“Emotional Hangover,” was the term a friend of mine used on Monday to describe the way she was feeling after coming off of a long weekend. I think many of us are feeling that same groggy, despondent drop of holiday adrenaline leaving our systems. For me, I was high on the buzz of family, food, alcohol, sugar, and more food; but my main vein was fed by the dynamics of togetherness. (I saw a brief segment about the “Happiest People” on Earth;” vast community and 7 or more hours a day spent socializing were both shared characteristics of happy people.) Respectfully, we all suckle from the emotional energy of the best and even the most dysfunctional social gatherings. It’s within the realms of social hierarchies of families and friends that we find our perceived self worth. Without these highly ordered systems, we would identify as nothing, or as incomplete. (There is no king where there are no serf’s; there are no serf’s where there is no king.) Relationships enable us to love, and feel betrayed, to give, and become victims, they require space; and leave us feeling upset when we are forgotten. They lend to scolding and cowering, let us take insatiably, and allow us to give selflessly even more; we glow like well fed, rosy faced cherubs in the pack warmth, adversely, affinity can send us running for the quilted darkness when the illumination becomes too blinding. Inherently, others complete us because without “them” we would never see nor be challenged by ourselves. I’m still trying to process my experience with the holidays, and where and how I played a role. Initially, I felt somewhat relieved and lighter after it was all over, however, there is still this dun haze of exhaust left in the wake. Writing has helped, especially the regurgitated account of events in my last entry. But I still can’t catch my breath from the unventilated feeling that I have more psyche land minds to uncover.
I’ve found that I can’t, and (don’t want to-because it’s uncomfortable) productively verbalize any of my soul haunting in any other form other than writing. On Tuesday, a client (and dear friend and mentor) inquired about the blog post I’d written last week. She asked me a question regarding my mother that sent my head tumbling like the body of an Olympic gymnast during a floor routine. The first loss of footing spiraled my mind up and away, hovering above, and disassociating from the conversation. My mouth was shifting, lips curling and pursing, eyes blinking, body fidgeting, but I was removed from whatever words I tried airing out. She asked me something along the stream of how would I know when I had forgiven my mother, and how was I going to go about making amends with her. I didn’t know, and I still don’t. I can’t imagine how that’s going to feel. I don’t even know how to be that person. Who is she? For now, the only way I know how to get there, and uncover that side of myself is to write about it. (Writing is my last hope. If this doesn’t work, nothing will. And perhaps, after writing about it-all of it, I’ll have the courage to grace her with a glimpse of the world inside my head. I know I’m not there yet. I haven’t finished recounting; sorting through the pieces and forgiving those parts of her and the corresponding components in me that hate her. I’m not attempting to live in the past, but I must find understanding, and empathy before I can let go of my own pain enough to swaddle her in the comfort of my forgiveness. I’m moving carefully, and methodically in reverse away from the deep, throbbing, cumulative sore spot, examining, cleansing, caring for and loving each trauma as I heal myself entirely, or at least find peace within. )
It just occurred to me that I repeat myself at times from post to post, or I hash out the same feelings or thought processes, this is real for me, very real; and sometimes I have to destruct it and rebuild it all over again. I purposefully, or mistakenly leave out details until I become aware of their significance, or when space is made by my hollowing mental dissection of processing. For example, there is something I took for granted about the visit from my mother (My sentence structure is rather long because I don’t know the proper grammatical formula for the possessive form of mother. Mothers, Mother’s- just an aside.) I was so focused on recalibrating my equilibrium after unfurling from the mother/child dynamic, anxiety-laden seasickness brought on by her presence. What I missed was her ease and ability to welcome someone important to me into our family, and to acknowledge the change of my life style with expanded wings. She had no judgment. She had no wanton looks to cast, only excitement over meeting Susan. (1. I can’t say Susan felt the same way, my mother didn’t have a chance because Susan had to deal with me prior, and my queasy anticipation of seeing my mother.)
(A. In the past my Ex-husband always wanted to know when and if I had spoken to my mother. He needed the info in order to reconcile my extreme bitchy distancing, as not to take it personally.)
There’s something else that’s pitiful about the whole situation, my kids (7) and (5) still ask me who my mother is, they just don’t get it, and I don’t know how to make them understand. I wonder if they ever consider why I don’t spend time with her, or why she isn’t like their other grandmothers. When she left the house on Christmas Eve, My son M asked me why she smokesicarettes. (She walked in and out of the French doors leading to the deck a few times, bringing her nasty nicotine butts back in with her.) I told M she smoked because she was gross (What’s wrong with me?), and then I said, “No really, she smokes because she’s sick and doesn’t always make the best choices.” While she was there she asked if the kids could come and stay a few days with her this summer. I laughed like an arrogant yuppie from the nineties and spoke without thinking or empathy, “Ya right!” She giggled back at me and said, “Well, I raised you and you turned out alright.” Then I went honest, “I’m sorry, but I’m a control freak like Ginny, (her mother.) I may not be as controlling as she is but I’m pretty bad. At least I’m working on it.” I don’t think the kids overheard the conversation, but what type of message was I sending if they did? And did they see me cringe and stiffen my back like rigormortis setting in on a corpse when she tried touching me? Did they notice how I avoided her gaze and frantically moved around in the kitchen? Susan did, I saw her watching the interaction out of the corner of my eye. I wanted to show her I was evolved, but I failed when I couldn’t accept the maternal embrace.
It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen or talked to her, and I’m letting go of my inability to be loved by her. I’ve been disappointed in myself for not even cracking a little.
I was on lockdown for days after but have since come out of it. I’m sure my kids suffered while I was on self-preservation mode. They must’ve felt the hard, emotional buckle of the barrier I hid behind. I know I was as cold as winter concrete to deal with and I’m grateful for the yielding softness of my children’s hearts. I’m resolved in knowing that my children always feel my love, my tenderness and care even when I’m feeling insecure and unloved myself. I’m also thankful for the humble shoulders of Susan to cry out my dry tears of frustration.
A few nights ago, at the start of the New Year, I started coming down with a cold and I felt the weight of it all (The virus, mom stuff, the move, taking my kids out of their birth home, ETC.) suffocating me like a cask. My kids were with their dad and I was worried about them and missing them like crazy. I had an overwhelming desire to control what was going on with them when they weren’t with me. I pissed him off by what he felt like was, “making a correction to his parenting.” He was right, I was trying to assert myself in a role I chose to step away from 16 months ago. I knew I had to respect him by backing away and by giving him the courtesy to parent our children the best way he saw fit, even if it meant going against myself. I felt defeated and I felt like my life was spinning out of control. It was the end of the day and I hung up the phone after talking to my daughter S, listening to her crying, as she was telling me how tired she was. I finished my last round of texts with my EX about his parenting, and I looked around at the half boxed up kitchen and I wanted to unravel. Instead, I took a hot shower, told myself I’d have the kids again in a few days, and curled up next to Susan. The next morning she told me I fell asleep with my head on her chest and her ear lobe between my fingers. I guess that was my way of letting go and allowing myself to feel safe enough to love and be loved. Hangover cured.