Musical Milliner

October 28, 2017

Si spezza il cuore

Filed under: abuse,Divorce,family life,grief,motherhood,music — by Musical Milliner @ 10:40 am

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When I became a mother, I experienced the most intense and unexpected love for another human being.  To that point in my life, I had loved, been loved. But nothing even close to the depth and unconditional love I felt holding my newborn. That intensity increased when my child began to reciprocate. I felt unworthy of his devotion and adoration.

At the same time, I was so grateful to finally understand how real love could be. This little child’s love for me healed a lifetime of wounds. It helped me heal from the loss of my own mother as a girl, due to an illness she had when I was born. This child brought me respite from an abusive marriage. I thought, maybe my husband will stop hurting me now that I had a child in my arms.

My husband’s rages were fewer for awhile. But more than a few times he hit me while I was holding my son. Once when I was nursing him. Emotionally, it was confusing.  During the day, alone with my child, life was sweet and calm and busy. Nights were another thing. My husband came home and started drinking. We had dinner. He drank more. My floors were covered in egg shells. My goal was to avoid a fight, and avoid being verbally and physically abused. I was able to hide from him by being a busy mother. Not always. Eventually I was caught in his anger.

This child who was so kind and loving eventually became aware of his parent’s terrible marriage, something for which he judges me harshly, and has never forgiven me. And of course, he took notes. He often treats me with the same disdain and disrespect he learned from his father’s treatment of me.

Where once my heart was more joyful that I’d ever imagined, that place is sore and bereft. I will never know that love again from him.  I am ignored. I am marginalized. He contacts me when he needs or wants something of me and takes advantage of my vulnerability, but seems unaware that I need his love and interest.

Life is getting shorter.

May 26, 2014

Disordinata

  images (Revised 9/18/17)

The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

But it’s not all her fault. Get real.

His mother prayed for the demise of his son’s marriage to this unsubmissive woman, this vegetarian, teetotling feminist who breastfed her children forever, and didn’t change her name at marriage. A woman who took off to one of the top summer opera  Young Artists Program for 12 weeks months after her wedding, and the following two summers, and weeks periodically for the rest of the year.

In other words, she was a bad wife according to the mother-in-law, and she fed that narrative to her son, the husband.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 The meek little wifey model disappeared decades ago. It’s still practiced in fundementalist cultures all over the world, including the United States. Society has evolved and expanded, and some people aren’t able to stretch their imaginations and adapt. They refuse. The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it that their son or brother, her husband, tells them. And it’s always the kids who suffer from the disconnection. You shun the mother, and wonder why the children will do anything to avoid spending time with those people. The children are loyal to their mother. They observed firsthand the abuse over the years, and how their father’s family did nothing to help.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Does she get that ? Skilled dispensor of passive-agression, her mother-in-law?

Does she wonder why her grandchildren are not in touch? Does she understand they why don’t come around? Of course, that is their mother’s fault. Never mind the children are adults. That is their family culture. Submit, conform, or you can’t play with us.

What am I talking about? I am trying to reconcile how I went from someone with a good education, a prodigious talent, a career, self-respect. A singer with big competition wins A confident woman who collapsed into a beaten down, humiliated, & depressed woman in a violent marriage. How did that happen?  I need to check in, look into this hatbox which I shoved up on a high shelf, and check my compass.  I hate thinking about all of this. But I’m stuck again. What’s working? What’s static?

I am ready to write about these things now. My children are all adults. This is also their history.

(c)GoshGusMusic2014,2017

August 4, 2013

Allattare tutti i bambini

wbw2013-flower-colorIt is our annual World Breastfeeding Week. In a former phase, Musical Milliner was a certified lactation educator. Because MM breastfed her kids to age two, the only singing was lullabyes for a time. We know anecdotally that </=5% of women cannot nurse due to medical conditions. That leaves 95%of us who can, with support systems in place, experience long-term breastfeeding.

We know that most breastfeeding failure occurs when there is a lack of education, family and peer support. The whole village needs to get on board. Support is crucial in the first few weeks, and peer support is one of the greatest predictors for successful breastfeeding, along with frequent consultation with a certified lactation consultant and a new moms support group as needed. Most medical insurance companies have seen the light, and knowing of the long-term cost savings, now cover lactation services.

Not long ago, WIC distributed vouchers to low-income mothers for formula, a demographic for which health issues are more common. We got the hospitals to stop distributing “samples” of artificial formula. These women learn that breastfeeding will lower their grocery bills and lessen their medical costs.

Yes, there are challenges for most women at first. Between sleep deprivation, and the social, relational and physical adjustments new moms make, things can be tough. Again, support of family, peers and lactation consultants, is key for long-term nursing relationships.

Mother-friendly policies in the workplace is another area in which we’ve seen progress. Having a dedicated space for moms to pump and store milk, or have places to nurse in privacy are important. We need to keep pressing on this one until it becomes the norm.

And while we’re at it, for those still-backward parts of the world where mothers are expected to go nurse their hungry babies in a bathroom stall? NOT okay. How would YOU like to eat your meal in a public lavatory?

All I can add is that my own children were obviously healthier than some of their peers. one child has never taken antibiotics, and the other had one ear infection at age three, when he began pre-school.

In addition, they’ve been raised vegetarians, and I believe this has contributed to their robust health.

Someone once said to me, “Breastfeeding is the first promise we make to our children.”
http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

(C)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2013

December 26, 2011

Memorie

Like most children, I looked forward to the Christmas season. Deep in my memory is a tray of Kodak (pre-carousel) slides flashing vignettes on a white wall.

The first tray contains slides when my mother was still walking.

I see my dad taking pleasure and effort to make from found items, a giant arrangement of red candles in graduated sizes, each wired with a different colored light atop, and attached to a platform which was displayed in front of the house on the lawn outside my mother’s kitchen window.  Something about a neighborhood decorating competition. Something about the wires occasionally shorting out. I found the whole thing fantastic.

I see him on a ladder, held by my eldest brother and being cautioned by my mother, taking care to hang lights under the eves.  I remember the glow of the soft colors filling my bedroom as I fell asleep, and how magical that felt.

I have a flash of my mother trying to make potica, a Slovenian holiday bread my father grew up with, and her quiet mumbling as she struggled to get it right.  I’m not sure if she ever did, but I wouldn’t have eaten it, being too picky to try unfamiliar foods like most little ones.

Then there was a year when my father had erected some tacky cardboard fireplace and mantle.  I attribute this to his solution of pestering questions about how could Santa come down the chimney when we didn’t have one.  None of the ranchers where I grew up had them because it rarely got cold enough.  Some companion slides appear on the wall, and I see my parents, who seemed to entertain a lot, sitting around with a living room full of happy people on Christmas Eve after church, and I in my jammies wanting to wait up for Santa.  I remember what I thought was a sonic boom, but, given the day and time of night was probably a quick, sharp earthquake jolt, and the adults telling me that the noise was Santa parking on the roof, and I’d better get to sleep or he wasn’t going to come inside.  Snap.  I woke up later and quietly padded into the living room (the squeaky parquet floor was a challenge) to find that Santa had left many presents, including a doll for me!

My next oldest brother convinced me to get back to bed before we got caught.

The milk and cookies we had left for Santa were gone!

There are slides of our family at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  The creche scene behind the rail suddenly replaced by humans.  I was told many times that I made my stage debut as the baby Jesus when I was twelve days old, and slept peacefully per the script.  I  can’t forget the well dressed man next to us who dripped some astounding green-red glop from his nose onto a crisp white hankie. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, yet I remember this fellow. He is stuck on that slide.

The fragrant tree so beautifully decorated.  The ceramic creche underneath the spruce with which I  entertained myself, rearranging the cattle and sheep. Moving Joseph around.  Keeping the straw tidy and off the carpet for my mother.

Slides of the company- all the visitors.  The endless trays and dishes full of food.  The shock of seeing the rector in collar, sitting on a sofa with a cigarette and a glass of Scotch, and not having a clue as to how to deal with this contextual confusion.

It was a time of innocence which all children deserve.  By the time I was five, my mother was no longer able to walk.

The second tray of slides sits quietly in my mind.  The wall is blank. I don’t want to look at them.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2011

August 20, 2010

Passaggio: How Could It Be?

Yesterday was tough. Exactly a day to a time many years ago when I watched my high school sweetheart drive off to college, car packed full of LPs, stereo, and some clothes, I found myself  helping my eldest son move into his freshman dorm.

Among all the mixed emotions of the day, I could not get the picture out of my mind of seeing that old car pull out and go. I felt so alone then. Abandoned.

Those feelings welled up again yesterday. I recognized them, and across the years the visceral memory was fresh. I had done this before, had seen a young man I loved take a big step away from me and into the excitement of university life.

There is a pain so deep, so familiar, and so very strange as well. It is surreal. Both strong and gentle men. Both reliable Pisces. Both good friends.

There are, of course, differences.

A child I carried, birthed and cradled in my arms became a man so fast that I’m absolutely stunned.

How many times have I endured the unsolicited advice to savor every minute with my child because it all flies by so quickly?  Higher mind knows this. Heart fights it. Helpful people annoy.

A friend of mine who is a fabulous father told me that he’s been depressed about it for several years. Worse with each child. He warned me to be ready for more helpful comments from the well-intentioned about how wonderful it must be to finally have a quiet, empty home. From what planet do these people launch?

To give them the benefit, I’ll assume some people prefer the distance from their children. For me, as for my friend, these kids are interesting, interested people. The idea that months will turn before I share coffee at the kitchen table with my son is unimaginable. But it is the new reality. No matter what, I can’t change the facts. As with all passages, I can struggle or I can choose to just roll with it. .

I knew this day would come. But nothing can prepare you for it when your time arrives. Your heart gets ripped out, and the hardest part of it all is to not transmit the depth of your pain to your child. He knows your sadness, but he will never know the whole story until it becomes his turn to experience a similar day with his own offspring.  To come unhinged in his presence would be selfish. He doesn’t need my baggage with all the changes he is undergoing.

We raise them to leave. If I’ve done my job well, my son will embrace this new journey. I will as well. I love you son!

(c)GoshGusMusic(2010)photo cjarc(c)

May 21, 2010

Tesori? Laundry Lost and Found

Filed under: Faith,Kids and Family,motherhood — by Musical Milliner @ 1:01 pm
Tags: ,

Having fallen far behind in laundry chores, I made a deal with myself that if I focused on the task and made significant progress, I would indulge in one evening of not worrying. About anything.

Those of you closest to me understand my attachment to worrying, often about things over which I have little or no control. The worry is how I work at the problem, searching for some logical or rational solution, or even a smidge of greater understanding. It’s not a good habit and is often counter-productive.

Now I feel guilty for worrying. Oh, for Pete’s sake!

Because I am trying to get through the job, I hurried the first load, neglecting to check pockets before the wash cycle (yet another sin). As I pulled the stuff to go into the dryer, I found the following:
* pocket comb
* leather pouch imprinted with “Flagyl I.V., in which lives
a masculine manicure set- go figure
* Sephora lip gloss in Precious Pink
* Hohner “C” harmonica

And I made $20.00, freshly laundered.

P.S. Second load presented a hoodie with a disposable ice pack in the pocket. No complaints from the troops of any injury.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

February 18, 2009

A New Key

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Instrumentalists look at the key signature before beginning to play a new piece. Being a typical singer in this regard, I look at the inclusive range of notes. Two considerations: the extreme- how low, how high, and the tessitura, the Italian word for “texture” – the place where most of the notes call home.

For me, the parallels of these matters to my current situation is telling. What are my limits, my breadth of tolerance? How do I live in my home when it is no longer where I belong? How do I find my way to a comfortable tessitura? And how do I find the strength and stamina to live those long, arching lines and difficult passage work, which fly naturally from my throat, yet not from my environment?

So I begin. Not to fret over the key, because I own the gift of relative pitch. Rather, to find that tessitura which will lead me forward into a new way of living.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

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