My introvert summer is about to end and I’m glad. I’ve spent eight weeks, more or less, in my house without my children. Dusty’s been with me this week and it’s been quiet without her chatty sister around but I miss that chatty girl. I know she misses me. We picked her up for dinner on Wednesday after Dusty’s marching band practice and she barreled out of the house and gave me such a giant hug that I almost fell off the porch. Later that night, Dusty and I went out and watched the meteor shower for a while. I’m glad she still likes doing that.
I’ve had a lot of time alone to do and think and be and I’ve actually DONE very little. I KonMari’d my laundry room and messed up my right elbow in the process. So, the painting in my bedroom has been delayed until I can lift a paint brush again. I’ve done no writing. I’m trying to get rid of the guilt. I had plans! Big plans! The summer, when viewed from the end-of-the-school-year panic of May, looked wide open with all possibility and zero failure. And now it’s just about over and the failure is what I focus on while beating myself up for focusing on the negative. It’s a wicked vicious cycle of stupidity. The work involved in moving my brain to a more forgiving, positive realm is really hard. I’ve been wired for accomplishment for so long that unhooking those wires is harder than I had expected.
My garden produced well despite the failure of the deck plants (utter failure! But it was an experiment anyway; now I know what NOT to do next year.) and the resident groundhog getting trapped inside twice by climbing up the bean tendrils and the sunflowers they had wound themselves around (I kid you not). Up and over he came and then had the hardest time getting out through the open fence as I worked to shoo him in that direction. I failed at trapping him too. So he’s still loose and still digging his tunnel next to the foundation of my house.
While watching (lots of) television in the evenings after mowing, I made ShrinkyDink keychains. So there was some artistic output. Not sure they are something I can sell but they’ll make good Xmas gifts which is good because there’s no money for Xmas. There’s no money, period. But money is not what I’m worried about these days.
Death. I worry about death. I cannot shake the utter icy fear of death these days. I mentioned to a colleague last week, as I was zipping off to pick up Dusty from band camp, that I was terrified of dying. Of dying too early, before my children were adults and not dependent on me anymore. I’m also afraid of death because I’m having difficulty with the concept of DONE, NO MORE, END, THE BIG SLEEP, etc. I love stories – books, movies, tv shows. I love to read them and watch them and write them. I don’t want to die because I want to know the next chapter of the story. Of this story, our story, humanity. I want to know whether things work out. I want to know that my children have found their ways in the world, found love and some amount of happiness. I want to know whether they have children. I want to know who becomes president. I want to know if we all eventually learn to accept that we’re all just fine the way we are and have stopped fighting over differences that really aren’t all that important. I just want to know and keep knowing.
I learned yesterday that my father has been diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder that is caused by the stem cell transplant he had in the late 90’s that saved his life when he had cancer. The disease could end up taking a number of forms but basically it’s a slow rolling death sentence. But then, so is life. I know this. I’m just not ready to let him go yet. I’m not ready to be the meat between the sandwich of teenagers in ascendance and parents going in the other direction. It seems we are constantly trading one for another and it’s really not fair. Nothing’s fair. I know this. You don’t have to rub it in. But still. I am shocked that I’m here at this point in my life. At 49 and little to show for it. That thing about accomplishment equaling worth? That.
Love. It’s been eight months since my divorce was finalized and I am afraid I’ll live the rest of my life without someone other than my children and family to love and be loved by. I had no good role model for love and thought I knew how it worked. I thought you showed love by doing and that it would be reciprocated. I got on the marriage rocket but discovered, when it left the earth, blinders fully employed, that it was powered by lazy hamsters who weren’t really interested in the wheel even if the treat was super delicious. I pedaled and pedaled like Fred Flintstone but it inevitably crashed. When you are raised by a narcissist you are judged by how well you reflect on them, how well you do things (accomplishment), the right things, the appropriate things. I married into a similar situation. I was never good enough as a daughter and a wife. My social awkwardness was punished rather than understood. My attempts to show love were sneered at. Literally. And I’ve recently lost a few friends who also felt I wasn’t what they wanted me to be. I didn’t act appropriately enough to suit them. I wasn’t allowed to agree to disagree. Only to agree. And I can’t do that anymore.
But for every friend I’ve lost, I’ve gained another, better one. I recently reestablished a friendship with an amazing person I met my first year of college. A year in which I was failing and failing badly. We’ve reconnected over the love of a rock band and the similarities between our daughters and I couldn’t be happier. Her presence in my life makes everything a million times better.
So, love and death. The hopes, the fears, the despair, the contentedness, join hands and sing Someone To Watch Over Me, while I try not to think too hard about stuff I can’t control, try not to write about them. And then I do.