Yesterday, I went to the Poets in the Park event in Redmond and read some poems for the “Verse Aid” segment, organized by the stellar David D. Horowitz of Rose Alley Press. I had to push myself to go, but I’m glad I did. It was a brief pocket of sweetness and peace in the midst of anguishing situation that I am dealing with surrounding a seriously ill family member.
I’ve thought a lot over the last several weeks about whether or not to talk about the situation on my blog, and if so, how to go about it in a way that respects the privacy of those involved. I’ve concluded that the only way to ensure that everyone is protected is to not provide details and to not talk about anyone else’s experience. Those involved have their own stories to tell, and we’re all dealing with it in our own ways. At the same time, for the last ten years, this blog has been a venue for me to share with some degree of frankness about what’s happening in my emotional and artistic life, and it feels disingenuous to pretend that something that has been all-encompassing for me these last few weeks is not happening.
I suppose I could talk about the big, roomy leather bag I bought today that Mr. Typist disapproves of because he thinks it’s going to throw my back out. I could talk about Buddy, but it wouldn’t be very interesting because ever since this situation began, he’s been suspiciously well-behaved and loving. I could talk about my general annoyance with the loud, sticky month of July, that I can’t find a good book to distract myself from all of this, and that I’ve started wearing skirts semi-regularly. But my heart’s not in any of it. It all feels dim and unimportant. Mostly what I do is stare into space, harbor uncharitable thoughts about medical authority, and blindly Google the condition in question only to find myself incapable of absorbing any information. I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to find counseling, but my faith in its efficacy has been lost thanks to some frustrating experiences with therapists over the last few years. I’m experiencing diminished appetite and poor sleep and all of those “red flags” they talk about, but I can’t seem to address my needs or even discern what they are. I don’t want to take time off from work, because it’s the only area of my life right now where I have a sense of control. I am being buffeted by a swirling mass of dreadful unknowns, but at least I know I can return those forty-seven e-mails and knock a good chunk of to-do’s off my list in my eight hours.
So that’s where I’m at. I know that I won’t be in this state forever. Over the last several years, I’ve developed the emotional resilience of a honey badger. There is poetry in the world. I have a warm bed to sleep in. I can’t say that I have faith, but faith is a double-edged sword anyway. I know that it’s considered a radical act in this day and age to talk openly about emotional health issues, and I suppose being honest here could come back to haunt me, but I consider it my tiny contribution to the act of de-stigmatizing any emotional state considered to be “undesirable” in our happiness-obsessed culture.
“There are some mornings when the sky looks like a road
There are some dragons who were built to have and hold
And some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly
And some great bellies ache with many bumblebees
And they sting
from “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie” by Joanna Newsome