Tag Archives: family

Hang Ups

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Years ago
his mother made
the cutest Christmas stockings
for all of us,
a little family of stockings
with all of our names
that always looked so cheerful
hanging up.
This year he asked
Should I hang yours up?
And I said No.
How can I face
that happy little family
of four
when my real life family
is… no more?
Now I’m sad
seeing just three stockings hanging up
where before there were four.
Ah, I should just get over myself.
It’s a stocking.
I could just hang it up.
Why all these hang ups?

 

PS I actually fantasized about asking his mother if she wanted my stocking back, being that it’s handmade and all and I kind of can’t look at it any more without sobbing.  I pictured myself saying something like, “So I can just pry the letters of my name off, I’ll send it back to you, and you can keep it safe until he gets remarried.  Then you can put his next wife’s name on it.  I’m sure she’ll love it.

I of course didn’t do that.  High fives!  The love that I still have for the woman far outweighs the satisfaction I would’ve felt at being so outrageous.  Plus, with no one there to photograph or film her reaction, what’s the point?

Patients

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I was a patient
in the hospital
and I saw why
we are called “patients”–
Patience.
Waiting for everything…
To drink, to eat, to sleep,
to go to the bathroom,
dependent on someone else
for everything.
Back home I’m still a patient,
but it’s different when
it’s your family.
In this context
I need to summon
patience for who they are
more than patience
as I wait for what I want
them to do for me.

So Many Memories

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My two sisters
My two cousins
and I
were pall bearers today.
Five women
pulled our grandmother’s casket
out of the hearse
and wheeled it
up the aisle of the church.
Because my grandmother
was strong in her faith
she made sure to bring us to church
every time my sisters and I
spent the night at her house.
She taught me the Our Father prayer
and how to find hymns in the hymnal.
I remember how she’d pray,
kneeling, eyes closed,
resting her head in one hand
while the other held her rosary.
Because so many of my memories of her
involve the church,
the reality of her passing
really hit me
as we walked into the sanctuary.
The familiar strains of Ode to Joy
filled my ears.
The sound of the music
and the beauty of the space
touched my heart.
I cried as this moment
made her death seem
even more real.
The service was beautiful,
the luncheon that followed
went smoothly.
On the long ride to the cemetery
I got to thinking about
the ways we honor the dead
and provide closure for the living.
There were some final prayers
and then it was done.
I took a rose from the bouquet on her casket,
whispered goodbye Mom-Mom.
Now I’m home with this single flower
and so many memories.

Reflections After My Grandmother’s Viewing

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She looked so peaceful
as if she were sleeping;
I expected at any moment
she would wake up and speak to us.
Beautiful flowers surrounded her
and pinned to the bouquets
were notes of sympathy and condolence.
Many friends and family
came to see her and pay their respects–
Why does it  take an event such as this
to bring us all together?
I touched her hands, her face,
so familiar to me;
they felt foreign
with all the warmth gone from them…
And yet still there was this surge of affection
seeing her there, looking so peaceful, asleep.
I wondered about this tradition.
The body in the casket
was not my grandmother…
it was the garment she wore for 94 years.
My grandmother is everywhere now,
my heart knows this.
I can feel her love now more than ever.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t see death…
only life in its many forms as its flows
from one state of being to the next.

What Separation Taught Me

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My little family of four
was flying standby today
and only two of us could board the plane
from Boston to Salt Lake City.
I didn’t want us to split up,
but my husband insisted, saying,
If we don’t do it this way,
it will be the same thing tomorrow.
At least this way, we’ll have a better chance
of all of us getting there,
even if two of us have to arrive later.

So I and my son boarded the plane.
My daughter was in tears as I hugged her goodbye.
I told her she’d have a fun date with daddy
and tried to cheer her up,
but inside my heart was breaking.
As our plane took off,
I held my son’s hand,
really feeling the distance expanding,
separating us from my husband and my daughter.
And it struck me that experiences
really aren’t so fun
if the ones most dear to your heart
are not there with you to share them.
Nothing can buy the deep feeling of  connection
that blossoms from within when you spend time
with those you love.
You could be on an island paradise
with delicious food, beautiful weather,
and luxury accommodations,
but without your beloveds,
it all becomes quite dreary.
So hold your loved ones close,
they are the most precious treasures of all.
When you’re happy together,
when you cherish one another,
it doesn’t matter where you are,
it all becomes so  lovely.

NaPoWriMo Day 2: Family Portrait

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I can see an old family portrait
clear as day in my mind.
Everyone is younger
and our hair is pretty funny.
Our smiles cued by the photographer
but there was sincere humor in our eyes.
Mom, Dad, big sister, twin sister and me…
Yes I can see it clear as day in my mind,
but so much time has passed
and gone are the days of togetherness
under the same roof.
Each bird has flown to its separate nest
And that old picture is buried somewhere
in my father’s mess.

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Here is the prompt for NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 2. My family of origin–rather than the family I created with my husband–sprang to mind.

Nature Smiles

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We went to the woods today
it was cold and gray
and my hands stayed in my pockets
for a while at least
until I went to pick up my niece
and place her on my shoulders.
She was lagging, dragging behind
quite resigned to her tortoise pace
until I swooped in and lifted her
higher than the others–
Son, daughter,
mother and father in law
my other little niece
still a baby, worn on the back
of her granddad in a carrier
you couldn’t have asked for a merrier crew.
I grow so tired of the winter
heart splintered into many pieces
that can only be brought
together in the light and warmth of spring
weather; being outside is really the only thing
I could ever call my religion.
It was cold today, cold and gray,
and while not my ideal way to pray
in my favorite worship place,
still, hearts together in any weather
outside
will always bring a smile to my face.

Crazy Delight

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You’re crazy
I’m crazy
we’re all crazy–
and that’s okay.
When we realize finally
that we are crazy
this is the beginning of sanity.
We don’t ask ourselves
to be other than who we are,
but meeting ourselves with kindness
just as we are
we start to see
bit by bit
where we have been sleeping.
When we finally realize
that we have been sleeping,
this is the beginning of wakefulness.
And what do we awaken to?
We awaken to the fact
that we are no crazier
than anyone else out there,
that we’re all in this big crazy mess together,
and that’s sheer delight!
Now we have all sorts of
crazy mothers and fathers
and sisters and brothers,
one family
singing the same song
of crazy delight.

Yay Sobriety

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This happened.

My mother, father,
sister and her boyfriend,
my husband and children
were sitting in a nice restaurant
to celebrate my birthday.

Some of you know
I have chosen
to not imbibe the fermented fruit of the vine,
and you also must know
that this puts me in the minority
of the adult population.

So I, my daughter, and son
sipped on our water,
while the five other adults drank,
two of them to excess.

I attended to my children,
enjoyed giving them bites
of delicious food,
sharing my salad and entree with them,
engaging them in conversation.

My husband,
bless his heart,
and to his credit,
did make an effort to engage with me
between sips of beer,
and we exchanged some pleasant words
in the course of the dinner.
He only had two beers and a glass of champagne.
Surely, this is moderation, is it not?

But inside, I felt lonely.
This was supposed to be my birthday celebration,
and the adults were focusing on their booze,
becoming loud, intoxicated…

I found myself looking around
at the others in the restaurant,
wondering about their conversations,
guessing that they were surely
more interesting
than what was unfolding at my table.

My family,
with its history of alcoholism,
couldn’t help itself.
The alcoholism had to follow us into this dinner,
even though the guest of honor
doesn’t drink.

What would you do,
if you felt lonely at your birthday dinner?
Would you have put your foot down?
Would you have said something?
Would you have withdrawn?

I tried to be kind and present,
but I couldn’t help feeling wistful.

Afterwards my sister was belligerent,
verbally aggressive…
because this is what happens when she drinks too much.
She yelled, gestured,
said she didn’t need anything from anyone,
and passed out in my bathroom.
She has done this many times before.
I wish I could help her,
but I know that I can’t.
She needs to help herself first.

And now, more than ever,
I see that my sobriety,
my clarity,
my lucidity,
my health
is one of the greatest birthday gifts
I can offer to myself…
and to the world.

Yay, sobriety.

PMS Hell and Other Fun Things

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I hesitate sharing with you in a way that could be construed as my airing my dirty laundry over the internets.  But this blog was at the start, and has continued to be, a place for me to explore my real life situations in the context of my yoga practice, and I ain’t hiding nothin’. This is real life, people.

Pretty sure that I can attribute a lot of what I’m feeling to PMS.  It has its way with me every month. Just a week before my cycle starts, everything goes to hell, and finding one tiny spark of hope takes monumental effort.  Patience is in short supply, and it seems as though everyone is out to get me, especially those closest to me. I manage for the most part to keep the undercurrents of rage at bay for the benefit of my children; I do not want to traumatize them with my moodiness, explosiveness, my reactivity.

I’ve been told that the moodiness associated with PMS occurs as the veil between the conscious and the subconscious wears thin, and everything we’ve been trying to conceal from the world behind our sunshiny/I’m a caregiver/a nurturer/a healer/everyone else comes first exterior rises up to demand our attention for the purposes of learning and healing, and at the very least, for moving through us, for changing, even if it’s on a minute level.

I’ve also been told that PMS is worse for women who feel that they are going about much of their existence without getting their own needs met.  This doesn’t surprise me at all. How long can one continue to maintain a facade of strength, patience, and cheerfulness when she is tired, underfed, under-appreciated, and at the end of her mental and emotional rope?

The chances of a woman suffering from PMS might be linked to our genetic heritage.  This could be part of what is going on here for me–as a child I finally figured out what it was that caused my mom to become a volcano of rage once a month, and I learned how to avoid her during those times.  Before I made the connection, it felt like my world was ending every time my mom withdrew her regular supply of compassionate understanding and gave in turn loud words, slammed doors, angry faces, disapproval.

At any rate, understanding its source in no way helps to mitigate the heaviness, the unease, the sadness, the anger that plague me during this time…and this is precisely where I was when my husband came home last night and scolded me for not shoveling the snow.

Here is what happened in my mind the second he told me I should’ve shoveled the walk in front of our house:

Are you fucking kidding me?  I let him know how hard it was with our son today, how he was inconsolable, tantruming, yelling, crying, wouldn’t eat, wasn’t feeling well, and was using his time to tear up everything he could, making a mess of every room he was in.  I am tired as hell. I worked hard to make a good dinner for everyone, one kids is bathed and in pajamas, the other kid is in the bath right now,  I have spent the last few days cooking my ass off, there are dozens of cookies and yummy leftovers to show for it, I haven’t had a shower in two days, I haven’t been able to write in my journal, or sew, or practice yoga, or anything for my self in days–and I already TOLD HIM I HAVE PMS–so he can go fuck himself.

I told him I forgot.  My husband said that wasn’t an excuse.  That’s when I started getting defensive.  When he let me know that we were the only house on the street that hadn’t shoveled, I thought about the number of times that I had shoveled our sidewalk and didn’t stop at ours, how I had shoveled my neighbors’ sidewalks and put down salt for them without them knowing (random acts of kindness–I’m a believer).  I was 1)Annoyed the one of the neighbors didn’t go, “Ah, whatever, it’s only an inch of snow, I can take care of this for them,” and 2)Flabbergasted that my husband would dare suggest that I could have in some way found time in the midst of toddler hell to get out there and take care of the completely inoffensive, completely innocuous one goddamn inch of snow that was no threat to anyone.

Yep, recipe for angry outburst.  I’m actually proud of myself for the amount of self-control I was able to muster at that moment.  I did raise my voice a little, I’m not going to lie, but I said to him, “I’m giving our daughter a bath right now, trying to put conditioner in her hair.  If it needs to be done–you go do it.”

“You are deflecting responsibility!” he argued.

“I’m not deflecting anything!” I told him, “I’m not willing to have an argument with you about this right now! If the sidewalk needs to be shoveled, YOU TAKE CARE OF IT!”

He slinked off, clearly annoyed, and I tried to regain my composure so that I could be gentle with my little girl as we finished with her bath.  I managed, but inside I was steaming.  Then my mom showed up.  She has been staying with us since the move on February 1 in order to  help us to get settled, and she has been for the most part very helpful, but then this happened:

I told my mom how Cliff just ripped me a new one for not shoveling, how I told him how hard it was with our son, and how I’m so angry I could just slap him, and my mom gave me a sort of sympathetic look, said nothing, walked into her bedroom and closed the door. That was odd.  Normally she says something like, “Men!” and I immediately feel heard and vindicated.

So now I had to figure out why I wasn’t been met with the motherly sympathy I was wanting.  A few minutes later when she reappeared, I cornered her and said, “Did you not respond to my complaining because Cliff already told you what happened, you think I should’ve shoveled also, you think I have no reason to be upset?”

“Yes, Cliff already told me about what happened, and I don’t want to take sides,” she told me.  She doesn’t want to take sides?

“I’m not asking you to take sides,” I told her, “At the end of a long day, all I want is some empathy.” She patted my shoulder, walked into the bathroom, and took a bath.  Well, fuck. Now I’m mad at my husband and my mother.  She of all people should understand what it is to be bogged down by household responsibilities and then be told that she hasn’t done enough!

I barely mustered the strength to write my daily post last night.  My husband was on the laptop downstairs and I wasn’t about to have an interaction with him to retrieve it from him, so I had to muddle through posting from my iPhone. I didn’t show up for my journal writing practice.  I didn’t show up for my evening meditation practice.  I just went the hell to bed.

This morning I was hoping that I would be in a softer, more forgiving place, but none such thing happened.  As I awoke I felt the same seductive pull of my anger and my resentment, the same self-righteous indignation that was burning through me the night before. Great.  I went ahead and sat for my thirty minute morning meditation, I got breakfast started, made myself coffee.  The kids woke up just as I was getting breakfast on the table. I helped them through a smooth morning routine, and when my husband awoke they were nearly ready to leave for school.  I got his breakfast started for him too, in spite of the fact that I would not, could not look him in the face.  He said something about discussing last night, and I said, “If it’s going to be you justifying your disappointment and reiterating how I didn’t fulfill my responsibility, then I’m not interested.”  He said, “So you’re okay with holding on to all of this?”  I said, “I’d rather us not talk right now than me get angry all over again because you can’t understand what I’m feeling and where I’m coming from.”  This was a clear invitation for some empathy from him, but it went right over his head, because he was caught in his own beliefs about the event, so he shrugged and sauntered off to get ready for work while I was left to clean up smears of cream cheese from the breakfast table.

I played with the kids while the husband was in the shower.  Then I brushed their teeth and their hair, got their coats and back packs ready, helped them with their socks and shoes, and got them out the door with my husband–and felt a sense of relief when he was gone.  Now I’m hiding from my mother in my bedroom.  I still don’t want to talk to her either.

And I’m writing about all of this because it is therapeutic.  I’m not quite ready for the yogic phase of this experience, in which I take ownership for all of my crappy feelings and muster empathy for my husband and my traitor of a mother, and then tell them how much I appreciate them and care about them, and apologize for my reactivity. Maybe later.  For now, I’m going to wallow in my PMS hell, and allow myself to be seduced by my anger and resentment for a while longer.  Perhaps my feelings will have something to tell me, if I take the time to listen.