Thursday, May 13, 2010

my sea is deeper than your lake

Here you sit on your high-backed chair
Wonder how the view is from there
I wouldn't know 'cause I like to sit
Upon the floor, yeah upon the floor


There's an art to waiting, or at least there used to be. It's not unnaturally akin to getting small woodland mammals to come close, or being still enough that butterflies will alight on bright clothing, seeking nectar of the flower they think they've found.

If you like we could play a game
Let's pretend that we are the same
But you will have to look much closer
Than you do, closer than you do


I am no flower--at least, not this week--and I am seeking not to confuse the natural world, but to listen to it. Or maybe it's my own heart I'm struggling to hear, and the difficulty is that it's fallen silent.

And I'm far too tired to stay here anymore
And I don't care what you think anyway
'Cause I think you were wrong about me
Yeah, what if you were? What if you were?


So I must be patient. I must sit, and make no loud noises, and make no large movements; I must wait until I hear it again, until I can see the edges of it, close enough to touch again. I must move without moving, and listen to everything. Waiting. Watching. Looking for signs.

And what if I'm a snowstorm burning?
What if I'm a world unturning?
What if I'm an ocean? Far too shallow, much too deep?


Maybe just a sign, one sign. Or tracks, that tell me this path has been used before, and as I slip along it, steps hushed and silent, I will not snap branches under unwary feet, I will not startle whatever creeps beside me in the undergrowth.

What if I'm the kindest demon,
Something you may not believe in?
What if I'm a siren, singing gentlemen to sleep?


Somewhere, there is fear.

Somewhere, within the reach of recent memory, there was a collapse. I know I'm still excavating, finding out what's been damaged, finding out how deep the wounding goes. And me being me, I'm doing all this while conducting the life in progress--a process that is driving more than a few of my friends and dear ones bats in the process.

I know you've got it figured out
Tell me what I am all about
And I just might learn a thing or two
Hundred about you, maybe about you


If I've been harmed, they tell me, that's the time to pause, to stop, to call a halt and not progress. Deal with it. Live in that moment of wounding, learn from it, heal it, before moving on.

I don't work like that. I never have. Perhaps that's part of the problem.

I'm the end of your telescope
I don't change just to suit your vision
'Cause I am bound by a fraying rope
Around my hands, tied around my hands


An example from the world beyond the screen to make this clear:

My uncle died, some years back. We were all devastated. And as these things go, the family gathered. What did we do? Did we weep and carry on, did we rage against the injustice, did we break down, inconsolable and heartbroken?

And you close your eyes when I say I'm breaking free
And put your hands over both your ears
Because you cannot stand to believe I'm not
The perfect girl you thought
Well, what have I got to lose?


No, actually. We rented four films and sat in my aunt's living room, telling jokes, relating stories, getting up now and then for refreshments, wine, other nibbles. Whenever emotion threatened to overwhelm, we took those moments, meeting each others' eyes, breathing through it. Composing ourselves.

Strength through suppression, mayhap. Or that silent reminder not to act inappropriate, even during moments of grief.

And what if I'm a weeping willow
Laughing tears upon my pillow?
What if I'm a socialite, who wants to be alone?


The woman who'd married my male cousin watched this for more than two hours and finally snapped. "Why aren't you crying?" she screamed at us. "Someone you love has DIED, you need to DEAL with that!"

And to a person, the family stared at her. Utter incomprehension and confusion on every single face. Because we don't do things that way.

We never have. None of us, in that moment, even comprehended there might be other ways to do things.

What if I'm a toothless leopard?
What if I'm a sheepless shepherd?
What if I'm an angel, without wings to take me home?


Emotionally--and this has been hard for more than a few people to understand--I'm much more accessible on the grid than off. Off, all the rules of the family come into play. Don't stand out. Don't make a fuss. Don't argue in public, that one's always been huge. Also don't ever raise your voice. Don't talk back. Don't throw things. Don't express yourself in negative ways.

And the big one, for me and the other "children" in the family: If you can't say it rationally, don't say it. Go off and calm down first. That's always been the chief rule on all the rule lists.

You don't know me
You never will, you never will--
I'm outside your picture frame
And the glass is breaking now--


So, in my way, I continue. The daily routines proceed according to procedure, the conversations interrupted by prior pain are back on track. Maybe it's an unconscious holdover from a very British stepmother and a very reserved paternal grandmother, too--that staid English sense of "Carry on, carry on". Who knows, really?

You can't see me
You never will, you never will--
If you're never gonna see--


There are people working on these things with me. And slowly, I'm learning the rules the rest of the planet operates on, but it's very much like learning a difficult third language--I don't understand the rules yet, and I know nothing about the customs of the people, and I've barely mastered the second language I learned, enough to speak it in pidgin. This? This is all new to me.

What if I'm a crowded desert
Too much pain, with little pleasure?
What if I'm the nicest place you'd never want to go?


But that also leaves me in a continuing state of denial--because if I'm back on track, why deal with the things that hurt? And if I'm back on track, then I'm not damaged. Right?

And nothing could be further from the truth. I'm slowly catching on that this attitude is not survival instinct--it's the mental and emotional equivalent of binding the two broken legs and attempting to walk on them anyway, and pretending I'm getting somewhere when I'm not.

What if I don't know who I am?
Will that keep us both from trying
To find out? And when you have
Be sure to let me know...


Sooner or later, I'll need to deal with the broken limbs, and rest, and let them heal. And it will take the time it takes, and I'm only making it longer by pretending that everything is okay. But that is not what I know, that never feels "normal"--whatever "normal" is or can be as a qualifier for me. This is proving more difficult than I anticipated.

What if I'm a snowstorm burning?
What if I'm a world unturning?
What if I'm an ocean? Far too shallow, much too deep?


But if I do one thing well, I endure. Together, alone, supported or felled by circumstance. I endure. I manage, somehow, to survive.

I will again. And I will find my path. And I will balance the losses with the gains and see where I am.

But it will take time. And that time, itself, may end up being a limiting factor.

What if I'm the kindest demon,
Something you may not believe in?
What if I'm a siren, singing gentlemen to sleep?
Sleep...
Sleep...


So there you go.

Meanwhile, I'm settling very well indeed into Winterfell, and have spent my time happily planting mushrooms and poppies on Luctus Isle. (Well, the time I'm not spending repaving Solace Beach, that is.) But Miss Sumie's Darkhouse has been noticed:

[17:12] Iskrin Nightfire: hello neighbour!
[17:14] Emilly Orr: Greetings!
[17:15] Iskrin Nightfire: somehow your lighthouse reminds me of the Eye of Sauron! Very cool!
[17:15] Emilly Orr giggles
[17:15] Emilly Orr: If it ever starts blinking, let me know. That might need to be attended to.
[17:15] Iskrin Nightfire laughs
[17:16] Iskrin Nightfire: I have a palantir hanging around somewhere... I'll keep an eye on it!


Indeed. That thing grows an eye, we're ALL going to be in trouble.

(Lyrics are from Emilie Autumn's song, "What If".)

4 comments:

Alexandra Rucker said...

Don't stand out. Don't make a fuss. Don't argue in public, that one's always been huge. Also don't ever raise your voice. Don't talk back. Don't throw things. Don't express yourself in negative ways. And the big one, for me and the other "children" in the family: If you can't say it rationally, don't say it. Go off and calm down first.

All of these are "rules" that my mother tried to instill in me.

The last one is the only one my dad agreed with, and the only one I actually stick to, for logic's sake - it's better to do the ultimate slamdunk when the initial rage has faded and you have time to think. :)

My maternal side is probably just as fsked up, going by that actually... Scary.

Emilly Orr said...

Yeah, there's more than a few of us in this boat, I'm sure. It's odd looking back on the childhood that was normal for me, because, you know, I'm me, so why wouldn't it be normal? And realizing, compared to the dubious 'average', how much we veered off the path.

turnerBroadcasting said...

A maiar can manhandle a palantire.
Trust me on this point.

I think what Sauron is trying to tell you guys here is to go grab
'500 Days of Summer' off netflix and watch it.

Yep. Embodiment of all evil. True darkness. Destroyer of the trees of light. Taking a movie night and just taking it easy.

Ignore the reviews, its a good flick!

Fogwoman said...

I had to laugh at your description of your rules growing up. Coming from a typical middle class waspy family mine were very similar. Then the 60's and 70's told us that this was ALL WRONG. Much navel gazing followed...
Becoming a hospice nurse, experiencing how many different cultures handle grief and loss taught me that there is no one way of being in the world. The right way is the way that works for you. I can honor my own culture and respect all the varied cultural manifestations of grief, taking those bits that work for me. I will never be comfortable throwing myself in the grave, so to speak. And that is just fine. I am glad you have some assistance in your journey, perspective is so difficult when you are standing in the center of the maelstrom :)