Winter is, for me, usually a time of inner reflection. It’s when I do what is called in Paganism, Shadow Work.
And, my Goddess, it’s been a heavy season of revelations.
I’m not listing these in any specific order, just as they come to me.
1. I have been planning on moving for a while now, but the process to get to the actual moving has been slow, and daunting. It’s a lot of work for 1 person to do on her own.
In this, I realized just how much stuff I have.
Gads, the shelves, piles, boxes, rooms… Of stuff.
I’ll never be able to take all of it with me, especially since I’m going to be downsizing my life, considerably.
And yet, I have so many things that were originally given to me as sentimental gifts…
How do you decide?
I was contemplating a clock. Literally.
My grandmother, who passed on some years ago, now, gifted me with a Grandmother clock when I got married the first time. (She gifted clocks to every one of the grandkids when they got married) It’s a gorgeous thing, made of a reddish-stained wood, with beautiful glass in door on the front, split into top and bottom. The top, of course, shows the face of the clock. The bottom is a square in the middle of clear glass, and 4 framing pieces of a lovely wavy, bumpy glass. The bottom shows the pendulum as it swings. The door swings on a hinge so you can open it up and wind the clock with a “key”, instead of like most pendulum grandfather clocks that have chained weights.
This clock used to play a tune on the hour & a piece of that tune on every quarter & half. My first ex-husband broke the music part of it shortly after we received it, by trying to set the time incorrectly. It’s never played music since, but the clock part still works.
During my second marriage, my now 2nd ex-husband, decided he didn’t like the “ticking”… said it was too loud. (Yeah, seriously)
So the clock was stopped, and never rewound. It’s hung on my living room wall ever since, silent.
It has hung there for 20 years, almost 21, now, silent.
And, as I stood there, looking at it, I wondered to myself…
Why do I have a clock hanging up that never works? I should take it down, put it back in its box, and pack it away for moving.
When I move, I won’t have a place for this clock. My grandmother, rest her, is gone. My marriages… both are gone. The whole reason for the clock being gifted… is gone.
Hmmm… maybe one of my girls will want this? My son definitely won’t want it. Has no attachment to it.
And yet, neither of my girls have ever evinced an emotional attachment whatsoever to this clock. This silent clock that they’ve never heard sing. Have barely ever heard ticking.
No one wants this clock.
Even I don’t really want this clock anymore, other than as a tangible reminder of my grandmother… and yet.
I have many other things that remind me of her.
What do I do with it? Do I get rid of it?
I’m sure my mother would tell me to hang onto it. That one of the girls, or one of my grandkids will someday want it.
And yet. That’s so many years in the future. I’m downsizing. I don’t have, and won’t have, room for storage of “future maybes”.
If I get rid of it, my mom will surely have her feelings hurt… but again… it’s my clock. At least right now.
So, it sits on my floor now, I took it down from the wall, and am reminded every day about it.
When I took the clock down, the pendulum started swinging again, and now it sits… on my floor… ticking with the wrong time.
2. I was emotionally and mentally abused in my last marriage.
It didn’t start out that way, of course…(when does it?)
He told my best friend (who introduced us), that when he met me, he loved the fact that I was a “take no shit” kind of woman. I didn’t take crap from anyone, adult, child, or animal. I stood up for myself and made no apologies for that.
This ability was slowly squashed out of me over the 12 years we were married.
I don’t want to go into all the details, but he was a narcissist who had very little, if any, empathy for anyone other than our son, his golden angel.
It took me almost those same amount of years after we divorced to finally come to this realization.
I finally stood up for myself, and we’ve now been divorced for… well, it’ll be 10 years at the end of May this year.
Almost 10 years to finalize the conclusion that I had back then. And it took a friend, former boyfriend, really, to make me realize that. This man, my friend, asked me one night while we were messaging back & forth on facebook…
Are you happy?
And it took me too long to answer him.
I was going to answer “Of course I am!” But, I took a breath, and answered him honestly, instead.
And that was the beginning of the end of my marriage.
The passive-aggressive insults, the subtle slap-downs, the quiet commentary on my lack, on my family’s lacks, on my friend’s shortcomings… they’d all built up into a deep, searing resentment that I couldn’t live with anymore. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I now realize that he’d been doing the same things to my daughters, who were his step-children, and that this constituted emotional abuse of them as well. I waved it off at the time, not wanting to admit to myself that he was really hurting them. I wanted us to be a nuclear family like I’d grown up in. But I was wrong.
The girls have grown up since, both lovely adult women with lives of their own. My EldestDaughter is now a mother herself, to 3 beautiful children. Her eldest, my Schnicklefritz, is my buddy. The younger 2 don’t know me well enough yet to define our relationship, since they’re in Washington state, while I’m here. But once I get moved, and I’m planning on moving closer to them, that’ll shift too.
My YoungerDaughter is a no-nonsense upright young woman who is the first in our family for 4 generations to finish college, and is now a 2nd-grade teacher in Wisconsin. She lives with her long-time boyfriend, and I can see them getting married within the next few years.
My OnlySon, lives with his father. There’s a whole story there, but it’s not always an easy one, and I’m not going into it right now.
Suffice to say, the girls’ upbringing didn’t cause them irreparable harm. They have both been able to overcome it, and have built lives that suit them both.
Me, I’m getting there. It’s been a long, rocky road.
I’m still prone to times of severe depression, with longer periods now of only mild depression, thanks to changing a few things in my life, and the treatment I follow for it. I still have anxiety, pretty much always, but that’s manageable most of the time too, through my medication & things I do for it personally. I am working on it.
And as far as relationships go? Well, I’ve pretty much given up on that, since they’ve all failed, for one reason or another. I’m 50 years old, living alone with my cat. (My son’s cat went to a new home this year)
For right now, I’m contemplating finishing out my years living close to my grandkids, my daughter, and her husband, Moose. (yes, it’s a nickname, but appropriate… he’s 6’4″ for goddess’s sake!)
I’m contemplating being content doing that alone, because I can’t see anyone wanting to take on any of the myriad of years’ baggage I bring with me into any relationship.
Yeah, my self-esteem is still crap. Being ghosted, and/or told you’re not good enough to be in a permanent relationship, lied to, had promises broken because “it’s just not that big of a deal”, having one tell you that the depression is the deal-breaker, and any other number of “yeah, I’m just not going to deal with this woman” actions, is kind of a self-esteem killer.
But… it’s what it is, really. This is my life now. And I’m comfortable with living alone now.
I do what I want, when I want. I am obligated to no one for my time. I don’t have to apologize if I want to stay up late reading, or gaming. I come home, drop my stuff where I do, and it’s still there when I go back for it.
(unless the asshole cat has done something to it)
I can play my music at the top volume, singing along loudly, and dancing through the house, if I want.
I can, and have, paint whatever I want on the walls.
I can rearrange my life, my house, and my mind, in whatever way I want, and I don’t have to apologize, or explain, or defend my choices to anyone.
It’s not horrible.
Yeah, I’d like to have someone to share it with. Sure, who wouldn’t?
But, Relationship has 12 letters.
So does Fuck this shit.
Maybe, someday, I’ll be able to say I’m over it. It’s better, now that I can recognize what it is, truly.
Now, I can focus on what I need to do to heal.
These 2 things are not the end of my realizations this winter. But I’m emotionally exhausted from this session of reliving them for the page, so I’ll end this here.
I’m still going. I’m slower now, more cautious, in my decisions & actions. But I’m still moving, working toward my goal.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this, yesterday, on my drive to & from my folks’ house.
I am a tangle of contradictions.
Most people know one side only, as I keep its opposite pretty well hidden from view.
And nearly all the people who know me IRL, know the jokester, who mixes in with the caring, nurturing part of me. (If I care about you, I care enough to joke with you/about you)
Something I don’t say often, though, is that – once I love someone, it’s forever. No matter how much this can hurt ME in the end. And I’m not just talking about being in love with someone, I’m also talking about Chosen Family love. And there’s a few of those out there.
Beloved Nephew is first & foremost of the Chosen. He is now, and has been for years, my best friend. There could never be anything intimate between us, because we’re family to each other, but he knows me better than anyone else alive.
And he’s seen both sides of my personality.
There are also kids, well, they’re not kids anymore, because they’re godsbedamned grownups now, (yes, I’m feeling the age, here). Kids my children brought home with them, who needed an adult at the time to tell them that they were going to be ok. That they were enough, that they could do this thing called life. I don’t get to see them, or talk to them anymore, because they’ve moved on & past needing me, but I still consider them Chosen Family.
And yes, it stings a little sometimes when I think that, once I wasn’t needed to prop them up, I was forgotten. But that’s what happens. And I don’t want anyone to feel any kind of obligation to me because I was kind to them. That’s selfish. I’m just glad they’ve grown, and hopefully gotten themselves to a good place.
And, yes, there are people whom I’ve been involved with in the past, exes. Who doesn’t have those?
And yes, some of them I love.
To this day.
NOT to say that I’d go back to them, because most I wouldn’t. There was a reason behind the split, and it was needed. I’m healthier, emotionally, mentally, without them in my life.
There’s a couple that I would, but it probably wouldn’t be good for me, so I keep my damn mouth shut. Go me. (sarcastic eye roll)
Not one of them can say they’ve truly seen my other side.
The dark coldness that I keep for only myself.
Y’all have no idea.
There is a detachment that happens when my switch gets flipped. And I can honestly say I, myself, have only seen it truly come out a couple of times. Always in the most dire of situations, and ALWAYS as a protective measure, either for myself, or for a loved one.
Example – cutting my male sibling out of my life.
I’m not going to retell the story, just know that I did it to protect myself from further emotional harm.
The point here, is, that I was able to do it. With no guilt, no remorse, and no second thoughts.
And no one has ever, nor will they ever, talk me out of it. Familial guilt gets nothing.
Talk of blood, of dna, gets nowhere.
After all, his blood, his dna didn’t stop him from hurting me in the first place, now, did it?
Anywho, before I get completely derailed off onto a rant, this is only one example.
But it’s an effective one.
The level of darkness to which I can descend, should I deem it necessary to the situation, is one which most would never seek, and I’m sure, they would never suspect me of reaching it.
But a part of me lives there.
And only the Nephew has seen it, or heard it in my voice.
Probably because he recognizes a kindred spirit when he meets one.
But, I digress.
My tangled dichotomy is pretty balanced, ironically enough.
Because as deep as my darkness goes, that is how far my love extends. And vice versa.
I found the quote I thought I was looking for in my last post!
It’s close, but not quite, what Stephen King wrote in Shawshank Redemption.
One of my favorite books of all time is Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love.
It’s a science fiction novel about a man named Lazarus Long, spanning centuries. (Yes, he’s long-lived, that’s part the book’s aesthetic.)
The quote is in the Chapter The Tale of the Adopted Daughter, which, frankly, makes me sob reading it, every time. I know it’s coming, I’ve read this book a dozen times, easily, but I can’t help myself.
The quote reads:
Here is life or here is dying; only sin is lack of trying. Grab your picks and grab your shovels; dig latrines and build your hovels – next year better, next year stronger, next year’s furrows that much longer. Learn to grow it, learn to eat it. You can’t buy it, learn to make it! How’d you know until you’ve tried it? Try again and keep on trying —
So many quotables in this book. Some I dislike, for – reasons – but others keep bringing me back, just to read again.
Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet, youcan’t win.
Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.
Small change can often be found under seat cushions.
It’s amazing how much “mature wisdom” resembles being too tired.
Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate – and quickly.
The more you love, the more you can love – and the more intensely you love. Nor is there a limit on how many you can love. If a person has time enough, he could love all of the majority who are decent and just.
One I’ve used a million times, often when wistful, or regretful about the past… I remind myself:
When the ship lifts, all bills are paid. No regrets.
The book has hundreds more stunning quotes, some even separated out into their own “Notebook” chapters.
I.. Just wish the things in this book were possible.
I see so many correlating instances with the beginnings of this story, and our present timeline.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I became a horse trainer, & lived alone on a farm with all my animals.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I died from suicide at the ripe young age of 16, because – emotional trauma.
I imagine there’s one where I became a published author, famous or not, I finally finished writing a damn book & sent it toddling out into the world, instead of having children.
I imagine there’s one in which I actually finished college, and became a psychologist, only to realize I got too depressed over my own problems to help anyone else effectively.
I imagine there’s one where I stayed with my love of acting, even with crippling stage fright, & became a bit actress, only to become a diet-pill junkie, who died from complications due to extreme yoyo diets & depression.
I imagine there’s one where I became a famous horror writer.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe in which I have more friends than I know what to do with, because I can be so extroverted with the emotion switch “on”, and a complete recluse, with the switch “off.
I imagine there’s one, where I retreated into the woods to become the swamp witch of my dreams, leaving everything behind to live off-grid, because I had no one left, after pushing everyone I knew away due to emotional issues telling me I’m not worth loving, which is why everyone leaves, refuses to commit, or plays on my heart strings until I collapse & lose my shit, running screaming into the void.
I imagine that there’s an alternate universe in which I am living a happy life, with someone I love, who loves me back.
So, here I am…officially 50 years old now. (Birthday was on the 11th)
I sure as hell don’t feel like it – well, most days. Some days, I feel about 106.
I’ve actually been having a lot of health crap going on over the last few months, which doesn’t hrlp.with the “feeling old” thing, but I don’t really feel like talking about it right now, so – moving on.
Instead, I just wanted to blab.
First- I HAVE MY GRANDSON THIS WEEKEND!
Goddess, I love this little boy so much. He & my daughter lived with me until he was 2 or so, & I was like a second parent, rather than a grandparent, so we have a very special relationship.
He’s my Schnicklefritz, & my buddy.
We’ve been indulging ourselves in junk food & gaming, staying up late & laughing.
And yesterday we went to the zoo, & spent a couple of hours just bumming.
I cherish my time with this precious kid, & I’ll be sad when I have to take him back to his dad’s tomorrow.
He just makes everything else seem better, ya know?
Autumn has peeked her soft, little face around the corner of the seasons, here in North Dakota, and I’m actually sliding into a better frame of mind.
I. Love. Autumn.
(This picture is from a couple of years ago, the trees aren’t quite this brill yet)
The air is softer than other seasons, as though I could scoop a handful out of the sky, and rub it on my face like downy feathers.
The light seems to be softer, as well. It doesn’t generally have the harsh glare of summer, & is not as early-morning frosty as spring. Obvi, it’s very different from winter. The light seems to sift through the leaves on the trees a little more golden, glittering lightly on water’s surface, ending earlier every day with glowing sunsets.
And the smells that permeate the air in autumn…fallen leaves, smoke from wood-burning fireplaces on chilly nights, or from barbeques being fired up for those last “Honey, I cooked over open flame… Hear me roar!” meals. Fragrant candles being lit in households that remind you of apple cider, freshly-baked cookies, or hot-out-of-the-oven spicy pies.
Oh yeah…I’m falling UP, now.
It’s been almost a year, it’s about damn time.
Bring on the hoodies and knit sweaters. Bring on the fuzzy socks & boots. I’ll pack away the shirts & sandals, good riddance for another year.
I made some cinnamon streusel bread today, needing a little pick-me-up after the last few days of feeling like trash, between being sick and being in a depression.
I actually got a couple of household chores done today, as well, surprisingly, which means my energy is starting to come back, so this is a good thing.
I’ve kind of bottomed out now, though, which is not a shock. I know I need more rest to get well, I just hate this worn-out feeling. I really do.
Anyway, tonight, as I was getting ready to put the loaf of bread in a big ziploc… I suddenly heard in my head –
“Have you tried the bread? It’s good bread…”
In a voice I haven’t heard in years.
Ahhh, the voice of Ren. That infamous Asthma-hound chihuahua.
But, it was his voice as interpreted by one of my beloved Chosen Family. A “little brother” from my past, who loved Ren and Stimpy as much as I did.
And a pang went through my heart.
Because I don’t get to hear his voice anymore. He died a few years ago, taken by an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. He was smart, funny, fiercely protective of those he loved, and he was my friend, Shane.