Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Funk That Doesn't End All Funks

Andrew Wyeth

I had to stop myself from looking through the photos of Sophie's birth when I looked at one of myself and noted how "awful" I looked. I was rummaging through for a picture to publish with this post. Obviously, I didn't find one.

I teared up today, right before I went on a walk with Sophie. Henry asked me what was wrong, and I told him that I felt burdened. The words came out before I could stop them, and Henry said by Sophie? And I said, yes, and he said, we all are, and I told him that was true but I wanted to hold it for him and his brother, too. The burden, that is. Then I went on the walk with Sophie and cried some more, in the sunlight, behind my green glasses. I'll always have to pay someone to help me with the burden, I thought. That's an awful thought, for those of you who don't know what it's like, but it's an awful thought even for those who do.

Why do we loathe our graveyard thoughts? Why not let them rise to the surface, simmer there and evaporate without mockery? Why at the very least not treat them lovingly? I should say I, not we, as I can't speak for you.

I'm re-reading Updike's Couples. It really is scandalous, but I really do like it.

Here's a sentence that would knock my socks off if I wore them:

Harold believed that beauty was what happened between people, was in a sense the trace of what had happened, so he in truth found her, though minutely creased and puckered and sagging, more beautiful than the unused girl whose ruins she thought of herself as inhabiting.


  1. I am so moved that you and Henry can speak this way, that Henry could hear and accept what you shared and offer his own truth in return. Let him share the burden, as he surely is, lightening it for you just a bit. He is strong enough and beautiful enough and kind hearted enough to help you carry it; and perhaps more lightly than you can at times. And yes, yes, if only we could not judge our natural thoughts so harshly, but let them come, love them as you say, so that they cast smaller less scary shadows. And that awful thought? It's not awful. It just is. I know. Easy for me to say. Forgive my presumption. I love you.

  2. Why do we always feel as if we must only post the positive when that is completely false?
    Yes of course, we are grateful for the good things but yes, godammit, we experience the hard bad things too.
    The graveyard thoughts are as valid as the sunshine-through-the-green leaves-thoughts. We are humans, made up of both and neither one is more valuable or more truthful.
    And John Updike was a master at presenting both sides of this eternal equation. And writing about sex as well.
    Your tears behind green glasses are holy water to my mind.

  3. If you denied feeling burdened, given the Herculean efforts required of you for so many years, I would not trust you one bit.

    I trust you Elizabeth. And I honor your heart.

  4. I think it makes sense for you to share some of that burden with Henry, especially now that he's older. He's in a position to help (and already does, I know, but having him understand your feelings will allow him to help more). And honestly, how could you NOT feel burdened. It's completely honest and understandable.

    I used to see that John Updike book in used-book stores all the time. I never picked up a copy, though. I have the impression it's sort of a literary "Peyton Place."

  5. Graveyard thoughts. I've never put those two words together before. So apt. I say let them walk among us a bit. Maybe then those thoughts can find a place to rest.

  6. i love everything Updike has written. he is genius. and your quote, is perfection.

  7. It's Katie's birthday today. Yesterday we took her to Fort Edmonton and her brother joined us. That was different. Katie doesn't do well with different, even good different because she loves her brother and loves his attention.

    Then she had a wagon ride that she normally loves but stressed her out. Then when we went to have our picnic lunch, she managed to get a splinter up under her fingernail. The splinter went about 3/4 of the way up her nail bed, made me shudder to look at it. It took me and a young staff guy and an off duty firefighter to hold Katie down and pull the splinter out. After that there was screaming, crying, head slapping, her trying to tip over her wheelchair, etc. We got stared at, I had my fuck off face on.

    She finally settled down, returned to our lunch and then the wagon pulled by the horses went by and she started all over again. She grabbed my hair and it took my son and the big guy to get her off me.

    So we left and on the way home I cried. I cried because I can't see an end to it and I'm getting older and I just wish she wasn't so scared and anxious all the time. And she is a burden. I love her and I don't wish her away but she is a burden. Thank you for allowing me to say that. Because you said it, you made it safe for me to say as well.

  8. I believe that tendency to hold back expression of thoughts like that, and I guess we all do though I try to let it fly as often as I can, is fear of judgment by our friends and family (and also of self, maybe). Mainly because they can't ever understand some of the gross and subtle nuances of Life With Disability and what it really takes from your kid and what it takes from you and what it takes from your family.

    One could argue that it gives some things back. And sometimes...and there are times...that it does give. But honestly? It takes a shitload more than it ever gives back.

    The truth? Disability can be a cruel and fickle bastard and its presence in our lives wears the face of someone we love. And that never makes it easy to process or navigate.

    Love the header! You just had to do it yourself, didn't you? Fiercely independent much? :)

  9. Someone told me not too long ago that our emotions - even the most intense ones - only last for about 90 seconds in our bodies and brains. Unless, that is, we try to stifle them and deny them and end up holding on to them longer than that. She encouraged me (and Lola) to try to let them simply move through us, give them voice and then wings, and then keep moving. It is so helpful for me to remember that my feelings are all valid, even if I label them good or bad, it isn't ME that's good or bad for having them, I am simply their vessel for a little while.

    All the love I can send is coming your way.



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