Friday, March 29, 2013

Powder Room Epiphanies

I was in the bathroom.... hold on... everyone does this. It isn't some shrine or weird place of punishment, unless you follow certain people. Anyway, while I was there it suddenly occurred to me that my life has been divided into a strange set of sequences that has been punctuated by some pretty awful things. I'll give you the synopsis cause by now I know you're indecently curious.

First phase began with my birth and went from 1956 until 1974. I was 17. This phase ended in death. My life totally shifted to another level and place. I don't think it ever occurred to me how radical that was until today. I mean, it was terrible but I never really saw it in this light before. I went from being a young girl in her late teens to a wife in her late teens dealing with the death of her parent and learning how to live with a person I'd known only weeks. No girl should have to be without her mother, particularly on the day she marries, or has her first child five years later. The shift was so profound that years later whenever I miss Mama I'm nearly inconsolable. I'm devastated all over again.

The second phase of my life was from my marriage 1974 until 2009 and culminated, again, in death. My husband suffered a violent heart attack and died as I tried to save him. This wasn't just a shift from one phase to another. This was a violent blow that simply slammed me into a whole other reality without any warning or time to prepare. I still suffer from post traumatic stress.

I thought Mama dying in a clinical setting of a hospital when I wasn't there was horrible. She wasn't coming home and I didn't get to say good-by. I'm left with an image of her unable get up, write, or to speak except with her eyes and being fed through a tube. At 17 this is horrible. And yet, I have to say that my second contact with death was worse than any nightmare I've ever experienced. Being wakened from a sound sleep to your husband thrashing and having him breathe his last breath in your face is an image you won't shake quickly, if ever.

So, in my tiny powder room, I realized that I'm well into the third phase of my life and if it follows the pattern, this won't end well. This is not a happy thought but let's be practical. And truthful. Looking at the pattern and knowing what I know, this is the reality of it. The ultimate end to all things is death.

Where does this leave me? Probably right where I was before. Sitting in the bathroom having my eyes opened to things I'd rather not think about. And getting a fairly clear revelation as to why I struggle with depression fairly regularly. If the high points of your life always end in violence, and believe me, my experience of death is not warm and fuzzy, but if they always end in this manner you're going to be dealing with gremlins regularly.

So, I need to stop beating myself up about feeling this way too much. I've been feeling guilty about feeling bad. It isn't like I've had what the average consumer would term a normal life. The stories I could tell, and probably will some day, are not pretty. Living with an alcoholic was not fun. And still, I was a good kid who never did drugs or smoked or drank or partied. I was a good mom, faithful wife, and caring sister. I wasn't perfect but despite the awful things I've seen and the mistakes I made, I've turned out o.k. I need to stop saying, "Get over it."

The key now I think is try to make this next phase, presumably the final one, last as long as possible and hope that it contains more joy than the two previous ones. For now, at least, it doesn't.

What do you do for the third act?


  1. Some deep insight, there. Breathe, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I don't have your experiences, though I have experienced the horrid death of loved ones from cancer. We just go on, hoping that we would have made them proud and happy.

  2. There is a golf psychology book that is correct when it says that at the end of a round, so many players recount the bad shots, the hard luck, the ‘it would have been a great round if only’, then because they only ever think of the bad shots and not the good shots they reinforce negative thinking.
    So, I think you should redefine your life phases in a positive manner – your marriage, your son, your grandkids – and I would think you can find many more positive phases.
    Then you should write down things that you should do, or try for the first time or do for the first time in ages. Go to a painting class; take your grandkids ice-skating; go in a hot air balloon; learn French; visit Lincolnshire; take the g/kids to the zoo. Don’t go mad but plan to do a number of things each year – AND DO THEM. You can probably think of a number of things you regret doing/not doing. It’s not use saying get over it and there is no use having regrets. The past can't be changed. Do things rather than regret not doing them. Eat peanut butter in the bath; make a daisy chain; go up in a glider; go to the ballet; an opera; think of how many things you haven’t done that are doable – and don’t look for excuses not to do them.
    Its’ ok to have maudlin phases but you have a lot of life left to LIVE.

    1. That would be wonderful, going somewhere and doing things I want to do. Unfortunately, my illnesses have made it nearly impossible to do anything. I'm barely able to get through a full day of work at this point without being blindly exhausted. I'm concerned I may not even be able to do that much longer.

      I have planned several trips but either money or ill health has prevented me from doing anything more than plan. Traveling alone isn't much fun for me, particularly if I have to drive long distances. I can manage to go out for no more than 4 hours before I have to come home to rest.

      That's not actually living.