Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Saturday, December 20, 2003  

It feels like I have had things looming for so long I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever just live my life again. Daddy's health; the IssueThatWon'tDie at work; hurricanes! Yesterday we helped beloved H move her things out of her soon to be ex's house. True to the mental state of anybody living through the death of a marriage, she hadn't a clue how much stuff she had to move, which turned out to be mountains, unpacked; though she was sure she had sorted and tossed and packed it all. Well - no divorce is easy and this is as hard as anyone else's. We are all the close family younger than 60 that she has and thank goodness both my Ds are guys with big strong shoulders and backs and arms, who already know how to drive trucks with more than 3 gears. It was an exceedingly difficult evening - all 5 hours of it - both physically and emotionally. Fortunately, when I saw how much there was to do and how totally unable to manage the doing of it H was, it was as if I could step outside of the situation and see things differently - more maternally - more sympathetically, but with more poignant awareness of the utter sadness swirling 'round. Tension was heavy, clumsy; directions were scattered. And there was really nothing to do but to plow through it.

Those who know and love me know that I do not do controversy. I pick my battles after long deliberation - or when they attack some core value deep within me - something which can't be abrogated and survived. I don't believe this means I am weak or wishy-washy. I believe it is because I tend to see bigger pictures and find that most issues are rarely of significant import to the final outcome. Those who enjoy the energizing effect of an argument (debate, do they call it? philosophical expostulations?) find little joy in my company. Most of the people who are adamant about everything are just that - adamant about everything. "You never buy strawberry ice-cream" and "I only like vanilla ice-cream". Sigh. All sides are alike to them - and any side is worthy of loud defense. In the end, the adamants of the world merely remind me of the answer to the Green Knight's riddle - Everyone wants to have his way.

But of all the controversies I avoid, other people's marital conflicts reign supreme in the list of utterly duckable situations. I don't feel the need to rush in and make your life better. I don't want to advise you on how to go about solving the problem, settling the score, or seeking revenge. I don't want to be part of it. Tolstoy says in Anna Karenina, "... every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". As such, my advice would be pretty worthless. I don't even admire those folk who want to rush in and help whenever a friend is struggling. And here is the crux of what is sitting on my stomach and gnawing at my emotions these days.

I had a beloved aunt - she was the darling of the family. It was family so riddled with jealousies and competition I thought it was unique in it's dysfunctionality until I grew up and found out that all families are nutty as pecan groves. But to be loved by this aunt, to be graced by her favor, to be in her company, was one of the few safe things about going to Grandmas. She was the only aunt I had who, when she looked at me, didn't frighten me; the only one into whose lap I would be willing to climb. She enjoyed loving. She also was a fixer - a taker-in of strays - a sympathetic ear and shoulder to anyone in need. And when I was 8 she offered that sympathy - and the haven of her house - to a neighbor with an abusive husband. And when he came after the woman with bullets, it was my aunt who was killed, my uncle who was wounded, and the neighbor who got away - 2 weeks before Christmas of 1960.

Of course such an incident was bound to alter the entire family. It cast the threat of danger over a holiday season for all of us. Like all the others, it left me with grief and loss and fear. And in my case, a little anger, that the only kind person in that slightly frightening family had gone and sacrificed her life for some neighbor I didn't even know! Who wasn't even kin! It fed my natural repugnance for "fixing" others; proof that you can not make someone else's life better - he must do it himself; dried up any crusading zeal within me to advise you how to do it right. It somewhat shut down the generosity that twines with the busibody-ness weaving through the hearts of the helpers of this world. And it utterly dried up any sympathy I might otherwise have for such victims who fall into the clutches of abusers - who invariably hook up with just the sort of person who will fill their lives with the thrill of danger and the threat of pain, who glamorize their lives with their martyrdom until some helper gets shot. It is no surprise to me that domestic calls are the ones the police dread the most. And you can believe - I do not linger when couples begin to quarrel. Even my own parents are bid cheshire-cat-like farewells as I fade away at the onset of their bickerings. Oh - it is stupid, I know, to feel like any fight might escalate into a shooting match and I would be the innocent bystander. I know this. But I don't feel it. You can be sure, even though I hasten to state that the Soon To Be X is not an abuser, walking into that house last night was an extreme act of courage for me. And it has left me drained.

This is a far more personal issue than I have ever posted about before. I'm still not sure I will leave it up for long, because such a tale is a burden to others. But I have been able to exorcise several other demons of my youth by telling the tale to people who, while politely willing enough to listen, don't need to care. They are able to take a tiny bit of the pain connected with the tale away with them, and as they go, they just toss it into the trash can. It doesn't have to linger in their souls a moment, but the telling of it does diminish my own load. Eventually, I have been able to give away entire "traumas" to other people - till the day comes when I look around for an old fear, or an ancient, destructive habit, and realize - it is gone!

I believe that's what I am doing right now.



Thank you. The trash can is by the door.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM