Saturday, June 11, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise

There's this line in Infinite Jest that the longtime sober sponsors say to the AA newbies: Don't worry about getting in touch with your feelings; they'll get in touch with you. 

That shit is severely correct. Mine came at me Tuesday.

It's been nearly two decades since my mom died, and years since I cried seriously about it. (Two is years.) But I legit lost my shit that day. I was messaging with a friend about something entirely unrelated -- congratulations on an award we'd won, for god's sake -- 
and then this now-painful memory busted its way out of me and onto my phone. 

I started crying at my desk before I sent that msg. Then I booked upstairs and sobbed ugly in a bathroom stall for 20 minutes. Then off and on all day, ending with another big jag in front of the keyboard that night. I'd told no one, and then one person, and then everyone.

Grief is supposed to be private, right? Or maybe it just is, whether or not it's supposed to be. Anyway, as such, I don't really understand it. I don't understand how other people experience it. I don't understand why it's taking me so long to get through it -- when I honestly thought I largely was. But sometimes shit will just pop up and get in touch with me, as it were.

A lot of people have reached out to me since I posted that story, and I'm so grateful for all of them, and for anyone who read it. As I reason through it, I see that it was a necessary and painful healing step, and that the fact that I was finally ready for it is a really good thing. I do feel a lot better having let it out of myself, and I urge everyone else to do the same. I'm just bracing myself for the next hit.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The baby

When I was very young, evenings in my family were spent on the one couch we had, watching the one television we had. My mom would lay on it, always in the same spot, and because I was the baby, I got to be the one of us seven kids to lay on top of her. It was an incredible feeling of comfort and protection and warmth; when I want my mommy, that is the distinct feeling that I seek.

I remember laying there one evening when I was about the age my son is now. She called me her baby, as she always did, but this time I asked her how long she'd be calling me that. She said I'd always be her baby. I asked if she'd be saying that when I was an adult, even more so not a baby. In good humor, she negotiated with me a cut-off date: when I turned 81. (This had been her counter to my opening offer of 80.)

In the year that she was sick and in the years since she died, I've thought of this moment very often but have never been able to speak of it. When I allow myself to wade into the emotional depths, I wonder what she thought of that conversation. Did it make her sad to know, even on that day, not quite two decades before she got sick, that we weren't going to make it there? Or did she even think about it in those terms? Was it just some crazy thing I was saying, on top of all the other crazy things I must have been saying? I really hope it was that last one. I hope for her sake that she never, ever thought about it again. Because having lost her, thinking about that conversation -- just the conversation -- with Abbott is unbearable to me. I can't even write this without crying.

My mom would have turned 74 today. Happy birthday, mama. I miss you. And I am still your baby.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

But what if ...

the whole gratitude movement is a ploy to quell outrage and make people placid?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Girl Second Most Likely

At my going-away party at The Pilot I told the story of how I'd gotten there, of how I'd interviewed on the day after I'd learned that my mom's cancer had metastasized, how I told Denis while I was there that I was going to go home and take care of her. How Denis and I stayed in touch during the months that I was home, and how on the day my mom died he offered me a job that someone had turned down just the week before. A Claire something, I learned later, who didn't want to leave her hometown. 

That always felt sort of magical to me, like my mom was watching out for me. I ended up staying there for 16 years. When I was ready to leave, it happened again. 

When I applied for my current position, it was after what had already been a very long hiring process. This time, the person who turned it down was a Charlotte someone. She, too, did not leave her home state. (I guess that's a thing? I couldn't get far enough away from mine.)

And though I didn't even hear about the job until after she'd already turned it down, I felt pretty insecure about her for a long time. It preyed on me in a way that it hadn't at The Pilot. What would Charlotte have done in this situation? Is she nicer than I am? (But I mean come on, who isn't.) A better editor? A better manager? Is she (gasp!) funnier?! (Because do not even.) Even though I never met her or competed directly with her, I constantly felt like I was in second place. I tortured myself with it, and I tortured my boss with it. Once, in a fit of neediness, I made him tell me that he was happy that Charlotte had turned down the job. Like, with those words. To his credit, he was pretty convincing. To mine, I worked hard to very nearly believe him.

But it's been almost a year now, and I'm finally comfortable enough to say that it doesn't matter. I'm the one working my ass off now. Even if I had come in second to the two of them in direct competition it wouldn't matter. Because I am the one who did the job. It turns out that I've made a career out of other people's missed opportunities. Like, a pretty good one. And instead of competing with these ideas of women I've never met, I can finally just be grateful. So thank you, Claire Something and Charlotte Someone, for deciding that these jobs were not for you. They have been wonderful opportunities for me, and I have enjoyed them immensely.