Musical Milliner

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

July 8, 2013

Think For Yourself

Filed under: music — by Musical Milliner @ 10:24 am
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Image

I’ve got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You’re telling all those lies
About the good things that
We can have if we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you have in mind
And though you still can’t see
I know your mind’s made up
Youre gonna cause more misery

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Although your mind’s opaque
Try thinking more if  just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you’ve got time to rectify
All the things that you should

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I wont be there with you

Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

(Harrisongs 1968)

September 20, 2012

La strada panoramica

There are times to keep one’s stories close, and there comes a time to share them with the innocent involved because it is also his history. Timing, boundaries, the effect the information may generate with other parties is tricky business. As a mother, I believe my children deserve to know their complete history. You have to gauge your child’s maturity. Too soon, and they may not have perspective. And then there is understanding that waiting too long can create resentment. They want the truth, and they deserve it.

My timing in these matters can and has missed the mark, but when giving a young adult child bits of their story previously hidden, especially those factual parts steeped in my own deep emotion, when is there ever a right time? Tricky also because in some cases, my perspective is biased to a point where there is only one point.

Recently prompted by a reference to a possible future road trip involving side trips and scenic routes, something long suppressed surfaced. I told my child one of his stories. I started with a disclaimer that he would learn some facts, and some bias, and I would be honest about when the lines crossed.

I was heavily pregnant, just six weeks to go. The idea of going for a ride up the coast to a nice spot seemed a good idea. But the trip was long, and I always had to pee. We made frequent stops, but I had to concentrate on holding it. After an hour or so, I wanted to go home. This trip had become exhausting. But no, the driver, the father of this child, decided I would feel better when we got to this specific land’s end, so he kept going, and my resentment increased.

Soon we were travelling in our old Jeep down a pot-holed, rocky road, full of dust on a hot day in mid September. My discomfort grew to abject misery. I felt every bump and shake, and my Braxton-Hicks contractions became increasingly painful.

I begged him to slow down. I told him this was not good for me or the baby. He seemed most focused on his own enjoyment. He kept saying, “Buck up. We’re almost there.” Which of course we were not. I’ve never reviewed a map to be certain, but I believe the dirt road was about twenty miles.

We got to the destination, and yes, it was lovely. But I was not feeling well. I was nauseous. I went to the loo at the visitor center and threw up my lunch. All the while the pre-labor contractions came and went. After a short nap on the sand, and lots of water they stopped.

The ride home was better, but by this time I was angry and in tears. He drove more slowly, but spewed a litany of reasons as to why I was such a wimp: I didn’t exercise enough; I didn’t get out enough; I was too consumed with being pregnant; and why were we even having this baby when we were having so much trouble with our relationship. (That last one came up again on the walk between parking the car and a two block waddle to the hospital.) I’ve since learned that this is the language of a bully.

As the story goes, we made it home. There was tension, which was usual, and I went to sleep without supper.

Next day, I had a doctor’s appointment. I got into the shower, and in the course of washing up, I felt my amniotic fluid leaking.

How could this be? I was just entering the thirty-fifth week of pregnancy. I used a piece of Nitrazine tape I had on hand, and it was blue, which was positive for amniotic fluid. Oh shit. This baby is coming too early.

Off to the doctor. I told her about the previous days outing, and she asked me “What was he thinking?”  As she examined me, my little leak turned into a gush all over her table and floor. The membranes had ruptured, and I was going to have this baby. I went home to get some things, and tried to track down my husband, who was two hours away in a business meeting. When he got home, we headed to the hospital during which his insensitive and absurd comment, still burned into my brain, was uttered. I understand his statement was the expression of a compilation of fears unfiltered at an emotional time. But really, his inability to filter is part of what doomed my respect for him.
I was set up with an IV of antibiotics, and the plan was to give me 24 hours to go into labor naturally. The odds of the baby having respiratory issues was about 50/50, his gender making him more vulnerable, as neonate boys produce less surfactant, a substance which allows the lungs to work smoothly. If he weighed in over six pounds, he would just be “pre-term.” Babies under six pounds are premature. I had to get my head together, put my fears aside and birth this baby.

His was an easy birth. He weighed six and a half pounds, and but a for a transitory episode of struggling to get his lungs going, he was plump and pink with blond hair.

When I started this essay, I brought up the ethical question of how much and when to tell an almost adult child. This is the hard part. This fabulous boy, though within normal ranges, was developmentally on the far side. He later had challenges with fine motor skills, and minor learning issues which he has learned to manage and for the most part outgrown. He is a solid student, a creative thinker, and one of the kindest people I know. He is tall and gorgeous.

But I told him of the long road trip, and my belief that his birth was early due to it, and my bitterness over knowing that a few weeks longer in the oven may have made his school days less harrowing. I blame his father, but it’s pathetic because his father discounted my knowledge, went against medical advice and forced us on that drive. I don’t want him to resent his father over this. How can I be objective in this situation? I don’t think it possible. My son will make up his own mind.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap) 2012

March 1, 2010

Canto a Dispetto

He is a caged animal.  Acting from instinct which overshadows a profound intellect,  he holds hostage the very ones he claims to love.  He lashes out without weighing his words because he has never learned to temper his verbal impulses. It has been so all his life.

So he bullies and threatens. He stomps his feet and uses his fists because he confuses contrary opinion as rejection.

There is no comprehension, no acceptance that one can agree to disagree yet breathe the same air.

Because of these things, his wife has left him, and his children avoid him.

He pays the family bills. In the past ten months, he has provided no grocery money for his family. His water-tight plan is to starve them because if they suffer enough, the employment he demands of his estranged wife will manifest out of the ether.  Then he will be free.  He does not imagine his captivity is self-imposed and is his commitment.

The use of force, bullying, degradation and threats repeats in an endless rhythm in the wild animal mind. There is no escape from this way of being. The cage remains. A cage of his making.

(c) GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

May 17, 2009

Lullaby

Filed under: family life,Poetry,traditions,Uncategorized — by Musical Milliner @ 6:24 pm
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imagesOver the years, a few Mother’s Day’s have been misplaced. Conflicting performance schedules have been popular excuses. Too busy-ness, and a big job that requires travel (Three-quarters of the sum total of family birthdays have fallen under similar consequences.), and the refusal to write in a datebook such occasions which I take for passive-aggressive-sideways behavior. I could be wrong.

There was a golden time when Mother’s Day was a warm occasion celebrated with brunch or an early dinner. The days started out being special and fun. There was this feeling of “cool- I’m a mom! I baked these little people.” When the cards were drawn by small hands, the flowers wild and spiced with rosemary sprigs in honor of me and The Mother, those were happy times.

It was a time when more than motherhood was celebrated. What we were taking time to recognise was the joy of being a family. Despite all the underlaying unhappiness and frustration of the parents, we were a family of bright and beautiful young people who knew laughter and fun, and love.

Years passed, and small children grew as they must, but these special times of pausing to count our blessings became distilled into last minute mumblings of “Holy fuck, I forgot to buy the card. Did I buy the card? Is the flower shop near the corner still open, or maybe I can get to the grocery store before X wakes up and purchase the cake or flowers or card or chocolate croissaints or…? ”

On Mother’s Day this year, the first since my spouse moved out, I awakened to the sounds and smells of him making French Toast. By the time I’d dressed and opened my bedroom door, the kitchen was tidy as if no one had been there. Everyone gone early to church to vest for liturical duties.

On the counter in a drinking glass without water to nourish them, was a small bouquet of flowers, still in their wrapping. But there was no French Toast for me. No bread. All the eggs consumed. The traditional freshly juiced blood oranges were not present either. Perhaps worst of all: no coffee. None at all.

My feelings were multiple and weighed heavily on me. I quickly dressed and went to church. Maternal affirmation pervaded, and it made me both sad and angry. I was part of things, yet I was apart from things. I was not sure where I belonged.

One child went off with his father. Another went to see his girlfriend, and I went home to my kitty and made fresh coffee with a French Press. Then I went to bed and cried.

I miss being a family. It was something I treasured, something I put my whole life into creating and managing, and now I have fractured it because it was broken, and needed a remodel for all the members to be healthy again. It will take years.

On Mother’s Day, I questioned my judgment as I began the process of thinking, “never again will I know this.”

My first Easter in this new life was abysmal as well. I didn’t make baskets, or dye eggs, and the kids, knowing how tight the purse is, never mentioned anything.

I must remember not to let my grief interfere with the family traditions we created together. It is important that I keep these going. For them. For me.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

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