I feel like if I had all the answers then things would make sense. if I knew all the things, if I could puzzle everything parse everything. if I could see where every single little thing fit in the world where all of the things had their place then perhaps I would know where my place was Because I do not. I see all the things and I don’t know how they fit I don’t know how I fit I don’t know where I fit. . big things huge things loom out of the dark like I didn’t know they were coming like I just fucking forgot (no, you didn’t forget you just forgot where you put that part of your memory ) does anyone else see the difference?
(in searching for something I can’t remember now, I found this. I never published it. I remember the pain as clearly as if it just happened.)
However, I am no longer this person. Not exactly.
8:18a 17th june, 2020
enduring days of abject depression, sending me into disintegration out of the clear blue. With summer comes dysphoria and rage and fury. Depression so deep that it wakes me up at night, gasping for breath at the depth of pain; the length of the blade through my chest.
I know that I have been coasting fairly easily (really? are you really going to say it’s been fairly easy?) on a swell of euphoric mania, tempered by cannabis and isolation. this depression though, this abyssal plunge into despair, this parsing of whether I feel suicidality or suicidal: do I just want to not be? Or to do something about it? (it’s suicidality, it nearly almost always is.)
The days since I found the “Gary 🖤’s Lysa” CD in the attic have been upending for me. My entire, well, my entire everything is upended. My disallowing of fantastical and supernatural beliefs has been integral to my sanity. Being able to depend on science and logic and reason has been super fucking important. And I’m supposed to just, what. Forget all that? I’m reminded of a joke that I’m mostly forgetting but it comes down to the idea of believing that there are signs when they’re shoved in your face. How on Earth do I do this? As someone who is as interested in codes and ciphers and symbols and yes, signs, as I am, as Gary was. But as a communication tool used by the living, the sentient, because what else could it possibly be?
What else could it possibly be?
Four days ago but not last night I started taking edibles before bed so that I could sleep through the night and not be woken up by my own sadness. It worked, I got about six hours each night. I was still a depressed wreck the next day everyday. I couldn’t be counted on to not completely break down. Yesterday was so hard, so painful. I knew that on top of everything that is already happening, it is now the beginning of summer and while springtime is for suicidal thoughts, summertime is for the homicidal ones. (I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.)
I used every tool in my toolbox yesterday morning, to try and feel better. Nothing worked. There was nothing wrong with my tools, it’s just that my brain needed more power, more help than these tools were capable of fixing. it was getting close to getting to be too late to go to the pottery, and I had to decide whether I could trust myself to get there safely, and get home safely. Whether I could count on myself to make the hour’s drive safely. I had to weigh the pros and cons of getting in a car and driving for an hour in order to get to my happy place. I decided that I needed to go more than I could stand not going, and so I would pour all my concentration, my focus into getting there safely.
The first flashes of dysphoric mania broke through my depression in a terrifying way. I realized how outsized my reaction was, and while I didn’t do anything to encourage it, I also didn’t do anything to stop it. I let it just sort of die down, looked at it, and realized that I needed to stop it. I was consumed with rage. While driving. This did not bode well for arriving safely.
I concentrated on relaxing my shoulders, taking my tongue from where it was stuck to the roof of my mouth and relaxing that, trying so hard to remember Kellen’s voice in my ears, giving me permission to be nowhere else but listening to her voice.
To my credit, I did not yell at myself for trying to do these things. I did not make fun of myself for trying to do these things. I did not give voice to any doubt that I would be able to do these things. I tried as best I could to just relax and drive and space out as much as I thought safe to. keeping the reward of a safe place in mind as I drove the familiar route.
I got there, smiling wanly at the familiar markers, seeing the two hand-painted rainbow signs way up in Trump country, always heartening. Anxious that I would once again get to the pottery and see cars belonging to people I didn’t want to see, knowing that this was a possibility, steeling myself for it. Managing my expectations. I turned up the drive.
No one here but us chickens.
10:42a 18th June, 2020
I couldn’t do it all in one day, get it all written. I am grateful that I had enough time to write what I did, but then I had to get ready for work and go to work and deal with work. Too many hours, too many people. Too much of everything. Back to the story.
The relief I felt at not seeing BT’s car, well, to say that I could finally lower my fear would be an understatement. All of the anticipation of having to possibly deal with her and avoid her and her narcissistic bullshit, because every single time that I had come up here needing solace, needing peace, she was here. In my way. She wasn’t there.
I had planned on going up there to work, to make new work. With no plan to sell anything or any kind of brain power to work on that but it isn’t ever about the selling. It’s about the making.
(I am regretting not working on this last night when it was still somewhat fresh. I am foggy on the details of the day now. Perhaps that isn’t important.)
I know that Lynn and I had raised voices, and that I was in distress, and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see how much I was struggling. I know how much she loves me, I know how much she wants for me to be as sane and as happy as I can be. I also knew that nothing would be solved by not telling her how much I was hurting. So I did. I said that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. And she said okay. and if we could have hugged we would have hugged. But we couldn’t hug, so we sat six feet apart and smiled through the sadness.
We talked more about things we both agree on, talked about upcoming firings, talked about new friendships we were making and how grateful we were for each other. We made plans for the next time we would see each other, Sunday. I left, with nothing made but progress.
I put my Phoenix playlist on shuffle, one that I started making when I first started coming into my badassery for real.
The opening notes, soft, haunting voices. The Night We Met.
I am not the only traveler Who has not repaid his debt I’ve been searching for a trail to follow, again Take me back to the night we met And then I can tell myself What the hell I’m supposed to do And then I can tell myself Not to ride along with you I had all and then most of you Some and now none of you Take me back to the night we met I don’t know what I’m supposed to do Haunted by the ghost of you Oh, take me back to the night we met…
The night we met in person for the first time, the night we spent together eating, talking, walking, falling in love. Walking past the Salvation Army building with its new sign, lit but covered, ghostly and creepy.
He took photos.
This suggested one person to me Jan.
As I was listening, I began to nod. Yes.
Driving guitar. Insistent drums. Hurricane Jane.
Go ahead call me a hurricane Got no regrets I accept that name Sound the alarm big storm comin’ run for cover get gone My screams make the wind My tears become the rain My body rolls like the waves And my heart is the eye of the storm Kali, Goddess of Destruction got nothin’ on me I’m Queen Calamity
I pulled the car over. Off the road, blinkers on. Okay, I get it.
I pull over so I can text Jan. To tell her that I need her help, her counsel. Not right that second, I didn’t want to needlessly worry her, but that right that second was when I figured it out so I’m telling her. She got back to me somewhere on my way home, made plans to meet and chill. This afternoon.
Seeking the counsel of a retired priest.
I wish I could say that I am eased, now, having made plans. I’m not. If anything, I’m more amped up and tightly wound than I was. I am hyper aware of exactly how rigid my shoulders are, how every terrible thought is barging its way into my head. How a photo of the partner I haven’t seen in months is breaking my heart with how the look on his face echoes my own. How all I want to do is tell him it will all be better.
But I don’t know that it will. What I do know is that it can always get worse, and often does.
This is real fear. This isn’t the free-floating shit that pours over me like a fucking wave of lava no, this is real fear based in reality and is well-founded.
This is all of the usual panic and terror before a show coupled with the fact that I have decided to make a fucking living from my work. My real work. That kind of a decision takes confidence and it is a confidence that I am not so confident I have under me completely.
I know it’s there, I know way down it’s there.
The part of me that is the gatekeeper, She Who Heads The Committee, She stands in front of that door, arms crossed. She doesn’t say anything, just looks at me, looks me over the way I assume everyone looks me over all the time. It is She who I have to win over, ultimately, She is the one who pulls me together.
five years ago this was your last two weeks on Earth. You didn’t know, I didn’t know. No one did, no one could.
I turned off facebook memories for those first three years, it’s too much.
(there have been years gone by, now, years without you. Years.) “those first three years” is a terrifying thing to say out loud. i digress.
As the memories come up for this week, though, I am warmed again by the things I see, the things you responded to, the way you responded. all not knowing what will come, all perfectly normal and routine and lighthearted and me rapidly cycling, clutching fast to anything stable
and then there is this yawning pit that opens and will never, ever close unhinges its jaws and e v e r y t h i n g in my life hurries in, disappearing.
it is only now, close to the end, again that i am beginning to see my way but is it clear? no, not yet.
I wish you got to see me today I have my new glasses My curls; the color of the hydrangea we planted out front and the porcelainberries that grow wild out back. hopefully soon they will belong to someone else someone else who will take so many closeup photos of them.
The curve of the tip of my nose I wish you could see it. You would kiss it.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 53 years old. I spent the entire weekend with people and missing people who clearly love me and who I love so much. I spent the weekend
I spent the weekend doing familiar birthday things, Going to the Lyndhurst craft fair as I have done for decades (maybe half the artists this time, different layout, timed ticketing, all due to covid restrictions) stressing out from all of the unknowns (known and unknown, thank you D. Rumsfeld) wanting so much for normalcy (but what is “normal”, anyway? I certainly don’t have a fucking clue) feeling so much that I have to explain even though I know I don’t It seems like all I have been doing for the past three and a half years is explaining and explaining and explaining because honestly I don’t understand any of it. Just when I think I do I get caught off guard and none of it makes sense again.
I suppose I’m not explaining to others so much as to myself.
I miss all of the things that we talked about, all of those things that we never did. All of the ways we responded to each other, all of the good, all of the terrible. The contrast, I think, the contrast is what’s killing me now. i do not know if I can take being loved this way.
I can say things out loud and I can say things out loud and not worry about feeling stupid for saying them. Being made to feel stupid for saying them. I can say things out loud and not worry about I can say things out loud and not worry about being instantly and immediately criticized. I can say things out loud and not worry about who might be on my side.
I know I know for sure I know now that you loved me but I didn’t then. I never knew for sure. I never knew from one minute to the next. You would rescind and retract your love like the outgoing tide. Snatch it away from me, away from my
craven, grasping, grubby little paws
I want to forgive you for saying these things to me. I want to forgive you for this so much.
How can I miss you so much and still be so angry at the things you did to me? That we did to each other.
I told your sister once that I never really had an accurate sense of your feeling for me, not that I felt I could believe anyway. That I always thought you thought I was stupid and not enough and too much all at once. That now I can look at the last things you wrote, and know. I can look at all the small lovelinesses you left behind. I can look at those things and know that they are real, they are proof. Not soon enough to be able to enjoy with you, no.
The very desperate need to hold onto them
((craven, grasping, grubby little paws)screaming to the sky to talk to you for you to hear me
I am trying so hard to do everything I can to be well. I am still so I am still so unwell but I don’t feel crushed by having to hold up every other damn thing anymore if only because I have given up on everything it seems)
I can look at the small lovelinesses that you left and see them for the huge gestures that they were. Everything is relative.
I can see the unexplored and forever unknown possibility of us becoming better to each other, to ourselves. Knowing how difficult it was even in the very best of us knowing I would not be this person if you were still alive proving my progress to the memory of a dead man wanting so much to escape your critical eye, your devastating words and yet wanting to show you that I am okay I am not okay.
Yesterday was my birthday. I felt loved, and cherished, and adored, and so sad for what we never had. If you could see how people treat me now. If you could see how people love me now and aren’t afraid to say, to show. I know you would, too.
I look at this it looks like a cookie i wanna eat it I look at this and I think you might have liked it. Like really liked it. It has that stone boulder-type look that you loved you made your file folders and icons all have it It has that riveted, homemade robot-type look to it that wonky, wabi-sabi ancient technology look. something you could have unearthed on a dig or found in our backyard, sticking half-up out of the dirt. You can see my fingerprints in it, for now. You can see the literal hand of the artist. The linen cloth I use to protect both surfaces above and beneath.
I had to come forward this far. this far. Three years. I had to come forward this far to make something I truly think you would like.
I think so much that you would like it.
but why am I trying so desperately to please my dead husband?