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This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Monday, December 12, 2011

All is Calm, All is Quiet

There's a song, by Jens Lekman, called "The Opposite of Hallelujah."  I'm terrible with song lyrics, but sometimes the story of a song catches my curiosity and I will listen to it methodically, learning verse by verse, usually at the top of my lungs.  Here are the first and second verse, the ones that caught my attention years ago:
I took my sister down to the ocean
But the ocean made me feel stupid.
Those words of wisdom I had prepared
All seemed to vanish into thin air
Into the waves I stared. 



I picked up a seashell to illustrate my homelessness
But a crab crawled out of it making it useless.
And my metaphors fell flat
Down on the rocks where we sat.
She asked where you were at. 
Now that I've typed those out for you to delight in--all the words I don't have, the wisdom I can't seem to share, is staring back at me blankly. 

"Homeless" is not something that will ever apply to me.  No matter how tough my life gets, assuming I don't totally veer off course and into some kind of disgusting drug addiction, I will always have family and friends to catch me when I'm falling.  In this case, I'm not so much falling as I am holding steady.  That term, holding steady, has been used at least daily since I took Salamander and abruptly left our home in Washington almost two weeks ago.

I haven't told many people the full story behind that big crumble and it occurs to me that readers of my blog will be wondering what the hell happened.  Relationship issues are so intensely personal and complex.  All I can simply share is that I left Hadj, and my cats and dogs and everything, on a flight that had been booked twelve hours previously.  I did so at the urging of our couples' counsellor.  She told me I was in a situation that was "textbook domestic violence."  When she said this my gut tied itself into a massive knot, my adrenaline kicked in, and, it seems, my fight or flight reflexes took over.  I just listened to her.  I acted fast, made arrangements, kept them all a secret from my husband, and fucking fled into the night.  We arrived in Chicago just over twenty-four hours later. 

The danger in my home was not a simple kind of danger.  It was not fists or flying objects, it was not predictable, and it is still not easily understood.  All I know is that I don't know when, or if, I can go home and that I am terribly home sick.  I miss my pets.  I miss the fresh air and sea water.  I miss my neighbors and I miss having Salamander in a place he is comfortable and familiar and at ease.  I can't tell you how many times a day I tell myself that he really misses our dog, Bella.  I have started responding "ma" every time he says "da" because I can't decide if he saying "dog" or "dad" and they both break my heart.  I'm sure there is a more simple, less masochistic way of looking at that... but I'm just saying.

It could be much worse.  In fact, I could write a few paragraphs, with ease, on how many positives there are to my situation.  For example, my family is easy to be around.  I am in a place that does not have those metaphorical eggshells scattered all over the floor.  I am being encouraged to be comfortable, relaxed, and to take as much time as I need.  I need not make decisions until the appropriate answers occur to me. 

I have received advice from many, words of wisdom too.  My mom, knowing me so well, encouraged me to not over-think all this, despite my tendency to do so.  She encouraged me to feel what I'm feeling and not analyze too much.  So I bought myself some colored pencils, while I was out shopping for cheap make-up and shirts to wear, in order to draw my feelings.  I felt some drawing would be better than journalling, as it is much more intuitive and much less analytical.  But the truth is I can't put much heart into anything for myself other than strong coffee, cigarettes, crap TV, sugar and carbs, and occasionally some pages from a NY Times bestseller. 

This too comes and goes.  Some days I have a sense of purpose, whether manufactured or necessary, and on those days I tell myself I'm doing the best I can for Salamander and myself.  Other days I can't stop wondering if, or when, I can go home.  More recently, I wonder if I made a mistake listening to that therapist who told me to leave. 

I consider reading advice, or at least some moving narrative, regarding situations similar to mine.  Then I find myself staring into the distance, slumped in a heap, my mind either blank or a mess of concerns.  I keep wanting to sit down at the keyboard and pour out some kind of raw emotion that has me crying as I type and leaves me feeling washed more clean at the end.  Then I stare at the computer from across the room and do not approach.  I pick up toys and put them away.  I wash dishes.  I consider what food I want to eat next and try to imagine something green in it. 

Something about this part of the world, Cary, IL, just chafes me.  It has for so long.  There are places and moments of beauty here and there, but I find it so difficult to connect to them here.  I have felt more moved by the beauty in a litter filled curbside in Chicago than I have here on a sunny day.  Something about the orderly quiet of these suburbs; there are no tarps indicating projects run out of funding, like in Belfair.  There are no ninety-floor high rises indicating the majesty of man's ingenuity like in Chicago.  There's a river, which doubles as a highway for boats or snowmobiles.  There's grass which seems to indicate ownership and wealth.  There are so many tabloid magazines.  I feel, for some reason, like I'm surrounded by cheap and demeaning tabloids. 

I can't believe I'm going to be thirty in six weeks.  I can't believe my son is going to turn a year old without his father's presence.  I can't believe how quietly I was drawn into the trappings of a dysfunctional household and how long I tried to single handedly solve that inexplicable puzzle.  I can't believe I have no financial safety net of my own.  I can't believe how horny and confused I am.  I can't believe how fucked up I keep wishing I could get.

Have you ever noticed that there are copious amounts of really sad, "I'll be home for..." or "Baby, please come home for..." Christmas songs?  I'm sure anyone who has suffered heart break around the holidays (and really, who of us hasn't?) has noticed this.  I've been having a hard time getting my singing voice to the feel-good, sweet-spot for a few weeks.  I just don't have much heart for it.  Occasionally though, I can croon a high and clear "Silent Night" for my baby as he falls into sleep.  I can move past wanting to burst into tears when my throat clenches and know that, in due time, all this will wash up to something more acceptable.

Meanwhile, while all my blankness and emptiness sits like a cold pond behind the walls I've mostly finished constructing around it, I work to keep busy and focus on positives.  I've been decorating my parents' house for Christmas yesterday and today.  I've been talking with my family and friends and occasionally going out to see them.  I received a really neat phone call from my cousin who has a friend at IBM.  They were calling to tell me about a telecommuting social media job.  I sent my resume last night and, as soon as I can actually do something of more substance, I will continue looking for opportunities of that type.  It just seems so perfect an opportunity for me, why not look?

When I was younger I would feel so strongly my emotions that I couldn't function sometimes.  That option no longer exists, and I'm fine with it.  I'd rather not be seeking a swift resolution to this mess anyhow.  Sitting inside this horrible discomfort is no fun and I don't have any dramatic metaphors for it.  In the past I've been a ship at sea, a hiker on a forest trail, a bird in the wind, but this time I'm just a human surviving.  I'm a strong woman who refuses to be held accountable for someone else's issues any longer.  I'm a good mother who is making the most sound decisions possible, at any given moment, for her son.  I'm a humble person who acknowledges responsiblity and regret and sorrow.  Under that I have a lot of great qualities, they'll come out again.  They're still here, I'm still talented and beautiful and wise.  I still have ambition and will find balance and keep grace close.

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