Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January, an icy tundra of frozen emotional hell.

What an evil, cold, hellish month it is.  To me, heaven would be warmth and fire and hell would be ice and cold.  January reminds me of whipping winds, high on a hill, the gray of filtered sunlight.  The graves are all the kind that sit into the ground, not raised, and I wonder how hard it is to dig frozen ground.  Almost twenty years have passed since I was a 19 year old girl, burying my father after five long years of cancer.  It started when I was a freshman in high school, a few months after my parents talked about getting divorced and my father's lousy suicide attempt, for show.  His initial diagnosis gave him 6 months, which for some reason my mother found appropriate to tell me.  It was snowing and I just wanted to meet my friends at the mall.  My mother refused and instead told me my father would be dead in six months, so instead of the mall I cried in the shower.  Six months turned into five years, numerous surgeries and a few different attempts at treatment.  After my father got sick from chemo he refused.  So strange, as an adult, to look back and see a parent who ultimately choose death instead of time.  My brother was only 14 when he died.
Just after Christmas, perfectly timed with my winter break from college.  My brother and I, we were only kids living a with a walking dying skeleton.  I had the refuge of college to escape to, my brother and mother seemed to be locked into a black house of death, miserable and angry and everyone hating each other.  I wasn't happy to be home, I went out with friends, slept elsewhere as much as possible, and worked full time as a diet aide at Adcare Hospital.

In the weeks before he died, I saw him fall down a set of stairs drunk on a beer or three - it doesn't take much when you weigh 80 pounds.  He was laying at the bottom of the cellar stairs, head on the concrete floor and legs mangled in the banisters, moaning.  Later that weekend I saw him have a grand mal seizure on the couch, one from which he never regained consciousness.  Both times I was home alone, and still a teenager.  An older one, yes, but still a kid.
Within weeks I found myself high on the cold hill in Paxton, sandwiched between friends and family.  Black coats, hands reaching out, squeezing me, I'm just looking down and trying to walk on the frozen unsteady ground.  There's a body, there's a body, there's a body, cemeteries are so fucking weird just beautiful places filled with rotting wood and rotting bodies.  How hard is the ground to dig up in January?
The day before my father died, January 15th 1992, I wrote in my journal "I have to try not to lose sight of my heart - I do that a lot.  But I always emerge out of the water to catch a glimpse of the sun and let it shine on me, before I submerge into the depths.  Right now,  I suppose that's how it has to be, a struggle.  But that's OK, I need to learn, and whenever I see the sun I'll console myself with the knowledge someday I'll hit land, and the sun will be able to shine on my always.  And I know that sometimes the clouds will come out, and cover it, and rain will come, but after drowning for son long I'll know how to cope with the rain."
I've always liked my cliches, melodrama too.  But do you see? That poor girl thought her life would get easier.

Twenty years have come and gone and now it's become more than half my life.  The scales of time tilt and meaningful events become smaller in the rear view, but the receding past laughs knowingly.    You can run but you can't hide, your past becomes your future.  Twenty years gone, yet twenty years still here.  His X, to my X, to Owen's X...thanks for the consolation Tootsie Roll dad!
And people wonder why I'm angry? I'm angry because I wanted peace, and comfort, and security and safety - wasn't I entitled and deserving?    I wanted to fill my emptiness and I thought I could through redemption - saving other families, helping children, realigning the universe by parenting my own kids the 'right' way.  All corrective experiences for my inner child!! Will fix all! But life does not bring less, it brings more.  During my day I worked with young children who had been sexually abused - sobbing 5 year olds, crying in my arms, telling me of the horrors the endured under the 'care' of parents.  Their faces and stories haunt me still.  Once I became pregnant with my own kids, I decreased my amount of trauma work and virtually eliminated it with small children.  It was too hard to look into a child's face and see my own daughter.  I continue to specialize in abuse, and trauma, anxiety/depression, and grief.  I'm so good at making people cry! my clients tell me.  What a skill to have!

Sometimes I get tired from picking up the pieces of broken lives all day long.  Others, and now my own, again? Where is my respite? Where is my castle? Where is the lap of a mother who can hug me, hold me and whisper "shhhhh, it will all be alright, Mommy will take care of you..."?
Can't there be something that comes pre-assembled, something that doesn't need fixing?   Why am I angry...why wouldn't I be angry? Yet now I'm much, much less angry then I was, even a few months ago.  I'm resigned.  Resigned because I accept what I can't change, I can only move forward and try to make myself happy, and make choices that make others happy.  I am trying to take care of me.  I wouldn't say I'm succeeding, but I'm trying.  And sometimes I just say fuck it.
But damn you January, and damn you Dad, and damn you twenty fucking years.  I feel bad for that 19 year old girl, who had a father sick with cancer while she was going to proms and flunking every class, she got robbed.  Damn you past that keeps repeating, on my x chromosome, the CGG repeats that just kept repeating, and repeating until finally they caused Fragile X - IN MY SON.  Why mine? My, why IS she so angry?
Fine, I'll give you this.  I'll let you have this January,  I can't run.  Damn you Dad.  I'll be sad, and angry and I'll mourn and maybe cry.  But January is all you get, and my tears aren't for the past. 


  1. What a heavy heart. Wish I could lift the burden

  2. grief- sounds like you know more than your fair share, both personally and professionaly. You let it out, you've set your limits, you move on. I wish I could make it better- for you, for every child you've ever worked with and the thousand more like them who have no one to talk to, for every single fragile X family...
    Februrary will be here soon. fight on.


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