I have known for some time that I am not superwoman. I knew this of course. There’s no way you can think you are superwoman while your bathroom looks like mine does, and superwoman never eats crackers for a whole day because she screwed up the grocery store thing, but it doesn’t somehow stop me from trying to be. (There’s a whole other blog post in there about the unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves and how we feel when we don’t perform the miracles we’re hoping for, but well. I’m living that now, and can’t quite bring myself to write about it.)
A few weeks ago I alluded to someone I know coming to the end of their life. It’s a family member, it’s someone dear to us, and things have taken a turn. I’d say "a turn for the worse" but it’s only worse for those of us who will be left behind. For this beloved, it’s maybe a turn for the better, as a swift passing is what we all wish for in the end. I know this is vague, and I’m sorry. I really am, but I’m just not ready to put words to this, or name the person, or even slightly ready to take it out in public. You’ll know when it happens, but it’s too intimate and bare now.
The thing is, that when I started finding a way through this, I decided to be amazing. I thought I was the woman who could manage all of this. Training for the rally, finishing a book (oh yes- there’s that happening too) and cook dinner and go to meetings and knit little angora sweaters and take out the garbage and keep being what everyone needs me to be, setting aside grief and being strong for others. It is important, I tell myself, to be effective and calm and to not count my own needs, at least not right now. Now I need to think of others, and not myself, and to spend my time doing what needs to be done, and to keep saying things like "it is what it is" and "when the time comes I will know what to do" and I have spent a great deal of time respecting the boundaries that others have set up, and being painstakingly, excruciatingly careful not to encroach on them in any way. This, I have told myself a thousand times, is not about me. This is, I assure you, who I want to be. Someone entirely in the service of others.
There’s a problem though. Increasingly I find a little voice gathering strength in my belly. The voice says tiny things. It is shy, and it doesn’t know how to say what it wants. The voice is saying to me that it is sort of unhappy. The voice has noticed that other people manage to be respectful, and kind, and somehow not have that mean that they practically lie down in the driveway screaming "RUN OVER ME, I LIKE IT IF THAT’S WHAT YOU NEED." The voice has noticed that other people are okay with saying that they have needs occasionally, and the voice, just as an aside, has noticed that some of these people are doing a lot less laundry. The voice wondered, late last night, if I am not about to make mistakes I will regret my entire life because I am worried about being the nicest person ever. Don’t get me wrong, the voice wants to be nice, it’s just thinking about all those other nice people who don’t wait to be asked, and those other nice people who don’t say "It’s okay. Whatever you want. I’ll wait." The voice is torn. The voice lacks experience. The voice possibly has been a mother too long.
This is, of course, way too intimate. This has nothing to do with knitting and I’m sorry. I know a lot of you only come here for the knitting, and I promise I am knitting (you can tell, because I am not in prison.) I’m just struggling with the line between what my family needs, what I desperately want to give them and some amazing tiny, sneaking feeling that there might be a better way to be me. I don’t mind telling you that so far, 2013 has been a hot stinking pile of slag. Good things have happened, of course, but on a personal and familial level, Joe and I have gone to bed many nights thus far, holding on to each other a little, and whispered things like "we are being tested". "Be awesome" we remind each other. Be so high on the high road that your nose bleeds. Reach for compassion, especially for those who can’t seem to. They need it the most. We have been (with great difficulty) very, very noble.
The thing is that as the pressure mounts, the voice has suggested that we (or maybe just me, since Joe, as usual, has more moments of clarity) are making a mistake. "Compassion?" The voice is confused about granting compassion, or rather, the voice isn’t confused about compassion at all, it just wants to know why (and this question was shocking to me ) It just wants to know why we aren’t putting ourselves on the list of people we are supposed to extend it to.
Tomorrow I turn 45. My mother turned 70 today, or she would have if she hadn’t decided to cancel her birthday in the face of our family crisis. (It’s not all bad, she points out – she gets to be in her 60’s a little longer.) I’m going to cancel mine too, more or less. I just can’t find it in me to celebrate another year of life when someone I know is getting robbed. I am hoping that when I wake up in the morning, a year older, and technically, well into middle age, that I will know what to say to the voice.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to reconcile a love of self with a love of others, that I’ll know the difference between what I want and is wanted of me, and I hope that suddenly, miraculously, fantastically, as I arise on the day of my birthday, I will know something profound, amazing and wonderful that will guide me through the maze and darkness of the days to come.
Wool help me, I hope tomorrow I wake up fully adult, and that when I do, I know what to say to the voice.
(PS. I did say I was mostly cancelling my birthday. If however, you cannot help yourself, I would like nothing more than the gift of helping others. I am going to do a hard thing to help other people doing a hard thing and to help me, I hope you do a good thing. It makes hard things easier. If you are unable to drop a a bottle of wine by my house, a donation to the rally would be the next best thing. I’m going to go for a training ride in the morning, try and watch the sun come over the lake, and hear the voice of my 45 year old self. I hope she knows what she’s doing. She’s in deep water.)