Thank you so much for checking in and showing patience with this whole thing. People have been lovely. I appreciate the concern online and IRL. It means more than y'all could know. And my mom and husband have been saints, stepping up with driving and meals. They understand about the need for Caramel Mocha Power Puddings. And the kids have stepped it up. My son ate fish last night with a minimum of complaining. This is big stuff, my friends.
I'm trying to stay positive but it's really hard. And this comes on the heels of a whole lot of hard. I want to write about it, because for me, writing is how I process the hard times. I've also learned that other people who are going through similar things feel less alone when they read about your struggles. I think that telling the truth about our struggles is important and when I read that someone is going through something I'm going through, I feel better. It's not so much misery loves company, but "me too." Somehow it makes it easier to bear.
But not everyone feels this way. I've also been criticized in this space for being negative when I've dared to share my struggles. I've learned that while it's OK to write about hard things like PPD, and divorce, and infertility, and miscarriage, and struggling with faith, and children's rehab hospitals, and blending families. and 50 year old Mean Girls, and the difficult work of parenting, and anxiety, and being a survivor of assault, it's totally not OK to complain about them. And complaining is kind of what I want to do right now because this eye thing is total total BS. I do not need this in my life right now and I want to stomp my little feet and yell. It's not like I'm in pain because my lip implant surgery went bad. (I totally want lip implant surgery. Over the last decade, I went from Kim Basinger to the pursed-lipped parking meter attendant. I want my youthful lips back and the cosmetic surgery clinic that just opened sent around a brochure saying they can do that!) This was not a mere vanity project. I hoped it would help solve the eye blister/vertigo thing. This is Not Fair.
Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever stomp your feet and say "unfair"? I know a lot of writers feel like that, but do regular people?
It's also unfair that this is the stuff I fear I'll be criticized for saying. I know I bring this all upon myself since I have a bizarre need to put my every waking thought on the internet but it's all I really know how to do. And I've felt censored for a super long time. Because in the past, when I've been honest, I've been stung.
I find this so strange. Honestly, I write openly about a lot of ridiculous stuff. Ridiculous. I own a Chanel Classic Jumbo bag for the love of Pete. Have you seen the price of those things? It's obscene. And I have a WOC. Yes, I speak Chanel. That, in and of itself, is ridiculous. And don't get me started on the Louiss. That's Louis -- plural. And I carry my dog - a designer dog who cannot breathe through her nose because she's been so designed - in a Goyard bag. Sometimes, said dog wears $400 sunglasses because her face is the same size as mine and it makes me laugh. This is ridiculous, ridiculous, Imelda Marcos-like behaviour and yet I've never been criticized for it in writing. Never.
But the minute I write about how it was really hard to be a single parent, I'm a whiner. Being a single parent is hard. People complain when they have to solo parent for a weekend! Imagine that all the time. Hard stuff. And blending families. Not easy. They don't call it melting, or merging, or folding. They call it blending. Ever looked at your Vitamix when it's working? Stuff is being spun around and pulverized. Smashed to smithereens. Blended: this is the word they choose. But if you write about it, you are Cinderella's Stepmother without Cate Blachett's excellent complexion.
I have learned to tread carefully around the whole wives of widowers thing. People do not like that topic. There is a truth universally acknowledged among wives of widowers that it is a difficult path when you stay in the same community, but there are still those who swear it's not true and that there must be something wrong with you, because they know a woman, who knows a woman in the same situation who is treated like gold and goes around wearing a tiara that says Second Wives Are The Best Wives and it was bought for her by the first wife's BFFs who are now her BFFs too and everyone sings Kumbaya in unison. It's easier to not go there. If you feel the need to attract negative attention, write instead about how you hate the world's cutest Pomeranian.
Through my days of forced self-reflection (ie no TV or internet for 96 hours) I've decided that I need to find a way to write more openly about hard things and yet shelter myself from the inevitable criticism that comes when you say that things are hard.
So I've decided that instead of leaving the peanut gallery unpublished, I will put their words in pretty picture quotes. Like on Pinterest! I'm not sure where the copyright laws sit on the ownership of the words but I guess if you write an anonymous mean comment and want Pinterest credit, email me?
To kick things off, here is an oldie, but goodie. To provide context, at the time, I was undergoing EMDR to deal with ongoing nightmares and was on the waitlist for the government's PTSD program. I guess that's the "victim" thing? We generally prefer the term survivor now, but that's an honest oversight. Someone was peeved that I complained about how hard it was to carry three pairs of skis when skiing as a single parent of young kids. They were also peeved that I wrote about how some people in town had been mean to me at a party because I was dating a widower. I know now that I was supposed to keep that one a secret. Live and learn. Anyhow, here is the comment, all prettied up.
I added the bluebird of happiness for effect. Cute, right? I wanted something that suited the theme of "I hate the weather."
Maybe this commenter - in my mind, I see a rather leathery women with bad hair and a smoker's cough - meant well? It's sort of good advice. Maybe people were happy for me. That might have been a "playful shove" at that party... And yes, one should never hate all inclusives. Everyone knows that.
Anyhow, that's how I'm going to deal with it so I can get back in the arena, as Brené Brown likes to say. Laughing at awful things has always been my coping mechanism. I come from a long line of Swedes and Brits and Scots with serious gallows humour. Medical people find me hilarious as do therapists and cops. Do you know how hard it is to make a cop laugh? Gallows humour.
My life mantra comes from the words of Carrie Fisher, who I think was one of the smartest people on the planet.
So I joke. About the one eye for the price of two surgery. How I wish I was happy to "see" the doctor too. I become a really bad cruise ship comedian. It's better than crying.
But there is some good news. I'm healing albeit slowly. And the pressure issue we feared is not causing the problem. In fact, there is now I better chance I won't get glaucoma than I'd previously thought. There is some sort of shizzleshow involving thick corneas and some business going on at the back of my eye that is strange but I choose to be all Scarlett O'Hara on that one.
Also on the plus side, I've re-established my love of talking books. It's nice to have someone read you a bedtime story. I adore Daphne Rose Kingma and going to Esalen in Big Sur when she is there is totally on my bucket list. She's magical and so gets it. I urge you to read The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook. Better yet, listen to it; to her. Amazing, amazing stuff.
When I got the all-clear to cry, I finished Glennon Doyle Melton's Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. It's a mostly beautiful book. She reads it, which makes it even better. Some authors who read their own books ruin them, but I can't imagine anyone else doing the voiceover for this one. Some of it is amazing and I was playing parts of it for both my husband and my mom. But this passage, about the things she would do to punish God if she let her down again, was Not Cool At All:
"I’ll quit trying not to be a jerk. I’ll quit writing. I’ll quit talking to you and caring about other people and smiling so much. I’ll spend all my money on fancy make-up and couches and I’ll spend all my time watching Real Housewives of Orange County."I will say this once and only once. There is nothing wrong with spending all of one's money on fancy makeup and couches and spending all of one's time watching Real Housewives. NOTHING. And that is the final word on that. Also, if you take public transit a lot, it's OK to not smile at strangers. It generally makes them nervous.
I'm back to being able to get on the computer. Thank God! It strains my eyes (eye!) a little but the doc said it will do them no harm. It's good to get them working again. And I can drive. Did you know you can legally drive with one eye? Explains a lot, I think. I just need to practice a bit so my brain gets used to things. I'm left eye (bad eye) dominant, so it will take a bit of getting used to it all.
I have so hated not driving. I hate not jumping in my car and going to the gym or to the store. I hate having to make arrangements to get my kids here and there. Not driving in the city is totally doable but not driving in Stepford is impossible. Plus, driving on a sunny day is one of my favourite ways to relax. Now if I feel like driving for an hour so I can get a piece of pie in the afternoon, I have to ask someone. Trust me, people judge.
I'm soooo glad I can read and write again, albeit imperfectly. An idle mind is not good for me. I become consumed with worry and doubt. I hate that. I wish my mind was filled with those glittery unicorns you find on Kawaii sites.
Anyhow, thanks for reading this super long post. I've had a lot to say. And thank you for the kind comments and emails and IMs. Writers get used to writing into the void and my stats counters lets me know I'm not alone but I love love love the feedback and getting to know y'all.
Peace and love.