Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Non-Weigh-In

You were really checking for stats, right? Well, in a gesture of defiance (or stupidity!), we're not doing that this week.

This isn't much about food/low-carb/fitness either.

It was a terrible week. I spent my LAST weekend in Baltimore, cleaning out my mother's apartment. It's not done, really, but all the things that I had to be there for are done. I simply can't do it any more. It's putting too much of a strain on everything else in my life, and besides that, it's like ripping the scab off an open wound every two weeks. Just as soon as you get somewhere that feels like a little healing, you do it again. I've had enough. I am absolutely emotionally raw, and there just has to be some point where you stop doing this to yourself.

But this whole experience has made me think a lot about some things. My mother was a saver of everything, and she was also a writer, and so, even without really trying to spend a lot of time reading things, going through files and so on gave a pretty good snapshot of a life. And it confirmed something I always knew anyway... my mother was a deeply unhappy woman most of her life. I knew about the later parts, especially the very unhappy marriage to my father, but the thing that never crystallized until now was how unhappy she was even before then. And this is sad... an endless black hole of unhappiness, really... but it also makes you think. At some point, when all of your life is unhappy, you have to stop thinking about the circumstances that make you unhappy and start looking at how you interface with the world. My mother always thought, in a simple kind of way, that her problem was the way that the world treated her... that she was basically ok but that everyone else had a problem. (Actually, in one of the most staggering statements of denial that I've every heard, she once said that she wanted to take Prozac only when other people were around "because other people seem to deal with me better when I take it.") But everyone else in the world is not wrong. When all of your interactions with other people are problematic, at some point, you have to examine what you are doing, how your attitudes and expectations may be creating the problems.

Don't get me wrong. My mother was a wonderful person in any number of ways, and she was unique and extraordinary and very special. But also very unhappy and very damaged by both her childhood and the choices she made after that, and she did a good job of passing on the pain. Sometimes you can see people a lot more clearly in their absence. And I see the difficult relationships with my sisters getting better. I see my own hand in my own unhappiness. I see a lot of previously-hidden things... many of which I'd just as soon skip, really. But avoidance just lets the cycle continue.

And this feels like one of those rarest of life-moments, a point where you can feel everything changing, and you know that you have a choice about where to go.

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