Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shaking off the Dust...

It's funny. Strange: funny, not hilarious: funny - when something bad happens, I think the best of us temporarily gain slightly bad habits to make ourselves feel as though we are in control. I tentatively suggest that even the most foll-of-zen Buddhist Monk might err on the side of something less than perfect for a while if his monastery were burned to the ground by violent guerrillas.

It is one thing to feel these negative emotions inside oneself, though, and another to spread vile hatred and bitterness across the world as a reaction. Now, the aforementioned Monk probably would not start beating other Monks up as a result (very unlikely) but would instead spend some time in very deep meditation to deal with the emotions raised by the monastery burning. He would get back in touch with himself - bring himself back together in the quiet.

That's something, though, that we lack as a mainstream culture though, isn't it? There is something profoundly different about taking sober, thoughtful time to reconnect with one's soul, and going out for a "relaxing" drink at the end of the work week.

The former is healing; the latter is a medication. The former demands that we take the time to face our fears like other beings, sitting in front of us, feeling the fear we feel, but sitting there face to face anyway, because it is the only way we can truly purge them from ourselves.

The latter does not demand that we face our fears, though we do sometimes think we face them, at the height of a drunken argument with our friend or spouse or partner. But becoming inebriated on any substance does not require us to create reasonable thought, or a reasonable chain of thought. Therefore, trying to sort out fears that grip us while sober, when drunk, is not an option. It might feel good to be completely without a care and in the tender proverbial arms of a bottle of wine, but at the end of it all, you sober up and find your fears have become larger, and started growing mold during your night out...

Smoking pot can be a terribly enlightening experience when you don't have any worries - sure, it can open up doors in your mind that lead to beautiful conversations and greater understanding. But when straight, it can be almost impossible to remember with clarity the conversations had. When straight, the fears return. Pot is not a good way of coping. Pot hides the hurt - hides it in a very pretty disguise, yes, but when it's time to put the joint down, the pain comes crashing in like the rising tide. Rest assured that if you've smoked before, the door opening effects of the plant never do go away - but if you're smoking to cope, you're not doing yourself any favors.

I've seen both of the above so many times in people I have been very close to. Some of them I am still close to - but others fell into the grip of something even worse than the problems they had to begin with, and they just didn't come back. Ever.

How scary - facing your fears in soberness. It IS scary. Yes, it is. Keeping my heartbeat under control when I pick up another piece of maternity clothing I forgot to put away is near impossible, because picking up the fabric comes with the sober thought "my baby - she was my baby and I loved her, and I love her". Finding the pair of baby socks I put in my underwear drawer deliberately always comes hand in hand with the memory of the texture of Josie's little feet, identical to mine in every way except size. Sometimes, remembering some of the memories I made while pregnant with Josie - the ones I forgot to remember before - feels like pushing my hands through lava. The next time I remember them though, they just make my eyes well up. In ways such as these, things get better.

Some of the best times - the best things I have done for my own soul recently, have been in silence, by myself, with perhaps a candle lit and some music on. Immersing myself in the soul of Josie, I suppose you could say. It's so large and so tangible, her soul. She lives in the space between Harry and I still, but has become this beautiful decorated, embroidered Indian shawl that is wrapped around the waist of both of us. An adornment of beauty now.

I miss her, and sometimes I break down. But I don't take percocet or alcohol or anything like that, ever. I wrap myself up in a blanket and fight the depression with a sword and armor, like my namesake, Jeanne d'Arc. I'm not her. But I can put on her armor and weild her sword in my mind and tell the sadness that I simply will not surrender to it.

I take herbs and vitamins, and try to eat healthily; I am strong because I choose to be. Anyone can be strong. You very rarely get killed by your own fears, so why not choose to dive into them and cast them off you like a mantle of ice? Life is like this: it's messy, it's very real; it's about what is going on now, not later - if you spend all your present time not facing anything, putting all the stuff away and being intoxicated in any way, there's no guarantee you will even have a "later" to bring it back out again. Stop hating yourself so much. Start spending time with yourself; taking care of yourself.

So, breathe, and get out your walking boots, and just start walking up the hill.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Changing Times...

I am scheming.

Yes, I am. I have to admit it.

I'm going to include some pictures in this post, to show what there is in the world to appreciate that so many of us don't get to even see. Ever. Even if we live around the corner from them. You can touch these rocks, rivers, stones, creatures...they're REAL! But are the lives we weave? How real are they? What are we basing them on?

After last week's PMS related breakdown in which I decided to go (and did) to Wal Mart after work simply to buy a new outfit to wear in the car on the way home (related to the conversation with H I had in which I told him I felt like "a member of the Borg"), I decided this weekend to go on a little job hunt.

It's bad enough when you dread almost every minute of your day, because you know in your heart that it's almost impossible to achieve what the company wants without devoting yourself, heart and soul to it (in manner of evil minion) - but quit another thing when it gets to the point at which you are burning inside your dress code so much that you have to run and spend $40 just to feel like a free woman in your own car. On a sunny day, I might add.

There will come a time soon, yes...very soon, where I no longer have to get up in the morning and fear my occupation. You see, the post earlier in the year about the hasn't changed in my mind. It's become clearer. The lack of tangible compassion in some corporations is very acute. The orders are sent down from the highest levels and followed. The highest levels don't follow up on whether their orders produce human tragedy or ill health of any kind - simply on the issue of profit and whether their orders generated any more. Unless there's a lawsuit, they can ignore the rest and sleep at night.

There's a lot of compassion in the lower ranks, yes, and an awful lot of people I admire, respect and care for. Nobody means to be uncaring...but caring is not just something you feel, it's something you do. There's a good passage in Steven King's "The Green Mile" where Paul Edgecombe is talking about executing John Coffey, and asks what he can say to his God upon reaching the entrance to Heaven - that is was his "job" to kill the miracle that the God had created? Where does the "job" end, and the "human" begin, anyway? There ought to be a line there, in the sand, or the grass, or the concrete - wherever you are in your life, but for some reason, people forget that... Gosh people, why?

In the end, nobody in the position I held is humanly capable of doing everything "properly" anyway. It wasn't just me. I just wanted to be good when really, the goals are out of reach for even the best of us.

Now I am not saying I am resentful - no - but I have to be realistic. The above is the truth - and in turn, I cannot keep working for the company. I have given them more than they could ever repay with all of the profits they could make in a hundred years. I'm not the only one. Therefore I need to cut loose.

This weekend, I did some things to help myself! And while I keep them a mystery for now, let me just say that on this rainy Monday morning, I see the sun streaming through the drops even if no-one else can. It's going to be raining all day, apparently - but my mind is clear for the first time in so long!

So here I am...I am taking off my uniform...I am letting go...if nothing else, this will all end up in an explosion of excellent painting! Like a child with a great big chocolate bar in front of it, I am very excited about the prospect of devouring this new existence I have before me...

(One thing related to a child eating chocolate is that yesterday, D ate an entire Nestle bar, ran over to his Grandmas to give her a birthday hug and a card he'd made, and ended up throwing the chocolate all back up upon entering her front door. Poor day we'll laugh about it: "Happy Birthday Grandma.....bleuuurgh..!" - and the other time with the bowl of candy at Halloween (which I wrote about last year) but for now, we'll just give him some more clothes and a cuddle!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Holding Babies...

This is a bit of an ode to my friend, Jill. She thinks I am brave. I think she is braver than me.

See, I didn't choose what I went through. It was thrust upon me and I had to go through it, like it or not. I had the make the choices when it came to how I recovered, that is true - but not to lose Josie or any of that. I am not brave to have lost my child - no, I am not. I don't think I took it any differently than my nature, which is honest, but not necessarily always brave, I don't think.

But Jill - now Jill is a different story.

Jill and her husband wanted to have a baby for eight years before they finally became pregnant with their gorgeous little girl, C. She had to endure eight years of playfully dressing up her dog before she finally got to dress up her daughter (which, I may add, she does very well!). She had to bravely endure eight years of trying and trying, without the funds for any kind of medical help, and just kept going. And you know what? She remained a nice person throughout. That's eight years: I have seen people become bitter, jaded, within three years. Jill didn't. She humbly took her lot and just kept plodding along.

When I met her, Jill really didn't believe she could get pregnant for whatever reason. I told her "Jill, there's something in the water around here" - since I was already pregnant with Josie and there had been several other pregnancies at our workplace. She took that with a pinch of salt.

A few weeks later, she took a pregnancy test (without salt) and got two lines. She came into the store, waving the stick at me in astonishment and I'll tell you what, I was elated for her. Everybody was!

Now fast forward to October, and me, sitting at the front of a funeral home, in my black turtleneck and my black pants, doped to the gills on as little percocet as I could get away with, using H as a crutch to brace he pain of my cesarean incision which was three days fresh. My daughter lay in her little white box under her soft blankets at the front of the room and my tears lay and fell down my cheeks into the pile of tissues I had in my lap and onto H's hand as he held mine.

People came down to hug me and look into my eyes for signs of wanting to keep living, I think. There was much to see - I did want to keep living. People didn't really believe that though - perhaps some of them would rather not have. Now envision in your mind, a gorgeous, and terribly sad pregnant lady coming down the center aisle to see me. It was Jill.

I have to say in the midst of it all, her presence just touched me. She was in tears, so affected by it all, so very pregnant and so utterly brave to have had the courage to show up to an event every pregnant woman has the ultimate fear of. I wanted to stand up and tell her not to be afraid - that it was so rare to have this happen - but I couldn't stand, I could just make crying noises. At the time I had not been able to tell her how I felt, but I did get that opportunity later on.

A month or two later, Jill added me to her Facebook account. I accepted, smiling. She didn't shun me, or keep her baby pictures away from me as other pregnant women had. She knew my condition wasn't infectious to the soul, and kept contact. I apreciated that so much...

Two or three days ago, Jill came to see me in person and to introduce me to her beautiful daughter C, who is honestly the most gorgeous little thing. She's just beginning to smile and Jill dresses her (as I mentioned earlier) in the nicest little matching outfits. I remember seeing a picture of them both together after birth in the hospital. The look in Jill's eyes said "don't come near my baby", with the full understanding of what it could be to not hold a living child. She'd waited eight years for her daughter and had seen someone else lose their first born child. She wasn't letting that baby go. I don't blame her.

She let me hold C - oh - and what joy! I hadn't held a baby since Josie! It was absolutely wonderful to meet her and to hold her and look into her little face. She looks just like Jill and is a quietly expressive little lady. We checked each other out for a bit, C and me, and I think she approved of me - gave me the okay. See, people in general have kept babies away from me, even though I did say they shouldn't. I think many people believe that the sight of a baby will make my heart explode all over the place with sadness when the opposite is actually true.

So yes, this is an ode to Jill, who let me meet her beautiful daughter and who made my entire week better by coming to see me. She tearfully apologized if her presence at Josie's funeral had upset me, if the sight of a heavily pregnant woman had been a bad thing, and I finally got to say what I'd been saving up for months "No, Jill, you were a welcome sight, and I am in awe of you being so very brave". Jill, I have nothing but humble respect for you, mama. Thank you!