Oh sister, my sister. Come sit on my couch under the old white comforter while I stroke your belly and feel for the baby to kick. Come sit on my couch under the old white comforter, where I can rest my head on your soft shoulder, be the child for once. Come sit with me.
I am so attached to the pearls on the string, the beads, the jewels, the narrative, the past, every part of the conversation folds into the next, it is all iterative, cumulative, cumulus clouds now evaporating overhead as I gaze.
The Universe is showing me something this week. Something about girlfriends, friendship, sharing, receiving, opening, growing. Something about reaching out and responding, making the effort, meeting for coffee, snuggling on the couch, laughing about the absurdities and the rage and the judgment and the tears and yes, the laughter.
It has been a full week. I watch myself become The Impatient Mother, inexplicably rushed and tense, terse and agitated, riled, wound up, short-tempered, wtf?! I watch myself push, pull, power-struggle through the mornings and the evenings, a steady stream of commentary running through my head like the train schedule in the biggest of stations, constantly switching out its departures and arrivals, the letters and numbers falling, changing, in constant motion, hard to pin down yet predictable at the same time. I watch myself react – to my mother, to my mother-in-law, to my husband, to my kids, to myself, to the checkout lady at K-Mart, to Christmas, to traffic, to everything.
And I watch myself soften. In yoga last night, after twenty, maybe thirty minutes of vinyasa practice, finally seeing myself, seeing that I have a choice, and then making the choice, stepping into it, half-moon, opening, balancing, strong, quiet, steady breath.
Watch myself learn, learn by sharing and connecting, by having coffee with friends who are women, who are mothers and wives. Watch myself change, shift, grow. I saw it this morning with Aviva, when I said, You know what, V? I think you’re old enough to be in charge of your own medicine in the morning (nothing major, but it’s a daily dose). It’s no fun for either of us, me nagging and hovering, setting timers and taking away movies, and you know why your medicine helps your body. So what do you think? From now on, it can be your responsilibity to drink it. Yes, I watched myself this morning, excited to try out some of the ideas and strategies gleaned from sitting and talking and being with other mamas, friends. And I saw her, saw her grow a little in that moment. Saw her empowered, saw us connecting, each of us feeling seen.
I watch myself with Greg, with the clock ticking, the minutes passing: thought he’d be home by now, five, ten, twenty, forty-five minutes ago. I feel my heart bang against my breastbone and hear my mind kicking into gear, ready for a war I’m afraid to wage and don’t really want to fight anyway, trying to breathe and stay and let go and forgive and appreciate what kind of day he has had, how hard he is working. Et cetera.
It is hard for me to say anything when I’m upset or angry. I am working on it, over years, over a lifetime. Knowing that the world won’t end, my marriage won’t end, I won’t die, things will return to harmony, if I show my anger. These are old, old stories. Practically mythic.
Anyone who knows us knows that Greg and I live and die by talking, processing, communicating. It doesn’t always happen effortlessly or immediately, but it happens eventually – this much I can count on, and if a day comes when I can’t, that will signal a major development, or devolution maybe, in our marriage. One of the things I know for sure is that we don’t throw the radioactive waste in the backyard. We discard it properly, safely, thoroughly. (Can you compost that?) But when it’s me carrying it, it sometimes takes days for me to show him, open my mouth and expose myself. Old fears, never any shortage of practice.
Stories. We tell them, they tell us. We become them, they ensnare us. We step back and see, see oh yes, how obvious it is now, that cell door I’ve been pounding on wasn’t even locked.
Where was I? Where am I?
Here, here, here. Hineni, I am here. Oh! I am loved. It surprises me everytime, hearing those three words – “I love you.” It doesn’t surprise me when I hear them from Greg or my kids or my mother or father or sisters. It surprises me when I hear them from friends, from girlfriends, women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, friends from far and wide, near and far, online and in town, old and new, friends in Chicago and Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, Burlington and beyond, friends singing into my voice mail, messages that end with that surprising, “I love you.”
Really? Me? You?
At a certain point, let’s face it, in the face of so much mounting evidence, doubt escapes the prison block along with the stories I was so bound up in, the stories that were utimately escapable, like Houdini in handcuffs, a straitjacket with a strategy. And I know that it is true: I am loved. Bella loves me. Nyarkoa loves me. Jennifer loves me. Jessi loves me. Maybe you even love me. And you know what? Get this. It’s beautiful. I love you, too.