Krissie: Downer

Photo on 2013-07-11 at 08.52 Don’t bother to read this, guys. I just need to talk a little.
So it’s the anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s not so much her death that bothers me now — she was almost 98, she lived independently (with my help) and she was facing having to live in some sort of assisted living. She was smart and with it until the end. Whatever my unresolved issues with her were, those have faded (at least, pretty much).
I think it’s more that it was the end of a section of my life. The end of my family of origin (only Mini-me is left). And whether I want it or not, I keep thinking of my life so far, and I think mostly of loss (right now, that is).
As I child I was a fixer. I was the strongest — stronger than my siblings (not so much a stronger will — Taffy could be quite fierce when she wanted her own way) but stronger in holding things together. Much stronger and wiser than my parents, even when I was ten. Seriously. At least in terms of emotional intelligence and common sense. And God knows I tried to hold them together. Tried so hard I started trying to kill myself by the time I was in sixth grade.
I think back to my thirties, and how much I desperately wanted to get pregnant. I think back to my forties and the unceasing row of early deaths.
Even the good times make me mournful because they’re over. (No, not all the good times. Just the ones I’m thinking of).
So I think part of it is turning 65. It’s normal to look back at things, take stock. I keep trying to figure out ways things could have been better, but that’s a waste of time. I can’t change it, so why try to figure out? Things hurt.
One of my favorite lines is from The Long Kiss Goodnight — ‘life is pain — get used to it.’
The mother says that to her six year old. And it’s true. It’s full of joy too — but the pain can drown out the joy. (BTW, writers have a bad habit of remembering only the negative reviews, never the raves).
So I’m reliving the pain and the failure. I could never fix things, never make things better, never get what I needed.
(Mind you, I have Richie, which is far more than most people ever have).
But I feel alone. I’ve always felt alone, always looked for family even when I still had a family of origin. I never found the family I needed, and I couldn’t even make the family I wanted. I couldn’t get pregnant, and when I adopted my babies I screwed them up by being way to accepting and loving and not setting boundaries. I wanted to protect them so much I undermined them.
Can’t change that either. At least, I can’t change the past.
I need to let go of the past, but I think I need to process it. Or do I? It seems as if I make sense of it then I can let go. But maybe there’s no making sense of it.
Anyway, the one thing I can remember doing with my mother, from early on, was shopping. She loved shopping, though she only loved cheap stuff. When she took me shopping we had fun.
So I’m going shopping today. Seeing my shrink and then heading off. (I don’t have rehearsals today). I might cry. (Probably will). Might buy an iPad. No rules. Today is for me.
Tomorrow rehearsals start again, and it’ll be a very busy weekend. I’ll worry about that when I get to it.
Today I do what I want, I get over it and move on as best I can.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

18 thoughts on “Krissie: Downer

  1. Maine Betty says:

    Dear Krissie,

    You say, “I need to let go of the past, but I think I need to process it. Or do I?” From what you’ve written in this blog, you have been processing and processing, maybe your whole life. Perhaps you can’t stop, because you can’t get to the happy ending, just the ending. Maybe you’re hoping to re-write it.
    A friend of mine once spoke of giving her mother up to God, as she was dying. She believed that God would ultimately take care of her mother beyond human capabilities. This was an act of faith, and not everyone has that faith, of course. Perhaps you can pass this burden of painful memory to God (as you choose to envision her) and say, “Could you hold this for me for a while? It’s wearing me out.”

    I wish you peace and comfort and rest on this day.

  2. For me there is no processing it, because life is just what it is and we have to enjoy whatever amount of time we’re allotted. And grief is different for all of us.

    You might think I’m nuts, but I say go ahead and have a cry. I think tears are the natural way to soothe our heartache. Cry for whatever reasons, loss of mother, loss of the family that never was, loss of youth…tears soothe and every time you cry you heal one tiny little corner of your heart. Then you snap out of it and think in terms of gratitude for everything you do have, for all of the people in your life who you love and who love you, and then you move on, at least until the next cry. But each time it gets a little better, a little easier.


  3. I need to let go of the past, but I think I need to process it. Or do I? I think the trick is to accept it. Then you can let it go. Processing it only holds it closer to you. Sometimes there is wisdom to be got by processing it, but ultimately one does need to accept and move on.

  4. I think there are people who look back, people who live in the moment, and people who look ahead. I’m an ahead person. There are moments from that past that tap me on the shoulder, and if they’re not great moments, I have to push them away. I’m a control freak and not being able to do a damn thing about the past makes me crazy.

    Not that I can do a damn thing about the future either, but at least it *seems* as if I can. I think you’re a look back kind of person, which is tough since you’ve got a lot of heartache back there. But I’m not sure how to change your view. I’d definitely ask the shrink about it.

    There’s so much beauty around you right now, and in your future. More grandbabies and books and laughter with your sisters. You just have to turn around so you can see it. 🙂

    Blessings for your day, and a hug from down the beach way.

  5. I’m not sure if “all is fair in love and war” is really true. But all is fair in grief. Whatever you need to do, let it flow.

    It’s all good. Letting yourself experience grief is not wallowing, it’s honouring & will help honour your loss, honour the good with your mom, honour the memories, & honour your feelings about the whole lot. And most of all, honour yourself.

    Wishing you peace with it all:)

  6. Carol says:

    At a certain point, I think processing stops being a process and starts being a roadblock, a way to avoid moving forward. At some point (and I do speak from experience here) one does have to say, “there’s nothing I can do about that thing in the past” and let it go. Because one can’t go back and change it, and it will continue to drag drag drag a person down and hold him/her back.

    I have a 60-year-old brother who is still letting some crap from childhood hold him back, and I look at him and it’s just so sad to see how much time and energy he wastes on things that are so far in the rearview mirror.

  7. Jennifer.nennifer says:

    Funny how you tell us not to read your post – like any of us could resist.

    I am all in favor of processing – BUT – I think a person can only do so much on one’s own. If it’s too big a thing, one needs help with it. Hence the shrink, and many other possibilities.

    In the mean time, I join all the rest in sending love.

  8. It’s okay to cry today, as long as you’re not still crying tomorrow, not because you have to “get over it,” but because it’ll be a wasted moment in a glorious life that deserves to be lived to the fullest. Right now, on this day, in this moment, crying for your losses IS living in the moment. But if it’s also the next moment and the next moment, you’ll lose all the glorious moments that make Sister Krissie the Glorious Sister Krissie.

    One of the things that Lani and I used to talk about when we talked about being with you is how the smallest things make your face light up. You just consume life with such joy and energy. I love giving you things because you enjoy every individual thing so much, you hold it in your hands and look at it from every direction and chuckle and pat it and hold it up to the light, you EXPERIENCE everything you see and touch. It’s why shopping with you is such a delight.

    And you do the same thing with the good moments in your life, you laugh loudly and fling your arms open to experience it all . . . when you’re not thinking about the past. The past is gone, it was the prologue to the Now (and you know how I feel about prologues). The grief you’re feeling right now is present and deserves its time, but tomorrow is Eulalie and Richie and flowers and sunshine and the amazingness that is Krissie.

    And next month is ME, damn it. No excuses.

  9. Therese says:

    You know, no matter how old we are when it happens, losing that last parent makes us an orphan — and THAT SUCKS. I’ve been working on this too, processing the loss of my stepmom and then my dad this spring. (My mom died over 30 years ago.) It sneaks up on me, sometimes, and it feels akin to panic, that aloneness.

    I try to process, to figure out the “why” of things I’ve done and situations I’ve been in, too. I keep hoping I’ll figure out what’s missing that I need in order to be happy and satisfied with myself and to stop beating myself up for past failures. I think if I figure that out I’ll get to a place where I won’t screw up anymore and I’ll have “arrived” — and isn’t that the impossible dream?!

    Hugs, to you, Krissie, on this day of remembrance. Wishing you comfort and solace!

  10. I think there’s a point where you can’t process anymore, and you need to move forward. You need to fix things, and I think when there are things in the past you can’t fix, you tend to worry at them endlessly. And the thing is, it’s not an easy answer. You do need to process, a bit, but there’s a point where you have to look forward, too. You’ve been through a hellish few years, and only now is it beginning to let up a bit. That means you need self-care, downtime, and yes… a little processing. You’ll find the right balance for you, but only you can decide what the right balance is. I think the most important thing is that you get the downtime you need, with no one stressing you out. It’s the hard crash, and it comes after such long trials as what you’ve been through the last few years. But you’re on the upswing, and that’s really good.

    Don’t judge yourself. Do what feels right. I trust your inner guide to get you to the right place when you’re ready; I’ve seen her in action, and she’s pretty damn good. 😉

  11. I think that others have said anything I could say. Cry if you want to. Accept and move forward thereafter. Take good care of yourself.

    As someone who spends too much time looking into the past (too much therapy in my life) to try to figure it out and figure out how to “fix” things so I’ll be better now, I understand that. But no matter how much we look into the past, we won’t be able to change things. We just need to start with where we are now, which is the sum total of all that we started with and all that has gone on in our lives.

    Lots of hugs. Take good care of yourself.

  12. Today is totally for crying and wallowing and screaming and laughing and remembering.

    What is there to process? You lived this life. It has brought you to now. You have two kids that you love with every fiber of your being. An incredible life partner who you wouldn’t trade to anyone or for anyone. All of them are blessed to have you. You weren’t and aren’t perfect. Who the heck is?

    Life is more like river rafting than not. There are white water moments that you hopefully can steer through. There are quiet moments that you can contemplate the last trip through the rapids and see how you might be able to do it better the next time although no two white water rapids are the same even when they are on the same stretch of river. The only thing that you have any control of is your reaction to the trip.

    Hmm, perhaps it is then more of a surrendering to the past than a processing of it. Bless it for it has brought you to now and then let it go.

    Namaste, namaste. Reverential salutations to you. May the peace of the higher power be with you now and always.

  13. Kieran says:

    Krissie, we spend our whole lives categorizing the world so we can understand it. We want to understand it so we can survive. And even thrive. But the big joke is that it’s all for naught in the end. Our sheepskin diplomas, our incessant questioning and analysis, our accrual of knowledge won’t protect us from our fate. We’re gonna die.

    And what’s even more ironic is that all along, there was no Other to defend ourselves against anyway. We are One.

    Which means you’re never, ever alone.

    I walked a labyrinth today at Kanuga, an Episcopal camp in the mountains of NC. It was identical to the one at Chartres. And early this morning, I stood on a dock and looked across a foggy mountain lake at a big white Cross nestled in the trees. I didn’t need any symbol to feel that I’m part of something. I mean, it was nice to walk that labyrinth, and the Cross was stunning in its stark simplicity. But Nature was breathing with me, affirming that the Universe–as oblivious as it is to our individual egos–is paying attention to us because we’re family. We’re like that crazy relative who shows up for Thanksgiving dinner uninvited. But we’re all the crazy relative! Every one of us. So you can relax. You’re welcome in this creation. You’re essential to it. You matter. What happens to you, happens to all of us. And vice versa. You’re most definitely not alone.

    (this is all only my opinion which you may feel free to ignore; no proselytizing intended).

  14. WOW. I love what Kieran wrote. I read great comments here and then I think, what can I add? I’ll just say what you know — you’re fabulous. Carpe Diem

  15. Therese, I think you (I) need to accept and love yourself as someone who makes mistakes, and let go of trying to get everything right! It’s something I’m always needing to remind myself of.

  16. Linda says:

    Krissie, we are about the same age, and we both have come from what is now called “dysfunctional families” but which we knew as “normal.” And therein lies the problem. I used to ask when I would get done learning what other people learn in childhood, about unconditional love and acceptance and forgiveness, all of that stuff. Well, the answer is that those early years set us on a more challenging course than some others who take the Beaver Cleaver family type for granted (although I have seen enough in my days that I think that is not all it is cracked up to be, either). I can tell you after years of therapy, I still feel the pain and sadness, still feel guilt for not making my mother “happy,” as if anything on earth could have done that. And like every other person on the planet, I sure have made my share of mistakes.

    We are all mortal. We are here to struggle with pain, loss, suffering, without which we would not know joy. Marianne Williamson once referred to the “three days,” that time of grief and suffering between crucifixion and resurrection. I am speaking metaphorically, not in Christian religious terms, although for believers that three days is at the crux of the faith. What helped me, largely through therapy but also through literature, is coming to see that I don’t owe anyone else my life. We all get to live our lives and make our choices. I am in the midst of a separation/divorce and I struggle with guilt and grief and regret, but in the end, I do not owe that man my life. I did the best I could do, through a period in which my own mother went through a long illnesses and death and in which I lost a dear friend to shocking, sudden death.

    In the midst of my recovery, an astrologer friend told me I needed to sever the cord that bound me to my mother’s unhappiness. He told me to take some symbolic action that would represent turning away from that unhappiness as the central fact of my own life. He said to do that in order to forgive her, and be able to love her without guilt. I see the day I took that action as a break in time. There have been casualties along the way, as some friends and my husband would prefer the person who never had any needs, never said no, and put up with a lot of crap from people who are, as my therapist has said, useless. The other day, I just took out a quilt that my talented, tragic, unhappy mother made and decided that if I don’t enjoy it now I never will.

    It’s all one day at a time. But this blog has been a big part of it as (following the Crusie example) I tapped my retirement to make the home for myself that I want (but without doing carpentry; that is beyond my skills.) So what you are putting out into the world is changing the lives of others whom you don’t even know. It’s not so much processing as learning each lesson and moving on to the next. For the rest of our lives. I send this with love and gratitude for your courage.

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