naamah_darling: A tiny week-old tabby kitten with her paws raised and her eyes half-closed. (Kittens)
So, it's Dysfunctional Families Day over at MakingLight.

So I thought I'd share a few things drawn from experiences I had as a child raised in a dysfunctional family.

You can link this around if you like, and feel free to add your own observations at the end.

Disclaimer: I'd really rather not go into the "but sometimes kids are genuinely bad and irritating and and and" stuff. Take all of this in context. Okay?


Refusing to comfort crying children does not make them magically not hurt or scared. It doesn't make them braver. It makes them feel more hurt and scared because they learn they cannot trust anyone to soothe them. They never learn to comfort themselves. They grow to be fearful adults.

Telling kids that childhood is the best part of your life and that adulthood is horrible does not prepare them for anything. It only makes children afraid of growing up. Through fostering fear, it also denies them the "good" childhood people say they are having, even though they aren't.

Telling kids not to be juvenile and to grow up does not make them grow up any faster. Telling kids to stop being babies does not make them into stronger and more capable people.

Telling kids that they are "spoiled" or "they have it good" when what the child has is, in fact, strictly average and not all that exeptional does not make them appreciate what they have. It only makes them ashamed of what they have, and makes them feel totally undeserving.

Telling kids that a painful and bloody skinned knee is nothing compared to the pain you have, or the pain that everyone eventually has from inevitable broken bones, illnesses, or surgeries, does not make them better able to ignore the pain. It makes them more afraid of pain, it makes them afraid of growing up, and it very well might make them afraid of doctors and/or their own bodies.

Telling kids that they are wasting their talents does not make them apply themselves. It only makes them feel like they can't do anything right, ever.

Criticizing kids for not doing well in school will not help them do better. They are either bored, being bullied, are having trouble understanding the material, or are so smart they aren't used to having to try to learn. Your job, in all of these cases, is to empathize and help them.

Criticizing kids for not being smart enough will not make them smarter or try harder. It will only make them accept that they aren't smart, and because they believe that for real, they will never try to become smarter.

Praising your kid for their intelligence is fantastic. You also need to praise them for trying, at least as often as you praise the smarts they already have. Preferably a lot more.

Telling kids that nobody will "cut you any slack" in "the real world" and someday they will have to "pay their dues" does not make a child a harder worker. Praising your child for learning, for trying even if they fail, makes a child a harder worker.

Telling kids that things they like are "stupid" won't make them like more sophisticated, interesting things. It will only make them feel ashamed of what they like, and more likely to go with the crowd because they do not have confidence in their own taste.

Telling kids that their dreams or wishes are unattainable won't make them more practical. It will make their world smaller and uglier.

Objecting to how a child expresses anger, or how a child challenges your authority, is fine, if their behavior is genuinely destructive, inappropriate, or cruel. Telling them or demonstrating by example that they cannot ever express anger or challenge you will not make them more respectful. It will make them angry and mistrustful, and will destroy their ability to resolve conflict constructively, leaving them with only two ways of dealing with it: scorched earth and flat-out running. Teaching them not to do something is no substitute for teaching them how to do it constructively. Teaching them that anger is not okay is literally trying to take the emotion away from them. Either you fail and piss them off, or you succeed, and they are unable to use and express a valuable, necessary, protective emotion. That is a horrible thing to do.

Telling a child that what they are afraid of is "stupid" or "nothing" or "not real" will not make them less afraid. It will only teach them that you won't listen, won't take them seriously, don't understand, and don't care. It might teach them to mistrust their own instincts. If the thing they are afraid of is another person, teaching them to mistrust their own instincts is incredibly dangerous.

Telling your child that they "do not hate" someone or something that has hurt them does not make them hate that person or thing any less. It only makes them resentful, hurts them more, makes them mistrustful, and makes them feel like they are not valued. It makes them feel like their pain is unimportant to you. It also makes them wonder what the hell is wrong with you. Teach them that hate and violence are not okay, but also treat strong expressions of dislike as signals that you need to let them talk about it and you need to listen to what your child needs to say. Children have limited communication skills and their efforts to make adults understand they are serious and mean business are often overlooked . . . well into their teens.

Telling a child that they are lucky they are not being beaten with a belt does not make them grateful to you, nor does it make emotional abuse sting any less.

Unless the person is abusive and hateful for real, telling a child how horrible their absent parent/relative is will not make them appreciate you more. It will only make them hate or fear the other person, and it will make them feel horrible for being related to that person. If the other person is genuinely a bad person, you do need to talk to your child about it, but you need to do so carefully. You are trying to arm them to defend themselves, not scare them.

Telling your child that a bully "just likes them" or is "just playing" or "didn't mean anything by it" is not okay and will not make them stronger. It will make them feel hunted and unsafe. Dismissing your child's experiences, or treating them as not serious, will not make them better able to cope with them and move on. It will only destroy their ability to deal with those things, because they have no model for how to do that constructively.

Asking your child if they want a hug or a kiss, or teaching them to show their love with hugs and kisses, is completely appropriate and encouraged. Hugging them by surprise is probably okay, too, unless they say they don't like it. Forcing your child to show physical affection to other people, however, does not teach them social skills or how to show affection. It teaches them that they do not own their bodies. This should be terrifying to you, and given the social climate we unfortunately still live in, it should be especially terrifying if you are raising a girl.

Making fun of people will not make your child feel better in comparison. It will only make them judgmental, too. Or it will make them wonder if you are judging them secretly. Or both. Hating on fat people can hurt your kid even if they aren't fat: they may fear that your approval will be withdrawn if they gain weight and start starving themselves. Making fun of people for dressing differently will make them feel like they can't express themselves without fear of mockery. Making fun of or dismissing depressed people for being "lazy" will make them less likely to trust you if they have a problem. Making fun of people of other races will only make them a racist, or make them despise you for being a racist once they realize what's going on.

Telling kids that nobody will want them if they don't change their attitude won't make them more obedient and pleasant. It will make them feel unsafe, unwanted, and mistrustful.

Making fun of your own kids will not cause them to become better people. It will only make them feel ashamed. This is especially unforgivable when it's something the kid cannot control, something caused by psychological pain or fear, or something that nobody should be ashamed of. Being fat, a stutterer, a bet-wetter, a redhead, too dark, these are not things to upbraid your child for. There's no reason to make fun of your child. Excusing it by saying you are laughing with them and not at them, or that they need to get a sense of humor and it was just a joke is shitty.

Telling kids that they were mistakes is shitty. Storming out of the house because "you just can't take it anymore" and telling them that you aren't coming back is shitty. Telling them you can't wait until they have to leave the house, even though you spent years telling them that adulthood and living outside the house is horrible and terrifying and painful, is really shitty.


The people who need to read this are most likely never going to see it. The people to whom it is addressed probably wouldn't understand that it was aimed at them. So I offer it up to all y'all who have lived with the same fallout, who have yet to understand the extent of your damage, who are still trying to repair the holes and missing stairs.

I offer it in the spirit of camaraderie, for whatever comfort it might give, to know that you aren't alone, you aren't making it up, it's fine to be pissed off and hurt about it, and even if they weren't horrible evil hateful people clean through it is okay to be honest with yourself that the hurt people do to us is still real hurt.

Keep on keepin' on.
naamah_darling: Picture of a treasure chest with a skull and crossbones on top. My art! (Artistic)
These have been in my Flickr stream for a long time, but unless you follow me there, you won't have seen them. Since I spent all this week working on something absolutely incredible that I can't actually show you yet -- and holy crap, is that ever frustrating! -- I'm sharing them with you for Thing I Made Thursday, which is now in its second month of being late but awesome!

I gave this box to my mom for Christmas in '99. It's special for a number of reasons, and one of them is that it was the first box I ever painted.

Those of you comparatively new to my journal won't have seen the sort of boxes I used to paint; entries about them are accessible through LJ tags, and the sets are up on my Flickr page.

This is what started it all. Everything else sort of followed.

Ivory Box 01

This is still one of the more powerful and personal entries I have ever written. In it, I refer to the class I took the day I met Sargon, a class at an SCA event, teaching a quick and dirty version of how to paint a faux ivory box. (I still wonder who taught that class, because I would love to thank them and tell them the story.)

When I was casting about for something to make my mom for Christmas, I found this unpainted wooden box at the craft store and liked the look of it immediately. I remembered the class and snatched the box up, not sure what I was going to paint, but knowing I wanted to use that technique.

More pics back here. )

Ivory Box 09

This was among the pictures my mom kept in the box: a rather startlingly pretty picture of her in her late teens.

As I said, this was the first one I ever did and, oddly, I've never done another like it, with that faux ivory finish. It's beautiful, and while you can see that my technique was still developing, I did a pretty good job on it. It's not as sleek and polished as, say, the Summer Dragon box, but I think the sort of unrefined look complements the subjects. I've always been very happy with it, and I still am today.

I thought you might enjoy seeing this in lieu of the other thing I'm working on, which I cannot complete until my special varnish has arrived and been thoroughly tested on something slightly less irreplaceable. Hopefully next week!
naamah_darling: Picture of a treasure chest with a skull and crossbones on top. My art! (Artistic)
These have been in my Flickr stream for a long time, but unless you follow me there, you won't have seen them. Since I spent all this week working on something absolutely incredible that I can't actually show you yet -- and holy crap, is that ever frustrating! -- I'm sharing them with you for Thing I Made Thursday, which is now in its second month of being late but awesome!

I gave this box to my mom for Christmas in '99. It's special for a number of reasons, and one of them is that it was the first box I ever painted.

Those of you comparatively new to my journal won't have seen the sort of boxes I used to paint; entries about them are accessible through LJ tags, and the sets are up on my Flickr page.

This is what started it all. Everything else sort of followed.

Ivory Box 01

This is still one of the more powerful and personal entries I have ever written. In it, I refer to the class I took the day I met Sargon, a class at an SCA event, teaching a quick and dirty version of how to paint a faux ivory box. (I still wonder who taught that class, because I would love to thank them and tell them the story.)

When I was casting about for something to make my mom for Christmas, I found this unpainted wooden box at the craft store and liked the look of it immediately. I remembered the class and snatched the box up, not sure what I was going to paint, but knowing I wanted to use that technique.

More pics back here. )

Ivory Box 09

This was among the pictures my mom kept in the box: a rather startlingly pretty picture of her in her late teens.

As I said, this was the first one I ever did and, oddly, I've never done another like it, with that faux ivory finish. It's beautiful, and while you can see that my technique was still developing, I did a pretty good job on it. It's not as sleek and polished as, say, the Summer Dragon box, but I think the sort of unrefined look complements the subjects. I've always been very happy with it, and I still am today.

I thought you might enjoy seeing this in lieu of the other thing I'm working on, which I cannot complete until my special varnish has arrived and been thoroughly tested on something slightly less irreplaceable. Hopefully next week!
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
I sprained my little toe on Thursday. Might be broken, even, since breaks in tiny bones aren't always terribly painful. It bruised in a really weird pattern and it hurts to put any weight on it, but just sitting here it doesn't hurt and I can actually still walk, so I'm not terribly concerned.

Saw my Dad yesterday. We're a lot alike, despite having had lives so very different from each other's, and despite widely different areas of expertise. My dad is organized and mathematical. I am disorganized and intuitive, and I suck at numbers.

At Dad's place . . . you know, I lived there for 18 years, and there is nothing of me there any longer. It's still got all my parents' stuff in it, even a lot of my mom's stuff that dad doesn't use, but nothing of mine. The room that was mine last isn't really used for anything important. It's stopped even feeling weird, like my stuff should be there, you know? It's like a place I never really lived. Only the shutters on the window and the bathroom heater really remind me of when I was there. I'm slow to lose associations like that, but it's been a long time. I don't expect Mom to be there any longer, either, which is a relief, but the house -- for all that it is full of interesting stuff -- feels so empty.

Dad still hasn't taken mom's purse off the doorknob where she used to hang it whenever she came home. Not in all this time. There's a painting in her studio upstairs -- which is sort of falling apart -- that she must have started right before she got too sick to paint. I can't even tell what it was going to be. It's just a mess of clashing colors coming up from the lower right side and covering about half the canvas. Hell, I'm not even 100% sure it was hers, because it looks nothing like anything else I ever saw her do, but it's in her studio and it looks like oil paint, and . . . I don't know. I went upstairs looking for something else and I saw it and I just . . . I wish I knew what she had meant it to be, because I couldn't make any sense of it at all, and that bothers me.
+
I came home with a bunch of her costume jewelry and interesting junk, including a beautiful little jewelry cabinet. Nothing of any real value, but some of it is fun and will make good pirate treasure if nothing else.

I don't know. It's moved past being something that upsets me because I miss her and is now more like . . . being reminded of it sucks because she was a huge part of my life, and these days I feel an awful lot like life is just slipping past me without any way to hold it back, so things that remind me of that make me sad.

I see a kind of echo of that in her purse on the door, like she's going to grab it any minute and ask if I want to go for a drive, no reason, let's just get in the car and go. I still remember the exact sound of her keys, but haven't had the guts to see if they're in the purse.

I see it in the unfinished painting, sitting there, so unfinished as to be meaningless except for context. That's what bothers me. She wasn't finished doing stuff, and all the stuff she left behind is stuff nobody else can finish.

And despite what people tend to say when folks talk about unfinished business and deceased parents, I don't want to finish her work. Not even metaphorically. I love her. Present tense. Always will. But I'm not her. I'm not an extension of her. I don't want to be her. I've spent years trying not to be her, despite how many of her dysfunctions I share. I've spent years trying to have a better life than she did, spurred in no small part by her difficult example, full of failures and betrayal. I've spent years telling myself, teaching myself, that I don't have to be her, even though I sometimes feel I have no choice.

I have my own stuff to finish. I have my own life to live. But I've noticed lately that I sometimes sound like her when I laugh.
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
I sprained my little toe on Thursday. Might be broken, even, since breaks in tiny bones aren't always terribly painful. It bruised in a really weird pattern and it hurts to put any weight on it, but just sitting here it doesn't hurt and I can actually still walk, so I'm not terribly concerned.

Saw my Dad yesterday. We're a lot alike, despite having had lives so very different from each other's, and despite widely different areas of expertise. My dad is organized and mathematical. I am disorganized and intuitive, and I suck at numbers.

At Dad's place . . . you know, I lived there for 18 years, and there is nothing of me there any longer. It's still got all my parents' stuff in it, even a lot of my mom's stuff that dad doesn't use, but nothing of mine. The room that was mine last isn't really used for anything important. It's stopped even feeling weird, like my stuff should be there, you know? It's like a place I never really lived. Only the shutters on the window and the bathroom heater really remind me of when I was there. I'm slow to lose associations like that, but it's been a long time. I don't expect Mom to be there any longer, either, which is a relief, but the house -- for all that it is full of interesting stuff -- feels so empty.

Dad still hasn't taken mom's purse off the doorknob where she used to hang it whenever she came home. Not in all this time. There's a painting in her studio upstairs -- which is sort of falling apart -- that she must have started right before she got too sick to paint. I can't even tell what it was going to be. It's just a mess of clashing colors coming up from the lower right side and covering about half the canvas. Hell, I'm not even 100% sure it was hers, because it looks nothing like anything else I ever saw her do, but it's in her studio and it looks like oil paint, and . . . I don't know. I went upstairs looking for something else and I saw it and I just . . . I wish I knew what she had meant it to be, because I couldn't make any sense of it at all, and that bothers me.
+
I came home with a bunch of her costume jewelry and interesting junk, including a beautiful little jewelry cabinet. Nothing of any real value, but some of it is fun and will make good pirate treasure if nothing else.

I don't know. It's moved past being something that upsets me because I miss her and is now more like . . . being reminded of it sucks because she was a huge part of my life, and these days I feel an awful lot like life is just slipping past me without any way to hold it back, so things that remind me of that make me sad.

I see a kind of echo of that in her purse on the door, like she's going to grab it any minute and ask if I want to go for a drive, no reason, let's just get in the car and go. I still remember the exact sound of her keys, but haven't had the guts to see if they're in the purse.

I see it in the unfinished painting, sitting there, so unfinished as to be meaningless except for context. That's what bothers me. She wasn't finished doing stuff, and all the stuff she left behind is stuff nobody else can finish.

And despite what people tend to say when folks talk about unfinished business and deceased parents, I don't want to finish her work. Not even metaphorically. I love her. Present tense. Always will. But I'm not her. I'm not an extension of her. I don't want to be her. I've spent years trying not to be her, despite how many of her dysfunctions I share. I've spent years trying to have a better life than she did, spurred in no small part by her difficult example, full of failures and betrayal. I've spent years telling myself, teaching myself, that I don't have to be her, even though I sometimes feel I have no choice.

I have my own stuff to finish. I have my own life to live. But I've noticed lately that I sometimes sound like her when I laugh.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Violet)
I had more nightmares last night!

The first one wasn't a bad dream at all. It was only a bad dream when I woke up.

I dreamed I went to my dad's house. My uncle Jim was on a riding lawnmower, mowing the front yard, but before I could call out, he rode away into the park across the street.

A little confused, I walked inside, and the kitchen counter was covered with pretty shopping and gift bags. The chest we always used to carry food on vacation was on the kitchen table, which was covered with unpacked food, clearly the remnants of a road trip.

My dad sat in the "den" (which hasn't been the den in that house in 20 years) watching TV. The sequel to A Knight's Tale was on, some bloody jousting scene that ended with a gore-streaked Sir William stripping off his armor and clothes to get his injuries tended to. I went back into the kitchen to get a drink so I could sit and watch it with him, and my mom came in.

"Gee, you're home already?" I said. "How was your trip to Eureka Springs?"

"It was great. I brought you all these presenents!"

I woke up before I could investigate the contents of the packages, and immediately crumpled under the weight of disappointment. Mom, of course, is never coming back from her vacation, my uncle Jim is never going to ride back in from that park, and there is never going to be a sequel to A Knight's Tale. I don't know why the hell my subconscious chose to kick me in the gut like that, but it was seriously unpleasant. It was a nice dream, but the waking up was not nice.

I went back to bed and had some other dreams I don't remember, then had another nightmare about Sargon and venomous snakes.

Rough night. Something mean lives in my lizard brain, and it apparently likes to bite.

Anyway, unlike last night, the weekend was fabulous, beginning with lunch at Goldie's with [livejournal.com profile] lady_fox and [livejournal.com profile] angrybunnyman. Thank you for driving down. It was great to meet you in person. Feel free to testify in comments that Tulsa is a very scary place.

It ended with Sargon and I watching Sheena. It was even more horrible than I remember. The last time I saw it I was nine or so, and lacked the faculties to truly comprehend its awfulness.

Right now I'm going to go for a walk and attempt to shake this funk that has me feeling truly crappy, then I'm going to shower and try to do something productive with my day.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Violet)
I had more nightmares last night!

The first one wasn't a bad dream at all. It was only a bad dream when I woke up.

I dreamed I went to my dad's house. My uncle Jim was on a riding lawnmower, mowing the front yard, but before I could call out, he rode away into the park across the street.

A little confused, I walked inside, and the kitchen counter was covered with pretty shopping and gift bags. The chest we always used to carry food on vacation was on the kitchen table, which was covered with unpacked food, clearly the remnants of a road trip.

My dad sat in the "den" (which hasn't been the den in that house in 20 years) watching TV. The sequel to A Knight's Tale was on, some bloody jousting scene that ended with a gore-streaked Sir William stripping off his armor and clothes to get his injuries tended to. I went back into the kitchen to get a drink so I could sit and watch it with him, and my mom came in.

"Gee, you're home already?" I said. "How was your trip to Eureka Springs?"

"It was great. I brought you all these presenents!"

I woke up before I could investigate the contents of the packages, and immediately crumpled under the weight of disappointment. Mom, of course, is never coming back from her vacation, my uncle Jim is never going to ride back in from that park, and there is never going to be a sequel to A Knight's Tale. I don't know why the hell my subconscious chose to kick me in the gut like that, but it was seriously unpleasant. It was a nice dream, but the waking up was not nice.

I went back to bed and had some other dreams I don't remember, then had another nightmare about Sargon and venomous snakes.

Rough night. Something mean lives in my lizard brain, and it apparently likes to bite.

Anyway, unlike last night, the weekend was fabulous, beginning with lunch at Goldie's with [livejournal.com profile] lady_fox and [livejournal.com profile] angrybunnyman. Thank you for driving down. It was great to meet you in person. Feel free to testify in comments that Tulsa is a very scary place.

It ended with Sargon and I watching Sheena. It was even more horrible than I remember. The last time I saw it I was nine or so, and lacked the faculties to truly comprehend its awfulness.

Right now I'm going to go for a walk and attempt to shake this funk that has me feeling truly crappy, then I'm going to shower and try to do something productive with my day.

Weird.

Mar. 1st, 2008 05:48 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian No Going Back)
I hate getting sick more because it demoralizes me than anything else.

Something about those long hours sitting in bed too tired to read or speak, but wide awake, thinking, and alone.

I'll be clear: I don't always want people around when I'm sick. I like to be left alone, especially if I'm too tired or ill to make conversation, or too irritable to bear the presence of another human. It's not the loneliness that makes me want to chew my foot off. I'm fine being alone, as long as I have enough energy to keep myself entertained. It's just the hours and hours of being too tired to do anything but sit and think about the past that get to me.

My nostalgia-o-meter is popping like a Geiger counter. I can't move two feet without tripping over some happy memory I'd rather not revisit.

About the only time my mother showed me unvarnished affection was when I was ill; perhaps because I had a close call with scarlet fever as a child, she was more gentle than usual whenever something was actually wrong with me.

Because of that, whenever I'm sick, especially sick enough to, god forbid, need someone to tend to me, I think about all the nice things about her. I think about how she used to make up stories because I'd read all my books a million times. I remember how we'd play make-believe. I remember how she'd make me ice chips or put ice in my soup; how she'd let me eat grape popsicles for dinner, and drink Dimetapp right out of the bottle like a mini-wino. Most of all, I remember how she'd sit on the bed and rub my legs and squeeze my feet until I fell asleep. To this day when I am dozing off, I rub one foot back and forth against the sheet when I am comfortable – something I don't know if my bedmate has ever noticed, so I don't think I have ever explained.

Whatever our dysfunctions, and whether or not I strictly speaking need her now, she was my mother. Perhaps it is because we had so many conflicts that it's hard, now, not to miss her, because I'm also still missing the places where she ought to have been when I was younger.

The weird thing is that I have a persistent feeling that I'd miss that part of her just as much if she were still here. There were times when the space between us seemed greater than it does even now that she's gone. Times when we were not friends. Because we parted well, I will never feel as far from her as I felt when we were not talking, as opposed to just unable to talk. I will always feel this close to her, and now neither one of us can ever say something stupid to fuck it up.

How strange. Always this close, and always this far.

Weird.

Mar. 1st, 2008 05:48 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian No Going Back)
I hate getting sick more because it demoralizes me than anything else.

Something about those long hours sitting in bed too tired to read or speak, but wide awake, thinking, and alone.

I'll be clear: I don't always want people around when I'm sick. I like to be left alone, especially if I'm too tired or ill to make conversation, or too irritable to bear the presence of another human. It's not the loneliness that makes me want to chew my foot off. I'm fine being alone, as long as I have enough energy to keep myself entertained. It's just the hours and hours of being too tired to do anything but sit and think about the past that get to me.

My nostalgia-o-meter is popping like a Geiger counter. I can't move two feet without tripping over some happy memory I'd rather not revisit.

About the only time my mother showed me unvarnished affection was when I was ill; perhaps because I had a close call with scarlet fever as a child, she was more gentle than usual whenever something was actually wrong with me.

Because of that, whenever I'm sick, especially sick enough to, god forbid, need someone to tend to me, I think about all the nice things about her. I think about how she used to make up stories because I'd read all my books a million times. I remember how we'd play make-believe. I remember how she'd make me ice chips or put ice in my soup; how she'd let me eat grape popsicles for dinner, and drink Dimetapp right out of the bottle like a mini-wino. Most of all, I remember how she'd sit on the bed and rub my legs and squeeze my feet until I fell asleep. To this day when I am dozing off, I rub one foot back and forth against the sheet when I am comfortable – something I don't know if my bedmate has ever noticed, so I don't think I have ever explained.

Whatever our dysfunctions, and whether or not I strictly speaking need her now, she was my mother. Perhaps it is because we had so many conflicts that it's hard, now, not to miss her, because I'm also still missing the places where she ought to have been when I was younger.

The weird thing is that I have a persistent feeling that I'd miss that part of her just as much if she were still here. There were times when the space between us seemed greater than it does even now that she's gone. Times when we were not friends. Because we parted well, I will never feel as far from her as I felt when we were not talking, as opposed to just unable to talk. I will always feel this close to her, and now neither one of us can ever say something stupid to fuck it up.

How strange. Always this close, and always this far.

654 Days.

Oct. 9th, 2007 04:39 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
One year, nine months, eight days.

Yet I walk into my childhood home and still expect to see my mother in the hallway.

I'm not sad, it's just . . . does the empty space where you expect them to be ever fill up? Or do we carry around these emptinesses forever, like negative silhouettes inside of us?

654 Days.

Oct. 9th, 2007 04:39 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
One year, nine months, eight days.

Yet I walk into my childhood home and still expect to see my mother in the hallway.

I'm not sad, it's just . . . does the empty space where you expect them to be ever fill up? Or do we carry around these emptinesses forever, like negative silhouettes inside of us?
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
We're going out to see Sargon's parents for Mother's Day. They are such nice, gentle people that I always enjoy going to see them, even as I always feel a bit out of place. My own family is . . . well . . . I'm not out of the ordinary, and I'll leave it at that.

I miss my mother more on Culturally Appointed Holidays, of course. I don't recall last year being this difficult. This time it's more straight-up sadness than any real grief, but odd things, the oddest things, set it off.

Now it occurs to me that I never did tell you guys about my mom's friend K. K was one of my mother's many artistically talented friends, and she came to see Mom a lot in those last months when Mom wasn't getting out much, often with her grandson W in tow. W cared about Mom very much and often selected little gifts for her and made her cards, following her decline with much distress. They were very kind, both of them, and I know Mom loved them both a lot -- she talked about W often.

I was able to meet him at the funeral, a round-faced, solemn child; he would have been utterly overlookable were it not for the tragic look in his eyes. He was crying freely as he approached the gauntlet of mourning family. I put myself down at his eye level and told him how much his friendship had meant to my mother. And I have him a very big hug, because his loss seemed, in that moment, even more real than my own. Good kid.

I ran into K a few months ago at my Dad's when she had come by to pick up some of my mom's pottery supplies. Come to find out she's also a beekeeper, and I was eager to pester her for details about this fascinating subject. She happily told me about how a wild bee queen had recently moved into one of her empty hives and started a new colony.

W was extremely excited by this, she said, and begged to be allowed to care for the wild bee hive himself. K agreed on the condition that he tend to them every single day, himself, which he apparently has done with loyalty befitting a much older child.

He got to name the queen, too, and, as K said, "Of course he named her Caroline."

And of course I cried.

We get poetic gifts like this occasionally in life – and in death, too, though we may not know it. Mom's not here to appreciate the honor, but I appreciate it, and now I think of her whenever I see bees.

She was a singular woman, and I can think of few tributes more appropriate to her personality than a hive of venomous, stinging insects that nevertheless do the good work of pollinating flowers and making honey.

It helps the pain, you see, to know that Mom's friends remember her well, even the very young ones. It helps to know that, for all that my experience of her was often painful, she had a good side, and others remember her more for the sweetness than the sting.

Mother was what she was. A queen bee is a fine namesake.
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
We're going out to see Sargon's parents for Mother's Day. They are such nice, gentle people that I always enjoy going to see them, even as I always feel a bit out of place. My own family is . . . well . . . I'm not out of the ordinary, and I'll leave it at that.

I miss my mother more on Culturally Appointed Holidays, of course. I don't recall last year being this difficult. This time it's more straight-up sadness than any real grief, but odd things, the oddest things, set it off.

Now it occurs to me that I never did tell you guys about my mom's friend K. K was one of my mother's many artistically talented friends, and she came to see Mom a lot in those last months when Mom wasn't getting out much, often with her grandson W in tow. W cared about Mom very much and often selected little gifts for her and made her cards, following her decline with much distress. They were very kind, both of them, and I know Mom loved them both a lot -- she talked about W often.

I was able to meet him at the funeral, a round-faced, solemn child; he would have been utterly overlookable were it not for the tragic look in his eyes. He was crying freely as he approached the gauntlet of mourning family. I put myself down at his eye level and told him how much his friendship had meant to my mother. And I have him a very big hug, because his loss seemed, in that moment, even more real than my own. Good kid.

I ran into K a few months ago at my Dad's when she had come by to pick up some of my mom's pottery supplies. Come to find out she's also a beekeeper, and I was eager to pester her for details about this fascinating subject. She happily told me about how a wild bee queen had recently moved into one of her empty hives and started a new colony.

W was extremely excited by this, she said, and begged to be allowed to care for the wild bee hive himself. K agreed on the condition that he tend to them every single day, himself, which he apparently has done with loyalty befitting a much older child.

He got to name the queen, too, and, as K said, "Of course he named her Caroline."

And of course I cried.

We get poetic gifts like this occasionally in life – and in death, too, though we may not know it. Mom's not here to appreciate the honor, but I appreciate it, and now I think of her whenever I see bees.

She was a singular woman, and I can think of few tributes more appropriate to her personality than a hive of venomous, stinging insects that nevertheless do the good work of pollinating flowers and making honey.

It helps the pain, you see, to know that Mom's friends remember her well, even the very young ones. It helps to know that, for all that my experience of her was often painful, she had a good side, and others remember her more for the sweetness than the sting.

Mother was what she was. A queen bee is a fine namesake.

Mom's Box

Dec. 23rd, 2006 01:47 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
Celestial 01

In September of '04, my mom had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I had an idea for a gift. I got family and friends to contribute beads to make a necklace, which I gave to her at Christmas.

In a lot of ways, giving it to her was the hardest part of losing her. You know how sometimes saying "I love you" can hurt worse than saying nothing at all? Yeah. That was the time I cried hardest.

But it wound up being the last Christmas present I gave her. She died a year ago today, two days before Christmas.

There's good pain and bad pain, and the good pain of watching her open it is still way, way stronger than the bad pain of the night she died. But it's still pain.

A year ago. The Christmas lights on the drive over to my dad's house, which was still their house, and the wild red-orange sunset are what I remember most vividly. And not feeling the cold at all. The rest . . . I don't repress it, but I don't talk about it, ever, or share it with anyone.

I've been reminiscing a lot, putting things in their places like beads on a string, lining them up and looking at the whole. Talking things over with my sister, reframing them. There's a lot of bad, tangled thread to sort through.

I'm also remembering the sorts of things that you don't really think about as memorable until you realize that most of your memories of people are of things like that. Trivial shit. Most of what I remember are good things. Fish and chips at Arthur Treacher's, which is now a Chinese place I still eat at. Feeding sparrows biscuit crumbs in the parking lot of McDonald's before school. Learning to paint. Her taking me to see The Last Unicorn in the theater. Me dictating stories to her that she'd type. Her telling me stories in the car. Rubbing my legs until I fell asleep. Taking care of me when I had scarlet fever and was so sick I was hallucinating being chased by giant crabs.

Dammit.

I want to be honest so I'm going to tell you flat-out that for me, it's not like they say. I don't feel her presence, hear her voice, feel her guiding me. I miss her a lot, and that's what people hear most easily. They don't really listen when I say that despite the fact that I loved her, she wasn't my friend, or even much of a guardian, while she was alive. There was a time when we were as close to enemies as two family members can come. I never felt that safe sort of closeness with her that other people seem to feel around their mothers. It's not any different now. If I want to invoke her presence, I have to do it consciously, through an act of willpower.

But I loved her, and that was very real. And I still miss her. It's still an empty spot, smaller every day, but still empty.

I have her necklace still, in the box I gave it to her in. I don't wear it much. I keep thinking I ought to give it back to Dad, or let my sister keep it for a year, and hey, maybe I will. But having it has been a comfort. The necklace is priceless to me for its ability to cut through everything and bring her right back to me in a direct, immediate way.

I don't feel like she's with me when I wear it. But when I wear it I can run my fingers over memories like beads, and think that yes, with time, I can string a pretty necklace from the good, bright memories I have left.

Celestial 02

Miss you.

Mom's Box

Dec. 23rd, 2006 01:47 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
Celestial 01

In September of '04, my mom had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I had an idea for a gift. I got family and friends to contribute beads to make a necklace, which I gave to her at Christmas.

In a lot of ways, giving it to her was the hardest part of losing her. You know how sometimes saying "I love you" can hurt worse than saying nothing at all? Yeah. That was the time I cried hardest.

But it wound up being the last Christmas present I gave her. She died a year ago today, two days before Christmas.

There's good pain and bad pain, and the good pain of watching her open it is still way, way stronger than the bad pain of the night she died. But it's still pain.

A year ago. The Christmas lights on the drive over to my dad's house, which was still their house, and the wild red-orange sunset are what I remember most vividly. And not feeling the cold at all. The rest . . . I don't repress it, but I don't talk about it, ever, or share it with anyone.

I've been reminiscing a lot, putting things in their places like beads on a string, lining them up and looking at the whole. Talking things over with my sister, reframing them. There's a lot of bad, tangled thread to sort through.

I'm also remembering the sorts of things that you don't really think about as memorable until you realize that most of your memories of people are of things like that. Trivial shit. Most of what I remember are good things. Fish and chips at Arthur Treacher's, which is now a Chinese place I still eat at. Feeding sparrows biscuit crumbs in the parking lot of McDonald's before school. Learning to paint. Her taking me to see The Last Unicorn in the theater. Me dictating stories to her that she'd type. Her telling me stories in the car. Rubbing my legs until I fell asleep. Taking care of me when I had scarlet fever and was so sick I was hallucinating being chased by giant crabs.

Dammit.

I want to be honest so I'm going to tell you flat-out that for me, it's not like they say. I don't feel her presence, hear her voice, feel her guiding me. I miss her a lot, and that's what people hear most easily. They don't really listen when I say that despite the fact that I loved her, she wasn't my friend, or even much of a guardian, while she was alive. There was a time when we were as close to enemies as two family members can come. I never felt that safe sort of closeness with her that other people seem to feel around their mothers. It's not any different now. If I want to invoke her presence, I have to do it consciously, through an act of willpower.

But I loved her, and that was very real. And I still miss her. It's still an empty spot, smaller every day, but still empty.

I have her necklace still, in the box I gave it to her in. I don't wear it much. I keep thinking I ought to give it back to Dad, or let my sister keep it for a year, and hey, maybe I will. But having it has been a comfort. The necklace is priceless to me for its ability to cut through everything and bring her right back to me in a direct, immediate way.

I don't feel like she's with me when I wear it. But when I wear it I can run my fingers over memories like beads, and think that yes, with time, I can string a pretty necklace from the good, bright memories I have left.

Celestial 02

Miss you.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Emo Icon)
I gave myself a nasty fright this morning, as I was drifting in and out of sleep. I got it into my head that I'm almost 30, and I could be half done. Not the first time I've had that thought by a long shot, but sometimes when I'm sleeping it sneaks up on me and instead of whispering in my ear like it usually does, it finds a soft spot and it bites down hard.

I don't believe I'm half over, not really, but it did wake me up with a nasty kick in my gut.

Two years ago, when my mom was still fighting cancer, when my grandmother was dying of Alzheimer's, I wrote:

"We truly are unique creatures. And once we're gone, that's it. Nothing but the space of us left, like the empty silhouette of a sugar star lifted from the cookie dough. Defined only by an absence in the memory of those who knew us. No cat can replace another cat, no person another person. That the world goes on is a comfort, but it is a comfort we take like we take our revenge: cold."

And that's true. Because now, even more than when I wrote that entry, I feel the empty spaces. There's more of them. Nanny is gone. Mom, too. And Kaw Kaw. And now, little losses. A snake here and there as our pets get old. Cyrus. The Metro. Some mornings it feels like I'm all hole and no dough.

When I came home on Thanksgiving after being gone for hours and hours, I drew a breath to call out to the dog, to tell him we were home. Thank the gods I caught it in time, because I think it might have killed Sargon. But it was still like walking into a wall.

It was a fruit punch moment, a really nasty one.

Last year I was painting a lovely box for a friend and I was very, very proud of it. Mom had just died, and I was still getting used to it, sometimes even forgetting, and one day while I was taking a break and watching Sinbad fight a giant bee, I put my hand on the box. I do a lot of that while I'm in the middle of a project, just touching with love. I love my work and I take it very personally, and even if I don't know the person I'm painting for, while I'm painting, I sort of love them, too. I was really proud of this one. I thought under my mental breath, "I can't wait to show this to Mom."

The remembering hit me like a kick in the gut. It hurt so fucking bad, so bad, that I almost shriveled up and died of it right there.

I don't have moments like that anymore. It was worse when I would forget for a little while, like I'm still forgetting about the dog. Still looking for him. It was worse when I still expected Mom to be there, even after a year and more of being prepared for her to not be.

I stopped looking for Mom sometime in May or June. But I miss her today, which sucks. The last time I really was able to sit with her and talk, it was near this time of year. Whatever ill will was in my family, I always felt less of it around the holidays. I remember these as happy times. Mom often made things for family and friends, like I tend to, so we'd discuss projects. We'd catch up on news from friends and family. We'd just talk sometimes. Mom had a lot of hopes for me. She believed in me I think more than she let on. We just weren't friends, so she didn't know how to say it.

Even though I'm not the sort of person who usually feels that I have to live up to anyone else's expectations, I'm glad I don't feel like I'm letting her down. I think she'd be proud of me. This last year has sucked in many ways, but I am doing better now than I have in a very long time. I have a lot of hope. A lot of fear, too, and worry, but a lot of hope. I'm excited about next year. And I can't share that with her.

It sucks wide.

Sargon's folks are wonderful and supportive. My dad is every bit as awesome as you'd expect my dad would have to be. I love my sister, with whom I share so much, and with whom I want to try sharing more. But Mom . . . even if we never got along, we were alike in more ways than I feel comfortable admitting. We understood each other, and she cared about me in a way that nobody else did, or even can. All you mothers out there will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have to say this to all you chicks with kids. There will come a day when you realize with horror that your child doesn't really need you in order to live their life. This may come at 18, or 25, or 30, but it will come. Your kid is probably pleased by this realization, as pleased as you are horrified. That's okay. They need to feel that. It feels good.

What they can't say, or don't think to, or don't know yet, is that though there comes a point where you don't need your parents, you always want them. And in that sense, they are something that you need. Always. We, your kids, we don't want to be without the time we'll have with you once we don't need you and can learn to love you as equals. Maybe as friends. We just don't know how to say it, or that we have to, until that's threatened or gone.

The truth is that you do your job, your kid loves you and learns something from you along the way, so you're always going to be with that kid. Always. And the bare fact that it can't be taken away means that they will always need you. You're integral to who they are.

I don't know. I'm feeling philosophical, and it's mostly bullshit rambling, but what I'm saying is that even if we can learn to get along, adjust to how our lives change, there are always going to be these . . . moments.

I like to think that I'm living the life my mom would have wanted for me. I also sort of like to think that I'm living the sort of life she would have chosen for herself, if she could have done so. I don't want her approval, exactly. I just want her to feel like no matter how badly she felt she fucked up, look, see, I'm not broken, and I still work just fine.

This doesn't hurt. Not exactly. Don't want you to think it does. It's just weighty. Even a year later, I want her sometimes, and . . . well . . . she's not there. I really do believe that froufrou bullshit about your loved ones never leaving you, but I will tell you that without a physical person to interact with it's not the same, and no amount of wishing will make it okay when someone you love has died.

Not having a thing will teach you to the inch how much of it you need. I'll say that, too.

We were never going to be friends. She wasn't that sort. But we might have been something else, and now I'll never know.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Emo Icon)
I gave myself a nasty fright this morning, as I was drifting in and out of sleep. I got it into my head that I'm almost 30, and I could be half done. Not the first time I've had that thought by a long shot, but sometimes when I'm sleeping it sneaks up on me and instead of whispering in my ear like it usually does, it finds a soft spot and it bites down hard.

I don't believe I'm half over, not really, but it did wake me up with a nasty kick in my gut.

Two years ago, when my mom was still fighting cancer, when my grandmother was dying of Alzheimer's, I wrote:

"We truly are unique creatures. And once we're gone, that's it. Nothing but the space of us left, like the empty silhouette of a sugar star lifted from the cookie dough. Defined only by an absence in the memory of those who knew us. No cat can replace another cat, no person another person. That the world goes on is a comfort, but it is a comfort we take like we take our revenge: cold."

And that's true. Because now, even more than when I wrote that entry, I feel the empty spaces. There's more of them. Nanny is gone. Mom, too. And Kaw Kaw. And now, little losses. A snake here and there as our pets get old. Cyrus. The Metro. Some mornings it feels like I'm all hole and no dough.

When I came home on Thanksgiving after being gone for hours and hours, I drew a breath to call out to the dog, to tell him we were home. Thank the gods I caught it in time, because I think it might have killed Sargon. But it was still like walking into a wall.

It was a fruit punch moment, a really nasty one.

Last year I was painting a lovely box for a friend and I was very, very proud of it. Mom had just died, and I was still getting used to it, sometimes even forgetting, and one day while I was taking a break and watching Sinbad fight a giant bee, I put my hand on the box. I do a lot of that while I'm in the middle of a project, just touching with love. I love my work and I take it very personally, and even if I don't know the person I'm painting for, while I'm painting, I sort of love them, too. I was really proud of this one. I thought under my mental breath, "I can't wait to show this to Mom."

The remembering hit me like a kick in the gut. It hurt so fucking bad, so bad, that I almost shriveled up and died of it right there.

I don't have moments like that anymore. It was worse when I would forget for a little while, like I'm still forgetting about the dog. Still looking for him. It was worse when I still expected Mom to be there, even after a year and more of being prepared for her to not be.

I stopped looking for Mom sometime in May or June. But I miss her today, which sucks. The last time I really was able to sit with her and talk, it was near this time of year. Whatever ill will was in my family, I always felt less of it around the holidays. I remember these as happy times. Mom often made things for family and friends, like I tend to, so we'd discuss projects. We'd catch up on news from friends and family. We'd just talk sometimes. Mom had a lot of hopes for me. She believed in me I think more than she let on. We just weren't friends, so she didn't know how to say it.

Even though I'm not the sort of person who usually feels that I have to live up to anyone else's expectations, I'm glad I don't feel like I'm letting her down. I think she'd be proud of me. This last year has sucked in many ways, but I am doing better now than I have in a very long time. I have a lot of hope. A lot of fear, too, and worry, but a lot of hope. I'm excited about next year. And I can't share that with her.

It sucks wide.

Sargon's folks are wonderful and supportive. My dad is every bit as awesome as you'd expect my dad would have to be. I love my sister, with whom I share so much, and with whom I want to try sharing more. But Mom . . . even if we never got along, we were alike in more ways than I feel comfortable admitting. We understood each other, and she cared about me in a way that nobody else did, or even can. All you mothers out there will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have to say this to all you chicks with kids. There will come a day when you realize with horror that your child doesn't really need you in order to live their life. This may come at 18, or 25, or 30, but it will come. Your kid is probably pleased by this realization, as pleased as you are horrified. That's okay. They need to feel that. It feels good.

What they can't say, or don't think to, or don't know yet, is that though there comes a point where you don't need your parents, you always want them. And in that sense, they are something that you need. Always. We, your kids, we don't want to be without the time we'll have with you once we don't need you and can learn to love you as equals. Maybe as friends. We just don't know how to say it, or that we have to, until that's threatened or gone.

The truth is that you do your job, your kid loves you and learns something from you along the way, so you're always going to be with that kid. Always. And the bare fact that it can't be taken away means that they will always need you. You're integral to who they are.

I don't know. I'm feeling philosophical, and it's mostly bullshit rambling, but what I'm saying is that even if we can learn to get along, adjust to how our lives change, there are always going to be these . . . moments.

I like to think that I'm living the life my mom would have wanted for me. I also sort of like to think that I'm living the sort of life she would have chosen for herself, if she could have done so. I don't want her approval, exactly. I just want her to feel like no matter how badly she felt she fucked up, look, see, I'm not broken, and I still work just fine.

This doesn't hurt. Not exactly. Don't want you to think it does. It's just weighty. Even a year later, I want her sometimes, and . . . well . . . she's not there. I really do believe that froufrou bullshit about your loved ones never leaving you, but I will tell you that without a physical person to interact with it's not the same, and no amount of wishing will make it okay when someone you love has died.

Not having a thing will teach you to the inch how much of it you need. I'll say that, too.

We were never going to be friends. She wasn't that sort. But we might have been something else, and now I'll never know.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
Ugh. I feel crappy like whoa. If I were a superhero, my name would be General Malaise.

I did, however, finish the absinthe box. She ees beeyotiful, my little petits fours. All that remains is for the enameled glass to be baked, glued in place, and then left to dry for a couple days. There should be pictures on Thursday or Friday.

I still feel cruddy, and I think that it's largely stress. Between the art show and writing and painting and trying to keep up with friends and dealing with family crap and trying to assimilate everything that's happened/is happening/will happen soon, I have about slipped off my goddamn rocker. I have to find time in there, too, to clean house, care for my pets, and be present for my husband, not to mention time for me to relax and throttle back. I have no idea how I keep up.

It's hard to explain why, if I'm so frazzled and fried, I don't want to go out and do something fun. Most people relax by going out, after all. But I relax by staying in for days at a time, preferably wearing earplugs. Now more than ever.

An unpleasant truth about grief has been driven home to me over the past couple of weeks. See, when you lose someone, you mourn and you move on. But then, later, you lose someone else, and in addition to the pain of that new loss hacking up the soil of your soul, it brings up painful memories from last time like buried bones. Grief is never all gone, and it will come back to haunt you. So you're not just feeling the one grief, but both of them, together, like a double ear infection. And when the losses come so close you can't properly mourn them before the next one begins . . . that's just brutal. And that's where I am now. Staring down the shotgun barrel of #3, and not knowing when. So I have all these feelings and memories whirling around crazily, and it's frightfully confusing and scary. It's like waves, undertow, riptide.

My grandfather is doing okay. News is guarded. He appears to be holding out, and possibly improving a bit. I know it's still only a matter of time, though, and it's hard, knowing he's going to go. I feel like my childhood is dying all around me, like everything that I was is being stripped away like a cocoon, like old skin, and leaving me with only this strange adult life I seem to have developed as a defense against the shitty events of the past year. It's cold and hard and frightening, living like this, without the cushion of my loved ones there. I didn't think it would bother me this much, but it does.

My mom and my grandmother were my two biggest playmates as a child, my best caretakers. They're both gone, and my grandfather is gone, too; gone from his mind, from that house. My grandparents' house, a cornerstone of my psyche, the place where I got married, will be sold, eventually. It's already empty of the people who made it my second home. It's like a big piece of what I am was just cast loose. I'll only ever have it in memory; it will no longer be a place I can visit in reality. That time itself is dead, gone. And without it, I feel less sure of myself.

I want to say I'm taking it okay, that I'm coping, that I'm all right, but I deeply feel like I am not okay, that I'm working hard and mechanically because right now it's all I can do. I'm too hurt, still, for the sensitive work of writing what lies close to the bone. I'm too frazzled to hold up my end of most relationships -- a perpetual state, maybe, but worsened by all of this.

I've had too much loss. Each individual thing . . . oh, I can do anything once, and cope. But so close together, it's too much. I can't get away from it, I can't make it not happen. I could handle any one thing, but the weight of all this is virtually unmoveable. And there are days like today when I come into the house from outside and smell kitchen smells and I realize that it smells just like my grandmother's house. Or I find my mom's handwriting on a postcard she sent me. A picture album my grandmother made me when I got married. Or, god help me, I go back and read journal entries where I talk about being with them before they were sick. And that's when I feel the lack of their presence most strongly. Oh, call it pennies from heaven if you like, say they're reminding me that they're with me still by putting these things in my path. That's not how it feels.

It feels like a big, empty wind. It feels the way it feels out on the plains on a hot summer day, when the sun is like a weight atop you and everything feels leaden and dull, and then a wind kicks up out of nowhere and brings with it a smell of grass and dry earth and distant, distant rain. Suddenly you feel the whole emptiness of the prairie unfurling all around you, the miles and miles of nothing between you and the roof of the wind, and yourself a tiny speck of nothing in the middle of everything, the only witness to the events in your particular patch of emptiness.

That is what it is like.

Like standing in the cracked and brush-torn field that used to be the drive-in theater you went to as a kid.

Like getting up one morning and going to visit the half-block of fragrant, deeply green trees and brush where lived the foxes and raccoons and possums that you wrote childhood stories about, and finding it has been torn down and paved to make a parking lot for a church.

Like standing on Mt. Saint Helens, looking at the horse-kick crater and the blasted trees laid down like matchsticks in a river of destruction still visible decades later, and realizing that no matter how green the new growth is, it still lies atop death.

Like standing anywhere that used to be something else entirely, and was happier that way. And it's as if the old was never there at all.

I know it isn't so, but it's how it feels, and it's why I need to be alone a lot. It's like trying to hold the words of a song in my head, all the time. If someone talks, I'm afraid I'll drop it, forget. If I can just be alone for a while with these memories, while they're fresh and alive, if I can just sort through them, maybe I can keep them a while longer. If I stop living, maybe I can manage not to make new memories, and keep hold of the old ones instead. It's not the right thing to do for a long time, that's avoidance, denial, but I haven't really been free to do it at all. I need the time out.

Emptiness is what I've got. Space is what I need. A vacation. And I can't have one. I can't shirk my responsibilities or let things go. Not without making things worse.

I hate complaining, but I have to put this out where I can see it, where other people can see it. I don't know why it has to be so hard for me when other people carry on just fine with their burdens -- much greater burdens. I don't know if I'm weaker, or just not meant for this kind of work, or what.

Ah, I'm tired. I'll stop. I just . . . sometimes you feel the knife twist, you know? And I'd give anything just to stay the hand that's holding it. Just a year. A year of quiet.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
Ugh. I feel crappy like whoa. If I were a superhero, my name would be General Malaise.

I did, however, finish the absinthe box. She ees beeyotiful, my little petits fours. All that remains is for the enameled glass to be baked, glued in place, and then left to dry for a couple days. There should be pictures on Thursday or Friday.

I still feel cruddy, and I think that it's largely stress. Between the art show and writing and painting and trying to keep up with friends and dealing with family crap and trying to assimilate everything that's happened/is happening/will happen soon, I have about slipped off my goddamn rocker. I have to find time in there, too, to clean house, care for my pets, and be present for my husband, not to mention time for me to relax and throttle back. I have no idea how I keep up.

It's hard to explain why, if I'm so frazzled and fried, I don't want to go out and do something fun. Most people relax by going out, after all. But I relax by staying in for days at a time, preferably wearing earplugs. Now more than ever.

An unpleasant truth about grief has been driven home to me over the past couple of weeks. See, when you lose someone, you mourn and you move on. But then, later, you lose someone else, and in addition to the pain of that new loss hacking up the soil of your soul, it brings up painful memories from last time like buried bones. Grief is never all gone, and it will come back to haunt you. So you're not just feeling the one grief, but both of them, together, like a double ear infection. And when the losses come so close you can't properly mourn them before the next one begins . . . that's just brutal. And that's where I am now. Staring down the shotgun barrel of #3, and not knowing when. So I have all these feelings and memories whirling around crazily, and it's frightfully confusing and scary. It's like waves, undertow, riptide.

My grandfather is doing okay. News is guarded. He appears to be holding out, and possibly improving a bit. I know it's still only a matter of time, though, and it's hard, knowing he's going to go. I feel like my childhood is dying all around me, like everything that I was is being stripped away like a cocoon, like old skin, and leaving me with only this strange adult life I seem to have developed as a defense against the shitty events of the past year. It's cold and hard and frightening, living like this, without the cushion of my loved ones there. I didn't think it would bother me this much, but it does.

My mom and my grandmother were my two biggest playmates as a child, my best caretakers. They're both gone, and my grandfather is gone, too; gone from his mind, from that house. My grandparents' house, a cornerstone of my psyche, the place where I got married, will be sold, eventually. It's already empty of the people who made it my second home. It's like a big piece of what I am was just cast loose. I'll only ever have it in memory; it will no longer be a place I can visit in reality. That time itself is dead, gone. And without it, I feel less sure of myself.

I want to say I'm taking it okay, that I'm coping, that I'm all right, but I deeply feel like I am not okay, that I'm working hard and mechanically because right now it's all I can do. I'm too hurt, still, for the sensitive work of writing what lies close to the bone. I'm too frazzled to hold up my end of most relationships -- a perpetual state, maybe, but worsened by all of this.

I've had too much loss. Each individual thing . . . oh, I can do anything once, and cope. But so close together, it's too much. I can't get away from it, I can't make it not happen. I could handle any one thing, but the weight of all this is virtually unmoveable. And there are days like today when I come into the house from outside and smell kitchen smells and I realize that it smells just like my grandmother's house. Or I find my mom's handwriting on a postcard she sent me. A picture album my grandmother made me when I got married. Or, god help me, I go back and read journal entries where I talk about being with them before they were sick. And that's when I feel the lack of their presence most strongly. Oh, call it pennies from heaven if you like, say they're reminding me that they're with me still by putting these things in my path. That's not how it feels.

It feels like a big, empty wind. It feels the way it feels out on the plains on a hot summer day, when the sun is like a weight atop you and everything feels leaden and dull, and then a wind kicks up out of nowhere and brings with it a smell of grass and dry earth and distant, distant rain. Suddenly you feel the whole emptiness of the prairie unfurling all around you, the miles and miles of nothing between you and the roof of the wind, and yourself a tiny speck of nothing in the middle of everything, the only witness to the events in your particular patch of emptiness.

That is what it is like.

Like standing in the cracked and brush-torn field that used to be the drive-in theater you went to as a kid.

Like getting up one morning and going to visit the half-block of fragrant, deeply green trees and brush where lived the foxes and raccoons and possums that you wrote childhood stories about, and finding it has been torn down and paved to make a parking lot for a church.

Like standing on Mt. Saint Helens, looking at the horse-kick crater and the blasted trees laid down like matchsticks in a river of destruction still visible decades later, and realizing that no matter how green the new growth is, it still lies atop death.

Like standing anywhere that used to be something else entirely, and was happier that way. And it's as if the old was never there at all.

I know it isn't so, but it's how it feels, and it's why I need to be alone a lot. It's like trying to hold the words of a song in my head, all the time. If someone talks, I'm afraid I'll drop it, forget. If I can just be alone for a while with these memories, while they're fresh and alive, if I can just sort through them, maybe I can keep them a while longer. If I stop living, maybe I can manage not to make new memories, and keep hold of the old ones instead. It's not the right thing to do for a long time, that's avoidance, denial, but I haven't really been free to do it at all. I need the time out.

Emptiness is what I've got. Space is what I need. A vacation. And I can't have one. I can't shirk my responsibilities or let things go. Not without making things worse.

I hate complaining, but I have to put this out where I can see it, where other people can see it. I don't know why it has to be so hard for me when other people carry on just fine with their burdens -- much greater burdens. I don't know if I'm weaker, or just not meant for this kind of work, or what.

Ah, I'm tired. I'll stop. I just . . . sometimes you feel the knife twist, you know? And I'd give anything just to stay the hand that's holding it. Just a year. A year of quiet.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian Bite Me)
This morning I woke up to a crash as my bedroom window fell out. I staggered out of bed to go outside and survey the damage and discovered that the cat vomit fairy had visited in the night. So before I had even properly awakened, I had to embark on impromptu home repairs and janitorial duty. There is no cat puke on the floor now, but we still have no window. Only some foam stuff covered with a tarp. Charming!

On the bright side, we got to worm the cats again last night. Now, those of you who think this is a horrible chore, you're just not looking at it right. It's like interactive theater! I mean, come on, two people, four cats, a red towel, and a bottle of giant blue pills . . . how is that not a recipe for comedy gold? During last night's performance alone I nearly had my finger taken off three times, was almost lacerated across the face when Matt came unmummified from the towel at the precise moment he became mentally unglued, we were treated to the Ode To Melancholy as sung in four-part cat harmony, and the whole performance ended with Sif feigning death throes, complete with lolling tongue and gagging. (No, she was not choking; I never got the pill past her tongue. She spit it out, launching it a good three feet, then began to try to convince us that the taste of it alone would KEEL HER.)

I finished another box today, a small glass-topped one with a celestial theme. I'll be putting the finishing touches on it tomorrow and taking pictures, I hope. Never done one quite like it. It's cute.

Something about the work soothes me . . . working with my hands, though my mind could wander, it doesn't. When I'm painting I become utterly still inside, and at its very best there are glorious hours where I'm just adrift. Writing is like that sometimes, but even at its most transporting it's still mentally exhausting, plunging yourself into the thoughtstream. There's never that sense of stillness, of quiet.

I'm feeling more . . . I don't know. In context, I guess, about Mom. I'm not okay by a long shot, but I think a lot of the missing feelings are coming back. I get overstimulated really easily now, though. I have to watch that. I'm tired, and cranky, and easily aggravated, and there are a lot of things I'm just . . . not in the mood for. I'll be fine one minute, and then the next minute I'll just have to be alone, or go home, or turn everything off and be someplace quiet for a while. I get stressed out by the stupidest things.

But I'm aware in a horrible sort of way of being strong. Of being stronger than I have ever, ever been. It's not a comfort. It's not something I want. It's just there: the knowledge that if I really had to, really wanted to, I could handle almost anything. Actually, it's part of what's made me irritable and angry with other people. Just because I've survived a horrible bloody gash and still kept going, it doesn't mean I don't respect my neighbor's pain when he stubs his toe. It doesn't even mean that he can't complain about it; I welcome the opportunity to comfort. It does mean I expect him to be able to get up and keep going. To paraphrase the Raisuli, I'm a woman of patience, but not unending.

I don't like feeling like that or thinking like that because it's quite obviously horrible and unfair to the people who unwittingly rouse my ire. That doesn't change the fact that . . . well . . . I feel that way. The petty things in life are pettier, the pathetic things are more pathetic, and the irritating things are more irritating. As though I've gone and turned the saturation setting way, way up on my emotional color levels.

Right now I'm going to try to get some work done on Vixen, which is not more than 15,000 words from finished. At my pace, that's barely a sprint. And if that fails, I've got porn-for-pay to write. It's not centering or meaningful, but it does help take the edge off things like broken windows.

I have a crappy new icon, too, as you'll notice. Lucian is lord of alpha-male cockmastery. Yes, he is.

Profile

naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
naamah_darling

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
910 1112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:46 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios