Thanks for the rest of my life

So. Yesterday a significant relationship ended. i said goodbye to someone that has meant something to me. Technically a professional relationship, but so much more. I rarely have the opportunity to have a rational, yet emotional, parting with someone in my life. This is one of those rare times when I’ve been safe to have the emotions, and the party of the second part didn’t take advantage of those cracks in my armor.

The emotions are still flowing, which is somewhat annoying, but I am simply allowing them to spatter about and cause me to gesture obscurely when necessary. I would rather nothing ever change, but despite comprehending that is simply not the way of things, I reserve the right to loathe it. Especially when it’s not my idea. Dammit.

I am not liking the feelings. They are messy and distracting and do not respond to my attempts to control them. These are not entirely new feelings, but this is a different experience because I am not angry. This was handled so gently, and despite my initial suspicion that I was being abandoned yet again, I was handled with kid gloves. My trust was restored. I had closure, in such an incredibly supportive way, and left with my dignity intact. This is a big deal. A very big deal.

So, today I am holding myself in the wake of this emotional flood, and coming to realize that I was treated as I deserve to be treated. Like a mother would treat a child. This is something I have rarely gotten in my life. Perhaps I have not been ready for it, but perhaps I have not been dealing with people who were capable of providing that. I will never, ever, ever forget this experience, or what it has changed. Something has shifted. Something big.

Twice in the past week I’ve been given the gift of nurturing, of being held by a gentle spirit like a frightened child. These experiences give me far more faith in my ability to navigate this insane world than anything else. They give me more trust in myself, that somehow I am indeed able to attract people who do not simply want to harm me. Maybe I am somehow competent after all.

So, I am immensely grateful for having this experience of closure yesterday. No drama, no rage, just gratitude. Now I must determine what I’m going to do with that. I have been taught that gratitude is an action word, not a thought. How will I continue in a manner that reflects that gratitude, and maintains a condition for which I continue to be grateful? That’s the question, and that’s what must guide me.

I watched the opening proceedings of the new Congressional Select Committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection. Four police officers, from Capitol Police and Metro D.C. Police, were on hand to testify. Their testimony was emotional for the listeners, and there were yet more previously unseen videos. One officer told of having a speaker thrown in his direction and eventually landing on his foot. Several bones were broken, and he received stiches where the skin was torn apart. He also injured his shoulder in the fracas, and may ultimately need surgery to repair a damaged rotator cuff. He may be in pain and recovery for at least another year.

That officer is a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic. He is not a recent immigrant, but told the committee he felt the rioters focused on him at one point and drew attention to his accent. They shouted racial epithets at him that showed they did not accept him as an American citizen. Another officer, who is African-American, told a similar tale of racial epithets hurled at him, and related that a woman in the crowd shouted to others, “Hey look – this nigger voted for Biden!”

What in the world makes these people so incredibly rageful and brutal? How do we reconcile those stories, those videos, those scenes that are now frozen in our memories with our shared national allegiance? How can these people be a part of us? They literally tortured law enforcement officers with pepper spray, bear spray, tasers, stun guns, wooden beams, flag poles, barricades, shields wrestled away from the officers, and anything else they could get their hands on. What kinds of people are these? It’s one thing to be angry, even enraged. It’s another thing entirely to be simply cruel.

Aside from this investigation of the insurrection, the Tokyo Olympics are proceeding, against the best advice of medical professionals around the world. There is no audience in the arenas, which has to be somewhat of a flat experience for the athletes. Regardless, these people are giving it their all, and then some. The pressure to perform, and represent your country admirably, is mind boggling. They don’t all make it through all of the trials, and today Simone Biles withdrew from team competition. She explained in a press conference that her mind was just no in an acceptable place. and she felt it was better for not only her mental health but for the team if she withdrew.

Simone Biles is an incredible athlete, and a very young woman. She had an uncharacteristically error-prone routine just before making her decision, and her face showed the emotional turmoil. Her body does things seemingly impossible for a human body, and her level of talent and competitive spirit is phenomenal. Her withdrawal is a terrible loss for this Olympic gathering. Previous gymnastics competitors voiced the utmost care and support for her, and many of them echoed her story of the incredible pressure experienced. At few of them voiced their sentiment concerning insufficient mental health support during these high pressure competitions.

Today, she pulled out of the individual overall competition. She maintains that her mind is “not there”, not in the optimal state to engage in this intense competition safely. There was a past champion on CNN this morning who affirmed that vociferously, saying the risk of injury when you are flying through the air and executing complex body movements can result in serious injury if you lose focus for even a second. Without exception, people considered expert in the field of gymnastics and athletic competition support her decision, and say that it’s impossible to judge it. I believe everyone is wishing her well, and wanting to see her incredible skills at some later time, when she feels safe and ready.

There are some things in my experience that I had no idea would be significant until much later. Other things brought about immediate emotional response, but there were layers of insight that emerged over years, even decades. I am the only one living in this body, so I’m the only one who can determine whether or not my mental state makes it safe for me to engage in anything, at any time. That’s not for anyone else to decide, or comment upon, or judge. If Simone Biles feels unsafe and vulnerable, and not in a place to offer her best, so be it. Everyone else can shut the hell up, and keep their opinions to themselves.

Many years ago, when I was about 9 or 10, my parents and I set out for Astroworld in Houston Tx. We stopped off in Lake Charles to visit with my grandmother, which brought such great joy to me that I remember spinning around like a top in the carport when we arrived. I took a long nap, and I think my dad did as well because he was driving, and then we hit Astroworld.

I don’t remember all that much about Astroworld, truth be told. I think I had fun, in that blase’ flat way in which dysfunction morphs one’s emotions. I believe my father had not been entirely jaded quite then, and I don’t remember feeling terribly anxious or afraid during that trip. It’s likely that I slept a good part of the time, because even now I am nearly hypnotized in planes, trains, and automobiles. I go into such deep sleep when riding on a vehicle in motion that it’s frequently embarrassing, since I snore raucously.

Perhaps I remember that trip, or at least the fact of the occurrence, because things had not deteriorated entirely in my family. My grandmother was still alive, my mother had not been transformed to a cruel and tempestuous Medusa-like form, and things seemed to be somewhat “normal”. My father had probably not met the 2nd wife yet. I had not entered puberty and the onslaught of homicidal hormones. The dog hadn’t begun peeing on my father’s leg. Life was … good.

Not all that long after that, that picture melted into some kind of surreal hell. I wonder what my parents were feeling during the metamorphosis, if they had any clue about what was happening. If my father understood that he wanted something more, that he was miserable in his marriage. I wonder if my mother felt that anything was amiss in her relationship to her husband, of she believed that his emotional absence and stoic silence was how every marriage proceeded. I am not entirely sure what I was thinking at that point. I believe there were simply more periods of grace and unencumbered times of just existing, without feeling that my very presence in the world constituted a failure of the divine.

Perhaps at one time I thought I’d want to go back to those days, but now I don’t think so. I suppose everything was exactly as it should have been then, until it wasn’t. I can’t reconstruct the past, whether I want to or not, whether I accept it or not. I have to live here and now, but I suck at that. I so totally want to fly, but I’ve forgotten and my wings are too large and I don’t quite know what to do with them. Perhaps if I could get my brain out of things, it could work – my resistance and hesitation are formed by what I know, what I’ve read, what I see, what I’ve been told. So much noise!

I’m still watching the eagles developing in Juneau. It’s huge now, almost adult-sized but it’s still learning. It doesn’t yet know how to jump up on a branch to perch. The other day, mama eagle crash-landed in the nest, and then plodded over to a branch and jumped upward to perch. The little one was mesmerized by her maneuvers, and stared with head turned quizzically until long after she was settled. I figure it won’t be long before it hops up there, and no much longer until it tries flying for the first time. I don’t think eagles stress over whether or not they are meeting developmental guidelines as established by expert authorities, though. When it’s time, it’s time, and not a second before. When it’s time, they’ll do what their instincts tell them to do. Amazing.

I will never forget my longtime provider who retired yesterday. She was my psychiatrist, but she got me. During that last conversation, I mentioned the eagles, and she said they would teach me everything I need to know. I think she’s right, because over the past couple of months that I’ve watched them, I’ve had an incredible amount of insight into love, relationships, family, nurturing, and balance. I would never have thought to Google “eagle nesting” or “eagle’s development” on my own, but I stumbled on this site in a purely unintentional way. We bring to ourselves what we need at times.

The concepts of requiring an open heart to maintain gratitude sticks with me. At least for me, it may be that my heart needs to maintain not only an open heart, but an open mind. My resistance is so often based in thought exercise, and the construction of past events with present events. Sometimes there really is no connection, or more importantly, if there’s’ a pattern I can just stop doing things that get me to the same place over and over and over. I suppose that’s too simple for my advanced brain, but…still I try.

Today it’s hot, and muggy. I took the psycho-dog outside, and she barked at nothing for quite a while. Her barking may well have manifested things to bark at later, because someone appeared to wash their car, and a couple more people appeared walking their dogs, and the landscaper rode by on his mower. She was nearly hysterical. But in is good way. At one point she got so excited that her tongue was hanging out sideways, and she was breathing like a fire engine. I told her to calm down because she was going to have a heart attack, or cause me to have a heart attack, or there would simply be heart attacks in the general vicinity of her excitement. She gave me the standard look of , “You moron. You still don’t quite understand that I have no earthly clue what you are saying, and if I did I really wouldn’t care.”. Oh, well.

Oh, yeah – I got the new FitBit yesterday…it has a couple of snazzy new features that I will probably never use, and it’s a touch-screen model. The screen is less that two inches wide and three inches high, so my chubby fingers aren’t going to be navigating a whole lot in that tiny space. As long as it tracks steps, I suppose that’s all I can reasonably expect, because a couple of their more enticing new features will cost extra money, so…just track the steps, darlin’. Just track the steps.

Some days are easier than others…but you still gotta do it.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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