...is a motherfucker. And it's not something I handle very well. Although on the surface it appears that I do.
Somewhere on this blog I once described looking at my life as if you were looking at panes of glass, all layered on top of other. The same image on every layer, but maybe a little bigger or a slightly different color so that when you look through the top you see one whole image, the total Me. But if you were to separate them all, each image would be unique, something that shaped me, that makes me part of who I am.
It's an appropriate metaphor for me, the more I think about it... because the hardness and the smoothness of each layer also serves to protect the inner me from the multitudes of pain. But sandwiched in there is every hurt I've ever felt, and if that pane of glass is shifted or removed, the pain that lives there is just as raw at is was when it happened.
And it's not just my own... it's other people's. We were talking about something one day, and the Professor remarked I should have been a social worker... she thought I had the empathy. But unlike her, I have a much harder time letting go of pain... mine or anyone else's. I'm better at it now than I have been, because I work at it, because at least I know now that I can feel someones pain, that I have to be careful. I'm better about choosing who's pain I let in.
Last week in karate we were taught some self-defense moves... how to protect yourself or break free when someone grabs you. I actually have no interest in self-defense... I'd much rather hit something, but there is one particular technique that made me think about life. It's when someone goes to grab you around the neck. I've actually been grabbed around the neck.... it's not cute. It makes you contemplate death in a hurry.
But the trick to not being hurt when you're grabbed around the neck is to see it coming, and to tuck your chin down to your chest before your assailant gets you. (Or if they're grabbing you from behind in a choke hold, to turn your head to the side.) That requires some serious mental alertness. And training. But it's worth practicing.... because you can't be incapacitated if your neck isn't grabbed.
Pain can incapacitate me, if I let it. But I'm practicing anticipating it, practicing tucking my chin down.
Sometimes it gets by me. It got by me the other night...
It's been two weeks since I wrote anything of depth. The FatLady has started morning pages and has pretty much succeeded at maintaining the rhythm, and I admire her. Jealous, even, because I haven't been able to write my own pain away lately. So on Saturday night when I drank too much tequila on an avocado salad and woke up with a bang on Sunday realizing I fucked up I decided to do absolutely nothing but recover Sunday, and get up today and write.
Cuz I realized pain had been building up... mine and other peoples. I kind of felt it coming this time, realizing I was getting full to the brim and with no way to dissipate it, something was going to happen.
I absorb pain. It's what I do, who I am. I cannot block it out. I can't turn away some ones pain. So I have to be better about letting it run through me and dissipate, like electricity.
I had told that to the Cricket once, that I needed an anchor. A better word would have been a groundwire. And he's been a pretty good groundwire except he hasn't been around much lately, but that's another story.
Poppy's pain fucked me up. I was honest in telling the family that this was going to be hard for me, because family pain is the worst for me. When I was a little kid, I'd cry if someone hit the Professor, my little sister, or was mean to her. I remember once sitting under the big hog plum tree in our front yard, crying because the housekeeper had said something to her that was either really mean or uncalled for. I remember feeling that pain so acutely I was completely incapacitated so I sat there crying, holding her hand, hating myself for not being stronger or bigger enough to protect her. Over time I learned how to deal with that by just completely shutting down emotions... although I didn't realize I was doing it until way later. By the time the building collapsed on the Professor and the Diva, and I watched my sister struggle through the pain and the surgeries she needed to recover, I shut down completely, packed my shit and moved to New Jersey.
So Poppy's pain fucked me up... but at least this time I knew it would, and it didn't take me 10 years to realize I'd shut down (only a month) and I didn't pack my shit and move to Jersey. But I realized with a start I haven't been to my parents apartment... haven't climbed those 66 steps, since the day he went to the hospital. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I'll go back until he's home. And I'm having a very hard time going to see him in the Rehab Center.
He's actually doing really well... his Poppy voice is back and he's fighting like hell to get out of there. He's been fitted for his new leg and he talks excitedly about the process... about how it's made in stages and what he has to learn to use it. The danger has passed... this is where I fall apart.
Around the same time Poppy's leg was taken, within the same week, practically, a friend of the Cricket's lost his life. He was a young kid... he turned 21 a little bit after his funeral. I may not have noticed the pain of it, had he not posted something on the Cricket's Crackbook page 3 days before he died. So when he passed, I noticed it... it shook me. And I thought of the irony--the unfairness even--that a child so young should pass, and here Poppy was only losing a leg. And of course I felt a little bit guilty about that, but grateful as hell to God that He hadn't decided it was Poppy's turn to go. I didn't even question Him on "why".
As time went on, though, I "met" his mother, and I realized that she, like me, was a single mom. And that he, like my Sun, was her only child. And that her baby's passing was one of my deepest fears.
Fear, like pain, is a motherfucker. It will jack you up. The thing about fear, though, is that it's the anticipation of pain. When you look at it that way, fear is manageable because there is always Hope to counter the fear... Hope that things will go another way. But there's not a lot that can counteract pain. It's why people use pharmaceuticals. Or drink tequila. Tequila has the best numbing sensation I've ever felt. But I digress.
There are these "quizzes" on Crackbook that you take to waste time, and one of them I refused to answer until I dared myself. It was "Top 5 Deepest Fears". When I finally did answer it, I managed to fill it with superficial shit, like my unreasonable fear of mice or snakes.
But I realized the other day that admitting my deepest fears would help me release the pain of it, and losing my kid is definitely among the top 5. And it was something I was faced with during the War with SD. He sued me for sole custody. It's not that he had a chance of winning that suit, because even though there was the fear that something unexpected would happen and he would, I made sure to fight a good clean fight, not show my crazy and be sure to expose his. But the fact that he dared to go for my weakest point enraged me. And I was convinced that had he had the chance, he would take the Sun just to make me sweat. I knew he'd give him back at some point... like the Law Guardian once said "Worst case, he takes him, you'll get him back and he'll go to jail" but that wasn't the point. The point was my fear of the time in between.
And when the judge ordered my 8 year old Sun to get on an airplane and go to California I thought I would die... and I knew that if God forbid, that plane went down with my kid on it, there would be no reason at all for me to continue living.
But here this young man has lost his life, and his mother is still here. And I feel for her, feel her pain, know that the pain will live with her for a long time, will always be raw and naked until time is merciful enough to cover it with a pane of glass.
The Professor, who is a rock when it comes to handling family pain, has been the strong one to go to the Rehab and take Poppy out, take him places. I spoke to her yesterday, and we both agreed that we have been blessed... spared the horror of losing someone close to us. I am grateful that God didn't take Poppy just yet; I joked that He knew I wasn't quite grown up enough for Poppy to go... but inside I wondered how grown can you be to accept the loss of a child?
If it's true that God only gives you the pain you can handle, I pray that Mom is strong enough to continue. She seems to have good people surrounding her, a family, a community, a partner. Sometimes she writes what she feels and I'm afraid to read it, knowing it will tear me apart if I let it. But I read it anyway... I try to absorb a little bit of her pain at a time, to dissipate it, because I don't think anyone should handle that pain alone.
I know it's still rough for Upstairs Neighbor. Mr. Kip has been gone about a year and a half, and UN is still hurting. It's better... she smiles now. Sometimes she laughs a little. But some days the pain is still there and I try to absorb hers, too, to dissipate it.
It sounds crazy, I know. Some might say it's not my job to do that, but it's what I am. But it's crazy, and it comes at odd times... the other day I saw a picture of Liam Neelsen with his two boys at a basketball game. Neither of the boys was smiling, and the pain at losing their mother jumped at me and I had to look away. But of course I had to look long enough to see it...
And then Saturday night I hung out with CNC and her brother who was visiting her from Miami. There were several reasons he came to visit... one of them being he needed respite from his own pain. CNC had had a barbecue in his honor on Saturday, and I was impressed with CNC's efficiency. There's a lot about her I admire, actually but that's another story. A story I actually think she needs to tell. I told her she needs to go to college and write a book about her life. But anyway, Brother is having trouble at home. And his pain was palpable. He almost didn't go out; CNC texted me and said he was crabby and probably wouldn't go, but I went over there and joked I had on my best hoe-shirt and that I don't get out much and he couldn't come all the way to NY and just sit on his sister's couch.
We ended up hanging out WAY later than we should have... way past the time CNC had gone home. We were also hanging out with a passing friend from the Rock, one who knows SD pretty well and admires him. Which was weird for me cuz my feelings about SD are still very mixed. This friend though, is a champion drinker, mostly because he indulges in the kind of pharmaceuticals that keep you up and I should have known better than to match him drink for drink. For a while I did great... but tequila numbs you and you forget and I forgot.
But I do remember talking to Brother, and at least got him to tell a little bit about what was going on with him, and I was numb enough to absorb it. At the end of the night he walked me home, and I hugged him, wishing I could draw all that pain out and throw it away. But of course I can't. I can't take pain away... I can only give it some place to go, some place to run through and dissipate.
There's other shit rattling around, too, some highlights being that generally I avoid The Scrub even when I run into him; I've managed to put a serious lid on all the pain he caused--or rather, the pain I caused myself--but sometimes I'm reminded. I'm aware that it's coming up on a year since I let him in. But the other day I was where he was, quite by accident, and as it turned out we sat down and ate lunch together. It wasn't so bad, really... I guess I've forgiven him because like that snake story I always tell, I knew he was a snake when I picked him up. And I know why I fell apart afterwards, and those reasons don't have an awful lot to do with him. We don't communicate much at all, and I'm always sure to let him know I've unfriended him on Crackbook or that I've deleted his number. So he texted me for me to have it again, and I texted back that I wondered if I should keep it this time.
A few days later he answered "You should" but then went on to say he was somewhere and was tipsy. And horny. And would I have sex in the stairwell leading up to my apartment. I texted back "I would, and I have, but not with you." He never texted back... although he did wish me Happy Mother's day later on.
But that was one of those incidents that kind of put a final pane of glass on things. It didn't even hurt to do so.
And since I mentioned Cricket earlier I'll say that is still is what it is, and I'm still not sure what that is, exactly. I know that I'm more careful about him than I have been with anybody... to protect myself, but also to protect him. I was hurt about being hijacked those 36 hours or so, and then him not being around much afterwards but at the same time I didn't really pursue him. For me, it was intense enough for me to want to sit on it a little bit... but the thing I like about him is that he hears me. And if I say (well, write, really cuz I'm no talker) to him what I'm feeling he may not address it with words but somehow I know that my own words aren't floating off into an abyss. I had written earlier that lifestyle-wise we don't have a lot in common, but that we have weird shit in common and one of those things is sensitivity to other people's pain. And while I wish desperately that he could be my groundwire, he may be too much like me to be able to do that. So I dunno. I don't know how it will turn out in the end, but I do know that this, whatever I'm feeling about him, is a pretty solid feeling. It doesn't shift around a lot, and oddly enough, I don't need it all the time. I just need to know it's there...
I've been writing exactly two hours. I need to write more often, obviously. Maybe I can pick up now and just write little bits every day... and just on one topic... but now I'm going to go get dressed and try to be efficient today. There's a lot of shit I have to do to get my life back to where I want it to be...