This week I had quite a few conversations with people that made me feel excited and alive with creative prospects. Eli and I finally started brainstorming ideas for a secret project we’ve been talking about doing for a while, and it’s started to feel real and tangible and exciting. On Wednesday I talked with friends about the possibility of bringing our creative talents together to help each other thrive. I love being a creative, because it’s fascinating to me how one person’s “task” is another person’s “that is what I want to spend my free time doing.” I love that we can be helping each other out by just doing what we do best, enabling each other to thrive in our respective fields.
I had all of these things going right, all of these things to be excited about, and I still felt existential dread. Probably because I so desperately want to be able to follow through on all of these creative opportunities, but at the same time right now my time feels so eaten up with stuff I’d rather not be doing. I want to create. Endlessly, passionately, project after project for the rest of my life. But I need the space for it, and the time to dedicate to it.
As I was driving home from work on Saturday, a heavy fog had settled over Cazenovia. I could barely see a few feet in front of my car, but knew that my only option was to keep driving, and I'd eventually get there. That's how I feel about my life right now. My only option is to keep going, no matter how tedious it might become, and trust in the knowledge that I will reach my destination one day soon. But it just feels so unclear. How do you motivate yourself to keep going when it feels like the road has always been the same (seeped in confusion and uncertainty) and always will be the same? I don’t know, but I guess you just do it.
On Sunday I was woken up by the sound of my phone ringing. It was my Dad, calling to tell me that my Grandfather had died early that morning. I don’t know how I was or am supposed to feel. I spent the day going through the motions: I did yoga, meditated, did a tarot reading, showered, ate breakfast. I sent an email to my boss telling her that I’d probably have to miss a day of work this week and I’d keep her posted. I put away laundry, cleaned my room, ate lunch, made a grocery list and a meal plan for the week, then went to the store to buy the things I needed. I’m not a monster, I am sad. I’m sad that he’s gone, and that a little part of me feels like he was never really here to begin with. That sounds like a terrible, vulnerable, raw thing to say. I’m sad for his wife, my Grandma. I’m sad for his brother, and for anyone else who’s sad for him. I’m sad for me, a girl who has spent a lot of her life trying to figure out how to get her family to love her even though she didn’t love sports and therefore couldn’t speak their language. My family has spent (and probably will spend) a lot of time not saying what they actually want to say to each other. Which I, frankly, see as a waste of time and energy.
“How’s your mother doing?” My Grandfather would ask me, knowing that I’d know and he wouldn’t have to figure out how to ask his daughter that question. I would get mad, and answer some version of “she’s working through it” because I am not a fan of the word “fine.” (Which my therapist says is another way of saying you’re F*cked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Evasive.) Similarly, I feel that saying you are “fine” is another way of lying to people’s faces.
Here's the thing-- my mother's truth was kept from her for almost her entire life. The lies were perpetuated by people who couldn't face their own shit, or simply wanted to be polite. But after seeing what that did to her, how it wound its way around her tightly and threatened to choke her with anxiety and literally poison her body, I'm over it. I refuse to play this game. I refuse to tell the polite half-truths anymore, because it only poisons the polite. We keep the truth inside until it kills us, and we die with it there. Honestly, I'd much rather be the honest asshole than the polite liar.
Somewhere around last year, I lost the ability to speak this unspoken language that my family are such fans of. I stopped being able to hold my tongue, and as a result…I kind of have no filter now. I’m a horrible liar. If you ask me a question, I literally have to answer it honestly, or else I feel sick to my stomach. So I stopped communicating with a lot of my family, because I didn’t know how to speak their unoffensive language anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found me grating— my words are too honest, too sincere, too imperfect, full of rage and truth. I think that’s what attracted my grandfather to me at Christmas, when he was the most emotional I have ever seen him. I looked him in his eyes and I did not lie, and I think he appreciated that.
But I still feel bad for that little nine year old version of me, at a football game with her Grandfather on her birthday even though it wasn’t any fun at all and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep. I’m sad for her, and I’m proud of my mom, and I’m proud of myself for being like her. We face our shit. It might be ugly and raw but at least we own up to it and feel it, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist and letting it eat us from the inside out. I think my sister is becoming like us too. She’s always been a little bit mean, which I think is synonymous with being a truth-teller. People who tell the truth are often perceived as being mean, because the truth sometimes isn’t very polite. On Friday night, I was in therapy when I got a text from her. “Have you heard about Grandpa? …He’s not dead.” She was just texting to say that they were putting him on morphine to control him, he probably wouldn’t live much longer, and that my Dad and brother had gone to see him, and she was home alone with my mom. She wanted to get out, go for a drive, do something. So I invited her to meet me at a restaurant a few minutes from my therapists’ office. We sat there, and she talked for over an hour about everything that was bothering her. What scared me was that everything she was saying were things I was feeling before I moved out. She has to leave, because she has to live her life for her, and sometimes that’s hard in our house. She told me she felt numb about Grandpa, and I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t a terrible person, because she felt it too. I guess the thing I’m most surprised by in all of this is that she reached out to me. She needed me, or wanted to be with me, or thought she could count on me. That’s cool.
As bad as this may sound, my Grandfather’s death has cut through the dense fog that has been clouding everything these past few weeks. Even though the headaches haven't been nearly as persistent and invasive as they were last week, I've still felt this heavy fog inhabiting my head, making me feel like I can't think clearly. Eli's dad says that is very likely a side-effect of the physical condition of my spine, but that doesn't make it any easier. It’s still there, lurking in my periphery. But I can see clearly for right now. I know what I have to do. I have to get up, and go to work, and go to a funeral. And for some strange reason, that makes all the things I want to do that much easier. I know what I have to do, the road is laid out before me. So for some crazy reason, the things I want to do don't seem that hard. Is that insane? It's felt like so many things have been unknown lately, lurking in the shadows these past few weeks. I've been blocked by things that I was literally unable to see, not by any fault of my own. But I feel like it's all out there now. I have all the cards, and now I can look at them and make my moves from there.