PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I was asked by a friend the other day, "Are you going to be ok?" And I replied, "I don't have a choice."

That's probably my biggest frustration in going through all of this, is that there is little action or solution I personally can do. Sure, I have some choices, I could stay bed-ridden and weepy all the time; I could be snappish and irritable ALL the time, instead of just some of the time. My boss said something today about how you can choose to be happy, and really, I just thought about throwing him into traffic, and that made me a little happy (just kidding). And I do believe it's true, happiness is a choice. But I have an undertow in my heart, and it pulls, pulls, pulls. I am simply doing the best I can.

I feel the shoring-up within, as I scrape and muster, bolster myself inside, like wrapping a blanket around me as tightly as possible in the cool night air. I feel the adult-ness in me taking over, solemn & serious, like I am going off to war and if there's no crying in baseball, there sure as hell is no crying in war. It feels like shutting down. Of course there are still tears, sometimes at extremely inopportune moments, but each day I feel the pull and struggle between hope & positivity and the undertow.

When our foreign exchange student lived with us, I grew miserable. She dated the boy I had a crush on, she seemed perfect in every way and I felt eclipsed by her. When she left, everyone was crying at the airport, except for me. Not because I wouldn't miss her, not because I didn't love her, too, but because the Shutdown Gnome was in control. Stoicism, reservedness - all took over, and those adjectives simply aren't who I am most of the time. It's a strange, strange feeling, but grows more familiar each week.

Later that day, after she was on a plane going home to Sweden, I went down to our creek, and sat on a big rock in the middle of the water. I was facing one side of the bank, and the sun was hot while the cool water sluiced over my toes. I was deep, deep in thought - no tears, just processing everything at my own pace. There was a loud, squawking behind me that didn't stop, and the noise finally broke through my ruminations; I turned around to see what bird was causing the commotion - and was face to face with a badger. Yes. A badger. In the filo-fax of my brain, I heard everything my father had taught me about badgers: dangerous. We always worried our fearless black lab, Ghost, would try to tangle with a badger, and they can kill a dog. It was probably two feet from me, sniffing me, curious as to what this thing on the rock was. I don't actually recall my feet hitting the water or rocks, but that in the next moment, I was standing on the other side of the bank, looking at this badger, who looked back at me, and then turned & trundled off in the opposite direction. My dad grilled me, unsure I had identified this animal correctly - they are pretty reclusive & avoid people; when I said he looked like a coffee table with fur, he was finally convinced. (They have flattish, square bodies.)

I guess the reason this memory has pushed forward in my mind is not only because I recall the Shutdown-edness I have felt at other times in my life, but that there are times to choose flight, and times to choose to fight. I am shoring up all my reserves, all my support, all my energy to fight, fight, fight. I flee things that sap that energy & strength, and I conservatively believe I can't put a lot of energy into being raucously happy, either. Because I don't see flight as a choice here. I have to stand and face my own fears, my own sadness, my own pain, my own life, as much as I hate it. I feel the fierceness, my own badger, within me, and it is a little frightening; I fear it will fly out uncontrollably, or I will do something utterly stupid, like pick a fight with my mother after two & a half years of not speaking. (I know, it's a terrible idea - yet the explosion is so appealling, so tempting, to get rid of some of this stored anger.)

And then my Shutdown Gnome reminds me that there is a difference between Fierceness and Foolishness. The choice is there, just like it was that day in the creek. And when I turned to face that badger, mostly to make sure it wasn't about to bite my ass, still prepared to run - the badger walked away from me.

posted by PlazaJen, 10:16 AM