It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. I read my old posts here and cringe. There’s a handful of posts I’m proud of, but there’s a shit-ton of repetitive navel-gazing too. I’ve decided that it’s time to move on. This closing post is somewhat of an amalgam of letters I have written to others recently. It’s also more glorious navel-gazing. I’ve got some nebulous noncommittal plans and tearing down this blog is part of that. If I decide to blog again, I’ll let you know where to find me.
For the last six months I’ve been thinking a lot about writing. Am I a writer or not? I am just romanticizing the thought, or do I have an aching need? Because, if I am indeed a writer, my performance leads me to believe I’m probably the dead kind. Stephen Elliott told me, “Part of writing is not writing.” So, I guess I’ve mastered something about writing, right?
I do feel the need, but it’s fucking dodgy. It pops up at the worst times, and then it’s gone. A will-o’-the-F.U.-wisp.
Earlier this year I had a sudden and strong bout of depression. It was the darkest I had ever felt, and it didn’t make sense. I had someone to love, I had money, I was physically healthy, there was no looming stress and yet I had to hold back from crying in public constantly. Life felt like lead.
It was scary and I had no explanation. I sought help right away.
Peering deep into my navel, I understand what happened. I lost myself in a romantic relationship and my heart/mind/soul/whatever called me out. It wasn’t fucking around. I realized after 6 months that the relationship was just another act of avoidance. Just like my 13 year marriage had been. Same as my 22 years-long career has been. I’m really good at trying to be what someone else wants instead of being ME. Shortly after I righted my ship, I ended the relationship.
I don’t understand why I do this. Why am I afraid of myself? Why have I consistently lost myself in stories that aren’t mine?
I have a story but I don’t want to write it.
I find it interesting that the urge to write this coincides with the transition from one season to another. Everything’s metaphoric, I guess. Why does the nature of personal change have to be such a goddamn incremental process? I pine for an abrupt psychological extinction event that creates a clear-cut emotional K-T boundary that I can point at and say,
“See this? This is where the Bullshit era ended and the Fuck Yeah era began.”
I originally posted Done on March 1st, 2011. I password protected it, afraid of people’s reaction and interpretation. As a writer, there is a constant battle to be authentic. To sift out the bullshit of your own words.. To say the things that go unsaid, to reveal our true selves. But how much? And why? In hindsight, this may be some of my best writing. There was no agenda, no purpose. I simply had to write these words. And I wrote a lot of them. So, now I share them with you.
I’m fucking tired. Tired of trying. Tired of being strong, responsible, true. Tired of forcing myself to think positively. I’m tired of being lonely, of not knowing what a good relationship is. I need someone to comfort me, to shore me up when I fall apart. I’m tired of doubting and being lost. I’m tired of taking pills to help me feel happy. They don’t fucking work. I’m tired of being out of balance, existing in the extremes. I’m tired of not being able to focus. I’m tired of just surviving. I’m tired of holding on by my fingernails. I’m tired of being sad. Tired of rejection, of abandonment. Tired of the emptiness. Tired of thinking all my problems and unhappiness are because I’m weak, that I choose to fail. I’m tired of being told, thinking, feeling that there is something wrong with me.
I’m tired of my son’s diabetes, his food allergies, of my mother’s COPD. I’m resentful that I have to pick up the pieces of my mother’s shattered health. She brought it upon herself and passed the burden on to her children. My siblings have families, moved on. I’m the only one left. Sometimes I wish she would die. That hurts. I’m ashamed. It’s all just too much. I can barely cope with my own shattered life and the suffering I have caused.
I don’t want to cry anymore. Make me numb. No more feeling.
I don’t want to hear how someone always has it worse. I don’t care. I’ve had it with always having to measure my life against someone else’s to determine if I’m worthy. I don’t want to hear that it’s all in my head, that all I have to do is change my thought patterns. The things that I want out of life are always out of reach because of my own limitations. I want to NEED and not feel weak or judged. I want to beat the fuck out of the next person to tell me that I live in the land of opportunity, that I just need to work hard and want it bad enough. I’m sick of not measuring up to what is considered successful. It’s not. It’s sick.
Don’t tell me it’s going to be alright. Please someone tell me it will be. Hold me. Tell me not to worry. I despise my duality, my life of dichotomy. Don’t tell me what a good person I am, that I deserve the world. There is no reward. I want to be selfish and cruel. I want to take and not give, to inflict pain. I want to abandon, to flee. I will get what I want only then. I don’t know what I want. I have hope until I don’t. I love my son but I feel like I can’t connect. I can’t connect to anyone. I can’t connect to myself. I love myself until I don’t. The aching disconnection. All the damage caused by my choices. The pain inflicted.
Don’t point out my negative thought patterns. I see them. I’m not a fucking idiot. I’m angry and frustrated. I keep slipping back. Everybody and thing requires more and I get less and less. “You just need to suck it up!” Fuck you. I just need to get a second job. A new job. “You are lucky to have a job.” Go to hell, cocksuckers.
I want to rid myself of all the things that hold me down. Sell all my belongings. Burn it. Burn it all. It’s worthless. I just want to be whole. I want to feel secure, confident. I want to thrive. I’ve lost almost everything but it is still not enough.
I’m tired of all the double talk. The half truth. The compliments that are empty. The lies. I’m tired of what is given importance. It’s not. More lies. Sick of swimming in dysfunction. A fucking ocean of it. It oozes through walls, out of ears. Rushes down gutters, the stench of it fills the air.
Why is it never good enough? Why do I feel like I don’t fit? Why am I so broken? Just take these pills. We don’t offer long-term therapy. Read this book. Do it yourself. You will get help only if you are suicidal. Until you are not. Mental health is not a priority. The dollars count. Not you.
Lost. So lost. Hope that fades. Dreams that crumble. The hand that is not there to pull me up. I’m tripping, falling.
Yesterday, my sisters and I hosted a celebration of life party for our mother. Her funeral was a small affair, it consisted of just us, our children and my sister’s spouses. We decided at that time that we would have a party a year after her death, something with more smiles and less tears and for others that knew our mother. My sisters asked me to write something for the party and so I started writing something with intention, something “worthy” and “grand,” but the words wouldn’t flow. I rammed my head into the word-dam for a bit and then surrendered. This is what manifested.
A year has past. Grief has leased an exclusive penthouse in my heart for much of it. Often he’d play the music too loud or vacuum the apartment late at night. A few times I left a note on his door asking politely that he be a little more considerate of the other tenants. I’d find them crumpled into tight balls on my doorstep. Eventually, he left a note on my door that only had one word scrawled in all capitals. It said, “DEAL.”
So, I dealt. I’m still dealing. I guess I always will be.
I remember watching a movie with mom many years ago and in one of the scenes a brightly dressed funeral procession was dance-marching down a street while upbeat jazz music blared. I was in my early teens and had never seen such a thing. I was immediately enthralled. It beat the hell out of the visions of wearing all black and standing in the middle of a cemetery on a rainy day while eating a big greasy grief sandwich. Mom said that she’d like a funeral like that. I agreed.
Later, I’d come to know that the ceremony is actually called a Jazz Funeral, a unique tradition here in the States, specifically in New Orleans. What I’d seen in the movie was only the last half of the funeral. During the first half they play mournful songs while marching somberly to cemeteries where they presumably eat big greasy grief sandwiches in the rain.
My point is, you can’t skip the grieving part. Like most things in life, it is a process, not an event. But today, we choose to celebrate instead of mourn. Today we choose the “Second Line.” It is the term given to the onlookers who join in behind the latter, much more cool half of the funeral march. The second line forms to share in the loud, upbeat, raucous music and dancing to celebrate the life of the deceased.
To celebrate is to accept, to accept our mother for all that she was, and all that she wasn’t. To celebrate is to forgive, to abandon regrets and judgement. To celebrate is to share, to recount our memories and uncover even more. To celebrate is to love, to be thankful for the time we shared with her.
Bernadette Erin Tuton- June 29th 1940, May 3rd, 2011
Happy Mother’s Day, mom.