Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Songs Well Sung

On October 6 and 9, the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus performed the Mozart Mass in C minor. Singing with this chorus is one of the great gifts Life has given me.

I thought I'd share with you some reviews we received.


The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Zachary Lewis - Daniel Hathaway (I especially like Hathaway's "as solid as granite" simile.)

The Classical Music Connection:

Superconductor: The blog of Paul Pelkonen

I hope I can hold up to the long and late weekly drives to Cleveland for a long time to come.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Please Tell Me I'm Not Insane

This morning I'm again driving to North Carolina. I'll stay about 36 hours, then turn around and head home. I don't want to go. I go because of [perceived] duty. I go because I try to treat my mother with respect. (I had to figure out on my own how to do that.) I go because I need to view myself as a good daughter. I go because it's the right thing to do.

Each time I set out on this drive, I think this may be the last time I [have to] make the drive. (Mother is 98 years and 160 days old. If you're counting.)

Family and beloved advisors ask why I do it. Maybe it's because I'm responsible. Maybe it's because I'm looking for approval and acceptance. More likely, it's because I'm trying to reinforce my attempts to view myself as responsible, approved of, and accepted.

I've been looking for approval and acceptance for about 61 years now. (And 138 days. If you're counting.) All I ever got, in my perception, was criticism and disapproval. The implicit message was "You're not good enough." I always expected to be given away again.

As Mother was preparing to go into surgery in mid-June, she said to me something about how happy they (she and Daddy) had been to get me. What a gift I was.

I heard the words. I didn't feel the meaning. I couldn't feel the meaning.

How can I analogize this deafness, this inability to feel? Is it similar to the medical student who has attended so many rock concerts that he needs an amplifier on his stethoscope to clearly hear the patient's heartbeat? Is it the person with the deviated septum to whom all food tastes bland? Is it an abused child who was locked in the blackened closet for so long that he lost his sight?

My experience tells me that one with whom the mother has not bonded does not develop the ability to bond.

I was told I was special, I was loved, but her words were far louder than her actions. There were no loving actions to believe in, therefore I never developed the ability to believe in her words.

And therefore, my ability to believe, to trust, to bond, is stunted. I continue to believe that I am forgettable. I continue to believe I'm not someone that others want to have around. It's a sickness. It's an awful, miserable, painful, heavy sickness.

A 61-year-old sickness.

If I had a platform, I would gather around me all adoptive parents on the day—about six months after they receive their "special delivery baby", about the time the thrill starts to be dulled by the enormity of the task—and tell them this:

Listen carefully to me. This child needs more love and attention and approval and acceptance than you ever imagine. More than your natural children need. More than you realized you had the ability to bestow.

You need to dig deep down into your gut and pull up everything that's there and form it into loving words and actions. To not form those loving words and actions and envelope your new child in them will forever alter who that child is. You need to go above and beyond each and every day until that child is an adult. Then you can relax.

Demonstrate that the child matters to you, is good enough to you, is acceptable just as she is, without change now. Now! Don't wait until you think you're on your deathbed and say, "I loved you so much I would stand by your crib and cry." That's not good enough.

I hate that writing this brings tears to my eyes. I hate that at the age of 61 years (and 138 days), these feelings still ricochet back and forth in my skull with the slightest provocation.

But, at least until the day she dies, it is what it is. To expect to feel acceptance and approval from her, especially at this point in her life, is insanity.

I accept the lack of acceptance.

And then I'll return home to love and acceptance and approval and joy and laughter.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Who's To Blame

Or: Why does anyone have to be blamed?

Yesterday morning, with the sun shining outside, I took my cup of tea and my iPhone into the library to catch up on my Words With Friends games. The library is my favorite room in my house, and I hadn't taken advantage of it in at least a month. I was sitting peacefully, cat at my feet, when the Jazzman walked in. He sat down next to me, bumped his shoulder up against mine, and said, "Happy Anniversary."

On November 6, 2010, he moved into my—now our—home. My life was changed for the better and for good. (See favorite "Wicked" lyrics below)

My sister-in-law likes the Jazzman a lot. When we saw my brothers and sister-in-law at Mother's last Christmas, my SIL said, "You'd better not screw this up."


Oh, right. I'm to blame. I'm to blame for every poor choice, misstep, and - yes - divorce or breakup in my past life.

Forget the fact the #1 was emotionally abusive to me; or that #2 was clinically depressed and wouldn't speak to me for weeks at a time; or that #3's son threatened to shoot me; or that #5 was playing around behind my back and got married ten weeks after we broke up. They're all my fault. (I didn't mention #4. Cancer gets the blame for that one.)

And if the Jazzman ever decides to pursue a different life/style, according to my SIL's way of thinking, it will be because of something I did.

Good Deity, I hold a lot of power!!

Every time I think it would be fun for the Jazzman and me to vacation with my brother and SIL, I force myself to remember the outrageous things she has said to me, particularly over the past five years as Mother has begun deteriorating.

In case you didn't know or hadn't heard, there are two sides (or even more!) to every story. I was a party to each divorce and each major break-up, but there were other parties. A malicious mother-in-law, a seriously spoiled and narcissistic stepdaughter, and so on. I didn't ground those ocean liners all by myself.

And, judging by the past year, I won't be charged with keeping this ocean liner afloat all by myself. I lead a charmed life. I have a wonderful, caring, loving man who kisses me good-bye in the morning and hello in the evening. He fills my life with happiness, laughter, and friends.

May our life together be long and continue to be as happy as the past year has been.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good