My dearest, I'm not having a great day, not the worst either, but I'm just finding myself bumming out. It's very humid, that isn't helping. I struggled with this morning's post, I was trying to express something, tie together perhaps a few too many ideas. Or maybe I need photoshop. That Bruce Weber image? I wanted to doctor the male figure with a superimposed image of a Minotaur's head instead of the model-beautiful visage. I wanted to describe what I was feeling while I was fantasizing - so effective while fantasizing, and I thought - I want to write you a letter about my Minotaur fantasy. But then nothing came, and am not sure I want to go on that road again, too frustrating. I reread some of what I'd once written in that vein, and could hardly bear reading it -.
A few books arrived in the mail today, the 1970s National Book Award-winning biography of E.D. by Richard Sewall, and three slim paperbacks written by the mother of 1.0. I couldn't afford 1.0's book, but found hers on an online used book site - priced at $.99 and $1.99, the ones I purchased - shipping was more than the cost of the books. I've been aware of these volumes for years now, but there's rarely been all that much extra discretionary money (even while I was working) for very many books (back when hers were full-priced) so I never did purchase them, nor did I ever find them in any library, and I did look, over the years.
They arrived today, a children's book and two memoirs, and I trolled through the memoirs, scanning, searching. I certainly didn't expect to find myself in those pages, though she and I had been quite close at a couple of different periods, both of which were very many years ago (she is deceased now). I was searching for her, I suppose, her distinctive voice. She was a very vibrant exuberant opinionated warmhearted goodnatured woman - theatrical in her gestures and mode of telling a story. I liked her very much, with occasional slight reservations (as I might have with most anyone, in particular women - and after all, of course, she was 1.0's mother - she and I had different "interests" in him.)
Her memoirs are charming, a series of independent recollections compiled into two volumes, lacking, really, only her own lively presence and way of regaling stories that I could remember as I turned the pages.
And too, I was searching for clues about 1.0. (Yes, shoot me.) And I found a few, one of which in particular hit me to the quick and left me - I don't have words for the feeling. 1.0's mother had flown west to spend Christmas with her son, his wife, and their two young sons. There was an enormous Christmas tree with gifts all around, the wife was cooking wonderfully fragrant dishes, the delightful little boys were playing, the son was attentive, and she wrote (I'm not looking up the exact quote, I've buried the books behind other books on my bookcase) that the scene was that of a very warm, happy, loving family.
And that was painful to read, what I've always wanted, especially, a long time ago, with 1.0, then not thought of, with him, for many years, until again three years ago. It's something I never had, a warm, happy, loving family, not in childhood and not, as it turned out, in adulthood either.
This morning too I read a post in a blog I follow, that also hit me to the quick, and that I suppose I relate to - though honestly, I don't know that I have all my own motivations figured out, why what has happened with my life, has happened as it has. But it has. Many of these adult daughters of narcissistic mothers are loving mothers to their own children. Others decide not to have children. They have sustained too much emotional deprivation to consider having children of their own...
No, I didn't raise my siblings, not as literally as the psychologist's post paints, but I certainly shouldered & withstood very much, through my childhood. I reread the title of her post - yes, I certainly have a sense of having raised myself. My mother was there - and she wasn't.
(I've looked up the blog now, and think of 1.0 when I read the title of the latest post.)
And so I try to buck up, self-soothe. Why am I envious of 1.0's wife, the family & lifestyle he created with her? Yes, envy. Or a sense of --- that could have been mine. But --- what - could have been mine? Could I really have been happy with him, over the long haul, given --- the givens?
But why didn't it ever happen with me?
I can't speak for 1.0, but there were moments in our deep past where there were gaps where (in an alternate universe) we might possibly have gotten together again (if for brief reacquaintance), I know that I myself resisted them mostly (I think). I felt myself to be a mess, very confused, and smoking way way too much out of anxiety. I felt very embarrassed about the smoking. As my teens and early twenties progressed I wasn't the sweet fairly uncomplicated ingenue whom he'd weaned off whole-milk. I was addicted to cigarettes, and they took a toll of course on my breath, my appearance, my manner - everything.
It's hard. They were a companion for me, I suppose, very reliable. I'm thinking just now too, of how I sucked my thumb as a young child for a long time, longer than most children, well into second grade (and I was embarrassed about it) -- and my grandmother managed to shame me out of it. Love & approval of my grandmother trumped all, I suppose - and so I gave up the wet wrinkled thumb.
So 1.0's not stupid. His wife is I'm sure ultra-competent, with a gift of the blind eye to boot.
I wouldn't have lasted in that arrangement. In that arrangement, I almost certainly would have become deranged with sexual jealousy.
But why couldn't some quieter form have happened for me? Well, it did. And I have to remind myself today too, that I was very happy for twenty years. (Though now we're coming on 25.) And we had our Christmas trees, with gifts around them.
My thoughts are all over the place.
Emma Bovary under house arrest, while D. Str.-Kahn takes in plays & concerts in the Berkshires in recent days, as I've read... Ah, that's just humorous!
Sweetheart, I don't know your story, I really don't, I can guess and surmise, and it's okay, I don't expect anything, way too complicated. I mentioned once how I'm not angry or frustrated with you in any way - you met your wife way before you ever met me - and I totally accept that.
The hard time I have is accepting the same with regard to 1.0 - he had met me first.
And yet it's all so over, so why don't I let go? I don't know. I suppose I was trolling his mother's memoirs for clues.
This is so incomplete, I'm sorry. E.D. didn't have children either, but I'm convinced she had orgasms. In that sense I relate to her very much. But why does it have to be an either/or? Why is everything so compartmentalized?
Is that what it comes down to?
But I reject the binaries. I guess I'm just in this other in-between category (which, except for its upsides, mostly sucks).
Couldn't I have been who I am *and* have had children? I didn't wish not to have them, it just didn't happen, the circumstances
Another source of resentment is this sense of (until recent years) having tried very hard to do everything right. And it didn't work.
My alumnae magazine arrived in the mail today too. A budding investment banker I was very friendly with in college -- who, like her father before her, became an investment banker -- is now, after career, and marriage, and children, a 'life coach.'
Or it did work, and here I am sitting buck naked by myself up in the aerie typing.
I would readily put on clothes for the chance to, in a way that didn't provoke anxiety, be in a living room at Christmas with a huge Christmas tree and pots simmering fragrantly on the stove
I can pull myself out of myself (that suggests an intestinal Francis Bacon painting in itself). I didn't quite find the person in 1.0's mother whom I'd hoped to find in her written and published pages. But she would lament too, about aging, about being an independent-minded woman -- her resounding, overarching theme was -- I'm still here
launching without proofing, which I'm sure will show
but really must run
yours, the pink minotaur