“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It is strength. It’s nerve. And ‘if your Nerve, deny you-,’as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘Go above your Nerve’ “.
I have totally given myself a woo.
This whole blogging thing?
And…now I realize I am speaking in code.
A “woo” is something I used to call (and apparently still do) a frightening experience, when the kids were small, to make it seem less scary. Like a nightmare they’d wake up from, yelling out, crying and sweaty. “It’s ok”, I’d gather the bad dreamer up on my lap and say softly, “I got you. You’re in your bed, in your house. You just had a bad dream and gave yourself a woo.”
As in “Whew. That was scary.”
And “scariffying” is a word sandwich, another strategy deployed in our family lexicon which involved taking two ordinary words and smashing them together to make a new word. In this case “scary” and “terrifying” to illicit a smile in an otherwise un-smile worthy situation.
We still do these things today, the girls and I. We have a million of these inside jokes and strategies and they still work. Family whistles, quotes from movies, songs, books, tattoos. Lots of tattoos. I suppose that’s why they’ve survived all these years. Like comfort foods, they calm, soothe and put things into perspective. And allow us to move forward, push through the woo, despite being scariffied.
The truth of my fear this morning is two-fold.
One is that by blogging, I’ve made some very private thoughts that have been kept to myself for quite some time, very public. And in doing so, I feel vulnerable and open to judgement, criticism and opinion. I don’t want my own experience as a recovering wife and mother to be mistaken as unsolicited advice. That’s a practice I’ve quit and quit for good. And, to be really honest, I have no interest in opening myself up to hear the old all too familiar battle cry: “This is all your fault!”.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph if I only had a penny for every time I’ve heard that old chestnut. I’d be in my box seat at Lincoln Center right now, enjoying a New York City Ballet late Spring Season performance with my husband, The Dude, (wearing a tux like Jared Leto wore to the Oscars in 2014), my life-long best friend, Schwink ,and with plans to meet La Belle and her Beau (because they are so much fun to eat and talk with and to talk and eat with) and also with Schwink’s son, The Boychick (who , of everyone I’ve mentioned, is the only one who actually lives in New York City) at some fabulous post-Lincoln Center City That Never Sleeps bistro. My fucking treat.
I mean, I get that some things are my fault, but everything? All the time? I’m willing to take responsibility and be accountable for the things that are, or were, mine to own.
But a large part of my recovery, which is still in its early, baby-steps stages, is separating the wheat from the chaff and finding the distinction between what is truly mine to own and what is not.
This can be challenging.
I have a somewhat large tendency to take on more than my part of both the wheat AND the chaff and claim responsibility for the entire crop’s failure. Despite the fact that there were other farmers working the land.
And then there’s the second reason I feel a little woo’ed and scared this morning….which is: is this thing on? Is anybody out there? Reading this? At all?
Given my computer skills (or, more accurately, my stunning and legendary lack of computer skills), I’m more than likely writing into a void.
It’s not like that hasn’t happened before.
Once, I decided to have a little dinner party celebrating The Dude’s birthday. I thought it would be fun and environmentally friendly to use e-vites, so I chose Punchbowl, a wonderful, user-friendly site that takes you step-by-step through designing charming and adorable custom e-invitations. I chose an invite and painstakingly followed Punchbowl’s wizard through half a day of designing, using my email contacts to fill in the guest list. By the end of the day (and too, too many cigarette breaks later), feeling confident and just a little bit pleased with myself, I pressed “Send”, believing I was inviting a small, but intimate group of friends and family to a small, but intimate birthday party. My understanding was that the e-invite would land in their Google, Roadrunner or MSN Inboxes, they would then RSVP to the Punchbowl Inbox I had created and a lovely party for the Dude would be had.
Turns out, not so much.
Turns out, after a day of excitedly anticipating RSVPs and checking my Inbox, I had exactly…..none.
Turns out, after two days I had exactly zero RSVPs. I will admit to being a bit….miffed. Did our friends and family all have plans six weeks in advance and were unavailable to attend? Worse, were they, not a single, intimate one, interested in The Dude’s birthday party?
Turns out, Day Three, that there were NO RSVPS from my rude “friends” and “family”. Because it’s so hard to just check the little box on the RSVP that says “Sorry, I am unable to attend” and press send.
Turns out, on Day Four, I’m in a foul mood because you could drive a fucking truck through my Punchbowl Inbox, it’s so empty. Time to call Schwink.
Who, turns out, has no idea what e-invite I’m talking about. Because she never received it. Because, turns out, I’d invited no-one to The Dude’s birthday party. No-one, that is, except myself. Turns out, that was the only e-invite on which I’d pressed “Send”.
So. Yeah. That happened.
I share this now (because things are funny when they’re over) just so you know that, despite my best efforts and the truest of intentions, the very real possibility exists that I am blogging into a void. And I know it. And that no one is reading any of this, and never will. I know that, too. And that my thoughts and sentiments remain as private as they were when they were kept in my journals, wept to Schwink on my terrace or talked about on long walks or late nights with The Dude.
And that the idea to say them out loud, for me, to you, was just a momentary inspiration by the light of a luminous moon.
All of this brings me to a mathematical point that I just realized, which is that Number One, sharing private thoughts in a public manner, and Number Two, this blog, by some mistake of my own, some button I didn’t enable (despite the hours I spent reading the wordpress.com tutorials) cancel each other out!
So, this brings me to a new Number (I just don’t know which number…because I’ve lost track….I hate numbers….they give me a pinging headache…please hold….let me see where I am here…..) NUMBER THREE! Which brings me to Number Three. And also Number Four. Which are I choose not to be a quitter AND I choose to be a Baby Shark who pushes through her “woos” and her “scariffied”, fills her gills with water and keeps going forward.
And I’ll tell you why.
Because as a recovering wife and mother, where I once lived a life of days filled with choices, some of them relatively benign (“What should I make for dinner tonight?”) to others weighted with responsibility and gravitas with the health and future well-being of my children (Do I vaccinate the girls with this new herpes inoculation? When they don’t even know what sex is?), choices these days, with the population of an emptied nest greatly reduced, are, for the , most part, about me. Now, one would think that with nearly 31 years of decision making experience under my belt, making choices for oneself would be easy.
If only that were so.
Sadly, this has not been my experience.
As a wife and mother, the decisions and choices I made were for others. They were selfless, motivated by profound love and a sincere pursuit of what was in the best interest of the kids, my husband, the marriage, our family.
There wasn’t a whole lot of me in the loop where decision making and choosing was concerned.
That’s probably why, when my marriage ended in 2005, and in the chaos of the years that followed, the pendulum swung so wildly to the other end and many of the choices I made were so selfish
I, like so many of the women in my generation raised with old-school, Midwestern values, standards and morals, was taught to believe that putting yourself first was selfish. I believed that to be true. And so to combat that “s” word, selfish, as a wife and a mother, I went all the way to the other side of the room and made sure to put myself last, to be selfless (another “s” word, it turns out.)
Today, living life at El Rancho Recovery ( really, I just live in a cozy little apartment with the Dude, but sometimes I call it that, El Rancho Recovery…) I’m aiming my pendulum for the middle. To a more thoughtful, careful place where I take everyone into consideration. Including myself.
Turns out, in the middle is a lovely shade of grey.
I know it when I see it’s shimmering, incandescent light, illuminating a choice that presents in this life I have to make.