Sunday, December 27, 2015

Life in Reruns

I've gotten off-track.

I don't even know specifically what I'm referring to as I say that. My lack of friends. My growing stress about my job. Or the goals I set in July-- like writing in this blog more-- and how long it's been since I've worked on them.

I'm not sure what I mean when I say it, but I feel like it's true, and the crux of the issue. I've gotten off track. Somewhere, somehow, I need to get back on.

Today, I decided to write the first draft of an essay I plan to pitch to xoJane, a website that features writing from expressive, emotionally vulnerable female writers who want to share their experiences. It seems like a good fit for me, because, at my deepest levels, at my selfie-est self, writing is important to me. I don't do it much anymore, and I guess that's because, well, sometimes it seems like a luxury. Taking time out of my day to write about my thoughts and feelings and experiences. About ME and MY point of view, and not about my son, and not about my job. That feels like something I could afford when I was younger. That feels like something I don't really have time for now.

Except that I can't afford not to do it not. My life keeps whizzing by me, my feelings and experiences, but I don't remember anything from the last five years as clearly as I remember the things that happened when I took the time to set put them down in words, to process them and work with them. And I'm falling, I think, into a pattern where what I am, what I want to be, seems secondary to...I don't know, the things I think I should want, maybe. Things that are other people's values, I guess.

I don't know. I'm all mixed up. But I guess, once you get to motherhood, life is so much about guilt. When you don't spend enough time with the baby, when the kitchen isn't cleaned. When you're more the breadwinner than you are the active parent, but you go to work too exhausted to really do a good job.

The point is, this site-- xo Jane-- and the idea of getting published to it, gives me a good excuse to write: some money here and there that can be used to pay for things that my family needs, and therefore makes the act of writing less selfish. Because I need writing. I always have. To get through my day, and then to remember it well. To internalize the lessons I learned. Or at least, when I don't, to look back them and realize that I'm repeating history.

And I am. I decided, after writing a draft for xo Jane, to flip randomly through some posts and try to find something that might be fodder for another essay, if they accept this one. And I found this post.

"Take a friendship, one that's seen better days. Two people. A connection. Maybe one or both of them has gotten off the track. Maybe one of them seems to have stopped trying to find it again. And maybe the other says some things that she can't frankly remember whether or not she was right to say.
What he needs to understand is the way it feels to watch from the sidelines as something you care about lets go. What he needs to understand is that not putting forth that effort is like spitting in her face, telling her that something she loves isn't worth his time. 
"Tough Love" is kind of the ugly stepchild of love. It's underappreciated, it looks different, and people act like it's not even a part of the family. There's this criteria to love that we, the media-minded, have put in play. It's gotta be soft yet supportive. It's gotta be intense but joyful. It's gotta be Barbie Dreamhouse pink and in frilly cursive lettering. It's gotta be a hallmark card or a teddy bear or a hug. 
Whatever it is, it's certainly got nothing to do with concepts like "the truth hurts" or "it takes someone who cares about you to tell you what you don't want to hear." It's not about making someone take their medicine when they're sick, even if it tastes bad; making them clean up a mess when it's theirs. It's about politely ignoring someone's faults, even if they're more like fault lines. Whatever it is, it's definitely can't be looking someone straight in the eye and telling them they not only can do better, it's their responsibility to. 
Later, if she is alone, she will wonder about all the things she was supposed to understand: how much he was hurting, how lost he felt. She'll have plenty of time to think about all the years between them and plenty of reminders in case she's not inclined: christmas songs they used to dance in the street to; phrases they used to use with each other over and over again, movies they watch, plans they made. Promises they made. She'll have plenty of time to think about those, and, without him there to force her to be defensive, she'll wonder. How much of what she said was below the belt, how much of what she did was in his best interest. How much of what she felt was really about him. 
She won't have answers. Without him there, all she has is the questions."

It's a post about Jeff and I, about a fight that we got into a long time ago-- more than eight years, apparently. The thing about it is, I purposely wrote it in very general terms, so appeal to my audience, to make it relatable to an experience they might be having.

I did a good job: today, I am my audience. Today, Jeff and I are once again not talking. And today, that post relates to us exactly.

There is absolutely nothing in those words that I couldn't have written today, or six months ago. There's absolutely nothing that isn't precisely how I would explain the situation, right now.

Maybe it's time to go back and looked at how it resolved all those years ago. Things have caustic this time, the way he acted makes me feel so angry. Like he's not the person he was, like maybe he's not someone worth going back for.

Maybe it's time to read more posts. About he and I. About what we were when we were at our best. About the things I reference in that post-- the dancing the streets, the plans and the promises. Maybe if I can find that, and remind myself of it, I can find the will to really be sorry, because I can't tell if I am, right now. I can't tell if I'm more sorry than I am angry.

Maybe if I go back and read the years and years of our friendship that this blog immortalized, I'll find the thing that is stronger than both my anger and his. Tougher than the "tough love" I talk about in that post and deeper than that hallmark card stuff.

Maybe if I go back, I can find the person who had more concern than she had anger, and more love than she had pride. Maybe, if I can go back, I can find myself.

Maybe that's the reason I need writing. The reason I've needed it all along.

On with it.