December 9, 2013

"spent my whole life in a sea of pain, i don't know what's right, but i know what ain't..."

i have twelve blog posts in draft. since september.

it's the book. wanting to come out, ready to be born or perhaps, actually already being born.

crowning, at least.


yesterday a dear friend posted a beautiful photo of her seven year old daughter brushing what she called her "tangly weave" and putting clips in her hair. she called it torture, but endured at the joyous hands of daughter.

i remember the torture that having my hair combed was as a child.
i endured at the hands of my mother.
because i had to.

and even though i have rationalized this enough, already, today, i am even more grateful that i never had that little girl i always wanted.

she'd surely have been a hobo chic hot mess like her mama, with long, dirty, tangled locks most days, but she might have also wanted to comb my hair and i wouldn't have been able to just let her.

further hypothetical proof that i am selfish mother, always reconciling the desire to be a mother with the desire to be an autonomous being, which often looks like not wanting this at all.


i write and paint slowly.
painfully slow.

i am grateful for the space and the tools but most days, i am unable to find the blissful flow that only comes from being uninterrupted in my thoughts and my work.

words and images want to come out but there are noses and bums to wipe, clothes to clean or put away, dishes (always dishes), dust, dog, arguments to break up, boo-boos to kiss and make feel better, food to buy, food to make, messes to clean up (always messes), conversations to have, questions to answer...interruption. near-constant. sometimes the volume and excitement of just the two youngest boys prompts my husband to say "it's like living at summer camp, all year long."


"be careful what you ask for..." my grandmother used to warn.

my grandmother also used to tell me not to have children. she was none too pleased, of course, when i got pregnant at 16 but she held my baby shower and she held my hand as i birthed my son.

she never knew about the secret pregnancy that i only talk about with secret friends, the one that ended in miscarriage when my son was three and shattered my life more than it maybe should have.

when i announced my second pregnancy, which was really my third, i was ten years older than the first time and engaged, but there was no way to just share such news with her. it was an ordeal that involved mental and emotional preparation. she celebrates nothing, criticizes everything. i had to work myself up to it and still i was not prepared for her reaction which involved the f-word and her telling me that she just couldn't be happy for me.

that was the moment that our relationship changed significantly because i couldn't continue to subject myself to such negativity. i waited until i was in my second trimester to tell her the last time i was pregnant and i kind of had little choice because she was attending a choir performance for my oldest son. afterward, we went to a metaphysical bookstore in the area and i worked up the nerve. i figured that while she was holding a pendulum in her hand, in a peaceful, public setting she couldn't lash out. i chose my words carefully.

"grandma, do you think you could hold that over my wrist and tell me the gender of this baby?"

of course she already knew, whether my aunts had slipped or she just knew intuitively because we're all connected in that way, but she acted surprised and gave me a hug. she even attended the birth of my third son, and, for a time, she watched my two younger boys while i briefly worked outside of the home. it wasn't long, however, before i knew the toll was too great, the negativity still too strong, and she lashed out at me for the last time.


my grandmother and i do not currently speak. sometimes i feel wracked with guilt about it but then i remember how fragile our boundaries are, steeped in lies and dysfunction.

i know my grandmother's negativity is a generational dis-ease, the result of lifetimes of fear and pain, abuses handed down, not only through first-hand experiences, but through our very DNA. i know because when i operate from the same place, i resent being a mother and it takes effort to be, not the example that was given, but better. healthier. less depressed. dare i say, happy?

looking back, when she said she couldn't be happy for me, i never expected her to be, though there was still an expectation and subsequent disappoint. and hurt.

today, i forgive her.

there's no way she could have possibly been happy for me when she can't seem to be happy, in general, for anyone, ever. not even, and most importantly, herself.


happiness is attainable and sustainable but remains elusive to many. when guilt is the guiding force in someone's life, they may feel, not only incapable of feeling happiness, but also unworthy. my grandmother habitually retells the same sad stories and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, something bad is just around the bend, was the childhood tale i heard most. this prevents experiencing happiness, as it happens, in the moment.

happiness is a state of being, perhaps of mind, but in the heart.
it is not unwavering, it is no more permanent than life itself.
it is not a constant state but it is most definitely a constant process.

it doesn't mean you'll never be depressed ever again.
loss still occurs. grief is natural.
it doesn't mean you're not allowed to feel sad or angry.
shit still happens.

happiness, though, is non-attachment. without expectations or strings attached. happiness is forgiveness. softness. vulnerabilities, not bared and judged, but bared and comforted.

i want to hold the space necessary to wrap my arms around my grandmother and i want to cry and tell her that i love her and that i miss her.

maybe someday i will have the courage and strength that requires. for now, i send my love from afar and refer often to my silent, steady reminder; the post-it on my computer that says: i can't write my story without also telling hers.

i was looking for a picture of her and i when i was a baby but came upon this polaroid first.
halloween, 1985.
it made me laugh.
my brother and i were punk rockers and not very good ones.
my grandmother didn't let my cousin trick or treat.
that made me sad.

*today's title was brought to you by modest mouse : never ending math equation - which is weird because i'd already chosen it before i found that photo. he starts the song by singing, "i'm the same as i was when i was six years old..." in 1985, i was six years old.


  1. your are a brave courageous woman my sister
    I bow in honour before you

    love and light


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