“Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.”
With a very big sigh of relief, I count another mother’s day over. My feelings about the holiday remain the same as they were four years ago and I am still not proud of them. Of course, I am not proud. The feelings are still all about self-pity. Which is ugly and such a damm nuisance.
When I first read Joan Didion’s “The year of magical thinking,” I did not understand those first lines quoted above. I rather shamefacedly admit that I didn’t understand them for a very long time. What was so bad about some very well deserved self-pity?
In the background, road crews are working on my street today. They have been preparing for a week. Today they are taking down big trees that are in the way of new pipes. There is no plan to take down my big trees although I would not be surprised if at least one falls as work proceeds. Sitting outside during the day will not be an option for weeks to come. Getting the car in and out of the driveway may become impossible. I hope this is not true today. I need to leave in about a half hour.
It took lots and lots of self-pity for a long time to understand what a trap it was. I think I was tremendously dense about the understanding. The rabbit hole of despair can be endless, the other side hidden from view for what seems like forever. And it is rather un-American. After a time, it is boring to everyone. Including me. I’ve fallen into it over and over again. I’m sure some of those who used to count themselves as friends of mine raised an eyebrow and gave up on those black days.
I no longer have much of an excuse, a few reasons, but none that justify giving over precious days. However, when I am in it, no matter how long, it does claw at the soul. Leaving scars. But this time, there was recognition with only a half day and a phone call and some curmudgeonly behavior toward Julia before I climbed out of the slimy mess. Staying away from all the happy Facebook posts helped. Stopping the monkeys running wild in my mind also helped. The day was what the days was and nothing was going to make it more than it was.
Julia drew me a picture and gave me some hugs. Cheshire’s flowers helped on the cold, almost-rainy, cloudy day. Trying not to complain about the cold, soggy weather, I noticed small amounts of new grass and possibly because I cannot get outside to garden, I had a hard think about the area between the compost bin and the garage which is always in need of more grass. It may be time to throw in the lawn towel and make another shady garden bed. A climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) may be successful there. I have missed the one I had in Indy.
When the weather refused to clear, we found a movie to go to. We saw Tomb Raider at the cheap movie theater—the one with regular theater seats and brown paper bags for their popcorn. For as much as I wonder how much of any experience Julia takes in and comprehends, her questions after the movie pointed out plot flaws. The movie had lots of action—a courageous, albeit kinda’ foolish, heroine, some scary part that inspired some cuddling (always nice), and a somewhat satisfactory ending—but lots of plot holes and character deficiencies. Her best question was “what happened to the Asian guy?” He was a secondary character that helped the heroine through some bad stuff. He deserved some sort of ending—not necessarily romantic, just a bit of closure. He was off the heroine’s radar as soon as she got out of the jungle.
I talked about self-pity with some friends last night and I noticed that most of it had already passed. Perhaps almost all by this morning. So much so that I almost did not finish writing this. It is, however, part of the warp or weft of the whole cloth of my life. A smaller part as the days go by, but not a part to be hidden from view. No matter how inconvenient or ugly.