Friday night I went out with a friend and we sat in the loft of a coffee shop, drinking Chai and watching the people below as we talked out all my crap. I watched a woman paint canvas after canvas, her tubes and brushes and palette spread around her in a colorful jumble of art, figures coming to life on canvas in broad easy strokes. A man sang cover tunes into a microphone, his guitar strumming along and I watched the gentle way he approached his music. My girlfriend sat across from me, catching my eye for the important bits and allowing me to look elsewhere when I didn’t want to make the statement too real. It’s such a wonderful thing to have friends like this, who truly understand the ebb and flow of a discussion and can give you the space or closeness you need. By the end of the evening I had worked through my issues and was ready to go home and curl up next to my husband in bed, pressing our bodies into nesting spoons, feeling his breath brush my neck. Listening to the gentle sounds of my children over the monitor helped snap things into focus for me and I feel asleep calmly for once, without the rush of thoughts and worries in my brain.
The next morning I called my mom for an update. Her sister is in the hospital and they had had such a revealing talk when she went to visit. I’ve never had a relationship with my Aunt, which is a long and complicated story not suitable for sharing here. But it’s been hard for me to qualify my lack of emotion regarding her possible death. I feel nothing and have spent a lot of time wondering if that is OK. She assured me that it was nothing to feel guilty about, this lack of connection with a woman I’ve only met a handful of times. But I swear, since my grandmother died it’s been nothing but family secrets revealed; secrets so big that they take the delicate framework of the past and snap elements into focus, explaining everything in crystallized flashes. Suddenly so much makes sense and I wonder when the next secret will float to the surface and explain why this was always that.
Mark and I lay in bed talking late last night, me finally able to explain what was going on in my head and he listening and replying calmly, with support. No matter how frustrating things become, I am comforted by the knowledge that this man loves me and has chosen to spend his life with me. The change needed is an internal one, a shift in language and understanding as so many of you suggested. So I work towards understanding and acceptance of myself and of those people close to me. And I brace myself for the next shift, whatever it may be, recognizing that life is a series of change and revelations. Just watching my kids grow is evidence of that.