Note: I wrote this post back in November, almost 8 months ago. I never felt that the time was right to publish it. But now, in light of it being Father’s Day, and even though I already posted today, I’m going to just hit “Publish”. I doubt my dad will ever read it, nor do I really want anyone else to read it. I just have to put it out there.
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This is a post that I have been meaning to write for several weeks. I’m not sure where I’ll go with it, or how long it will take to publish, but it’s been on my mind so I guess I just have to get started. And, really, it’s more of a post for myself than for any reader, so I may not ever even publish it. We’ll see.
Until becoming a parent, and even until very recently, I never realized how much my parents did for me. How much they had to change their lives, how much they had to sacrifice, how much they probably lost of themselves.
I’m a person with mood swings. Depending on who you are and what role we play in each others’ lives, you might even say that I have severe mood swings. So much so that when I was in high school I was wrongfully (I hope) diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was eventually identified more accurately as depression, and even more specifically, as dystonia. Basically, I’m just always a little bummed out, some times moreso than others. Why do I explain all of this? To give you a snippet of background into the “real me”, to help explain why sometimes I feel that EVERYTHING sucks, even the perfectly balanced combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
There are, and have been since about the time I started bleeding at 11, days when I feel worthless, overwhelmed, annoyed, and like I’ve never been competetent enough to make a good decision in my life. Days when I indulge in self-loathing, feelings of disappointing my parents, of not living up to my potential, of not even having potential in the first place, of not having talent, of being overwhelmed and dissatisfied with every facet of my life. Of being completely apathetic. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve days. Days when I wonder why I ever got married. Days when I wonder why I never had the guts to move to New York or South America. Days when I can’t think of a single interesting thing to say or do. Days when I know in my heart that I will be a big, glaring disappointment to my child(ren). There are days when I flat-out hate myself, and can’t imagine why anyone would love or respect or admire or want to spend time with me. Days when I can’t stand anyone around me.
These are the days when nothing will pull me out of my funk. These are the days where I need to seclude myself in a homy, cozy, candle-lit cave with my journals, a completely selfless masseuse, and a bed in which I may hide and hibernate until I feel the clouds have passed. These are days where I wish I were living in a remote country indulging in a yoga, surf and writing retreat. These are days where I can see no silver lining anywhere near my cloud.
Though I’m in the most amazing part of my life so far, the circumstance in which I find myself nowadays leaves me very little room for “me time” so I have very rare occasion for replenishing my soul. I often feel like I’ve lost my soul all together. I often see the darker side of the coin and ignore the beautiful things all together. I take them for granted.
I know, I know, this is a very self-indulgent kind of tirade, and I’m not saying it because I feel it now. I’m saying it now because I have a few minutes to myself. Which brings me, finally, back to the original intent of this post…sort of.
About three weeks ago, I was at my wit’s end. I was done. I couldn’t handle any more wailing cries of “MOMMY!!!” punctuated by pants-dropping climbs up my legs. Everything that hubby said provoked a snide remark or a full-blown argument out of me. I couldn’t muster the energy to take a shower, or pick up the clutter in our apartment, let alone feel satisfied with my life. The only thing I could think to do, and which I told hubby was absolutely imperative, was to go to a yoga class. And I think he was tired of hearing me bitch, so he stayed home with the baby so I could go.
This sounds simple, but, trust me. It’s not.
I usually relax the moment I walk into the studio. Just knowing that I’ve got an hour to myself — to relax, to meditate, to not pick up someone’s dirty laundry or scrub peanut butter and jelly off the couch, to breathe — is usually enough. Usually by the time I set my intention I’m ready to let it all go and treat myself to an hour of mindlessness if not bliss. This time, though, it took me a good 15 minutes for my mind to even settle down and stop being pissed off about everything. I had to create and meditate on a mantra of “inhale acceptance, exhale strength, inhale peace, exhale love”.
All I could see was how depleted I was. How much I’ve sacrificed. How much of myself I’ve given up. Lost. I’m no longer the person I used to be who people thought was interesting, enigmatic. I’m not the person whom guys find attractive anymore. I’m a frumpy wife and mom. My young and single, or, as my dad would say, “footloose-and-fancy-free”, days are long gone, and sometimes I wish I would have whooped it up a little more than I did. Had a few flings, had a few more adventures, done something meaningful that I would have been proud of. I wish I would have had a great career that I had to give up to raise a family. But on these days when I hit the bottom, I realize that not only did I never have a career, but I never did anything that I can proudly tell my kids about when they ask who I was before they were born, before I married their daddy. I’m not proud of anything I’ve ever done, baby aside. I can expound on this more, but again I’ve swayed from the point.
Somewhere about half way through the class I let go and just let the yoga and the breath take over. I started to relax, to find myself again, and then, when we were doing our final spinal twists before svasana, when the challenging poses were past and the sweating had ceased and the heart had started to return to its normal, humdrum and rhythmical beating, I suddenly felt a wave of extreme sadness. But this isn’t just any old sadness, it’s a sadness which I’ve experienced many times before but have never been able to totally put a finger on. I feel it every now and then, but still I can’t label it. It’s a sadness within which I feel totally alone. Totally helpless and desperate, but, oddly, not entirely depressed or hopeless. It’s not wholly negative, and I might even say that it’s an enjoyable sadness. It’s like a deep nostalgia, but for nothing in particular. It’s a terribly conflictive emotion, one which I’ve never shared with anyone. It’s a state of mind in which I feel terribly alone and helpless and despondent, but it’s also got a deep, underlying feeling of love, of a beautiful sadness which I intuitively understand has been felt throughout centuries, a feeling of beat poets and street musicians. But it’s a feeling which I do not have the eloquence to explain, let alone share with my closest loved ones, as it comes off as straight depression, judgmentalism, a bringer-down; and to try to express this feeling to someone who does not experience it is impossible. I want to hoard this feeling until I find someone who understands it. It’s a feeling where my deepest despondency and ennui begin to look toward a glimmer of hope.
As I first started to feel the hints of this intricate emotion, we eased into svasana, and this song came on the teacher’s ipod that was beautiful. I don’t know the song, I don’t know the artist, but somehow I think the chorus rang something like “all of the beautiful people, daddy, daddy.” I listened to this music with all of my heart, and I felt it, and I embraced it, and for some reason, it made me want my daddy. (Okay, a quick internet lyric search led me to understand that the song was Rusted Root’s “Beautiful People” from 1994. I’ve never heard this song before, and it’s nearly 20 years later. What an amazing song!
So, I lay there, listening to this song, and then to another relaxing, though nothing-special song, and I had tears running down my temples. Had I allowed myself, I could have been in a full-on sob within three minutes. I suddenly became aware of my surroundings, but I felt this strong, vulnerable emotion. This place I had never been before. There was something about the daddy, daddy lyric that really got to me.
I’ve always been close to my mom, but my daddy…that’s a whole different relationship. Now that I look at the lyrics, I realize the song doesn’t really equate, but really, does that matter? Just listen to it.
So then, I go home, feeling all emotional, but also full of the abovementioned sentiment and therefore completely alone, and Hubby goes to work, and I put in my Netflix movie, and what is it? Biutiful.
If you’re ever feeling in a mood like I’ve described above, this movie is for you. It’s about all kinds of things, but at the time I saw it, the glaring thing I saw was fatherly love. Fatherly sacrifice. I won’t go into the details of the movie, but by the time it was over I was crying.
Suddenly I felt like indulging in the emotions, I guess, because I got this hare-brained idea to watch the old 8mm videos that my dad put on DVD for me years ago.
Did I forget to mention that I had cracked a bottle of wine to sip on by myself during this entire emotional ordeal?
So, I put in the DVD marked “1974-1979”. Harmless enough, right? Well, I proceeded to watch the silent, jerky, fuzzy and choppy videos from the first days of my Mom and Dad’s life together. But it’s not their “Life” together that I was looking at. It was their “Lives” coming together to create a life.
It’s obvious, I know, but I never really thought about it. When my parents got married, they merged their lives into one. I watched them exchange vows. I watched them do the dollar dance. I watched my grandparents socialize with their new family. I bawled my eyes out. The majority of the people in the videos are gone. My uncle’s ex-wife who died in a car accident made an appearance. My cousin, six months older than me and wrought with teenage angst and adolescent drama, made an appearance as a beautiful little baby boy. Cousins who were teenagers in the video are now people with teenagers of their own.
There was one little bit where Dad taped Mom wrestling with a puppy — a puppy whom I only knew as a scraggly old dog when I was a child. Dad was skinny and had a lot of hair. Dark hair. Mom was skinny and looked like a teenager.
Then suddenly they had a little baby with them. She was adorable, if I do say so myself.
But at some point it dawned on me that those two people with the little baby, the skinny, young, smiling couple who look like they’re always having so much fun, are my parents. And now I’m 34. And they’re in their 60s.
I had one of those zoom-in moments where reality comes and smacks you upside the head. I’m at the exact place in my life where my parents were in these videos, only, I’m older.
It’s fucking depressing. And then a hard dose of reality hits me.
I’m not invincible. I’m getting older. I’m not the first person in the history of the world to sacrifice my freedom and my social life to become a mother. A parent. I’m not the first person in the world to love another person so much that it literally hurts. I’ve never understood that before, but now I do. I look at May and I can not express in words or actions how much I love her. I want to squeeze her and kiss her and hug her and touch her hair and practically eat her. There’s no real explaining it.
And then another thing dawns on me…more of a question, I guess. I’ve always known that my parents love me, but did they love me as much as I love my baby girl? Is it possible that I was a tiny little thing like May? That I was so vulnerable and impressionable and entertaining and hilarious and absolutely amazing as her? Is it possible that my Mom and Dad were a young couple, watching me run around, peeing on the floor and begging for something to eat or to go outside, marvelling about how I was the most amazing thing they had ever seen? Is it possible that they love me as much as I love my baby girl, but that they’ve loved me like that for the last 30 something years?
Is it possible that this is the case and I’ve never even understood that?
I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m really starting to figure it out. What “it’ is I really don’t know. But I’ve never understood this kind of love before. Being the object of such love is totally different than being the subject. The object will never quite realize the beautiful aspect of their position. And, unfortunately, a person can’t remember back to the days when they were the most fascinating, entertaining, and awe-inspiring thing their parents had ever seen.
Life is unfair like that.
And that’s why my heart breaks.
It breaks my heart that I never recognized my own parents’ love until now when everything is all grown up. As much as my daddy would like it, I can’t really crawl up into a ball in his lap. That’s May’s job now. It’s my job now to be Mommy, not baby.
I only wish I could remember what it was like to be “baby”. It’s so unfair to not be able to remember that.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddio. I love you. XOXO.