Today’s Photohunt theme is “Wrinkled.”
And that’s how time feels to me, suddenly. Like it’s been wrinkled. Or folded like an accordion.
Like it is filled with the skips in an old, worn record. The vinyl spins over and over and the details of the songs are faded; sometimes, even large sections of lyric are missing. I’m left with sudden, blurted words and jolting rhythms that hop from one point to the next…
Photo by Athena Carey, lifeprintsphotography.com
Will the folds between the wrinkles be deeper the older I get?
Will the skips in the record become so broad that the melody is lost almost entirely?
Have to find a way to hold on to the details… I like this song too much.
Alone, I glance back.
Car-seat is empty. Not one
The night is pulsing.
Lights fly by; I slice through them.
I lick my lips, drive.
Maybe a little
too fast? Wind licks the side of
my face, hair swirling.
Fingers tapping the
wheel. Foot tapping the floorboards.
Body keeps rhythm…
Loud music playing.
Perhaps, a little too loud?
Feeling young. Alive.
My eyes flash to the
rearview. My high school self looks
back at me, grinning.
Just for a moment.
Then she vanishes. But I
am left with her smile.
It’s that time of the month when I’m more emotional than usual. More sad. More stressed. More angry. More prone to tears, what ifs, and blank stares.
Recently, a long-time and very dear friend of mine named Jenny sent me an email that carries important words, and good advice. I asked her permission to share it with you all, and she agreed.
So, for any of you out there who are feeling, have felt, or will feel the same way I do right now, maybe you’ll find something here that helps you turn it around, or just to deal with it more effectively. Or maybe just to make it through another day without feeling like giving up.
I know you didn’t ask for any advice, and so against my better judgment I’m going to offer some without solicitation, and I hope you’ll forgive me for doing so. You know my story, you know about all my failed pregnancies. Five years ago, I was struggling. My life wasn’t turning out like I wanted. I had dead babies instead of living ones. I had no answers and no health insurance to help me find answers. I had crazy moods and baby hamster hairballs in the shower drain and an empty womb and it wasn’t what I had planned. All my friends were on their 3rd or 4th child by then. I was tired of going to other people’s baby showers. I was broken hearted every time I looked in the spare closet and saw baby clothes and gear staring back at me, taunting me with their uselessness. I absolutely hated to hear any pregnant woman complain about her nausea, her swollen feet, her tiredness- what I would give for any of that. After the hopefulness that came with each positive pregnancy test, came the fear of loss, the inevitable emotional investment and hope, and then the emptiness of actual loss.
Then came this moment where I could see clearly: While I really do believe that most of the pain of the human experience is self-inflicted, some things are truly beyond our control. My life is not always about my choices. Things happen to us, and we get no say in how they turn out. What could I do about my childbearing life at that point? Could I change history, or even my obstetrical future? No. The situation was out of my hands. But the great realization was about gratitude. Could I hold my babies and raise them and nurse them? No, but I had other opportunities that my friends with little babies did not: I could go out of the house for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Heck, I could go out of town if I wanted. I could give blood, and do upside down yoga poses. I could make love to my husband without the let-down reflex squirting breast milk everywhere. I could work and take night classes. I could sky dive and ride roller coasters.
I couldn’t control what was happening to my body. I had to resort myself to the fact that 1- I may never know what is causing this to happen, and 2- I may never give birth to another living child. Rather than dwelling on those uncontrollable elements, I chose to focus on what I did have. The summation of the realization for me was this: Be grateful for what you have, when you have it.
I could spend my time and energy wanting what I couldn’t have, wishing for something beyond my control, hoping for karma or God to sort out the kinks and make everything right, or I could make the most of what I had right then, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped. I realized that no matter what life is handing me, I have a multitude of blessings to make the journey pleasant, even wonderful, if I choose to see them. Life is fluid, ever changing and shifting. I would not always be in the place, emotionally, mentally, that I was in then. Who’s to say if I’d be in a better one or not, that is also out of my hands to a degree. I knew that if I did have another child, I would have a host of other challenges, as well as blessings to appreciate. But for now, this is what I had. And I owed it to my husband and living children who were depending on me, and to God who gives me each day, to make it count for something. If not, life would end up passing me by while I hoped for what was around the corner. Be thankful for what you have, when you have it.
Again, know that I care and I want you to feel well and whole. If I’m full of crap, you won’t hurt my feelings to 1- roll your eyes and hit delete, or 2- write me back in all caps and tell me how wrong I am.
Of course, I didn’t roll my eyes. I nodded and cried. And now I look back at these words often.
I think I’m going to take Braden to the park on Thursday and watch him run around and remember that the day he was born to me, whole and alive, was such a special blessing. Every day after that with him (even the tough ones) has been another special blessing in and of itself. There’s really nothing bad that can happen that can ever take from me the great gift of everything I’ve experienced so far with my son. So many wonderful things and moments – there’s no way to catalog them.
Today, I am thankful for that. And remembering to be thankful for that makes the other stuff easier to deal with.
Thank you, dear friend.
Let me start out by saying that most of the time I really don’t mind getting PR emails. In fact, the large majority of the time, they are pleasant and interesting, and sometimes they are actually really great fun. Often, these emails are about great opportunities to connect with companies that offer a valuable product or service, which is nice. But seriously, I’m still a person, and if you’re going to send these types of emails to bloggers, please figure out how to frame them. (Not sending out pure CRAP also helps.)
I received this email recently:
Hello, my name is [name withheld by Sarcastic Mom] and I am an internet marketing specialist. I was looking at websites under the keyword best push up bra and came across your website http://sarcasticmom.com. I see that you’re not ranked on the first page of Google for a best push up bra search.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of why you’re ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is.
There’s no reason you can’t have a top three ranking for the keyword best push up bra based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site.
You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks. If you’re interested I can help you with this…
I’m talking about getting you ranked for ALL your keywords. Adding new backlinks on a steady and consistent basis from high PR quality websites is what produces the rankings you are looking for, http://sarcasticmom.com.
The right kind of links are very critical in getting top ranking….and I can hand deliver these quality links to you.
My partners and I own 1000’s websites and offer private linking to hundreds of website owners just like yourself.
I didn’t send this email out to very many people but I am currently reaching out to a list of your ‘keyword competitors’ as well. But I do favor your website because I can see your website monetizing the targeted website traffic the keyword best push up bra can deliver.
I have your contact information and phone number. Is it ok if I give you a call?
I have a very simple way to prove that what I do works and it’s risk free for you to try. Nothing beats seeing the results with your own eyes
Is it ok if I give you a call? I would love to pursue this further over the phone with you or should I go somewhere else?
[Name and Phone Number withheld by Sarcastic Mom]
Dear Asshat Internet Marketing Specialist,
I thought about just replying directly to you via email, but since you are such a faithful reader of my website, http://sarcasticmom.com, I thought I’d just post my response to you here. You won’t miss it, right? Besides, I feel the need to share this with others. Call me crazy.
First of all, I know that quite a few people come to my website via some type of “boob” keyword search. And really, that’s my fault for talking about glorious boobs all the time. I don’t care too much one way or another – I talk about what I feel like talking about, blahblahblah, etc. But I can assure you that I do NOT stay awake at night worrying about whether I am on the front page of Google results for “best push up bra.”
I mean, sometimes I can’t sleep because I don’t seem to be able to make it on the front page of Google results for “most awesome person in the universe,” and that one really DOES perplex me, for obvious reasons. I’ll even admit to being a little jealous that I don’t show up at the top of the results for “hot asian porn,” but that might have something to do with the fact that I’m not “hot” or “asian” and I don’t offer “porn” on this website.
Oh, yeah… I also don’t sell or own the “best push up bra.” Or even CARE what that might be. Do you think that has something to do with all that crap you mentioned about me not being on the top of the Google results for that keyword search? Call me stupid, but I think I may have stumbled upon something.
I have to admit that I wondered briefly if your whole email was just a passive aggressive insult aimed at The Rack. I mean, it looks nice when I photograph it well, but, let’s face it… Twin Beaver Tails over here. So, I’m wondering if you’re SUGGESTING that I might need to go LOOK at the search results for “best push up bra” and make purchases accordingly? If so, thanks for your concern, but also? Eff you.
Oh, and just for the record, using my freakin’ blog URL as my NAME? And then suggesting that you have my phone number and asking if it’s okay to call? That put your RIGHT on the list of Ultimate Assholes of The Universe.
But I’m REALLY confused at why you don’t show up on the front page of results for that or for “asshats who should die.” Clearly, Google has made an error.
PS: Anyone with a computer or a phone book can look up a phone number when they have someone’s full name. Only a *insert your favorite expletive* wouldn’t actually USE that person’s name when sending them correspondence. FYI.
It’s something like 6AM in the morning and I’m in my car, driving home. The windows are down, and the breeze pushes long strands of hair past my face now and again. There’s music on the radio, and some part of my consciousness acknowledges that, but the dominant sound in my mind is a soft rushing, maybe like the sound of moving water. It’s comforting, and at the same time the edges of it pulse excitement. I’m somehow disconnected from my surroundings, and at the same time, I am recording them in some part of my brain, a running log of experience and environment. The sun is warm through the window even though the air is crisp. The still, green grass flies by on either side of the hard, black asphalt. It is September, 1994. At the end of next month, I will be 18.
I am way more relaxed than I should be. I have no idea exactly what awaits me at my destination, but I know it’s not going to be very far on this side of good. I did things last night that I probably should not have, and still, I feel the quiet stillness of being that comes with justification. I’m not worried. Some part of my mind thinks I should be, but I ignore it. The rest of my consciousness rests on high ground. Or perhaps, it just sits wrapped in happiness.
I’m hungry. My physical body is nagging me to stop daydreaming and disconnecting myself from reality. I turn off to a fast food joint and order a special love of mine: hash browns. In your youth, you can drop these down your throat in multitudes without paying the price. Like a blessing, I know this, and I take advantage of it, one of many small pieces of pleasure that is often wasted on the young of form. I dawdle with my ketchup packets and my orange juice before driving onward. I’m not in a hurry, obviously.
At the same time, I am eager. Eager to make the confrontation… if that is what it must be. I am right in my mind, and even if I can’t persuade them of that, I don’t care. Here, in a rare moment, I don’t need to be right for anyone else. I’m on the verge of something I’ve never felt before, and it’s spilling over into the rest of my character with no stoppage. The flood gates have opened, and this warm thing is coming through them, this demanding feeling. It is new to me. He is new to me.
I have no idea what the future will hold, but I know that I’m already obsessed, wrapped deeply in a web that I don’t want to be released from. I’m already yards beyond the present emotionally, though in coming months, I will hold onto passing moments so fiercely that I almost seem to be demanding that time stop.
It will never be quite like this again. It will never again be this new, amazing, almost incomprehensible blossoming of hope and joy, excitement and rapture, obsession and passion, mixing and swirling with such force that it almost brings me to my knees. I will never be crushed to my core so pleasantly again. This is the part I’m not aware of at the time, what I cannot appreciate in that moment – this fleeting dimension of the first time one falls in love.
While I savor the fried potatoes in my mouth as I drive too quickly towards my angry parents, I allow the beauty of youth’s first love to wash over me and away, not holding onto it long enough.
Is it even possible to hold onto it long enough?
Emotionally, I’m flighty, prone to daydream. Victim to whim, impulsive. Gripped by a
logical mind but owned by a heart that believes in magic,
fiercely. Taken to believing in miracles. Wanting to see
past the black and white edges of things, searching for
the blur. I am between the lines, but not inside of the
box. If you look deep enough, you will see me peeking
back at you. When the wind blows, my body is fixed, but
my dreaming soul is caught easily, and stirred in that
direction. Moved by the ethereal, I often close my eyes
and imagine I can feel things that don’t touch me, hear
things that make no sound, and taste things depending
on their color.
This is the part of me that is squelched more and more nowadays. This is the nimble of spirit little nymph caught in the net of the goblin called Everyday Life As A Mother. I find myself thinking nothing but rational thoughts all day long, being practical over and over again until the day has gone and I had no time to even appreciate its beauty. I find myself lingering on the fantastic less and less until it’s hard to remember the person who used to do so with such ease it was as second nature as breathing.
Once upon a time, I regularly dreamed of flying because I fantasized about it daily. What would it be like, with the wind in your hair and no traffic to slow you or physical law to bind your body to the earth? It would have to be the ultimate liberation to lift off from the terra by will, to fly for real, instead of being trapped against the hard surface of the earth, unable to soar without mechanization. What the soul knows the body yearns to hold; longs to savor.
I bathed in the moonlight. I sat, wrapped in the glow, lost in my thoughts. I shared company with it – just me and Mr. Moon, white fire in the sky. Have you ever been alone under the moon, in a place where it is otherwise quiet and dark? I challenge you to isolate yourself thusly, and stare up into that great, white orb, inviting it to open itself to you. I dare you not to feel the beauty of its presence, not to sense the magic of it.
Thunder and lightening are thrilling… like musical theatre, they beg a rapt audience. How is it that any of us carry on with dull and dreary chores and errands while this is to be seen and heard? I used to celebrate such a show, no matter the time of day or night. When did sleep become more important? To be shamed.
And a rainstorm with no lightning… well that is clearly meant to be played in. Not hurried past or hidden from, not feared or hated or cause for curse. There was a time when I went outside on purpose when it was raining. My wet, dripping locks would sway and slap at my neck as I twirled, dancing in the rain. My muddy toes skipped under and past wet leaves as each saturated blade of grass tickled my soles for a second before I brushed past and onward. The smile never left my face.
I’m reflecting quite often, lately, on this person that I miss. Life happened, it crept up on her over time, and drew her away, so slowly that I didn’t even realize she was gone before she had been absent for too long.
I shall have her back.
I’ve always felt a little bit crazy.
When I was a kid, I thought I was “crazy” because I liked things that it seemed the majority of other kids around me didn’t like. I enjoyed reading, while they seemed to think it was a chore. I barely gave a thought to what my hair looked like. If it was clean? I was okay. I was more interested in climbing trees and building forts than making sure my hair smelled like Pantene. I didn’t always know what was “cool.” I didn’t always really care. I had a shirt that said, “Dare to be different.” I embraced that message. There was a tree branch on that shirt, and 4 owls perched from it. One was hanging upside down, and smiling. That was me.
In grade school, my friends told me I was “crazy” because I liked to act silly and question standards openly. If something funny occurred to me, I wanted to share it. I suppose it was already obvious back then that my “filter” had bigger holes than people thought it should. And my penchant for crass humor was already making itself known. Can’t imagine where I got that from. *shifts eyes to father* I cannot deny being called “the loud one.” Or even, “the annoying one.” Or maybe, “the OMG AVOID HER AT ALL COSTS one.”
In high school, I was always searching for something to make me feel right. All of a sudden, the “crazy” was more than just an oddity or a quirk. Something was missing. I asked myself often what it could possibly be. “Is it fun? Maybe I should not read so much anymore. Maybe I should do some smoking, some drinking, some partying. Maybe I should skip classes and flirt. Maybe it’s a boy that’s missing. I should get one of those, or two, or maybe three.” It all made me happy. Momentarily. But then none of it made me happy.
I pushed on into college and grad school. A young adult now, I was “crazy” silly to my friends, “crazy” ridiculous when I was drunk, and “crazy” bitchy and controlling to my boyfriend. Add in “crazy” anti-social during those times when I just wanted to be alone in my apartment. Which was often. I have always really enjoyed being alone. I think, maybe, because there is no pressure to hide exactly how one feels when alone.
No one is there to see how crazy you really are.
Over and over I’d have these periods when I felt that the “something” that would make me happy was always just a few steps ahead of me. And I kept chasing it, doing the things I thought I was supposed to do, following the plans that I was supposed to make and follow through with.
Every day, going through the motions. Hiding the anger I had at people as much as I could, pushing it down most of the time. Hiding the tears, hiding the sadness. Pushing on. Past the crazy.
My outward “crazy” was manageable. When the anger seeped, it was mostly rants that had a humorous edge. If they stung a little more sometimes than others, I could usually cover with follow-up humor. I never started fights, never hurt anyone physically. But the anger was always there. The sadness was always lingering just below the surface, too. Humor is often a cover for so many things, did you know?
“Just be funny. Just be ‘crazy.’ Then they won’t know you’re… well, crazy.”
Taking just a few more steps. To try to catch The Happy. And a few more, and a few more.
I put all my hopes into the things I thought would make me happy… my jobs, my studies, my boyfriend.
That was unfair of me.
No one can carry such a burdon for someone else.
That was unfair to me.
Because when you put all of your hopes for happiness into something else, or someone else, and then they fail you…
[And they WILL fail you because nothing can make you happy, and no-one is your perfect answer.]
… all you have left is the crazy. And you might try to get away from that, too, in the only way you know how.
Funny thing is, if you survive that, you might somehow still push it down and keep on taking a few more steps. Thinking that you can still chase down that happiness all by yourself.
I’ve denied to myself that I need help. I’ve told myself that I don’t really feel crazy. Not really.
I’ve kept telling myself that “The Happiness” is just. around. the. next. corner.
“I just need to take a few more steps!”
But for the first time in my life, now that I’ve been a mother for almost two years, I do feel like I’m actually crazy sometimes.
People: there’s this little person who’s running around in my house and he needs me all the time.
Even when I need to be alone with my crazy, he needs me. When I’m feeling distant, when I’m feeling weak… He’s there. And he needs me.
And he needs me to not be crazy. But he’s not giving me time to take a few. more. steps!
Somehow, that is making the crazy that wasn’t Really Crazy, you know, the one that I could just push down and ignore? It’s making that crazy grow. The angry crazy is leaking out when he needs me, and when he doesn’t, the quiet, sad crazy is taking over.
For myself, I’m afraid of the latter.
For him, I’m afraid of the former.
Why? Because every moment I need to myself, he is there. Every toy has to be slammed into my face. Abruptly, he will run up and scream right in my ear. For No Reason. He dances around because he has to pee, but when I put him on the toilet, he looks down at his penis, grins, and then shakes his head, “No-No-No-No.”
30 seconds later, he is peeing on my coffee table.
Some days, I am amused. This is what being a mother is about, right? This is what kids are supposed to do!
I know this. And some days, I cope with it all brilliantly. Some days.
But other days, I honest to goodness have to fight the urge to slam my fist through a window, fling dishes into the wall, or God Forbid, throw my son out the door or scream in his face.
And I’m not speaking in silly exaggerations. I am not trying to color my words so they will be interesting. I am not trying to spice up the page. I literally fight the Real Life Urge to ACTUALLY do those things.
So far, I’m winning, but it would only take one weak moment for me to lose something I may never get back. That frightens me in a way I don’t know how to express.
I cannot stress to you how much I would never, never, never want to hurt my son. I love him abundantly. I give all of myself to keep him safe and happy, every day. And still, I feel that I fail him repeatedly, because I have raged at him in my mind so many times. In my mind, I am a monster.
And sure, sometimes I raise my voice, even yell, and I’ve thrown a toy down or walked out of the room when I couldn’t take it anymore. Will those things hurt my son? It doesn’t seem like it, if you take any one of those instances by itself. But a lifetime of memories filled with those instances, for my son? I don’t want that.
I want him to remember me as the owl who hung upside down. Not the one who came screeching at his face with its claws out, or hid behind its tree and cried all the time.
It’s time for me to admit that I need more than prayers, extra sleep, or a place to write about my feelings. It’s time for me to admit that I need help, and seek it out.
I can’t keep chasing after a happiness that eludes me, always a few steps ahead of where I am. I cannot keep trying to hold inside an anger that makes my chest tight and often seeps and leaks out, hurting others. I cannot keep denying that I am exactly who I am, and that’s okay. It’s okay if I’m crazy. It’s okay if I need help.
I don’t know exactly what kind of help I need, but I’m hoping the doctor I make an appointment with will have some idea. I’m hoping I don’t just get dismissed again, like I have in the past. I’m hoping that with all my heart.
Do you think it just might work out?
I’m almost afraid to believe that.
It makes me feel a little bit crazy.
(Yes, it’s another of my narcissistic endeavors.) 😉
End of January through beginning of June…
[feed readers: video enclosed in post]