So. Here I am. Writing.
Anyway, ya, I’ve got nothing.
Which seems pretty fucking unusual given the Week of Very Bad Shit I Can’t Control I’ve just been through.
Strange things must be afoot….
It seems likely that there is some big stuff that would like to be written about, or at least seriously acknowledged, around here (i.e., in my head) Like, for example, the “I’m scared!”-ness, the “Life will never be the same”-thing, and, the ever present, “I’m totally not ready for my Mom to die”-sadness.
My guess is that those things — which are very big, very scary and very strong — are dying to get out. But they aren’t. So whatever is stopping them in their tracks must be a big ass powerful thing. It doesn’t feel Godzilla-like, i.e., big and evil with a bad temper and a taste for human flesh. It feels more like an elephant. Big, powerful and stubborn, but unlikely to go on a killing spree.
I guess if Iwant it to move, and I totally do, I’m going to have to talk to it. This should be interesting:
“Hello Elephant, I couldn’t help but notice that your big ass is in the way…”
Me: “WTF? I’ve got some serious, life-changing shit going on and I need to write about it. You need to move.”
Elephant: “Look how cute you are, trying to talk to me. Maybe you haven’t noticed how big I am. I’m very big, and very comfortable where I am — right between you and your keyboard and/or pen. Do you have any Diet Coke?”
Me: You’re an elephant, you don’t drink Diet Coke. Stop trying to distract me. I want you to move.
Elephant: “You do know that I’m not a real elephant, don’t you? Well…let me clarify that, I’m very real, I’m just not an actual pachyderm living in your head.”
Me: “Don’t patronize me. I’m fully aware that there is not, in fact, a real, live elephant inside my head. I’m not crazy…”
Elephant: “Dare I point out that you are writing about a conversation you are having with some part of yourself that you “picture” as a benevolent but stubborn elephant living in your head?”
Me: “Point taken. Can we talk about why you are here? And by “here” I mean between me and my creative genius.”
Elephant: “That seems fairly obvious. I don’t want you to write. If you start writing anything, it will turn into something about what is going on with your Mom, that is a fact. If you start writing about that mess, you will start thinking about the things you have been too scared to think about, and that will make you upset, uncomfortable and probably miserable-like. Why would I let you go through that? I would rather maintain the status quo of bouncing along the surface of all things scary, sad and remotely related to grief. No writing. It is the safest thing to do. ”
Me: “Oh, so you aren’t just another asshole elephant trying to thwart my Brilliant Writing Career?”
Elephant: “First of all, dear, there are very few elephants who are total assholes. We are complicated creatures though, and, I admit that sometimes we don’t clearly say what we want or where we came from. In which case, yes, one might conclude that a particular elephant is an asshole. Second, I’m not an asshole. I’m just an elephant who is worried that if you open the door to writing at all then a whole tsunami of stuff will push through and overwhelm you and sweep you off your feet and carry you away with no hope of finding the ground again. Am I getting through to you that this could be a Very Bad Thing? Better to avoid it altogether.”
Me: “I understand that you are a worried elephant. I hear that you are afraid that I will lose myself if I try to look at any of the stuff that comes up around Mom’s situation. That is a valid fear. This kind of stuff did overwhelm me and I did lose myself and my ground for a very long time. And it was a Very Bad Thing. Thinking about it happening again is super scary. Thank you for trying to protect me.”
Elephant: “It’s my job.”
That was Then, this is Now.
Me: “It was your job Then, but this is Now and a lot of things are different. I’m stronger now. I found the ground again. I know now that not looking at the scary things makes them more scary and living with that scary-ness and constant vigilance is really bad for me. I get depressed. And depression steals me away from myself. I don’t want that to happen again. So, trying to look at all the scary things at once and letting it flood over me is Bad. Ignoring the scary things is also Bad. We need a new strategy.”
Elephant: “I’m not comfortable with change. I don’t know how to not worry. Your crazy-talk is scaring me.”
Me: “I know. Change is hard. Not-worrying is hard. I know you can do it though. How about this for a strategy – I will start writing again – because I need to, it’s the best way for me to work things out – and I will be super-careful about how much scary stuff I address/think about at once. AND, I will be ninja-aware of threats to my well-being. AND, I will do everything in my power to protect myself, even when that means I have to say scary stuff like “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do X” or, even more scary, “I need help!” or “I need to be alone, and I totally don’t want to explain why.”
Elephant: “Do you really think you can do that stuff? Those kinds of things have been hard for you in the past.”
Me: “Yes, I think I finally value myself enough to make taking care of me a priority. It does feel strange, but it also feels right. And, ummm, non-negotiable.”
Elephant: “You’ve changed. I’m glad. I will cooperate, but I’m going to be right here if you need me. Trying to not-worry.”
Me: “Thank you. I will be careful, I promise.”
So, that is the plan. Thanks for all your support!
p.s. Mom had brain surgery Thursday. Just got out of Neuro ICU yesterday. It is rough going. Her right arm and leg were totally paralyzed after the surgery, today she had a little movement in her right arm. Yay for a little progress! There have been some cognitive issues – generally around speech, but those seem to be resolving themselves over time. Not surprisingly, Mom is having a hard time emotionally, especially as she becomes more aware of the issues she is facing, on top of the ongoing concern re: the disruption in her ovarian cancer (which is alive and well in a big, painful tumor in her abdomen) treatment regimen. We are trying to take things one day at a time.