I’ve always been loud. I spent much of my younger life living brashly and aggressively. I was the kind of girl that beat up the boys that would say things like, “Women are bad drivers” because my mom taught me that people that said shit like that needed to be shouted down.
Naturally, the boys would just say it more often so I’d chase them around the school. My 7th grade yearbook had an amusing entry from a kid named Don that said, “To the girl that always hit me with her dumb cast when she didn’t like what I said.”
That was me.
Somewhere in high school and my early twenties that voice dwindled, mostly because I wasn’t sure who I was, and because alcohol was clouding my opinion of myself. Not to mention the strange and twisted ways of early love, the way a young girl can disappear into a relationship and say things like, “yes, sure, I think Pink Floyd is awesome” or “The Who really move me” or “Yes, flannel is a great look for me, I’d love to wear your shirt.”
It took sobriety to give me back to myself. It took sobriety to grow up, to learn who it was, exactly, I saw in the mirror. It took sobriety for me to realize how much of who I thought I was actually came from other people. It also took sobriety for me to realize that I was an asshole, and I needed to stop hitting people with my cast when I didn’t like what they had to say, that instead I had to listen because in fact they just might know what they are talking about – and that they had a right to believe in what they needed to believe in.
It took blogging for me to learn that the words were singing in me, that I had the ability to tell a story and tell it true. I’ve learned, in the near decade I’ve been doing this thing, how to tell my story without stamping on the stories of others. I’ve grown up here on this site, I’ve become a good writer because of this blog, and I’ve been sharing my personal truth here with deep joy and gratitude for a long fucking time.
Do you know what fireweed is? It’s a gorgeous plant that has these incredible stalks of bright pink and purple blossoms. They love acidic soil, so they are often the first thing to grow in a forest that’s been decimated by fire. They are the harbinger of hope, proof that no matter how badly something burns down, something new can grow again. Blogging for me has been fireweed. It seeded the life that was burned to nothing after losing my sons. It has gifted me with so much joy and love and hope. It has made me the mother I am to my daughter. It’s made me a writer. It’s made my life whole.
Things are changing and shifting in my life again. In good ways and in bad. I have many challenges to face down right now, some of which are not at my own hand, and are directly related to blogging. I’m working hard to shake it off, to rise above, to move on. But I’ve felt mired, lately. I’ve felt far more immersed in ash than in new growth. Fires set by other have been licking at my heels for two years now, and I’ve let those fires overpower my voice.
I am not willing to let that be the case anymore.
My goal for January is to get unstuck. It’s rather terrifying; some plans I’ve made have to change, and I liked those plans. I felt very focused and centered and ready. But we can’t control much – well, fucking anything really – and I have to bend so I don’t break.
Luckily, at 44 years old, I know that these periods where everything burns down lead to new growth, every single time. It’s hard to remember while standing in the flames that I will move to standing in the flowers soon. This is what I am holding on to right now.
My mother has moved to a rehab facility, and we’ve begun the process of finding another (safer) place for her to live. She’s felt very rejected; she didn’t want to move out of our house. She loved her basement “cave” she called it; she felt safe there. It’s been hard to point out, over and over again, that she actually wasn’t safe. Having her move in to our house the way she did – rushed and forced, because she was losing her home – was precarious and foolish on all of our accounts. We didn’t have the money to install the bathroom she needed (nor did she, working barely part time at a community college), and I am angry at myself for letting my mother decide to stay, over and over, even though the living situation here wasn’t ideal.
But we’ve been steadfast this time, Charlie and I, and have made it clear that we feel it would be irresponsible of us to let her keep living here. I cannot tell you how awful that is, telling her no, over and over. She’s afraid she’ll lose us. She’s afraid she won’t be able to afford living on her own. She’s afraid of going back to being independent.
But I think she’s begun to be ready for her own fireweed.
Yesterday our visit at the rehab was amazing. She’s said she’s actually looking forward to living in the apartment complex we’re hoping to get her into. She told me she was ready to do stuff for herself and not let us do it anymore. She’s got that spark in her she had right after the pneumonia. Medically she’s stable right now. There is still some tweaking to do – her issue is endocrinology related (hyperparathyroidism) which is easily treatable (although we are still waiting for a fully definitive diagnosis, which is frustrating). With treatment, she should not have these episodes any more.
I don’t know what’s next. I thought I did, but I don’t. But you know what? I think it’s going to be FINE.
I really do. Bring on the fireweed, people.