Saturday, August 10, 2013

Running Away to Return

The women in my family are stubborn.

All of us.

Me, too.

We blame it on the men and the children in our lives, but we are stubborn, headstrong and willful. These traits can be gussied up as determined and persistent, but sometimes it's just a plain old PITA to be around us.

How do I know this? A) I am a woman in my family, and B) we are spending a week with my mother and grandmother in Pennsylvania. Everyone has a "system" in this house, and when they collide, things happen. Like planets smashing into each other, or like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs and started the Ice Age. That bad, sometimes.

I have realized that one of the best ways to get people to like you (if you're into that sort of thing) is to let them teach you something, let them be the expert. Then they feel heard and smart and listened to.

You can't fake this, though, unless you are working with someone who is really not very smart or particularly worthy of being listened to (which brings up another trait of the women in my family: judgmental. But I digress.).

But since we know everything (the women in my family), it is hard to accomplish this whole business of being liked. Which is cool until you find yourself down a husband in your early 40s, living in a state that you despise with very little desire to do much of anything. And it's still cool until you realize that many of the things you thought you knew about yourself were wrong, and all of the smart things you poured into your brain in your 40+ years on the planet couldn't quite prepare you for the loss, and then you had to admit you were wrong about a TON of stuff, sometimes in a very public way, and then you had to go ahead and take a very deep accounting of all the ways you screwed up in your relationship with no way to make amends for it.

All the while following the grief books and ideas about "being gentle with yourself," and "taking all the time you need."  And then trying to make it through the time when people normally have a mid-life crisis anyway but then adding in the death of your best friend and biggest supporter, which you didn't quite realize until it happened. So there's that to deal with, too.

The other trait that women in my family share is longevity, which is a blessing and a curse; this means that, at some point, we all end up alone, minus our dudes who just couldn't hang with us for one reason or another (cancer, old age, trees, etc.). We all have to learn, at some point, how to unclog a drain, clean gutters and change a tire. In my case, I also have to learn how to install a window, install plumbing, hang siding, wire a house for electrical...again, I digress.

The point here. There is a place for stubbornness. It helps me put my feet on the floor every morning (that and my beautiful child); it helps me continue with the damn tiny house, even though it is hopelessly out of square and everything takes four times longer because of it, and the whole time we are working on it I am thinking about Dane and how he should be working on it, and that's what la is thinking, too, so she kind of stares off into space and makes it very difficult. Stubbornness helps me keep looking. This can't be it, I think. This can't be all.

But I am taking stock, too. Trying to let myself be changed. Trying to be better. It is hard when you are a woman in my family, but it is necessary. I feel like a cliché, and I have to let that roll off my back, too. I don't want to be the same person I was becoming. If I have to run away for awhile to figure out how to let myself come back, so be it.


  1. Holy shit. I think we might be related. This was beyond fantastic. Absolutely immeasurably outstanding. Set aside the crappy reason for starting the journey, thanks for starting this blog to take us with you.

    1. I say the same thing when I read some of your posts on FB. We are The Mutual Admiration Society (membership: 2).