The Curse

I don’t know what I did

But I did something

My heart catches in my throat

Careful

Waiting always

For the other shoe to drop

It always does

Does positive thinking work

When you feel flawed at your core

No

Mantras on top of a knowing

Deeper than deep

That you do not deserve good

Fall flat

Their echoes create a silent tragic opera

I stumble

Tears threaten to fall

The nausea I feel holding this truth almost knocks me over

How do I solve a problem

I do not understand

Point me to the wizard

Let me beg the sorceress

Help me

Break

This

Curse

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For Me

A few years back, a teacher suggested to me the idea that when challenges happen in my life (“challenges” being a woke way of saying when bad shit happens) I ask the question “Why is this happening for me?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?”

That everything that is happening contains lessons that are designed to contribute to some necessary growth that ultimately will contribute to my living my greatest life.

It is a lovely idea. Unless, that is, you are in it. When it is feeling like the Universe is is just out to get you, the idea that things are happening for your highest good can seem, well, ridiculous.

In those moments, I tend to feel like a total victim. In my mind, I am sure that somewhere there are people whose lives are working out just great. That there are people to whom these shitty things do not happen.

I bemoan why these things must happen to me. Does the Universe think so little of me? Am I such a loser that I do not deserve good?

This response to difficult or bad things happening is learned. It comes from a wounding from long ago, at an age when I had no ways to cope. No way of understanding bad things happening other than to assume that it was my fault: that I was in some way not worthy of good.

This wound and the subsequent thinking and feeling habits that developed out of it seem to be getting kicked up again and again lately.

It’s this new apartment and the renovation and new furniture.

(I know, I know. These are luxury problems. It isn’t what they are. It’s what they kick up.)

Without realizing it, somehow, somewhere in my psyche some part of me, the wounded part, has loaded this new home with some kind of meaning that runs way deeper than up leveling to a newer, nicer home.

This new place and new things seem to represent something that is impossible to reach or maintain. Unbeknownst to me, some part of me needs this home to be perfect.

Things keep happening. A strange stain on the new velvet couch that I sweat was not there before. A little work spot on a new leather chair that I also swear was not there before. The furniture is not even in use yet! We’ve had it all covered as we’ve finally moved in.

I would almost believe there’s a sprite or gremlin playing tricks on me.

This all started weeks ago. First the new floor buckled in places. The very well-put-in floor. Then the AC leaked and caused a tiny bit of damage. Then the spot on the velvet couch I mentioned that was not there until it was: it can only be seen at an angle, but still. It was perfect. Now it is marred. Then the marks in the leather chair. How? When? Who?

Each new event sends me into this painful spin of confusion – disbelief, anger, hurt. Why? Why us? Why our new things? Can’t we have one month to enjoy this place before things become marred?

Am I such a loser that I do not deserve nice things?

Then I get enraged. Why do others get happy lives and my one chance at goodness is once again stripped away from me? Can’t I have just one beautiful thing for a moment?

Woah. I know this is all way too loaded for just this situation. I don’t remember ever feeling this way before about any place or thing. And yet here I am and it is deep. Things are being triggered here!

And I know, I know. These are total luxury problems.

I should be grateful for the abundance. And I am. But why are the gifts I get always dented?

It can feel so dark and sad.

I guess it is time to tend to that girl’s wound. The one who first decided that she was unworthy of good.

I see I have someone to get to know.

I breathe and try to trust that I will gain clarity at some point. I try to remember that this is happening for me. That there is an opportunity for me to heal something. I am just so murky and in it right now. I cannot see it. Yet.

But I will.

And I will grow through it, somehow.

And I will gain a new friend, if she’ll have me. The wounded girl.

Ah ha.

There is is…

Just “for me.”

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The Andromeda Stain

It’s happened.

The first stain on one of our new furniture pieces.*

* In our brand new home, we are now living with pretty, lighter rugs and fabrics whereas before we had pretty, pre-strained things that had come from my parents’ home in Texas.

I have been dreading the first spill. Trying to embrace that the day will come.

It was today.

It was made by me. I was sitting at my new desk. I had carelessly left a ballpoint pen with the wicked stylus protruding. My forearm sent it flying, and it fell. My heart fell with it, and I knew before I looked what I would find: a small black ink mark on the new purple office chair seat.

I found ink mark stain removal guidance on line, but we all know how perilous that can be. (The kinds of products and things they assume you have laying around is astonishing.)

I madly read through different ideas, then made a daring attempt involving hairspray, q-tips and mild dish soap.

At first, it looked like I’d not only not gotten the ink out, but I’d created a much bigger stain than the black dot of ink.

“That is what you get,” I thought, “for thinking things could be perfect.”

Somehow, (blessedly), my cleaning attempts have worked in the end. Thank you Perseus.

For today, I can continue the illusion that all will stay pristine forever.

(I know, I know. It is only a matter of time.)

In the meanwhile… I shall tempt the gods as I wait.

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The In-between Space

If I squint, I can still see it in my mind’s eye

The back of the front seat

of my parents’ doo doo brown

Buick Estate Wagon: my permanent view

Sandwiched between the adolescent sweaty arms

of my older brothers, their elbows poking my small shoulders

Fighting the space wars that only siblings know about

Gum popping, punches passed across me

Pre-digital age entertainment

Counting cars, Mad Libs, I Spy, rounds of car songs

I could barely see out the windows

But my whole world was inside anyways

I was in heaven between those two

Even their ignoring me was attention I loved

What I wouldn’t give to be back there

Lulled into a happy daze

The faint smell of my dad’s pipe

The tinkle of my mom’s laugh

And those two on either side

Holding me in tight, safe and sound

On the road, together

 

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Moving Day

Moving on

Moving forward

Moving out

Moving in

Moving away

Moving through

Moving with

Moving towards

Moving beyond

Moving along

Moving to…

What?

I don’t know

(Isn’t that something?)

 

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Now writing to you many days from here. It is a bit grey on the river today, but oh, is it lovely all the same. I look up and see moving water and that, my friends, is something that makes my soul very happy.

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Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown(-through?)

Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.

I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.

Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.

In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.

And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.

And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.

I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.

I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!

What?!

For us?

Could we?

Who were we to have such niceness?

It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.

The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.

We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.

We have loved our home.

But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.

In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.

I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.

And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.

And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.

Uh oh.

This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.

We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?

(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)

And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.

All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.

In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.

Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)

Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.

It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.

I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.

We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)

I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.

We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.

Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.

Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.

Our current apartment closes next week.

And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.

I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.

But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.

I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.

My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…

I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?

And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?

Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?

Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?

Who am afraid it will hurt?

These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.

I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.

Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.

It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.

What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?

These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.

(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)

Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.

I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.

Here I am. On the verge.

And soon, in just days, I will leap.

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Fierce

I wonder when the word “fierce” became such a slang word.

The Urban Dictionary brings up several ideas around this.

All I know is that it does just fit to describe certain people.

Like Serena Williams.

I had the unexpected opportunity to witness her particular genius the other night at the U.S. Open.

Amazing. Her focus. Her skill. Her physical strength. Her drive.

Her ensemble.

Fierce!

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