Did you notice how I slipped in a post there about separation anxiety and attachment issues and then, after promising to complete it, I wandered off to the Naked Moles and the Takins? And then threw in Mirenete, like the seven year old tipping over his desk in the classroom when it’s time to open math books? That’s because I have my own separation issues related to my upbringing and personality (Bingo, AF! You win a prize for calling that one) and these issues make it hard for me to behave in a consistently invested way- in my relationships, my interests, a blog post. Anything that has to do with sharing myself openly and with trust. Even though my childhood adventures would make for good blog fodder. (Suffice it to say Little Miss Sunshine, complete with the big glasses, was one of my favorite movies of the year.) I think the people in my life know clearly that I love them and that I’m there for them, no matter what. I’m completely committed to them. I’m just sometimes reluctant to engage in the process openly.
I used to see these little kids in my office and I’d ask them to draw a picture of the people they lived with. Some kids really got into that drawing and concentrated hard, with their little tongues sticking out. Other children were very hesitant and would preface the whole task with, "well, this isn’t my best drawing. I can do better than this. This is really junky. I don’t want to do this…" as though to say, "Don’t look at me. Don’t expect anything much from me." So afraid of being a disappointment or engaging in any interaction where they might feel vulnerable.
I can run either way. Sometimes, a lot of the time, in fact, my tongue is sticking out a little and I’m deep in thought or concentration or love in my relationships. Other times, I’m like, huh, so, whatever. I really dislike the fact that I still don’t have, at 55, the ability to consciously choose how little or how much I’ll BE THERE.
The simplest and best example is this: Since my mother died, I call Bud several times a week. I know that he loves to get calls, that he wants to talk about my life and his life and the grandchildren and Rich and his upcoming trip and the zoning board meetings he has started attending again (give ’em Hell, I always say to him.) So, since these calls are really very pleasant and fun, why do I sometimes think, "I’m going to call Bud" and then I just, smack, hit this wall and don’t do it and wander off to something else? I mean, nothing but good could come of that call, right? RIGHT? Except he might not answer and then I’ll be worried until I track him down. Or he might sound as though he has the beginnings of a cold. Or those cats are getting so old, one might have died and then I’ll have to listen to that pain and think about it and worry about what it all means to him. Also, we’re coming up on an anniversary and I’m sort of shying away from that already.
Basically, I’m always warding off the threat of loss. That’s it. I have no tolerance for it. I’ve helped people with it for years and years. I served on the hospital miscarriage and newborn loss committee for years and believe me when I tell you there is no loss like the loss of a baby. I worked with hospice patients. I saw a whole family of children whose father shot the mother and then himself. I saw mothers and fathers who raised children from 2 days to 18 months of age and them lost them back to biological parents. It was all loss. That was my life’s work. And yet, I have not found any way whatsoever to deal with it on a personal level other than to go, oh, tra-la, look at that butterfly, let me get my camera, I’ll be right back- and I flit right out the door. In case you hadn’t noticed. The interesting thing is, I’ve noticed it about a few of you, too…So that is my task for the next number of months, to work on learning to live with loss.
My friend Linda was down last week and she lost her husband and her mother within half a year. That’s way too much. We talked a lot about how life goes on but you are fundamentally changed by certain losses, deep in your heart and in your way of thinking, changed forever. That change can have an impact on your willingness to engage or invest. The up side is you find more ways to be content within yourself, to tend to your own needs.
Linda and I both spend a lot of time fussing over our children right now. Since they are basically grown and reasonably healthy and clever and quite attractive but rife with annoying problems like parking tickets and career choices-well, our children are a pretty safe bet. We can invest a lot of love and energy and even worry in them right now without TOO much angst and terror. Except, now that damn Snarl is trucking off to a place where she can get River Blindness, Ebola, Lassa Fever…hah! Just the mere act of typing that and I thought, "I’m not inviting HER to dinner tonight! I’m going to take my book and go have a glass of wine and a salad at the little restaurant by the bay, ALL BY MYSELF. Did I forget to mention that whats-his-name is in Paris for the week? No? Well, he is but out of sight, out of mind.
Okay. Free at last. Free at last. I’m in a space now where I can write at least four more posts, all vaguely interesting, photos included. You won’t even be able to keep up with me. On to my zoo report…it’s all about poop. Fascinating stuff. I’m serious.