Can I do this? Ok. Day one. Tap tap tap microphone. Cough Cough audience. Is this thing on? Take my wife, please. Alright, alright enough lame “I’m nervous about writing again” riffing. Let’s get down to business.
I have no idea where I thought I was going to begin hours and hours ago when I imagined this return to writing. At nine a.m. today I sort of promised my therapist, but more myself, that I would stay up one extra hour every night and I would use that hour for writing only. Writing is different from design, I said. I was laying out the rules so the referees know what to do when the inevitable battle between demon and higher spirit arises. Likewise, I don’t want to be loosely journal-ing in blog format and call that writing… At least not for too long. A little leeway is OK.
I am beginning the legal battle of my lifetime and because of that I wound up searching “Narcissus” on Wikipedia. (That’s a roundabout telling of the mental steps, but sometimes vagaries are so poetic and details so unimportant.) The way the wiki writer put it was this, “He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him.”
Can I just interrupt myself for moment? It feels silly, strange, too much, to me to write and have so many uses of the word “I.” It makes me uncomfortable. I noticed this awhile back and so I began journal-ing in the third person. It was liberating! I’m going to do that now because I need some liberating.
She needed to feel liberated, so she just went on ahead and did what she wanted.
“He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him.” She read those words and was struck. Coming out of denial, if one is tough enough to do so, brings a lot of striking realizations. She felt silly at times saying so often: “it struck me.” She felt she must be black and blue in the world of metaphor from all these blows of opening up her eyes and heart to the voice of her gut once more. Her gut seemed to have been telling her all along and now, as she began to rehash these stories for “impartial” and highly paid third parties, she felt stupid, sometimes, for not seeing the big picture sooner. The more she had tried to love him, the more he had fought with her. The more she opened up her activities, her date book, the minutiae of her thoughts and motives to him, to prove her love to him, the more he pushed her back. She thought of it now and felt laughter. As in “Aha! I was getting in the way of his reflection.”
But living with someone who is mentally ill and abusive because of it isn’t funny.
To escape the physical realm of it she had taken an epic car journey at 37 weeks of pregnancy. She had been the sole navigator and operator of the vehicle. Her mother rode shotgun. Her mom was great moral support and she provided snacks for the front seat as well as for the 23 month old in the back. When the cat occasionally had piped up with her thoughts on being locked in a travel carrier every day for eight hours a day her mother had provided comic relief by wryly saying, “another party heard from.” The memories of the car trip were a source of sardonic amusement for the girl and her mother now.
Occasionally the girl would say, “Hey, remember that time we drove cross country and I was nine months pregnant and we had a u-haul and a toddler and a cat?” and her mother would smile and they would chuckle. As if they could ever forget. It was one of those turning points in life when you know as it’s happening: Every thing is going to be different now.
As they had approached the Washington Oregon border on that first day on the road the girl had had a panic attack. Earlier in the morning she’d had a normal pregnancy-phlegm induced coughing stint, but had also sneezed at the same time and, well, she then thought she’d gone into labor. For a second she panicked. She then got very serious and told her mother not to ask her any questions, just to be on high alert. Eventually the girl decided they had to stop at the ER to check for signs of active labor. That day was terribly un-funny for them all. But now the girl’s daughter was two months old and they had been safe in the new version of the family home for nearly three months. It was still not a funny thing to remember, but she could smile.
The girl was occasionally told she was seen as brave. Earlier that day her therapist told her she was inspirational. She felt proud of that. She knew it was something she wanted to be in the world. And that pride made her want to shy away. It seems like narcissism all over again. To hate the ones who love you. She vowed daily not to do these things. She reminded herself regularly that she was not giving her best away to “no damn demons.” Her gut, where her strength lay, seemed to always have had the accent or voice of a Southern Black woman. She didn’t mind admitting this anymore, to herself or anyone else. She was ready to embody all that she was. She was ready to quote Wayne’s World or any other kooky freely associated point she might want to make. She was ready to stay mad when she damn well aught to. And she was ready to keep her eyes on the person telling her she was an inspiration. Do not look away, she urged herself. You earned this stuff and you are blessed by these words and this will of strength. She said thank you to her therapist for saying she was inspirational. She admitted that she wanted her writing to be too. She gracefully said then, and this was the thing she was most proud of later, she said simply, “I feel silly.” All that conflict within over accepting praise or looking someone in the eye or holding up her chin… And why?
It was simpler to admit, “I feel silly” smiling at you as you tell me I am something I want to be.