There is no peace

I’m sorry to have been away so long. Something major happened to me not long after my last post here, and I’m still dealing with the repercussions of it.

I was mugged on the way to work on the day after Christmas. During the attack, I was flung to the ground and dragged a bit, and during the struggle my left pinky finger was broken and the tendon ripped off the bone. I had surgery last month to reattach the tendon, and have started physical therapy to get things working again.

That’s a very dry recitation of the physical stuff. The emotional journey has stalled, pretty much.

I’m terrified walking to work in the mornings, despite having pepper spray and my neighbor walking with me. I keep feeling like people are going to jump out of the shadows onto me and keep sweeping my eyes left, right, up, down, in front and behind. Once I get to work and the door is locked behind me, the terror doesn’t stop. I jump at every sound, check the door every five seconds, keep thinking I hear people trying to break in. My workplace could stand against the zombie apocalypse, and still I feel unsafe.

You’d think I’d feel better once I was at home, right? You’d be wrong about that. At home I run scenarios in my head, judging what I’d do if someone broke in, what I could use as weapons, escape routes, hiding places. I’ve timed how fast I can escape/hide/fight. Constantly. I’m always checking my doors, seeing if they’re locked, even if I’ve just locked them. I keep scissors within reach all the time when I’m home, in case someone breaks in and I need to fight. I feel unsafe at home, too.

I dream about the mugging all the time. I keep seeing it over and over. In the dreams I keep trying to change it somehow.

I feel guilty all the time. If I had paid more attention, none of this would be happening. I’m useless at my job, and everything is backed up, with everyone else doing more and more to pick up my slack. My hand barely moves unless I concentrate on it. I feel like it will never get better. Nothing will ever be better.

I don’t like being right

Last month, I wrote about my mother posting a soppy declaration on Facebook about my brother on his birthday, about how proud she is of him and all that.

I said to myself later that she’d probably do the same thing on my sister’s birthday.

Well, today is my sister’s birthday, and yes, I was right. She posted a soppy, melodramatic thing (complete with a photo collage) about how somebody told her that when my sister was born she’d be special and a blessing, and how that person was right.

I just…

Again, where was mine? Not the photo collage, as I don’t care about that. But the words, the sentiment? Where were her feelings of soppiness and pride for me? Me, her firstborn? Me, who (according to the story I’ve heard my entire life) she wanted so much and prayed for and “worries” for now? Where was all of that on my goddamn birthday?

If she had the time to pop onto Facebook, make photo collages, think of and write soppy messages on my sibs’ birthdays (on workdays, even!), she could have written a couple words really quick to me on my timeline on my birthday. She had a Facebook page on my birthday. She knew how to use it–especially if she could make fancy photo collages. She even had the time, as my birthday was a Saturday this year.

Why can’t I get her to love me? Why do they always get it? Is it because they marched along and followed the family script? My sister got married and popped out kids. My brother had a few kids and got married. I have no kids (I never wanted them), and have never been married, nor am I particularly interested in being married. Why is that so bad?

What have I done that’s so wrong?

A thing because I feel jumbled

Because I feel all jumbled up with the surgery coming up–I’ll post about that in a while–I wrote this. I don’t have a title for it.

I cried when you first came at twelve years, eleven months.
My life is done and over, was my first and secret thought.
I tried hard to be friends with you, to accept that you would be
Part of my life for the rest of my life–my preteen mind was blown at that.

Well, that friendship never came off.
You were hard to know, hard to love.
Painful, intrusive, and useless—even then I thought so.

You came to other women with ease, with consideration.
With me that never happened. You were never punctual.
I poured over my calendar the way my mother taught me,
But you never came when I thought. I could never plan for you,
As my mother told me I’d be able to do.

Oh, you were hard to love.

I dreaded your visits. I dreaded even more your attendants,
Bone-deep weariness, waves of sadness, and most of all the pain
That only seemed to grow as I got older.

I dreamed of the day when you would leave me.
You were useless to me; all you gave me was pain
And inconvenience, and embarrassing moments.
I wished—prayed—for your end.

And now, it’s here.

I cry now as you leave me for the last time at thirty-three years, eight months.
I am both glad to see you leave and sad that no more will I have to look forward
With dread, certainly—to your lackadaisical presence.

I’m startled that I feel this way, I who was your enemy for so long.
I salute you, worthy foe.

Thank you for what you gave me, for the things you’ve taught me.
Thank you even for the pain, as pain is the sign of growth.

I salute you, and wish you farewell, until the next go round.

Purging

purge
verb
1. rid (someone) of an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, typically giving a sense of cathartic release.
synonyms: cleanse, clear, purify, wash, shrive, absolve
2. free someone from (an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition).
3. a. remove (a group of people considered undesirable) from an organization or place in an abrupt or violent manner.
synonyms: remove, get rid of, expel, eject, exclude, dismiss, sack, oust, eradicate, clear out, weed out
b. remove a group of undesirable people from (an organization or place) in an abrupt or violent way.

LAW
atone for or wipe out (contempt of court).
physically remove (something) completely.
“a cold air blower purges residual solvents from the body”
evacuate one’s bowels, esp. as a result of taking a laxative.

noun
noun: purge; plural noun: purges
1.
an abrupt or violent removal of a group of people from an organization or place.
synonyms: removal, expulsion, ejection, exclusion, eviction, dismissal, sacking, ousting, eradication

Definitions one and two of the word used as a verb is what I’m Told I need to do. Long story that I won’t get into here.

In my mind, a purging is more intense than a simple cleansing. It’s harder, more involved.

And now, I have to do it.

I am terrified.

Push and pull

Cut her off, I’ve been told–and Told–multiple times.

But how can I? She’s my mother. Is everything I went through really so horrible that cutting her off is the only appropriate response? I wasn’t beaten or denied food or warmth or clothing. I wasn’t molested. What adult can say they made it through childhood completely unscathed?

Maybe I should thank her. Because of her, I’m a (somewhat) competent adult. I can cook, clean, budget. I’m stupid about some things, though. I can’t blame her for my failure to pick things up.

I just don’t know.

Tangled

It’s all tangled in my head now.

Devotion, duty, greed, selfishness. Where are the lines separating them? My dreams are saying that in this, there are none. But that can’t be, can it? Everything has bounds, limits. Where are they and why can’t I see them/set them?

Friendship, as a grownup

I haven’t slept today. I stayed up all night thinking.

Thinking about friendship, and specifically mine with Long-Time Gal Pal.

Let me say first that I know we’re grown women, and the friendships we forge in childhood are going–are perhaps meant–to change. So no, I don’t expect our friendship of 20+ years (which makes me feel very old to type, by the way) to be the same as it was when we were in elementary school. We’ve grown up, as I said. Had jobs, had relationships, had kids (in her case). Found things and discovered and experienced different things. It’s going to be different for us and between us now, of course.

But I never expected it to feel different.

Since I’ve been here, she and I have…drifted. Some of it is because of her work and her other responsibilities, and I expected that. She’s got a relationship to tend to; she’s got kids to take care of. She works long hours. I know that those are taken hours, hours she has to use to do those things. I know that she’s also entitled to sleep, so of course those are hours she needs to take in order to do all the rest.

But that leaves hours open, hours that I thought we’d be able to catch up with each other. This is the longest time I’ve seen her since she moved here in 2004. I missed her in the intervening years, missed her even though I had other friends, other interests, jobs, relationships of my own. I called her when I could. Sometimes years went by when we couldn’t speak to each other because of various situations. When I discovered Facebook, I had her get an account just so I’d be able to check on her and know how she was, even if I couldn’t talk to her. And she had a daughter–my goddaughter–who I’m fiercely proud of. I wanted to know how she was, even if she never got to know me. We call ourselves sisters, pretty much because we grew up in each other’s houses. My family knows her, and her family knows me. She’s been more of a sister to me than my own sister, and since she was an only child, I gave her that sibling connection she seemed–for reasons that mystified me then and still do to this day–to crave.

So, when I decided to come here, I thought I’d be able to be with my friend again. I thought I’d get to see in what ways she’s changed, to see in what ways she’s still the same. I knew it wouldn’t be completely the same, because we’re alive and living things change. I thought there’d be time to discover the new turns and twists on the path that was our friendship.

But it wasn’t that way.

She’s off three days a week, the same three days consecutively. I know that if I worked the hours she does, I’d need one whole day just to sleep in. That’s all right. Carve out some time for her man and her kids. That’s okay, too. Some time for household maintenance, but if she’d delegate more to her kids, not to mention the things I do to help that, she’d spend less time on that. That leaves (going by my estimate, and not saying that all this is or needs to be *scheduled*) at least a half day to spend a little time with me. We could spend the time doing other things: taking the kids out, doing the dishes, cooking. I don’t need exclusive time with her. But we don’t. As it is, I spend more time with her kids. I was looking forward to October this year so we could celebrate our birthday, something we haven’t done since we were teenagers (we’re eight days apart, but when we were younger we always designated a weekend day between our birthdays to celebrate as “our birthday” together). I won’t be here for it now, and I have a feeling that she wouldn’t want to celebrate it if I were.

It makes me sad. Maybe it shouldn’t. Isn’t this what happens when you grow up? We both wanted so badly to be grown-ups when we were kids. We wanted the freedom to live our own lives. I remember we swore to each other that we’d go to the same college, share an apartment, graduate at the same time, then get jobs and live together with our kids in an enormous house. We were 10 years old when we said that.

I wish now I could shake the girl I was then and tell her that it won’t be that way in time. When you’re 10, life seems long, but I know now it’s very short. I’d tell that girl to remember every moment she has with her “secret sister”, her best-est, most special-est friend, and to cherish them, because in time, in a very, very little time, all she’ll have are the memories. In time, in a very, very little time, she’ll have no one walking the road of that friendship with her, and it will all be dust in her mouth.