Letter from My 48th Year (May 25)
Well, I changed the wallpaper on my Apple Watch to a photo of Chris Evans wearing a Captain America t-shirt and showing off his biceps so that’s something.
It’s been one of those days where I can’t quite make-up my mind what to do. Most of me wants to just sit on the couch and be. But another part of me thinks that since I have a day off I should do something. And so they go ahead fighting each other all day and the part of me that wants to just be wins by default, sort of.
Last night I started reading Will I Ever Be Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. My sister’s therapist recommended it to her, and I’ve decided that it’s completely appropriate for me take her advice for me as well. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but as I was reading last night I could feel myself being shaken up. I was mindful of the part of me that felt utterly seen in what I was reading, and the part of me that kept saying, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad.” and “Oh, well, at least my mom doesn’t do that” as I read some of the stories from other women. I also found myself wondering about the effect of narcissistic fathers on their daughters, and also pondering the wisdom—given that I’m still in the middle of the book about my Dad—of messing with the wounds from my Mom.
And I also thought about the looks on friends’ faces when I let some less savory part of my youth slip out—like the fact that I tried very hard not to talk to my mother directly, because it was too terrifying, and instead if I had to ask her something that really mattered left her a note on the fridge and made sure I was asleep before she got home to read it. Or the fact that despite the fact that the drama club was my entire life in high school neither of my parents ever came to see the shows I worked on past maybe the first one. My friends always look uneasy when those things slip out, most likely because they are pained for me, though, of course, my daughter of narcissist parents self sees the looks on their faces as a reproach.
(I don’t know why it’s so much harder when I say those things out loud to people than when I write those hurts down in poems. I suppose the paper and ink are barriers of some sort even if lately the pain in the poems goes unmediated.)
And I’m thinking too now about the fact that I feeling restless and lazy at the same time—and that I’ve been feeling a sort of emotional numbness since I started writing again–are generally signs that something is ping ponging around in me just out of reach of my conscious mind, something that Will I Ever Be Enough? is bringing closer to the light. It’s like all the cracking and groaning that happens before a glacier calves an iceberg, which I’ll offer as a metaphor of another part of my authentic self being unfrozen and set free. Or so I’d like to believe. (BTW, I haven’t really thought this metaphor through so it’s unclear if the iceberg is the free part or if it’s the part of the glacier that’s exposed by the calving of the iceberg. I’ll get back to you.)
I’d like to end—as I sit here on the blue couch half listening to Death in Paradise and half watching the sun set—by giving a shout-out to my friend James R. You may have heard me talk about his brother, the actor Jonno who I met a couple of years ago through work. For some reason James decided he should be my Facebook friend as well, and I’m foever grateful. James doesn’t blog as much as he used to—he’s too busy saving the world through youth rugby—but this blog post he wrote today really moved me. It’s good to know that despite so much evidence to the contrary, there are men out there who are calling bullshit on toxic masculinity and instead choosing to be vulnerable and share their feelings, no matter how many dumb dad jokes they have to crack to get through it. He was just the reminder I needed that no matter how much pain we’re carrying around—physical or emotional—we can still live lives filled with love and laughter and Heinekens.