Saturday, July 30, 2016

Truth Telling FW

I am fortunate this semester to have a young deep diving truth speaking woman in my small group.  She has been a spark to my dried up writing tinder and my internal exploration.  Weird how complaisant I have become on both those fronts where I used to be a rebellious ass kicker.

So I have been pondering that truth telling thing, what has passed for truth, how it gets twisted and distorted to please me and make me look better.  Deep breath.....

Here goes.....

As a child I was a liar.  Not itty bitty lies.  Nope these were huge whoppers.  My need was almost pathological and I would often lie without a reason or benefit.  I would lie easily to anyone's face.  I would lie despite being confronted with overwhelming truth.  I would not waver.  More than once, I made someone drop the truth and believe my lie.  I was a great liar.  I spent some time sitting with that, squirming in discomfort with that.  So much of my childhood is made of lies that it's hard to know what is true and what is lies.

I lied because it was expected.  What happened in the family stayed in the family - we were very Mafia like that.  I lied to protect myself, my parents, even my abusers.  I lied even if I knew the abuse would get worse for not telling.  But I can't blame it all on fucked up family casting.  I'm pretty sure that tendency was there just as it is in most kids where we look at it like a benign form of storytelling.  And I wonder if the abuse arrested me in that stage a little.

It was safer to lie about everything.  No one can get close enough to hurt you if they don't really know you.  And when they go (and they always do) you can console yourself with the knowledge that they never really knew you.  Lying allowed me to stay in the background or come forward as I chose.  I never chose.  Lying was second nature by the time I was an adult.  I became very adept at it.

I think we are all very adept at it.  We exaggerate or hide things to puff ourselves up, to make someone love us, to get recognition.  My version of it was just a bit more extreme.

The pathological lying became harder after I started to speak my story.  I can still remember the paralyzing fear of telling anyone the first time, telling a lover the first time, telling a family member the first time.  I was surprised by people's responses.  Responses that made me more able to tell the truth, to reveal who I am, what has happened to me.

It's interesting to look back over the past 15 years and see the arc of that growth.  The friends I have now know the true me, not just the bits I let them see.  And I am now a sucky liar.  When I try to tell a whopper that would have slid easy from my lips 20 years ago, I turn red, my heart races, my breath quickens.  I am a worse liar now then ever before in my life.  And I'm OK with that.  I hope it continues until there is only truth.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

7.23.16 FW

I post a semi-regular picture of my mom and I on social media.  I call it the Saturday Selfie with the Mama.  I don't know why I do it or how it got started.  And it doesn't really matter.  It's a thing now for whatever purpose.

People leave comments on these and like the hell out of them.  To which I just shrug my shoulders.  More recently I have noticed the comments tending more toward what a good daughter I am.  Those make me growl a bit in the back of my throat.  These folks are all well-meaning.  The response is purely something in me that gets lit up by the words.  

So as my fast write this morning, I'm going to dig around a bit and see why that comment triggers that response.  And because I'm feeling all outline-y and logical I'm going to number them.  

1.  There is something inherently patriarchical in it.  They don't say I am a good child.  They say I am a good daughter.  A true comment insofar as I am her daughter and I am basically a decent enough person.  But it lands inside me like a pat on the head and an acknowledgement that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and am therefore a "good daughter."  That I am sacrificing myself so that my brothers can go on and do important chest beating man things that will change the world.  Clearly my junk.  And the absolute irony is that those "man things" aren't what changes the world.  Things like Saturdays spent with a rapidly declining Alzheimer's parent are what change the world.  I know this.  And on some level I feel sorry for people who don't get it.  

2.  There is a feeling behind the comment like "I could never do that."  That I am different in some way that allows me to.  Weaker.  Soft-hearted.  I call BULLSHIT on this one.  It's not that you couldn't, it's that you won't.  Simple as that.  Like anything else, you have to be flexible and learn how to be with this person as they change day by day, sometimes minute by minute.  

3.  I am not a good daughter.  Never have been.  Mom herself will tell you my brothers were easier.  I am not like her and am exactly like her.  I am at best an adequate daughter and she an adequate mother.  I was never hungry.  I had a place to live and a shot at a good education (as long as I paid for it).  We weren't nice to each other before.  We fought.  ALOT.  I learned about what kind of woman I wanted to be by not being like her.  Sounds harsh.  But it's nonetheless true.  Thing is, Alzheimers has pulled back the layers of her and I find that I like who she is now (sometimes more than I ever liked the harder version).  She is soft where she was nut hard.  She is fluid where she was fixed.  She is open with her emotions where she was closed off and cold.  And the things that I craved from her growing up fall into my lap unasked.  How could I not snatch them up?  This makes me a selfish daughter.  Only after I got enough of those love-y bits was I able to forgive all the bullshit of my childhood.  Only then was I able to kill the cold, hard shelled, fixed woman I had become.  She gave me permission to just be who I was.  And I returned the favor.  

Somehow by saying I am with her because I am the good daughter diminishes the scope of our relationship to a sound byte.  Diminishes the struggle of two people to love each other despite what their words say.  It simplifies something innately complex and beautiful.  

Or is it there to remind me in the end it IS simply beautiful?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2 Packages of Saltines

Carp at SGC

2 Packages of Saltines

Heads together, they giggle like conspirators
stuff crackers into the back of the wheelchair.

Weeks later sitting on the deck over the pond
the daughter will remember the stolen tidbits
rummage around, produce two packages of 
stale saltines and wish they were more.

They had been watching tiny bluegill
swirl about beneath them
in lazy Van Gogh circles.
She likes to bring her mother here.
Outside the tiny world that is all she knows.
Outside in the sunshine
they share stories, real and imaginary
as the wind kisses their brows
and cools their cheeks.
Bluegill remind the daughter of her grandfather
and the women, her father.

She will break the crackers into pieces
hand them to her mother one by one
and watch as delight reanimates her eyes.
So many days now her eyes are dead.
Just to see something spark there
even if it does not catch makes her happy.

All the while, beneath them
The blue green circle of fish tighten, frenzy
like the emotions of the daughter
like the thoughts of the mother
Collapsing like both of their lives.
Collapsing into each other.
Collapsing for want of the other.

Just collapsing. 

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...