Thursday, November 10, 2011

an arm

I have an arm. It is this long.

It is the length of you from me. It is the length of a bourbon from my lips.


When I hear the word bourbon, I get all misty-eyed. I miss cracking the wax. I admit it. I miss the smell. I miss the burn, and the vanilla aftertones. After all, I drank bourbon primarily until I stopped drinking. The expensive kind. The small batches. Don't get me wrong, I probably would have drank the Thunderbird, but times were never that tough for me.

I am romancing the drink. You are witnessing it. The old drunks warn you about it. "Don't romance the drink. A drink is only an arm's length away."

Everything is only an arm length's away, Old Man. Self-pity is only a chewed fingernail length away.

My ass is still tender and mostly asleep from the terrible chairs in the basement tonight. But the stories were good tonight, the hope. I feel inspired to stop whining about my beautiful life and the state of my old ass. Then I come here and write it all back. Another shitty day in paradise. When I talk about connecting with people, it disconnects me from others. I am awkward. My arm is straight out and I am measuring people's distances from me. I hold onto my magical deer horn necklace.

Help me know, Magical Antler, whether I should just stop now. The first step is to admit that I am powerless over blogging.

I put out my arm. It is long for a woman my size. I keep blogging. I shake a hand. This is real life I am talking about now. I try to draw them closer, but I don't know how without typing my words. I am friendly, but awkward. Most people don't notice the awkward, they are simply pleased about the friendly. I am good at hiding the awkward. The church basement people know nothing about my daughter's death, or any of the other stuff. Sometimes when I think I have had a hard life, I tell someone about Lucy, and then they tell me about how they lost their child, then another, and their wife, then after some years of grief drinking, they lost their home, their car, their job. There is a lot of grief. You hear it night after night if you listen. It is sandwiched in between normal drinking and suicidal. My particular story sounds like someone who hasn't ever really suffered.

My dead baby. Boo hoo. And my expensive liquor. Boo hoo.

I have an arm. It dislocates when I move it like this.

Son Of A...God, that pain. All I can pay attention to is the pain of that...arm...and the weight of its length.
Is there a wall to bang into? Or a floor? 

Oh, right, OUCH, I am standing on it. I feel the hole in my shoulder, and the hole in my soul. I don't like you getting close to my arm hanging uselessly by the skin, except I want you close because i need help with this blasted arm.
Oh, that is better, Arm. You in socket is better than you out of socket. 

It is so painful out that the relief of having it in is worth the pain of the out.  It is the Catch-22 of masochism. I like the pain when it stops, perhaps because it stops, but then I want to go right back into the pain so it can stop again. Perhaps I am a masochist at heart. After all, I have a hole in my soul.  I fill it with things that hurt, including the not-you.  I fill it with self-pity and overindulgent grief and impatience and righteous indignation and justified anger. I fill it with booze and ice cream with sea salt and coffee. I have a hole in me, and I want to fill it with my bloody arms and my goodness and my serenity and God.

I sometimes stay up late and stare at her picture. It doesn't change. I have changed however. She is differently beautiful. I wouldn't trade her for a live baby anymore. I wanted that baby, Lucia, and that baby happened to come dead. I don't get to trade places with people, or get a different life. This is fucking it. She is dead. I am not. I will reconcile that for the rest of my life. Her death doesn't mean I am special and get special rules about the world. It means I now have to learn decency while narcissistically obsessed with my dead daughter. It is so depressing to keep coming to the same obvious conclusion, but I need to remind myself. My default mode is self-pity and self-justification. That is what happens when you have a hole in you.

I lost many friends from the awkwardness of grief from the expectations that led to resentments that led to confrontations that led to me having an arm. And it is very very long.


  1. I've come to believe we are all inherently awkward. Some are just better at faking it than others.

    (OK. Maybe .01% of the population really has their shit together, but I don't know any of them)

  2. Bloody hell Angie. What a post! All of it! Strength to you and the bourbon at arms length and the pain of that arm.
    But, those last two paragraphs. Oh.My.Lord. What power in that. You took the words right out of my mouth.
    I still (at almost a year) believe that having a dead baby gives me a leave pass for everything, and entitles me to...well.
    I know that that will get tired one day and others will get tired of me being like that.


    xxx Loved this xxx

  3. My arm to your arm. Finger tip to finger tip. A lifetime of reconciliation. A lifetime. Just sending you all the love I can muster. xo

  4. You write so beautifully and through your grief and everything your humour shines through. Hang in there, sister.

  5. Angie- what a great post. At arms length... Yes to that. I just want to say I've been reading and cheering you on, even though I don't comment all the time. I was just reading over on another blog and your comments rang so true for me. About friendships... But, I wanted to say to you... we must try to forgive ourselves and what happened to us so that we can be present and with our selves, and really we must sit with our suffering while we listen to another's joy because being a loving person and fully present will open our eyes to being a better human being. Being 2.5 years out form my tragedy, I am able to see this, certainly not after 5 months, when that empty arm feeling is heavy and engulfing. Also, on another note, how did you get through pregnancy after loss? I am 33 weeks now, and each day is a struggle. Keep writing, I'll be reading. thanks.

  6. Sometimes I feel it is here online where I am most awkward. In my emails, comments and blog posts. I sometimes think I can be more "normal" in real life, but that's the thing with that place, we don't often (or ever) get to see each other in person.

  7. Narcissistically obsessed - Are you really? Is it narcissism to feel? To acknowledge the hole in your soul? it hurts to acknowledge it, to try and live with it when the accepted way is to pretend otherwise or move on quickly or fill that hole with smiles and "everything is fine" or silence. But hurting is living, as is not hurting or (somedays even) feeling abso-bloodo-lutely fantastic.

    It is hard, but i would rather feel. I don't think I will ever regret feeling. And i would take the 'narcissistically obsessed' (even though I can barely spell it) feeling Angie any day with her beautiful words, weaving together her pain and honesty and joy with life, over an Angie who does not even see she has an arm - despite using it all the time.

    Much love to you. You are amazing - and that is my Irish reticence talking. x Louise

  8. I think I sometimes keep myself at arm's reach.

  9. Yeah but what a lovely, hard-earned arm it is. Everyone who's hovering outside of it's reach is missing out.

  10. I've thought about this post every single day since you published it. I still don't have an adequate response. I just keep reading it over and over.

    I can only echo TracyOC, who as usual has said it better than I ever could, it's a lovely arm and it was hard won. And you are far, far, far too hard on yourself.

    (waves over continents with a long, and occasionally dislocated, arm)


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