the lines: "The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door...". 

When I moved out of that little apartment, the only place I ever lived in by myself, during the most difficult time in my life, I carefully peeled back the tape's edges, packed it up along with some race numbers and quotes that had joined it on what had become my Inspiration Door (if you will), and took it with me.

The poem, once again, was carefully taped back up in my new home: the starter home I was now sharing with The Love of My Life. I was happy. I was fulfilled. Yet, the poem went back up. I didn't read those lines so often anymore, but I couldn't part with them. They needed to be there.

After a few years, one child, more joy, I untaped the laminated page once again, and packed it up to my Corner Lot Home in Suburbia (how the hell did that happen?!?) with my  Still Love of My Life, and up the poem went.

Those words, with me, for so long.

I barely remember the girl who needed the reminder...the girl who I used to be.

So very long ago, I would not have greeted myself at the door. I certainly would not have invited myself to sit and eat and drink.  I'm not really sure why. I just know that I couldn't own up to who I was. I couldn't really be proud of myself because I was too busy worrying about who other people thought I should be.

At some point, when the shit started hitting the fan inside my head, when I could stand the self-imposed repression no longer, I started to break out, little by little. Eventually, my little acts of rebellion turned into full-fledged metaphorical kicking and screaming and clawing. I needed out of that cage. I needed to fly.

I'd love to say that when that moment came, I simply went. But I didn't. I was hesitant and unsure and unsteady. In general, I was a fucking mess. The few people who I was blessed enough to have at my side suffered right along with me. They stood by me. They listened. They advised. They nodded their heads. And, when necessary, they'd shove me out of the cage I would occasionally fly back into to cower.

As rough and tenuous and unstable as that time was, I remember I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those were the days when I'd read those lines: "The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door" and I actually believed it. I  knew the time would come. I just wasn't there yet. So I'd hang onto that when I felt frustrated or low or dark or worthless.

What happens in our lives that we start to feel that way about ourselves? What combination of events have to happen that some of us get to the point where we do not smile at our reflection in the mirror...that we would rather sit and have wine and bread with anyone else but ourselves...that we look to someone else--a spouse, a boyfriend, a child--to fulfill us, to make us feel whole and worthwhile? We depend on someone else's acceptance because we can't find it for ourselves.

The poem is still there, but I almost never even notice it anymore. It's just one more slip of paper on my closet wall. And certainly, there are days that I don't like myself so much. That I question whether I did the right thing or said the right thing or looked the right way. I second-guess myself. For a moment, I wish I could be more like (fill-in-the-blank-here) or a little less like myself. But on most days, I am able to invite myself in, open a bottle of wine, and feast on my own life. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On shaky ground with a noisy head

My house was broken into today.
My sister is having another (unexpected) surgery this week.
My friend is trying to repair a broken life.

I am exhausted.

I'm also quite shocked: my instinct has been to look for the good in each of these situations.

The son-of-a-bitch didn't get to steal anything. The alarm and a nosy (wonderful) neighbor scared him off before he could take a single thing.
My sister's surgery will hopefully prevent any further complications.
My friend is being brave and will come out of this better off in the end.

That is what I have concluded in each of these cases.
And anyone who has known me for a long time knows that it is a BIG deal that I even came to those conclusions all on my tears, no hysteria, no panic, no Hubby or Dear Friend calming me down from That Dark Place I can go to in my head.

But I'm exhausted. I feel like life is shifting underneath my feet. Have you ever seen those crazy balance boards they have in gyms that look like skateboards with no wheels? You stand on them and try to balance without letting either side hit the floor? It's like that. Like I'm on one of those lately.

And although I do feel a bit spent lately, I am shocked how, on most days, I am just moving along, doing my thing, preparing dinners, packing lunches, making plans, going to work, fretting about those extra 5 pounds, just going about life. There's definitely been some weight on my shoulders lately, and yet I've managed to carry it at least somewhat gracefully.

And so now I am sitting here in bed, trying to go to sleep early, my body aching for the rest, but my head is spinning...a flurry of thoughts about my sister, my parents, my brother-in-law; my friend and her pain; my home and what could have been lost (not so much material...I have come to the realization today that except for a couple of TVs and a couple of cheap laptops, we have virtually nothing a burglar would want). There it is again: that head of mine...always full of noise. And as evidenced by this post, I have no point, no lesson, or epiphany to share...just a lot of noise drowning out my peace.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

All the crazy sh*t running around in my head these days: My Life, in Lists

I am always a little hesitant to post one of my "Lists Series" entries, because over the last few months, Hubby has taken to snarkily smirking: "Let me guess: is it a list?" when I tell him I've blogged. He caught on (pretty much like the rest of you) that as my blogging became more and more sporadic, the List Series became more and more prevalent. It's not a cop-out. I swear. But, yes, it is easier than formulating a poignant but witty post in full prose. And I really do think in lists. I swear. So here it is...sorta stream-of-consciousness writing meets My Life in Lists series.

If you could look inside my head, here's what I've been thinking (or repressing):

1. I need to lose weight.
2. I need to meditate more.
3. I need to talk less.
4. I need to listen more.
5. I need to ask people more questions.
6. Technically, my sister doesn't have cancer anymore, but she's still really, really broken.
7. Will anyone in my family ever feel and act normal again?
8. I need to find another 50 Shades-type of book.
9. I need to read more smart stuff.
10. Why am I not into my blog anymore?
11. How am I going to be able to contain myself from sobbing audibly at my youngest son's preschool graduation next month?
12. Why can't they just stop growing?
13. I am so glad I took a picture of his hand dimples. They are nearly gone.
14. How come when one person goes through some really bad shit, it can bring you closer to them?
15. What if my friend gets a divorce, moves away, and I never see her again?
16. What's up with my suddenly cracked heels? Is this a new "forty-something thing"?
17. How come my 40th birthday trip to Vegas feels sooooo far away?
18. How come my 2 nights of babysitting for my anniversary last week feel sooooo far away?
19. Will I regret wishing my babies would grow up faster when they were little?
20. How can I truly enjoy, savor, relish, live every single second of their little kid-ness that's left?
21. Is it true that mothers of boys grow old alone?
22. Do grown men ever really want to take their mothers out to lunch?
23. Will my daughters-in-law hate me?
24. WTF has come over me as a mother lately?
25. I need to furnish the family room.
26. This cough is driving me fucking insane.
27. I need to be on Facebook less and back in the blogosphere more.
28. Do I drink too much?
29. Does alcohol really cause cancer?
30. Does my deodorant and super fantastic MAC makeup really cause cancer?
31. Does anything NOT cause cancer?
32. I can't believe I'm 40.
33. There are only forty-something days left of school until summer vacation.
34. Am I wasting my life by counting down school days until summer vacation every year?
35. How come I still love him this much after 13 years together? Will that shoe ever fall?
36. How many more "good years" does my dearest friend have left? How will I survive her passing when the time comes?
37. How many more "good years" do my parents have?
38. If I had to have chemo, I think I'd get a crew cut and dye it purple before it fell out.
39. I love my new tattoos.
40. I miss Paris.
41. Is it possible to be The Girl I Was In Paris here at home?
42. I loved that girl.
43. Thank God this winter has been hot as hell here.
44. I can't wear my new bikini until I lose 4 pounds, at least.
45. Fuck the four pounds. Life is too short. And a 31-year-old told me yesterday there was "absolutely no way" she believed I was 40.
46. I will not buy any more black clothing.
47. If it weren't for the FCAT, I'd still love my job.
48. Breathe more.
49. "I am responsible for the energy I bring to this space."
50. I have GOT to get better at being fully present.
51. I absolutely can not end a list like this with #50. It's too cliché.