Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not what I planned to write next.

I couldn't sleep last night. Maybe it was a writer's high, well, maybe a writing high would be more honest, since I'm not actually a writer. But there certainly was an adrenaline rush of some sort after I wrote that last post that kept me tossing and turning all night long, until finally at 3 am I took a pain pill left over from the surgery to replace my right knee to try to help me sleep. It took a while, but eventually I did get to sleep, and because of the pill and the lateness of the hour when I finally did fall asleep, it was after 9 before I woke up. And I'd had such good intentions of starting early and getting my taxes done. Even though the weather was supposed to be gorgeous, I had promised myself I wouldn't talk myself out of it this time, because I've done that too many times already, and time is getting short. So today's the day.

But as soon as I woke up, these thoughts were going through my head about what I'd write today. I knew I had to change the title of the blog to better fit what I thought I'd be saying over these next days and weeks and months. So different titles kept running through my head, and then different places to begin after that. And all of a sudden my head was filled with ideas and parts of sentences and paragraphs and old memories started flooding in and so here I am. And I really wasn't even supposed to be here yet, because I was heading upstairs to go to the bathroom and just thought I'd at least open up the blog before I went to show my intention to continue, and here I am, writing. Something's up!

I've tried writing things down before. Here and there on my harddrive, both on my laptop and my computer at work, there are bits and pieces of my attempts scattered here and there with various titles on them. I have a feeling that even if I carefully attempted to gather than all together I'd probably miss one or two because there have been so many over the years and I'm so computer challenged that they are just helter skelter in a variety of locations and files. But I'm sure I'll find the important ones when and if I need to.

As I've thought about writing things down in the last couple of years, I've occasionally picked up a book or two about how to write, and in one of the books, ( I just stopped writing long enough to try to find the book I was thinking about and during my search realized that I've accumulated many books about writing over the years! ) Natalie Goldberg's book, Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, she says that you just have write and not edit. Just let the words flow without judgement or criticism and then go back and find the nuggets that are right for what you want to say.  And as I write that I realize I am interpreting my thoughts about what she had to say and that she may not have said it in exactly that way, but that's the drift of it in the way that I perceived it. So I apologize to the author if I've misquoted, but my perception is serving me well as I really am just letting whatever seems to be flowing through my mind right now travel down the length of my arms and out through my fingers. So I'm going to go with it. And in truth, I'm not really even sure I'm quoting the right book , though I'm pretty sure I'm quoting the correct author.

So I'm just writing. The story that I sat down to write originally this morning was going to be called "My first good God story."  Growing up, my experiences with God weren't so good. I was raised Catholic and we went to church every Sunday and holy day, and I went to CCD classes, but I never felt comfortable in the church. I've talked to others on a spiritual path who said that as children they were entranced by the rituals of the church ceremonies, the beauty of the music, the stories of the saints. I never felt any of that that I can remember.

When I was really young the mass was in Latin and it didn't enthrall me at all. I was bored and restless and just wanted to get out of there. And when we sang, I was embarrassed by my mother and my aunt's singing. Neither of them could carry a tune, but in the spirit of their religious fervor, they often sang at the top of their lungs, their discordant voices standing out above all the others around me. I just wanted to crawl under the pew and hide until it was over.

When I got older, I was just usually angry at God, if I even gave God credence at all. I can remember standing in my bedroom as a teenager, arm raised, hand clenched into a fist, shaking it at the ceiling, at the heavens, shouting at God : "Why do you hate me so much? What did I ever do to you that you put me in this family? I hate you too!" Tears streaming down my face, I'd collapse on my bed, curl into a fetal position and sob.  My father was an alcoholic and my mother had her own issues, which caused her to take her anger at my father out on me, when he got drunk. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't nice. It wasn't easy. But it's what it was. And I tried so hard to be good. Tried every way I  knew how to be just a little bit better: a better student, a better daughter. I thought trying to be better would make my mom love me enough to keep her from hitting me, but no matter what I did, nothing changed.  And I couldn't be angry at her because she'd just get that much angrier with me, so I was angry with God instead, when I even thought there was a God.

When I've thought about writing a book before, it was the details of my history and knowing how much of that I was supposed to share, that always stopped me in my tracks. I've read so  many stories of abused kids who are now adults and who include all the nasty details. When my mother was alive, I hesitated to do that because I didn't want her reading the story and yelling at me for it. When I started working with a really good therapist and she told me to try to talk to my mother about the things that had happened, my mother accused me of making up the memories. She said she couldn't understand why I'd want to make up  such horrible awful memories of her. She denied everything. Said none of it ever happened and told me I was an awful daughter for accusing her of such awful things. 

So the idea of having to write my story and put down all those details really didn't appeal to me. After I worked to heal myself, it wasn't about my mother getting angry at me if I wrote them, it was not wanting to hurt her any more. She had obviously 'forgotten' all those details in an attempt to keep herself safe ( what mother wants to admit that she hurt her own child, not just once, but over and over again over a long period of years?), and who was I to crack that shell if she couldn't handle what would come out? So I shied away from writing anything.

My mother died in 2008.  I don't have to worry about making her angry or hurting her anymore. (We never had a really detailed conversation about all the things that happened during my childhood, but one day when my mother was laying in bed in the nursing home, she reached for my hand, and quietly said, "I wasn't very nice to you."  It wasn't really an apology, but I knew it was the best that she could do. ) I don't really see the need, or feel the need, to write down all the nasty details anymore. The details aren't really important. What's important is who I've become because of where I've been, and how I got here.  So those are the stories I will share and if some of the details  of my childhood and my experiences with my mother have to come through to make a point or help in the understanding of my journey, I will share them then. But if I can tell my story and make my point without the nastiness, I'll do that. It's just what feels right to me, and I have to follow my heart if what I'm to share is to have meaning for others.

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