The funny thing about not blogging for a week is that when you DO decide to post, it is hard to figure out, really, what to write about. Anyone else have that problem? I have noticed the same thing when writing letters; for two weeks now, I have been trying to write a letter to a friend I haven’t written to in months, and it isn’t so much that there is nothing to say, it is that there is so much that I have no idea where to start. Even in my journal, if I skip too many days in a row, it’s hard to pick up where I left off. Anyone else have that problem? And my lack of posting hasn’t been intentional, it does not presage an earth shattering post about a terrible event that has kept me away from the computer. Instead, life has simply gotten in the way. Work has been incredibly busy for me this last week (which is a really good thing; I got my commission check this week, which is paid quarterly, and it was dismal-so with hope the increase in business will translate directly into a bigger quarterly check. Good thing I don’t count commissions as part of my budget, right?), there have been parent-teacher conferences and AA meetings and, quite simply, life.
On Wednesday, Owen and Sam were playing some rowdy game on the couch downstairs and Owen fell off, smacking his face hard onto the floor, which is concrete. He and Sam both came shrieking upstairs, blood gushing everywhere from both his nose and his mouth, and it was pretty gory-looking. A washcloth was soaked with blood before it finally started to slow down enough so I could look at it. The nose, meh, noses bleed a lot, it wasn’t broken or anything, but his teeth had gone through both top and bottom lips. None of that is particularly noteworthy, but what I found interesting is that even though his mouth HAD to have been sore, his baby porno lips all swollen with a clear line of bruised and broken flesh, he still wanted, needed, me to kiss him. He would grab my face and make me kiss his mouth hard, and harder, because he said that it would make him feel better. There is a lesson in that for me, that love and healing sometimes involve great pain, and the key is simply to let people love you anyway, let them help you feel better, even if it hurts. Of course, a baby’s mouth heals so quickly, there is no evidence that he was hurt save a thin line of bruising on the inside of one lip-to me, that’s just the fact of biology, but to Owen, well, it feels like something of a miracle.
I write about healing and miracles because we are all loading up in the car this morning to take a trip to my old hometown to visit family, and for the first time in I don’t know how long, I am looking forward to it. I have always been torn when it comes to being with large parts of my family, torn between really loving them and wanting to be with them, and falling into the same old feelings of helplessness and inadequacy; the diverse feelings usually leave me anxious and afraid, because the family dynamics are such that there is typically a palpable undercurrent of tension there, all of us on edge. And while that very well may be the case again today, one of the things I know today is that I don’t have to react to that. I can choose to, sure, but I can also choose to remember that yes, they ARE my family and I do love them, but that my daily life is no longer affected profoundly by their presence. I don’t have to fall back into the role of the poor pathetic baby sister, I no longer have to apologize for the life I have chosen because I HAVE chosen it. Yes, things have happened TO me that have been pretty not-great, but to me, that is just how it works-and as you all know by now, I really think the only way to get through the bad stuff is to surround yourself with people who love you, who will hold you up, and make a commitment to keep getting up in the morning and taking the day as it comes.
But it seems a little bit like healing, and a miracle, to me-that even though belonging to my family has caused me great pain on occasion, I can look at the day ahead of me and feel excited. My sister from Washington is in town, which is why some of the rest of us are going over for the day, and while she and I have had a fragmented relationship at best these last years, it doesn’t change the fact that I love her, and want to do my part to change our relationship. We used to be best friends, she and I-you can’t grow up in the family we did without creating strong bonds. And while I can’t speak for her, I know that for me, those bonds began to strangle, because there were so many horrible feeling associated with her. Do you know that she used to find food for me, even if that meant stealing? I clearly remember one occasion in particular when she snuck into the neighbor’s house to find food because we were hungry; at a very young age, she became my protector, so I relied on her-and we were both far too young to even have to deal with those kinds of situations. I looked to her to protect me from everything, and then when we both got bigger and she couldn’t do that anymore because she was really needing to protect herself, well. Over time, things changed, and to be together or even talk was too painful for both of us.
Needless to say, things have changed, for ALL of us. None of us are in the same place by far, we have all learned some powerful and painful lessons, and we have talked about creating new bonds based on new memories, new situations-today feels like a good day to start. I was emailing a friend about my family during the week and she was laughing hysterically about it all, which frankly isn’t the usual reaction, and HER reaction made me laugh as well-because sure, there are a lot of painful feelings and odd configurations of people but it really and truly is funny, in a dark kind of way-and isn’t that a blessing to be (ahem) nearing forty and realizing that even though everyone in your family is batshit crazy, it is also very funny (think Little Miss Sunshine)? And that no matter how fucked up everyone is or was, that there is still love there? I would say that being able to finally laugh about some of it is a particular bonus.
So that is the plan for my Sunday, and it is a good plan. We will get to see three of my four sisters, and my mom (a whole other post, but it will be fine), my grandma, and maybe my dad, and we will eat together and laugh together and take what healing we have had on our own and use it to begin to heal all of us as a whole. My goal today is to metaphorically kiss each of my sisters hard on the mouth, even if it loving them hurts, because I know the only way to find healing is to experience pain-and there has been pain enough.