LIVING LIFE LOUD FROM THE CAVE
I didn’t really want to blog today and I really didn’t want blog about what I’m ending up blogging about – I made this silent vow – or perhaps knowing me not so silent.
But I made a vow that I would stop moaning about my relationship or lack there of with my parents.
I hate doing it and feel compelled to do it at the same time. Life squared.
But from the beginning of this blog starting with Freshman Mom, to eyelifts and the massive collective mourning we all shared in dealing with Blake’s death there has always been a sort of rigorous honesty I like to invoke. Except when I talk about purple sweaters, well even then I’m being honest there.
Then this last week after I blogged on DECODER, a flood of emails came from moms saying how great it was not to feel alone in their alienation from their kids. The comfort they got in knowing that others were traveling on the same train of self-doubt and sadness wondering when it would all end.
I have to be honest about the good and the bad otherwise why do I get up and do this everyday? This is not a blog about what I ate for breakfast.
And while it’s fun to take photos of shoes and weddings and the backstage at GMA life is ultimately about much more. And my life like everyone’s is the sum of many often times conflicting parts one is forever trying to piece together.
The other thing I have learned and continue to learn through this blog is how many adults are estranged from their parents and how much pain it causes them. I get many emails about this too. But much like going through the trauma of teenage separation it’s not talked about or shared. So it gets buried in the corner with shame and regret and people feel like it’s a land they inhabit alone until someone stands up and says – “Hold on – I have a house in that neighborhood too, it sucks”
I am a big believer to quote our amazing Rebecca in LIVING LIFE LOUD. I follow the Happiness Project and Leo Babbuta and the Art of Zen Living. I keep a grateful journal and light incense every morning and ring a bell over my Buddhas and give thanks for all I have been blessed with.
But like all of us I have my dark place – my cave I like to call it…Larry refers to it as the cone of silence. For me it’s a small dark place inside of myself where I curl up and hang a do not disturb sign. I don’t go there often anymore – and even while there I’m fighting to get out and LIVE LIFE LOUD.
I just love that – thank you Rebecca.
But at the same time I know I need to be there like a bear needs to go away for the winter.
See while I believe in the Happiness Project, and Live and Let Live and Choose Happiness and all the other catch all phrases and happiness movements that say “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” I also believe there are times when we have to give voice to or at least acknowledge our shadow side.
If you don’t allow yourself to go there from time to time it will catch up with you.
And I don’t believe in medicating or numbing it into silence.
We are entitled to feel badly. We are entitled to mourn. We are entitled to lament things in our lives that may not turn out the way we want them to. We are allowed to curl up in our cave in order to deal with these feelings and just be. It is important. It’s growth in a very primal way. It’s how we learn to both accept and deal with sadness, which is as much a part of being human as being happy.
So, last night I climbed in my cave. And said to Glenn “I’m in my cave, please let me be.” He tries to talk me out of it but now knows it’s a losing proposition. He knows I will come out. Last night he made me promise to write about it. I said I would, then I buried myself deeper under the covers. We are entitled to say let me be with this alone when we see fit.
What we are not entitled to do is take the unhappiness or frustration we may be feeling and unleash it on other people. I did that with someone yesterday and had to make amends before the day came to a close. I have made progress in this realm. Progress Larry, not perfection. But I do believe if these feelings are ignored they pop up like the hand at the end of Carrie and grab you by the throat and you may in turn grab someone else.
What sent me to my cave is tomorrow is my birthday…I will be fifty-two. I am not unhappy about being fifty-two. Aside from losing Blake, this has been one of the great years of my life. Thanks to Jon Turk I look eight years younger than I did when I turned fifty-one. I have felt younger on many levels for different reasons at different times all year. My work has never been better. My family is healthy. I finished a book. Had a big movie come out, Lucky Ducks took off, and I discovered I could spend my days happily blogging and never getting out of my gym clothes. I should just go outside and kiss Central Park and send more money to India. Two things I will do – just because.
But within all of that there is my nugget of hurt and melancholy that that like a scary Jack-In-The-Box tends to jump out on holidays, especially my birthday.
It’s my cross, my burden, the address of my cave and I truly believe in this lifetime it is my lesson.
It always goes back to my bad relationship with both my parents; something that is beyond my control. Though not beyond my intellectual understanding –way beyond my emotional one.
I will definitely not hear from my mother tomorrow, I haven’t for years. Even when we were speaking the last time we spent one of my birthdays together was my 30th. And she did in her defense give me a lovely party.
But there is a 22 years of gap. I once mentioned this to her, how she was never in the country on my birthday, she said “ It’s not my fault your birthday falls when I like to travel.” I do however continue to send her a card or email on hers. I tried flowers a few years ago, but the response was so passive aggressive I stopped. This is edging into whinny I must stop.
My dad well, the jury is out this year. There were many years, decades in fact when we did not seek each other out on such occasions. Though the last five years we have both tried to fix it. I have made my way to California for the last four years with the exception of this last one for his and he and I went away around my birthday two years in a row. They were great trips. I thought we were onto something.
We made a vow to do it every year. It has not been mentioned this year. It’s not going to happen. Unfortunately, my father has a history of making promises he cannot keep.
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt until this time tomorrow. We shall see.
I’m not sharing this to complain – I’m really not. I’m sharing it because like Lucky Ducks I know many of you now who go through the same things, in different ways.
And no matter how old you get, it does not go away. Not for most people. Glenn said last night “Why would you care? They’re both nuts.” Easy for you to say your parents just left. Your mother just washed the dishes and Taylor sat in your father’s lap. They fly up twice a year whether we go to Bocca or not. They were here for my birthday last year. They come for Grandparent’s Day and Thanksgiving. In twelve years my father has never once come to NY to see me. Whenever my mother did come she made us all so miserable we wished she hadn’t.
They show up. If people show up for you you don’t know what it feels like when they don’t. I don’t think either one of my parents knows the name of Lucy’s school.
You would think at fifty-two I would be over it. A friend just called me as I sat at my desk – oh WTF- weeping; I should never pick up the phone when I’m like that and I said, “I’m fifty-two why do I care if my parents like me or not?”
Because quite simply no matter how old you get you never get over the desire for the one love that is supposed to be unconditional to be there for you. I believe that. The more I delve into family dynamics the more power I see it has.
A friend I would think would be so far beyond this kind of sentimentally shared a meltdown they had recently over what they thought was a long forgotten mother issue. And their mother is dead. It hovers. It is in the ether. It’s part of our DNA. It’s very potent stuff.
At it’s best it is life enhancing, nurturing and comforting at it’s worst it can be warfare.
It’s why I fight for the family I have made. It’s why I made Lucky Ducks. It’s why I blog for sites where parents and kids are in pain and want to see them get back together.
It is the key to life’s real happiness. How tight our family bond is is far more important than money, prestige, success, fame and the rest of it. And I know because I have had a bit of the others and I still crawl into my cave at fifty-two because I don’t get the love, admiration or acknowledgement I feel I deserve on the day I was born from the people who brought me into the world.
I will say I do always crawl out of my cave rather quickly.
I went to Bergen Wheeler’s kick ass cardio class at eight-thirty this morning.
I wrote this blog, which is always the most cathartic thing imaginable, and then I took myself to The Nail Spa. I was just interviewed for my favorite magazine Grazia, the Australian edition. And Allison just walked in with a beautiful candle and amazing card that was sent to me by Rebecca. Rebecca, who despite it all keeps an open heart and her KindnessRevolution. I have learned a lot from Rebecca.
I do believe in every situation the lesson is always there. It just came to me through Rebecca. It’s what I needed at that moment.
I will say – when Glenn told me to write this – he said make it funny. When he says those things I’m really happy he does what he does and isn’t a shrink.
But I will end on slight joke. Lucy has this theory, not sure if I have shared it, but what the hell, it’s my last day of being fifty-one, I can repeat myself. I’m sure I will start doing a lot more of it.
According to Lucy all babies come from Babyville. Babyville is in utero and I guess much like Farmville a complete little virtual community. Lucy claims she was the mayor when she was there, so very Lucy. I’m amazed she wasn’t’ emperor. And she says Taylor left her a mess to clean up when she left, much like the bathroom they share.
She also says you pick your parents before you get to Babyville. Apparently she picked me for my smile and my handbags and Glenn because he looked like a pushover.
One day not so long ago after a very unsatisfying conversation with my father, I hung up the phone, looked at Lucy and said, “What do you think I was thinking on parent selection day in Babyville?”
Without missing a beat she said. “ I think you wanted your life to be interesting.”
And it cetrtainly has been and despite the parental issues very blessed. And if Chakra Pani my Vedic astrologer is right I have thirty-three more years to go. That’s a lot of blogs!!!!!!!