Thursday, March 22, 2012
They say to whisper if you want someone to hear you, but I scream. It comes out impulsively. Loudly. I cover my mouth. I am working on breathing first, taking a moment. Using a husky voice. There is no reason to not sound sexy when you are trying to get your point across.
You know this is true. Practice this yourself by screaming, "Don't Fuck with Me!" Then whispering it like Kathleen Turner. In the former, you sound like a shrieking harpy. In the other, you sound like Batman.
This also works with "Knock it off, clowns."
They say to whisper if you want someone to listen. It is like a philosophy. The whisper approach. Screaming becomes the drone of loud. Nothing sinks in. It is just anger, and distance. With whispers, the person leans in close to your face, trying to hear. Your kids even stop what they are doing and come close.
You state your intent in a hushed but stern voice. You don't perform a soliloquy. You just state it.
Clean. Up. Your. Toys.
I used to be a screamer, throwing blame and wine glasses and God, I want to whisper. I want to be cool, lean glass of water, back against the wall. An unlit cigarette dangling from my lip. I am a Jet. Or a Shark. Or a greaser of undisclosed affiliation.
I am the opposite of aloof. I am loof. I am an emotive wild thing, moschate and feral. I lash out and turn in. I become desperate when someone leaves me, screaming their name, screaming apologies, screaming meaningless promises. I scream and whisper and stop crying when I am really hurt.
I can't find my footing always. I admit it. I am a changeable thing. A hippie and gypsy and punk rocker and scabby and a conservative astronaut's wife with a high bouffant hairdo and a secret lover on the other side of town. Attracted to the dark more than the light. I shoot out the light with a .45 then rally against gun control. I am a hypocrite.
I am none of those things, or all of them. There is a truth in both of those statements. There is a pathology in striving to be the best. I am even the best when I am the worst. It is the extreme of arrogance. In my mind. I am the worst of the worst. The best worst person you know. But I am not a bad person at all. I am just a person.
One of my favorite lines in any book is Franny and Zoey, where Franny says, "I'm sick of not having the courage to be absolutely nobody."
I can only forgive someone after I forgive myself. I realized this the other day when something turned for me. I only recently realized that I had been obsessing about a situation I could not control. Obsessing was a kind of control, another kind of addiction. In my happiest moments, when the kids were giggling and running and playing and my entire family sat together, I was thinking about something else. About failure and injustice and sentences never spoken, paths never taken. There was a healthy dose of self-pity in there.
I finally surrendered. I prayed for sleep the other night, as I do every night. I prayed to turn this situation over, to give it to God, or the universe, or to the little Brownies who fix my shoes in the middle of the night. I asked them to fix it. I asked to find a way to be of use to my family without this in my head. I asked to stop obsessing. I asked to find a resolution And I had a vivid dream. In it, I forgave myself for not being what I could not be.
I am sorry you failed, Angie. I am sorry someone doesn't like you. I am sorry that you couldn't do better. I am sorry you are going to have to live with that for the rest of your life. I am sorry.
My standards are impossibly high. I could have never met them. And right after forgiving myself, I forgave the other person. I met her in this dream, and said I won't ever understand, but I am done screaming in my head. I am done screaming at you, though you are not here. I am done.
I can only let go when I an fully defeated, when I surrender. There are paradoxes which have become truths for me. Surrendering means to put down the gun and never try to get it back. Don't look at it. Don't reach for it. Don't imagine it in your hands. You are ready to sit on a roadside and take direction. You are done fighting. You are following, looking at the tops of your shoes, waiting for the next direction.
It was a whispered atonement. Only audible to you.
I haven't known how to be in this body. I feel like I am being poured into it, still. Like the water of me remembers being in an athletic body. I look at my face, comfortable with the lines starting to form, the darkness under the eyes, but the second chin. I can't bear. This body is a strong thing. Angry. Carnal, and sweaty and hairy and begging for roughness, but I feel knit up in soft angora with padded shoulders, padded belly.
I have never worn pink. Well, once, I had a shirt that was dusty rose, but I looked naked and a man fell off a bike once thinking I had no shirt on. I hang our laundry on the line. The laundry is all black, except my husband's stuff, which is all grey. He says it is our family uniform. Grey t-shirt, broken in jeans. It is a whisper of an outfit, something someone wears so noone notices them.
It is unseasonably warm here, which is just as well with me. I love winter, but the humidity and wind chimes remind me of happier times, or the happiest times. I close my eyes and listen to the chimes, feel the breeze over me. I am warmed by that feeling of happiness.
I was so cold after she died, like the winter solstice took residence in my bones. I wore sweaters in August, bundled under blankets. I shivered. It was grief and thyroid, but mostly grief.
A few weeks ago, I was watching Oprah's channel, and this man, a famous movie director, was talking about happiness. He was incredibly wealthy. He bragged about his holdings, his material success, his servants, and estate caretakers. He bragged about his marble and large estate. It was never enough, and the headache of managing it all took up so much mental real estate, it hardly seemed like happiness. He sold his mansions and cars for a couple of modular homes, no bigger than my house. He gave his money away, I think. He did this after a biking accident. And he said something that I keep thinking about.
He said something like I have never been more happy than happy. When I was poor and happy, it was the same as being rich and happy. The happy was not greater or more fulfilling when I had money.
My happiness is different than my youthful happiness. My poverty-stricken happiness. It is different because I have the gratitude to stop in the moment and whisper a thank you, or appreciate the happiness. I thought my happiness was forever when I was 19. I was always going to be on this scale of happiness--somewhere between happy, but bored and happy. Then Lucy died, and happiness changed for me. Happiness seemed like one state that I didn't have directions to. Except now, I am happy.
I think this doesn't go the other way, though. Sadness has levels, degrees of suck. But happy is not more or less. It simply is.
My father is out of the hospital, his infection is better. Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts. He is back to being a loving curmudgeon and leaver of obscure phone messages.
"Hello, Angie. It is Tom. I don't have my, uh, thing."
Tell me what you think about forgiveness and happiness and everything in between.