Retreat And Reset

A dear friend and I were talking about this dark time of year, and how she, like me, experiences the desire to go away right before Thanksgiving and not return until after the new year.

Maybe it is the expectation of the holiday season and all that pressure to be glad and giving and grateful.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful, and while I can’t speak for my friend, I’m close to 100 percent sure that that is true for her also.

It’s just my dark time. I don’t have to try to be different anymore, and it has taken me decades to understand that.

We’re told, directly and indirectly, not to be a “downer”. But it’s not down, really. It’s more like the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Demeter, the goddess of grain and the growing season, was angered and grieved when Hades abducted her daughter, Persephone, and brought her into the Underworld. Zeus had to strike a bargain with Hades and Demeter to let Persephone come back to the living world for part of the year so that Demeter would let crops grow again, or so the myth goes.

Perhaps ceasing growth in the living world was Demeter’s only bargaining chip for her daughter’s return, but Demeter’s powers may have been sapped in her grief and distress – she may have had nothing left to give. She may have needed that time to recover her abilities, and Zeus needed her powers to keep humanity going, so an understanding and remedy was had.

Persephone’s return, bringing back her bond, connection, and belonging with Demeter, revived creativity and growth into the observable world.

Time to refill our reserves is essential. Going deep into my Underworld is necessary, and some of us need more time than others to replenish ourselves.

My work now is to find a retreat that my friend and I can go to each year to disconnect just enough to come back refreshed and ready for what’s next.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Avoidance

Stuck.

Stuck.

Stuck.

I’m noticing that the night-blooming jasmine flowers, that rarely bud out anymore, are budding in a cluster of five or six.

(is that my mother making them bloom now – maybe? or is it my Aunt Lee, checking in on me. Or is it nothing because there is nothing, and they are gone now. All the aunts except my aunt Cathy are gone.)

I pulled out my Halloween decorations yesterday, and I really enjoyed that last year, but I’m having a hard time enjoying anything this year. It’s getting chilly here in Western Massachusetts, so I pulled out my fall and winter clothes too.

(mom kept all her clothes until they were practically rags, and I have the same wardrobe I’ve had for the last ten years, except underwear, of course, and a few shirts and a pair of pants I got from Costco.)

I’m having a coffee, trying to savor it. Be present to now, I think. Be present.

(mom loved coffee. why don’t I feel her? If spirit is real, and true, then why the fuck don’t I feel anyone who has gone on that I loved?)

I like how the steam rises up, and the rich smell of the beans is so delicious. I go out onto the back deck steps on sunny mornings to sit for a few minutes before starting my day in earnest. The willow trees, the small garden, the bright sky – I appreciate all of it. I am grateful for all that I have, for the time I’ve been given on this good Earth.

(and there’s the garden shed where some of mom’s things are that I have yet to go through and try to salvage anything or chuck it all out)

It’s different now. The raw grief has subsided, but sometimes it overwhelms me again. Mostly, it’s just part of me now.

(i think I’m angry with you, Mom. why are you silent? why don’t you visit me in my dreams? why won’t you make your presence known if you still exist? what kind of a shit universe is this?)

All unanswered questions. The Universe doesn’t bend to my will, or care how angry I am. I have to choose what I believe – if anything. I can be as wrong believing as not believing, or as right believing as not believing that there is a point and purpose to all of this.

I’m older now. I didn’t want to get older. I didn’t try to get older. Life just moved on – often without me keeping up – and definitely without my consent. My pain is often because I refuse acceptance too. I try to remember that I only have to accept, not approve. I can yell all I want that this is against my will, but life just doesn’t work like that. Life is neither for nor against me – or any of us – no matter how it seems otherwise.

Mom’s passing was just that. Whether it was ‘her time’, or whatever justification I might throw at it – it’s just a fact. I am on a temporal plane. Do I not enjoy what beauty and camaraderie and joy and struggle there is just because it’s going to end? Do I sit in a corner with my arms crossed until my own death comes? Joy and play are important to me! My people make life tolerable. The right music and free-spirited dancing lifts my spirits. So, I will grow older, and have more difficulty until the end. So will everyone on earth who doesn’t die young.

There is goodness, and there is terribleness. I can be as upset as I want, and rail against life’s ridiculousness – and I can make the best of this nonsensical experience. It’s not either/or for me. It’s all of the above.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Battle-ready?

If you do not have depression I would like you to offer gratitude to your well-built brain right now – or your lack of childhood trauma events – or be especially grateful if you do not have depression even though you survived immense trauma.

You are a fucking miracle.

You may well be a miracle anyway – I suppose the fact we exist at all is miraculous.

How I wake up:

The weekend interaction with my next oldest sister and a ‘mutual’ friend swims into my consciousness with all its terribleness (and I say mutual loosely because when my mother died, said friend rushed to my sister’s side to comfort her in a haze of pungent smoke, but did not even give me a call. – Never fear, they all heard from me in the weeks after my mother’s death, and I yelled at him for not even thinking to call me when it was my world falling apart too).

Then remembering how my grown son has so thoroughly detached from me that it feels like a mortal wound every time I think of it. In my waking world I reason it all out, and comfort myself, and move on – but in my barely conscious, vulnerable waking moments, the hurt is as raw as a jagged broken bone.

I am genuinely happy for my son’s happiness. He got out of the poverty cycle. He did what every parent wants for their child – to do better than they did. He has a beautiful girlfriend that he just got engaged to, and I have every hope for a content life for them. They are well on their way.

And then she ‘girlfriend-splains’ my own son to me – as though I am just meeting him. And maybe I am.

And then the darkness moves in for its quarry.

All the joy has left my life. Death is a welcome friend. So how to do it? A bridge? A rope? Something quick. I make my plans, and get ready to go.

Something – grace, I guess – shakes me lucid.

No, not today motherfucker!

Now, I know her story is not like the battle I have to do, but the entity in me is just as vile as that nearly-was rapist.

I would like a working relationship with my son, but I do not know how to do that in a mutually satisfying way. I only know how to do extremes, unfortunately, so I am letting go.

I need to protect my heart that has been so battered the last few years. Maybe someday we can have a nice emotionally-distant relationship. I wish him the best life, and I love him with all that I have.

Letting go of the family I want is the next task. The past is gone, and I was probably always deluding myself that I had good relationships with my sisters.

Ahead of me is the hard work of leaving abusive relationships. I will not be my family’s pain receptacle any longer. It is literally killing me, and I want to die for something better than that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Here Am I

You know how you ‘know’ how you probably should feel, or be, or do, but you feel otherwise?

Yeah, that’s where I am.

It’s not defiance. I don’t feel ‘choice’, it’s just how it is in this moment.

I understand feelings will shift, my attitude will likely change and I won’t have need of where I am – but when I’m here, I’m here.

And I’m angry that I have to manage the multitude in my head telling me why I shouldn’t be where I am emotionally, and then the litany of all I’ve ever screwed up, and opportunities I’ve missed – how, of course my life is not where I want it to be – look who I am.

What a shithead, right?!

I mean, if I could fire that jerk, and demand restitution for all it’s cost me – I’d bottle that and sell it – because I know I am not alone.

Not being alone in this miasma doesn’t have a ‘camaraderie’ feeling to it though. It’s not bested through others’ compassion, but only through self-compassion, and that is not currently in my skill set.

The best pharmacological offerings have not helped – and therapy does take the edge off – but this is a solo path, even though I desperately want company.

“The best way out is through,” as I have heard (and my inner rampaging self says to go screw yourself with your hollow platitudes).

And, yes, I know I’m arguing with myself, but it’s also all the therapists and self-help books that have not been the miracle cure I had hoped for.

Other wisdom reminds me that this is an ‘inside job’, and all I can think is that it would have been better to hire an expert.

“But you are an expert! You are the only expert on you!,” offers my cheery ‘friend’, who now has a black eye…

So, what am I going to do?

I’m going to go out and till the soil in the garden, because if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.

Also, speaking directly to my inner three-nager: I love you. I accept you. You matter to me, and it’s important to me that you get what you need.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) Debts To Pay, and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

I Should Have Gone

Earlier this year I was determined to skip the holidays and go hang out with my friend in Arizona until my inner storm blew over.

I couldn’t afford it, but I think I should have anyway. I should have gone the American way and put it on a credit card I’ll pay off for the next decade, but it would have been worth it.

Instead, I psyched myself up to make all these dishes tonight that I’ve never made before, and tomorrow we’ll cook a turkey, and be with my partner and his parents. I charged in doing the holiday thing, full steam ahead, and made biscuits and a cranberry orange relish, and stuffing, and cleaned up after myself, and then I broke down.

I glanced at the TV while I worked and saw an advertisement with some blue water in the background – maybe it was for beer, or maybe some tropical get away place – and I suddenly saw how fake everything is. Just stupid and pointless and it’s all made up. Life is just a big lie.

I should have gone to Arizona.

I told my partner we’re done – and not because of us, but because it’s all pointless, and I hate being here, and then I remembered last year.

My mom had been staying with one of my sisters, recuperating from a shoulder surgery in September, and we all met at my other sister’s house in Vermont for Thanksgiving.

I just wanted to be near my mom. So much so that I pulled up a stool to sit in front of her, and she sort of balked at me doing that.

It was a bit odd, but she had just been away for about two months, and I was glad to see her – but the subtext was an urgency to get whatever time I could with her.

Look, I know my mom was older, and didn’t take the best care of herself, but she fucking said she was going to live to 103 to beat her father’s lifespan by a year. All my life that is what she said. All my life.

So I can be forgiven for being crushed that she died at 89, alright?

I am grateful she lived that long, and things were far from perfect for most of my growing up, but we worked through so much baggage when I became a mom. She really stepped up for me. Selfish, self-centered, lost, clueless, traumatized me who needed a mom more than my son needed a grandmother, and she did both.

She showed up, and she stayed for months. She taught me how to be a mother in some ways – in the better ways. She loved being grandma.

I really miss her, and I intensely dislike the holiday season, and I don’t think I care to be in the world either.

I should have saved her somehow, but really, I should have gone to Arizona.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Debts To Pay, and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current