Strong Wind

In Mothers and Writing, Musings on June 13, 2011 at 4:19 am

This post keeps unfurling in my mind, I catch a glimpse of it, and then it’s gone, like the tail of a garden snake slithering away in tall grass. I think: I will start by telling the story of my brother’s graduation from college yesterday, about the many tiny little things that “went wrong” because I was in something of a rush–a rush to get there, a rush to make it to the ceremony on time, and a rush to get back to my husband and son who were not feeling well at home. I think: I will find a way to make it funny that the end result of that mad 24 hours–after dodging drunk grads (and being hit by one on skateboard) in the Animal House like neighborhood of his vicininty, and listening to wide-eyed speeches in which diem was carped and futures were full-wattage,  is a kink in my neck so bad I cannot turn my head fully to either side and a case of the hiccups…

And then I see a different tail and it is this: Me, standing at the sink, washing dishes. My wonderful husband, sensing my gloom, asking me how I am.  With a sensation in my chest as though a fist is trying to squeeze water out of my heart I say, “I’m tired of myself…of my own thoughts…my patterns.” I quickly reassure him that this doesn’ t mean anything dire–I have never been to a place so dark I wanted to end it. But I do want to end certain habits I have, and lately, more than ever, they are waking up like dragons at every turn, and I walk around in a cage of self-imposed limitations.

After spending 24 hours with the part of my family where I have always felt like a buoy bobbing in a strange sea, a sea I am both intimately part of, and alien to, I return home to the family I have carved out for myself–my husband and son–feeling weighted down. My body hurts. My heart is heavy…I am having the most profound urge to be a child again, to be mothered. For someone to gather me up in their arms, lay me down in a soft bed, tickle my back, smooth out the wrinkles of night, sing me sweet songs and tell me everything is okay. But of course, this is my job. There is a runny nose, and bumped knees to tend. A boy who misses his mama after she was gone overnight.

Then, the blog post splits, it’s a rare two-headed beast, staring at me with four beady eyes before it’s off into dark underbrush again. “Remember,” it says in a sibliant snaky voice, “the family friend/astrologer telling who told you years ago: ‘There are many addictions, including the addiction to doing too much. You have this tendency, be careful.'” At the time I thought, “No, all this ‘doing’ is just ambition, drive…it’s good, it means I get things done. I’m never idle.”  But tonight as my spine feels like an iron rod bending unerringly toward the ground beneath a freight train; after a day where I watched myself tap dance to make unnecessary things happen from afar; after trying so carefully to only do and say that which would not cause conflict, or the least amount, where I worried and fretted my spine into this knot (the kind that tethers Titanic-sized ships to their ports)…I wonder how wrong I am. I wonder what happens when the doing is undone. What comes up from that dark, quiet place? Am I brave enough to find out?

I wonder what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t rush. Who doesn’t try to please everyone in a 3 mile radius–even when the pleasing is really only a stop-gap for my own anxiety.

I wonder what it would be like not to bounce from thing to thing hourly, moment by moment, shifting, twisting, contorting.

I wonder what it’s like to simply say: I need this. I can’t do that. I feel this way about it.

And not worry that everything will fall apart.

My wise friend  Amy said to me: “Pick your lead horse, and let the others run astray.” She meant: let there be priorities, like health and children. Worry over those. Let the rest of them fall where they may.

My other wise friend Alegra said, and I am paraphrasing: “Let go of the illusion that you are always in control.”

I catch the original thought for this post in my hand. It’s no snake, not even a worm. It’s the cord I use to bind myself to these false ideas. It’s thin, and mauve-colored, its end trying to dance on the breeze. I’m just waiting on a strong wind.

  1. Oh, Jordan…first, your writing…it’s so lovely and brilliant. Really. The therapist in me is tempted to dig around, but that’s not nice. So, I will be your girlfriend and disclose. This is me; I am the one who stands at the sink, angry, wanting someone to say, “Come, let me hold you and comfort you.” And what did it take for me to let go of all of the control? To stop; to stand still; to sit outside and watch the lavender bloom? A horrible case of shingles that has debilitated me. ‘Be careful what I wish for,’ I’ve thought many times. And yet, it’s poetic. I’ve spent many hours doing things like sending notes of gratitude to friends. I’m publishing my book! I’m spending HUGE amounts of time with my children. I’m sitting still. I’m watching lavender bloom. I’m letting people care for me. I hope as I get better, and I am getting better, that these lessons seep into my veins rather than flow down the drain with the soap water at the sink with those dishes which held my angry venom a few months back. Motherhood is so strange. We ebb and flow… giving, wanting, needing… alive like an ocean tide.

    • Thank you Susan. This made me cry. If it makes the therapist in you feel any better, my husband is a psychologist, and is wonderfully supportive/good listener, and I also just went back to therapy–so I am in good hands there. But I do hear what you’re saying. SO sorry it took shingles to get you to stop. I’m really hoping not to do the same kind of thing to myself.

      And I’m very excited for you about your book. I’ll be getting my information to you soon (very priveleged to be included in your process)

  2. ah strong winds indeed, the better to remind us how supple and resilient we are and more so, even if things fall apart (whatever exactly that is) we can redecorate just the thing we wanted to do in the first damn place but didn’t cause we thought things might fall apart which they did, ah the snakes of it indeed.
    took me several mighty winds before sense was knocked into my head, but then we are tough if stubborn lot those of us who would manage the sun’s coming and goings and the direction of a river

  3. Ah. Jordan. This writing of yours goes straight to my heart, allowing the dandelion fluff control desires to poof into the air. I’d thought to write about my desire to still be a child, but left it at the doorstep, only to open your post. Thank you. Now my heart is lighter.

  4. Beautiful.

  5. How can you write so brilliantly? Words in your hands are something else. I often wonder about the same concepts… only that you’ve made a piece of art out of them.

    Everything resonates with me, but most specially when you talk about your need to be mothered, having to do the mothering instead. There are days when I’d give my kingdom for a supportive hug! But of course, I’m the one giving support all day long… to my son and also to my bosses.

    I wonder if it makes you feel better to know that you’re not alone in this feeling place.

    • Oh it does always help to feel how not alone I am! I know I’m not, and I know that I also have it MUCH easier than many others…but thank you for adding your voice!! And for your kind words about art and beauty. My dear friend Eros-Alegra Clarke (see her comments below), has inspired me to remember that a blog doesn’t have to be a lecture or a lesson, but can be a kind of piece of your day, your heart.

  6. I can relate to a lot of what you have said here, but am too exhausted to dig deeper. Just wanted to say I was here, I read and I understand. Sometimes, I think it is easier for men to say, “I need this. I can’t do that. I feel this way about it.” We are selfish that way, or so I am told, but as you are beginning to feel we all need it sometimes. How can we nurture others, when we feel alone?

    Love your writing, so glad I am have found this blog.

    • Hi Jabiz. Glad you’ve stumbled here, too. I think ALL parents relate to what I’m saying, mothers and fathers…and whether or not there are differences in the way men and women discuss their needs is material for a college course…I take responsibility for it being my own personal problem at the moment, but who knows 🙂 Thanks for writing!

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