Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog the Twenty-Fourth

I found looking for advice in all the wrong places can lead one to become quite confused, and more entangled in trying to decipher all the bad advice, than trying to unravel the challenge at hand.

During my intense research this weekend, while trying to tackle and unravel a challenge of my own, I found a lot of advice out on the Internet... that didn't help me at all. It actually made things worse.

As a Motherless Daughter, we try so hard to find the answers we need out there. It's 2 a.m. and I can't possibly call my best friend to talk. So I pop online hoping to discover the reason, the answers, behind why I act the way I act - why I said what I said - why I feel what I felt, and the worse - if I should do this or that (ugh, I hate when I get into that awful cycle). I want so desperately to be told, that I am okay, that I am not a big freak. And I found online that 50% of the time I'll hear what I want, and 50% of the time I won't.

If you look hard enough, you can find anything online to justify what you need justified. If you look hard enough, you'll also find the exact opposite.

Where did I get the best advice then? From the people who know me. From the folks who've known me a long time and intimately understand where I come from. From those who maybe haven't known we for years but are still caring friends. And I even got some good advice from myself (when I shut up long enough to listen).

And why did it work? Because I am person with a history. I am a person with unique circumstances. Because I am not a nameless, bodiless entity. And a website, especially a commercial one, can't possibly know that.

The next part though, once you know what needs to be done, is actually going about and doing it. And that is where I am right now. Maybe some website can't give me the best advice, but the Classics did. So here, in case you need a little dose of courage (like I do today), is what I did find online.

A few words of wisdom from Virgil:

Fortune favors the brave.

Hope on, and save yourself for prosperous times.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Blog the Twenty-Third

Vulnerable: Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded. Open to attack or damage. Liable to succumb, as to persuasion or temptation.

I am a scrapper by nature. A fighter. I'm not particularly calm or patient. To achieve those states I have to be very mindful of where I am, who I'm talking to, what I'm saying - very mindful indeed. I see a situation, figure out what needs to be changed (if anything) and then go change it. No waiting. No coating with sugar. Done.

My years in the martial arts has helped me develop the tools for mindfulness. Being a Motherless Daughter has helped me live and interact with empathy and compassion.

But underneath it all, is the scrapper. Persistent fighter. Never giving up. Vulnerable is not a word in my vocabulary - until I get sick - and then I remember what weakness is.

I HATE getting sick. I remember the first time it happened after Mom passed away. That was a particularly significant moment, because when I was sick, it was Mom who used to take care of me. Rub the Vicks. Turn on the humidifier. Make me stay in bed. Bring the soup and crackers. Feel my head for my temperature. Laugh at me. Give me a kiss. Give me a hug. Tuck me under.

The first time I got sick after she died, I encountered one of those Big Reality Check Moments. Those are moments that come, perhaps well after the initial grief is waning - when you realize all the little things your Mother won't be around for. And most times it's the stupid little things you didn't think of that get you.

Every Motherless Daughter knows that Mom won't be around for weddings, babies or graduations anymore - the big things. But did you think of how it would feel when you recognize she won't be there to help fold the laundry, as she's sticking half way in the dryer searching for that one elusively stupid sock? Or, as in the case of fellow blogger Burfica, when the TV show you watched came on and Mom's no longer there to comment after the credits roll? Her favorite song coming on the radio. Her incessant comments about the most recent color of you hair.

Annoying or not. Irritating or not. These small things are now missing. And you get that gut twisting feeling of realization that she's not here - and she'll never be here to take care of you ever again, to annoy you ever again, to make comments ever again.

When I'm sick, is when I am the most vulnerable. And vulnerability is not a state that I am at all used to. It's then that the loneliness comes and all those thoughts that I usually keep at bay (no lover, no children, no family close) rush in. It makes being sick become more than just snot rags and coughing. When I am sick and feeling vulnerable, it becomes a difficult exercise in reality checks about where I am in life and who is not here. And about the only time one would get me to admit it sometimes sucks being alone.

But here is the saving grace - the flu doesn't last forever (thank goodness!). As long as I stay away from making uber significant decisions when I am at my most vulnerable, after a few days I am okay. And for the first time, as I am sick right now, I am letting myself be okay with my vulnerable feelings. Is it okay to feel sad that there is no one to take care of me but me? Sure is. Is it okay to miss Mom really bad? Yup. Can I watch eight hours of Battlestar Galactica curled up warmly on the couch? Go for it.

And well, maybe it's also time to try something different. While Mom and I had a ritual to do when we were sick, perhaps a new ritual is in order. 'Cause I have to admit, while it was nice having someone bring me soup and crackers, I really really REALLY hated wearing that Vicks!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Blog the Twenty-Second

Make no mistake. The day the Mother dies, is the day your life changes forever.

I hate the hard truth of that.

It feels like a bomb went off - BOOM! vaporizing everything - and as if that weren't enough - its ripples broach the space-time continuum, its waves travel through a worm hole of cosmic proportions, to effect life and the future - ad infinitum.

Something blew up over there. And I am dealing with the consequences of that over here - everyday forever and ever.

Since the day my Mother died, it has always felt like my life split apart.
Two roads diverged in the wood, and I, I was forced to take the one that I didn't ever want, would never have wanted, wouldn't even have guessed could have ever existed. A life without my Mother - it was completely inconceivable.

In the early days, I would be so angry, cursing the state of things. "It wasn't supposed to be like this!" I'd wail. "I was supposed to be something else. I was supposed to be somewhere else. This wasn't how things were supposed to do down. She's supposed to be here. She's supposed to see all this. She's supposed to be alive!"

And yet, she is not.

I often wondered, if I were ever given a time machine, would I go back? Would I go back to change things?

The further along I come in life, and the further away I get from the day of Mom's death, the more I find the answer to the Time Machine question is... no.

Since my Mother's death, so many amazing things have happened in my life. As the years pass, I find it harder and harder to want to give all that up. The kind of person I am, the connections I've made, the people I love, the friendships, the successes - these have all come because I have experienced the death of a Mother.

Perhaps in the beginning, I may have been forced down this path, a life without my Mother. But that was indeed only the initiation, every step of the way after that, has all been my choice.

There will come a time, Motherless Daughter, when you will move from dying, to surviving to living to being your own success. This does not happen over night. The process is always slower than you think it should be. But as the years pass, and your life carries on, you may find that even though the bomb did go off, and that it may continually effect your life, that the flowers are still indeed growing here and there, the trees are indeed mending here and there. Perhaps Motherless Daughter, you'll find that regardless of that you were handed, you are actually making things work out.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Pit Stop

For the 6th Day of Christmas I commented briefly on the myriad questions Motherless Daughters want answers to, and how frustrating it is when those answers just don't come.

While perusing an old issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (April 2001 Vol.2 #4) I came across a bit of interesting advice. It's shared below:

An Open Question

It's not the answers that show us the way, says Czech poet Ranier Maria Rilke, but the questions.

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

-From Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Stephen Mitchell