Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Weeping Warrior

As the swirl of emotion dances across the water, I stand immobilized. It occurs to me that I live right in the crux of opposing forces; the very intersection of conflict and release. Along that razor's edge of nurture and destruction, pain and pleasure, love and hate, storms dance and pull their weight around me. There I stand, right at the crossroads, staring down each direction, trying to keep my bearing. Where was I going again?

Balance is a misnomer. We only recognize balance once we're grossly off-balance.

2:46am. Wedding ring lies resting on his bureau. Child lightly stirring in her sleep, I hear her through the wall that divides us. I am alone in a house of three.

All I can hear running through my head is, "you're a failure, you're a failure, you're a failure…" like some snotty punk at recess.

I take the jabs, too weak to resist, my defenses stripped bare.

One of the first strategies I taught my daughter was how to deflect the occasional insensitivity of toddlers. "No! I don't believe you" was a powerful tool she learned to sling back to defend her self-respect.

I, however, am too worn to stop the tape. Words echo through my hollow chest as the let down threatens to drown me.

I haven't been able to monetize my work. I've been out of the game, keeping house. Failing at procreation. Floundering on the page. Losing my edge, my body, my power, my income stream and thus my self-respect. Visions of a stalled session-singer career not to mention a failed recording career, burned by the high-maintenance private chef world, add in college drop-out, no household name, oh yes, then there's the mother, the non-relationship with the brother, one sketchy-at-best tie with the father, and now, perhaps, our marriage is crumbling. The fault lines are everywhere pointing failure, failure, failure: middle-aged, overweight, broke, failure. What am I going to do with myself? Myself with child? What is it exactly I do?

Scanning Craigslist for anything, I don't see myself there.

"You have enough energy to light up St. Louis," echoes back the conversation that began my unraveling.

Yes. True. Amazing energy. Optimism. Vision. Strength. I can support everyone in their time of need. But take? Receive? Get paid for it? Who me?

It has become a knee-jerk reaction to help others, so deep I can't stop it: I brainstorm and assist with their business strategies, hours upon hours at the preschool, this committee, that committee, the neighborhood school, taking on the public schools, emailing distressed parents, offering assistance, sharing tips, helping, rebuilding, donating time, energy, resources. Crisis with a friend? I'm there. Babysitting rescue? Sure. Shuttle service? Of course. Mama stresses? Bring it on, I hear you. I can cut through to the essence, provide support, guidance, a shoulder, an ear, a hug, a cocktail, a meal, Kleenex, whatever you need. But me? Who do I have?

I am bent from weeping, hollowed out from so much nurturing. I can't solve my own problems. I can't see my own forest. I am attacked for my thoughts, my strengths, I scare people away. I've scared me away. I've run for the hills.

Who do I call at 2 in the morning? Who can I trust to ease my burdens who isn't already buckling under the weight of their own?

I scan the circles of women I've known who've popped like so many soap bubbles. Sororities, like ideas, that came and went.

The person I have built the strongest relationship with, the man I care, trust, have deep respect for and love the most…my partner…I no longer feel safe with. No he'd never physically hurt me, but the words...I fear my words will be used against me, come back to haunt me…so no, I don't feel safe. I am not ready to share myself with him right now. I know this saddens him, but I cannot. Not now. Not tonight. My words are tied up.

Like a little sapling, I feel vulnerable to fierce winds. I want to contain myself in a lame attempt at self-preservation.

So sad. I feel so sad. My heart down to my knees, my knees buckle and fall. I am blank. What do I do? Where do I go? What are we doing? Remind me again what I'm doing?

I have nothing and no plan. I scan my possessions. It's embarrassing. On paper, I am nothing. I have a house in his name, a daughter asleep down the hall, and a husband who one week is threatening divorce, and the next plotting our retirement together. I am dizzy, tired, hollow. Sapped at the root. Unsure. Too many mixed messages.

A Weeping Warrior, I stand bent over. Hollowed and taken.

It's the wound now. The primal Mother wound. There she is. The black hole. The one who couldn't nurture anyone, not even herself… and the seething anger, the resentment, her bitterness ate her alive. The wound that made my own mother snap and fall in, taking us along with her.

I must not fall in. That hole of emptiness, blackness, disconnection, death.

I am looking right at it, holding it in my hands, cupping and fingering it, weeping. So close, so far away, so lost. I am nothing. Invisible. Rootless. Useless in its power…

No, not tonight.

Tenderly, I take it and wrap it in it's innermost sleeve of delicate pink silk, then an extravagant throw of deep burgundy velvet. Next, strapping belts of rich brown suede to cinch and secure it tightly. A layer of thick plastic makes it water tight followed by rolls and rolls of muslin, gauze-like, wound around and around, around and around, until it is certainly mummified. A thick layer of shellac seals the deal, and I bury it under the earth. Tamping lightly, noticing the blood and dirt under my fingernails, I spray them under the garden hose as water floods the loose soil beneath my feet.

Bury the hole. Back in black. Black to blackness. Return.

Back in bed, 2:46am. Nowhere to go. No one to call. Who would hear me anyway? I can't organize a thought, let alone a word.

I shut the light and pull the covers up over me, curling into a ball.

Teeth grinding, I assume the position.

I lie still.

Waiting for rest to come and take me, I ride out the storm.


Jerri said...

Oh, Tanya. This beautiful, powerful piece breaks my heart into jagged pieces.

I have SO been there. I know it will not help much for me to assure you that you're not a failure. And yet I must, must say it anyway. Look at your strengths, girl. Look at your life as though it were the life of a troubled friend or loved one. You'll see success shining through the cracks, all over the place.

What gorgeous images you've written here--gorgeous despite their ugly, painful reality.

much love,

Prema said...

All I can say to this warrior look at warrior truth is: in solidarity, my friend, let us have mercy. Have mercy. When the winds rip and the punks stand on your back and hover, have mercy.

I know there is one in you that sees. I know she sees deeply, beyond this suffering. I am calling to her.

Under the weight of this kind of internalized scrutiny, of course the anger, of course defeat. Have mercy.

I really, really get it. So much so that it's a little freaky that you wrote it and I didn't. Not now anyway. But I could have. I get it.

So...I sense that you are around the bend some, that the storm has passed a bit. I hope. I'm sending out a prayer for medicine, in whatever form you need, to come to you.

And (sidebar) beautiful, true writing.