Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago - the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider.... It doesn't seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we've traveled. ~Jane Mersky Leder

So I was just reminded that my last post was a super-angry rant, and that's not particularly OK with me, long-term.  Yes, I'm still pretty angry; but I'm working on it.  It is hard.  (Well, duh.) It is spectacularly hard, sometimes, but I'm trying not to wallow as much, at the very least. 

I am also having a spectacularly difficult time summoning my Christmas Spirit this year, which, is not unexpected and completely normal, but also kind of sucks.  Because I love Christmas, but Christmas like this - Christmas-without-Grandmother, Christmas-where-everybody-is-still-hurting, Christmas-with-uncomfortable-truths-being-faced, Christmas-with-the-righteous-anger, Christmas-with-the-wounded - is not all it's cracked up to be.  I'm very thankful that there are children in our family who I have to fake Christmas cheer for, because sometimes, if I fake it long enough, it starts to feel almost real. 

Case in point, this weekend, two such littles (who aren't that little) helped us decorate our Christmas tree.  No Longer Youngest Nephew is 12 ("and a half", he would insist) now, and can reach the top of our pretty tall tree well enough to help string the lights.  Which is both amazingly helpful, and terrifyingly wrong.  [Stupid kids and their growing up.  Grumble.] Lil Girl was very critical of the placement of certain ornaments (which habit, I fear, is something she probably comes by naturally), and the tree turned out quite lovely, after all.

My favorite part of the day, though, was the 45 minute battle the two of them had over who got to sweep up the most tree needles.  Because if your sibling is doing something, then it must be worth fighting about, is basically Lil Girl's theory, at this point.  And her big brother can't resist arguing back, even over something so insubstantial (and chore-like!) as sweeping up big piles of needles and then vacuuming them up.  It was annoyingly normal, and just what I needed to keep the smile on my face.  (And, of course, in the end, Mum and I wound up doing most of the actual cleaning.)  But here is a picture of them, working their hardest to outdo the other in the Battle For The Most Pine Needles 2012:

Take your smiles where you can get them, people.  Definitely a lesson I've learned this (horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad) year.  And I'm working on that, too.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

I took a couple of days off there, to deal with the flare from the steroids, and am finally beginning to feel more human again, so I'm back.

And I'm back with a jumble of thoughts (which is so unlike me, I know) and some interesting (to me, at least) revelations. 

While I was gone, I had a rheumatologist appointment, that was basically a waste of time, energy & spoons, but that left me feeling like "why do I even bother?"  The doctor was very nice, he managed to cross another scary diagnosis off my list, but, in the end, as always, he just said "Well, it looks like your doctors are trying everything that we know to try.  Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia is just one of those things were there's not a lot we can do for you."  He did add "which you obviously know," which was a nice recognition to get, but still: in the face of the worst pain flare I've had all year, it wasn't a lot of help (neither was his examination, which I managed not to cry through, only to burst into tears the minute he left the room.  Attractive.)  Anyways, I try to wrangle December into being as appointment free as possible, because of all the other, happier chaos that manifests itself around this time of year, but between the emergency room visit and this rheumatologist, I wanted to cancel ever appointment I have between now and ... forever, just because.  I didn't, because I've got the dermatologist next week (need non-steroidal answers for allergic reactions and eczema, please) and then I'm clear till the New Year.  At which point I have to psyche myself back into attempting physical therapy again, but I'm in no mood to try that yet, so I'm not going to think about it right now.

Speaking of not thinking about things, ahem: here are the revelations I was talking about:

 So I realized a few, kind of important things the other day, in the midst of the flare-that-made-me-want-to-murder-things.  First was that I'm glad I remembered enough from my college cramming days to plan ahead with my NaNo word count.  I managed to pad myself well enough on the good days, because I knew over the course of the month that I would have days when I physically would be unable to write - not to mention that there would be just regular bad "oh my god where have all the words gone" days - to have hit the 50,000 mark a few days before November 30th.

 Which turned out to be excellent, because the 29th is the day the steroids worked their vicious magic, and I have contributed nothing meaningful to the novel since then.  So, Hooray for the paranoid pro-active part of me that remembers that when there's a deadline for things, my body usually has a way of saying "fuck that!" at the exact wrong moment.  (Witness, pretty much every semester of college, ever.) 

The second thing I realized is that the whole endeavor of writing a novel - which turned out to be a overwhelmingly positive experience for me, in terms of creativity and confidence and just the power of setting a goal and accomplishing it - was basically a huge, spur of the moment diversion for me.

That's right, people, let's just take a minute to bask in the glory of this statement: the power of my intense ability to procrastinate is such that I SPEED-WROTE A NOVEL in order to not think about what was actually going on in my life. 

Which is both sad.  And Awesome. 

I had no idea, on October 31st, that I was going to start writing a novel the next day.  I was wandering around the internets, doing my usual Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Amazon, Reddit, YouTube, I could major in the internet routine and came across someone else's "I'm going to be writing a novel, starting tomorrow" post and it pushed a button in my head.  I knew about NaNo, of course, and have spend years making the face of someone who wants to write but doesn't understand why you'd pick NOVEMBER, aka smack dab in the middle of the craziest time of the year to sit down and start writing a novel with speed and ferocity.  It's always seemed illogical to me, knowing what a regular November is like around here, that NaNo would be something I could ever participate in.  And, I think, if I had given myself the chance to talk myself out of it, it wouldn't have been something I ever participated in.

Instead, fueled by my profound need to not be where I am right now, not deal with the people around me right now, not feel the way I'm feeling right now, I just plunged right in.  I signed myself up on the NaNo site and introduced myself as a newbie on the messageboards.  I read all the posts about people who'd been plotting out their novels since last November, and shrugged: it wasn't like I didn't have 14 different books rattling around in my head at any given time, waiting to be written: Of Course I could do this!

And, the amazing thing to me is that I did do it: even though.  Even though the bronchitis and the wedding and the house guests and the sinus infection and the allergic reaction to nothing and not seeing the kiddos in forever and Thanksgiving and the crazy ass tension in my house and the family members who still aren't speaking to each other and the worst flare I've had in a long time.  Even though all of those things happened, I still managed to write a freaking novel.  (Or, if I'm honest, 9/10ths of a novel: but, still 50,000+ words, and that was the goal, so I'm going to claim it as my own precious.)

The fact that I was writing, here and with the book, and all over the internet any time I had a free minute, as a way to avoid my house, my family, my health, my issues, my sadness?  It's not that it didn't occur to me at the time, it's more that it didn't feel like a huge deal while I was doing it.  It gave me an excuse to sit in my room for hours with the door closed, clacking away at the computer without having to worry about who was worrying about me, or how things were not progressing the way I wanted them to outside of the computer. 

And the thing is, even though it's kind of sad that I have so many reasons to want to escape the here and the now, the awesome part comes in where I don't really feel guilty about using it as an escape.  I don't feel like taking those hours to myself hurt anybody, even me, and that's a change in my attitude, that "This is my time, and I can use it to write a book if I want, even if everything else continues to crumble."  Me writing the book isn't selfish or passive-aggressive (although I've probably been both of those things lately, in other ways): it's mine.  And knowing that I deserve things that are just mine, even if it is words on a screen and a huge sense of accomplishment, that's new for me too.  It's something else I'm working on.

Now that the flare is on it's way out (thank the lord and hallelujah: may i never have to take steroids again), I'm going to start claiming that time again, just for me.  I'm going to incorporate writing goals into my daily schedule again (less hectic ones, for sure, but still), and I'm going to keep that feeling of "finally: something I'm capable of" flowing, as much as I can.

Without the words to work on this past week, I've also realized just how sad I am.  I mean, really, having to swallow a lot so you the lump that's sitting there doesn't make me start bawling level of sad.  Heading into Christmas without Grandmother, and actually feeling just how much I miss her is overwhelming.  There's a lot of little things, tiny moments during the day where I just get that needle prick of grief, and all the happy, 'let's gear up for the holiday' spirit I'd been cultivating just ebbs out of the hole it leaves behind, like the air dribbling out of a balloon. 

Just little tiny things, like a book she gave me for Christmas that's part of the decorations I'm putting up.  Or how she didn't set her manger up till the 15th, because 36 years ago, she was setting up her manger when my father called to tell her my brother was being born and she left it there, disassembled, to rush to the hospital.  Or writing out the Christmas card to Uncle Jack, and none for her.  Little bubbles of grief come at me, unexpectedly, and then I remember that she's really gone.  I remember how hard those last months were for all of us, how much I wish it all could have been different. 

And I'm still SO ANGRY.  That's another realization that just snuck up on me, because I don't particularly think of myself as an angry person, but I'm so angry lately.

 At my dad, for being an asshole, then, and for doing things like daring to talk to me, now.  At time, for continuing to pass.  At the world, for not stopping to let me grieve.  At my family, for not realizing that I'm still grieving and that it still hurts, all the time.  At Christmas, for coming without her.  At her, or Nana, or other people, for being dead in the first place & reminding me that everybody I love is going to die, eventually. At all of my pregnant friends, (which is basically 99% of my friends, at this moment) because they are, and I'm not.  At myself, for being angry. And sick. And sore. And stuck

And then I'm surprised that I tried to escape into a fantasy land of writing a book?  With all these feels, I'm surprised I haven't started trying to learning German or how to play the harp or something equally intensive - anything at all that does not require FEELING ALL THIS SHIT. 

But, here I am, stuck with all those feelings, making it through, minute by minute.  And trying to feel the happy moments as they come, trying to hoard them and enjoy them and make as many of them as possible to just get me through to the New Year.  Being glad that the steroids make my pain flare, as opposed to my anger, because otherwise, I would've Hulked out by now. 

I'm going to go to a birthday party on Saturday, and get a tree early next week, and work on feeling the happy.  Feeling the everything, just a little bit at a time, if I can manage it.  I hope your December is bringing you the happy, too.