Friday, August 31, 2012
I used to say that I was as shallow as a puddle. My friends would disagree, and I knew shallow wasn't really the word I was looking for, but I meant that I just didn't seem to experience things as deeply as others did. Sure, I cried at the drop of a hat from any perceived injustice-- an over plucked eyebrow, or another Friday night home in front of Falcon Crest-- but I also felt a steady undercurrent of hope and stability running through my life.
When I observed my friends, some of their highs were so high, their lows so low. They were SO! IN! LOVE! Everything mattered. They seemed passionate about guys, God, and life in general, which made me wonder, again and again, if I was missing something.
I never craved drama or excitement; in fact I tended to run the other way. Jerry Springer was certainly not a show I could watch...far too nervous-making. I felt like I needed an Advil and a Silkwood shower after seeing that kind of raw, shouting, chair throwing emotion laid bare.
Binge drinking, college drama, or jealous girl fights? No thank you. Just take the guy-- please-- it's not worth it to me.
I think I was drawn to an equally Steady-Eddie in my husband Tim, because although I was pretty sure we'd never wear each other's blood vials around our necks a la Angelina and Billy-Bob, or engage in all-night love fests, we were also unlikely to have all-night screaming matches or engage in name calling, unless the occasional whispered "Ass" out of earshot of the kids counts.
It seems weird to me that parts of my life story are dramatic.
But even in that drama, the way I've faced things remains pretty compatible with how I've always been. So, I often wonder, am I too restrained and repressed, or is this just how God made me?
Because I don't want to try to circumnavigate the pain of life by just quietly plodding through it! When my mom dropped dead so many years ago, I bought new pens and immediately started writing thank you notes. My siblings and I did not cry or moan together. We held it so far in as if merely saying the word "Mom" would transport us to a scary place of despair from which we could never return.
And when Jack disappeared into the creek, just seconds beyond my grasp, I knew I could scream and rail, but I didn't. Not really. Because what else is there to do as you sit in your dark kitchen with your friends, knowing in your heart that your son is dead, except put out cheese and crackers for your neighbor with low blood sugar because everyone missed dinner and it's going to be one hell of a long night?
Call it shock, call it denial, call it peace. I do not know.
I guess my biggest fear as an even-keel person, is that I will somehow plod, plod, plod through life like a robot. I DO NOT want to be this way simply because it is more socially acceptable, less messy, and quieter!
I want to make sure I let myself feel, if I even know how to.
At least on some level, I'm certain I do.
I know how it felt to have Margaret's dimply, toddler arms wrapped around my neck, giving my back an extra little pat because she knew I liked it. The world felt calm and safe and delicious. I know how it felt to mother Jack-- and how my delight in his depth and character made my heart grow larger in a way I can still feel when I think about him. How after 20 years I can still conjure a rush of love when I remind myself that a man who handles raw chicken for you, puts feta on your salads when you would have just settled for lettuce, and hands you two vitamins in the morning is far sexier than someone who lives life on the edge.
And I realize that writing is one way I let myself feel.
I may be doing ordinary things on a given day-- shopping for school supplies, doing time in the hell that is Abercrombie, working, or sweeping up dog hair in the kitchen (again!)--but through pausing and writing I'm letting myself "go there" in my grief.
It may not be dramatic. But it helps me. I just know does.