Diapers and Dragons

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Death And A New Beginning

The end-of-year holidays are always a bit hard, really, what with all the chaos and extended family and children running around getting underfoot and underskin and more extended family and build up of HOLIDAY HOLIDAY HOLIDAY and then it's all over and everything's just a bit flattish.

Plus there's my birthday shoved in there, just wedged in anywhere it might fit, and here's the thing that sucks about having a Christmas birthday (it's not the present thing, because on the whole my people are quite good about realizing that if everyone else gets different presents for Christmas vs. birthday, then it's only fair that I do too, unless it's something Really Big that counts for both by the sheer Bigness of it all): even when people do acknowledge your birthday and even want to celebrate it, there's no point at all in celebrating it on the day itself, and what with all the exhaustion and business and familyness of the season, it's entirely too difficult to get your favorite people together to celebrate at all.

I'm thinking seriously of having my birthday celebration in June instead.

I've been anxious and on edge and horrifically tearful this last week. I did not cry on Christmas, thank God, because I've had too many Christmases spent in tears and I'm quite done with that, thankyouverymuch, but I have cried more in the last few days than I have over the entire last year. I'm not a very tearful person, really. I might get anxious or angry or melancholy or even suspiciously moist about the optical orbs, but actually tearful? Wet cheeks and reddened eyes? Crying into my pillow or a tissue? Not so much.

MTL has been patient and loving and comforting and rather alarmed. After all, when one climbs into bed at the end of a long day and wraps one's arms about one's beloved and then realizes that she's starting to gasp and shake with unexpected sobs, one does tend to become a little concerned. Well, at least he does. Rather than angry and shouty, like some people might be. He did remind me gently that I don't have to try to be strong all the time just because he's going through stressful times too--his shoulders are broad, after all.

It's what I'm here for, he said, and so I cried on those shoulders for a while, and then he made me laugh and I was finally able to fall asleep.

This time of year is a muddle of beginnings and endings, births and deaths. The last two years have been such a muddle of the same for me. And although I love so much of where life has brought me, the strain of the journey has taken its toll. There are new stresses in this new life as well: new family, new extended family, changing relationships, changing perspectives.

I think the bulk of my pain and rage (because those tears have been as much in anger as sorrow) lies in grieving the death of certain hopes and dreams that I've clung to for three long decades. Hopes that I would someday receive certain intangible things from extended family that, I now realize, I will never get. Dreams of a kind of acceptance and approval and pride that would, in reality, require the sacrifice of who I am, this person I've taken so long to be able to love.

A beloved cousin, one of my fellow Black Sheep, recently said to me that he knew from childhood that I would never fully fit into the parameters of expectation and acceptance in our Family. To do so would mean a rejection of who I actually am.

He's right. But facing that requires setting aside a lingering hope that somehow, someday, my Family (that huge, insane, ridiculously respected, secretly dysfunctional, looming, impossible Family) would actually be proud of me for exactly who and what I am, without a checklist of what must change for that to happen.

And realistically? That doesn't exist for anyone. It's not the human way.

Still...it's a death. So I'm grieving.

Apparently I'm currently stuck in the Anger stage.

But with each death comes a new beginning. Just like the passing of the old year gives birth to the new one.

Last night DMB helped the kids make pita pizzas while My True Love took me out for a steak dinner, just the two of us. Then we came home and played silly Wii games and watched a silly movie and ate chips n dip and drank sparkling juice and stayed up just long enough to watch the ball drop before crawling into bed like the old farts we are.

Today, we're all lazing about watching MTL rock Super Mario Bros on the Wii.

Just us. Just me and my family.

12 bits of love:

Wanderlust said...

This brings to mind the old saying about the family we're born with vs. the family we choose. Thank goodness for the latter. I think it's good to feel the grief and let it out. xx

Monica said...

Happy New Year Teacher Mommy! That mix of joy and sadness: I feel it too. For me, I think it has to do with a certain amount of surprise and shock at where life has taken me, both for good and for bad. Places I never thought I'd be, back when I was just starting out as an adult. Growing up is a long, strange trip indeed. I'm beginning to think it never ends, and that there will always be lots of tears along the way.

GingerB said...

I've been right there weeping with you these past few days, partly in joy and gratitude for what I have and what I never managed to wreck, and partly for losses that I couldn't have controlled, and that I am still trying to accept. I got together with more than ten different people who have known me for 20 years or more (hell, I am only 43!) and the reunion and catch up cause some reflection that seems to make my eyes leak. I'm sort of looking forward to taking down the tree and not having any more party plans, and getting back to routine and emotional calmness. Here's hoping - for you and me both.

Anonymous said...

You are loved hugely by your family as you are. Loving someone and agreeing with everything someone else believes are two very different things.

Kimberly said...

Dear Teacher Mommy,

When you wrote:

that I would never fully fit into the parameters of expectation and acceptance in our Family. To do so would mean a rejection of who I actually am...

It almost brought tears to MY eyes.

You see, my son could be that person. He's not like the rest of us in SO many ways. But I'm fighting like a Mama Bear to make sure that he's accepted for who his is, with no excuses. And I've let him know that whoever he is, he's just right for us in every way. I hope in some way, I'm helping him partially avoid the very pain you describe.

Happy New Year...and I hope that 2011 brings you JOY :)

MomZombie said...

You should declare June 25 your half birthday and have a blast! I'll be there to toss back a few with you. I think it's a big rip-off to have a December birthday, much less the 25th. We have two December birthdays in our house and it's an effort to make each and every one along with Christmas, it's own special thing.
On another note, I can sympathize with the whole family thing. Thanks to Facebook, it's right there, in my face, how I am not like them and will never fit into their idea of a "successful person." I really should hit that hide button and get on with it. Here's to a happier 2011.

Kathleen said...

So glad you have broad shoulders to cry on! I'm glad MTL is there for you; it sounds like he is a perfect fit!

And definitely...go for that 1/2 birthday celebration!!

mom said...

I love you, completely, just as you are. But I can't change who I am, either. Yet my love does not lose one iota of its strength because of our differences. And yes -- the half-birthday thing needs to be revived for you, the way things are!

Heidi said...

I know how you feel - with family that may love me, but by whom I so frequently feel profoundly judged, it is hugely difficult to put aside the desire for acceptance.

You are deeply loved, M, and I am grateful that there are more people in your life now who can love AND accept you as you are.

Life with Kaishon said...

I love that you know that to be a part of them and completely accepted would mean to give up a part of you. And that would never be good.

Wishing you a wonderful new year filled with many blessings!

Little Bit Of Land... said...

I can soooo relate!! This is where I'm at... no contact with one brother or his wife or his kids & other brother lives 1,200 miles away & that's probably the ONLY reason we have contact with each other... cos it's thru email only!! Long story... too long & too boring to write out here... but I too am the proverbial "black sheep" & have been for many years. I'm 54 now & have 3 children, 1 son-in-love, 1 grandbaby which I adore with my entire being & another grandbaby on the way which I will adore the same way. So I have many family members now, to be with & interact with & spend holidays with... but it's not the same thing as having good relations with that "extended family" that some folks blog about as they're packing their bags to go spend the weekend with them, around Christmas.

It's a loss... a death as you said... and I mourn it as well.

Peace~ Andrea

Katie said...

Happy New Year! I hope that you are getting a well deserved break. I always need a second little break after Christmas to decompress after the concentrated extended family togetherness.
Sounds like you do to.

So glad I got the chance to know you in 2010. Here is to a great 2011.

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