Friday, December 22, 2006

etymology of my current illness

1.) I dreamed yesterday morning that I was being humiliated at work because I wasn't doing something I'd been told to do. I woke from that dream, so vivid still, and felt righteously indignant until the dream feelings finally wore off.

2.) Talking to SK on the phone later, she suddenly switched gears and said "Hey, speaking of work, hon! You're not doing things you're supposed to be doing!" It was almost literally a page right out of my dream. She was right, but more than that, there was something really jarring in the gear-change, in the way we switched from a tender sort of topic, to something accusatory and cold and work-related.

3.) I got off the phone, sat down at my desk, and burst into tears. My grandmother is dead! The one who was the absolute embodiment of sweetness and joy when I was young. The one who was tender and mothering and loving. The one I was once so attached to. Grieving her has been complicated, verigated, I grieve eras of her, I grieve her as several different people, as I also grieve for my grandfather's loss and my mother's. But at my desk just then, I sobbed for the one who had mothered me once and I looked around my house and wished I had a Christmas tree or wished I had a family or wished I had my grandmother. And I wished too that maybe she could be there in that moment, watching me being so pathetic, feeling sad for me, wanting to comfort me again like she'd done when I was young.

4.) I jumped up from my desk and spent the remaining forty minutes before I had to leave for work rummaging through my picture box for a picture of my grandmother, a particular picture. This picture was taken in, I think, 1988. I'm about 14 and can be seen in the background. We're sitting on my grandparents' front porch and my grandmother is wearing a blue moo-moo and a string of plastic beads and she's looking at the camera and smiling this sweet, beautiful smile. I remember her looking so, so lovely in that picture. She would've been just over 60. still relatively young. I tore the whole picture box apart and couldn't find it.

5.) I went to work. Work was hard. I was annoyed with SK and didn't go out of my way to see her before she left. Everything was unusually hectic and there were mini-crises exploding all around. I hosted Writing Group and the collective mood was weird. One woman wrote about her friend's suicide. People in the group cried. Later, that woman wanted to talk one-on-one with me. We went into a little room and she cried and told me how hard it was to feel all the pain and I was fighting with all my meager powers to not start crying too because I just wanted to cry and cry. It might have been good for her: modeling. "You see, I've got shit happening in my life too and sometimes all you can do is feel sad and cry and then get up and go to work because that's what you have to do." But I didn't cry. I held it in and it was hard.

6.) I didn't eat until the end of the night. I wasn't hungry. I ate a sandwich SK made me, a really good sandwich, but I could feel after I ate it that it was just sitting in my stomach. It felt like a heavy lump.

7.) I went home and tore through my picture box again, this time slowly, more carefully. I looked at every single picture in the box, pictures from childhood, from middle-school, high-school, college, pictures from Ohio, New Orleans, trips to visit my family, pictures from Durham, from Portland, from different relationships. All these pictures. I still couldn't find the picture of my grandmother, the really good one, the one I really liked. I was getting upset.

8.) As I flipped through the last stack of pictures out of the box I remembered: I had long-ago pasted that photo into a journal with several other photos I loved. I made a photo collage of things that made me really happy to look at, things that supported something inside me that didn't always feel supported. I ran to the other side of the house and pulled out the journal and quickly found the photo.

9.) I was disappointed, a little confused. It was almost exactly as I remembered it, only, she wasn't smiling the way I remembered. Her smile was fading from her face and her eyes looked tired. Her hair was frazzled and her skin sagged and, looking into the picture, I saw a different woman from the woman I had been remembering. I didn't see the sweetness as much. I saw a tired woman who was probably sick of the house full of grandkids. I was sad.

10.) I went to bed and had weird dreams, vivid dreams, inspired by my trip through the box of pictures. I dreamed most of all about being an R.A. in college because I'd seen a handful of pictures of myself and the other R.A.s I worked with. That was my first counseling job. That was the first time anybody taught me how to "actively listen", or what kinds of questions to ask somebody who is suicidal. That was the beginning. I dreamed that I was going to be a volunteer R.A. at my school, the school I just finished attending. I would be working with another of the R.A.s from my dorm in undergrad. I was really excited, but behind my excitement was a kind of world-weary sadness.

11.) I woke up in the morning and vomited. I have been feeling like shit ever since. I slept a lot time and now I'm up again. I still feel terrible and I have no idea what to do with myself. I've been sitting here typing for awhile, but each moment is sketchy and I feel like I might have to fold it up and lay back down. No position is particularly comfortable. My mailaise is totally amorphous.

12.) This is the beginning of my nine day vacation. This, I think, is typical. Cheers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is typical, although I know how much that DOESN'T help right now.

I miss my grandfather still too. In that same way I idolize him, forgetting all the "bad" things. Even after two years. Pain.

I feel for you, and understand, if only a little bit.

7:56 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

thanks for your kind words, anonymous. this is a lonely day and it's nice to read what you've written.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you could email me and I could entertain you with my hilarious wit for a while...

8:08 PM  

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