Kacey: “You’re a loser!” Me: “I lost my hand!”

My friend Kacey, fellow blogger, displaced Ypsilanti-ite (Ypsilantian? What do we call ourselves?), and Lincoln-lifer, recently called me out on her blog. She said, and I quote, “Hey, Rachel — post something, loser!”

Or maybe I’m actually paraphrasing via my self-deprecation filter. Ahem. It was probably more like a gentle, personal, encouraging call out suggesting I write a little something something in the month of December.

The truth is, I’ve written lots and lots and lots of words since my last post. They’re all sitting there as drafts. Four, pretty much complete, thousand word drafts. So it’s not really writer’s block that I’ve got going on. Rather, it’s more like writer’s disdain. I’ve got lots and lots of words — I just hate them all.

Writing has always made me feel so good and it’s still cathartic, but not the positive release I’m used to. The words I’ve put down on the page don’t feel together, with it, insightful. They don’t feel funny or clever. Not even clear. That makes me exceptionally sad. Depression and grief have taken so much already — my light, my exclamation points. My words too? It’s too much!

So Kacey is right. It’s time to put something back out there.

Here’s a list of all the things I wrote about with all those unlikable words:

  1. I went back to the fertility clinic for a post-IVF, post-miscarriage, here’s-what-we-learned consultation. The verdict: the chances of us having children, even with IVF, are exceptionally low.
  2. I am devastated.
  3. So… in some sort of desperate attempt to control my body and overcompensate for all the things I/it cannot do, the things I’ve lost, the panic I’m feeling, I signed up to run the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in March…
  4. … and the training has been going really well. Running is so good for me…
  5. … also, I emailed my girlfriends in DC to see if they wanted to run or just hangout while I’m there to run and they were AMAZING. I’m so lucky to have them. They are so good for me.
  6. Then the day before Thanksgiving, my grandfather, my dad’s dad, known to my young self as Papa, passed away unexpectedly. We went to Marquette for his funeral on Monday and it was beautiful — full of light, literally and figuratively. A beautiful service in a beautiful church…
  7. … and I was reminded that no matter how much my anxiety/depression tells me I don’t want to be around family, that I’m not good enough, pretty enough, pregnant enough to even deserve to be in their presence — I freaking love them and it was really amazing to spend time with all those Voncks back in the yoop. My grandfather passed away and I was so sad, but his legacy, the family he built on rock, is a good and beautiful and powerful thing.

Seven relatively brief points. That’s better. Delete, delete, delete the drafts. That’s what’s been going on and I’ve mostly just been feeling down about all of it, even despite the good bits — the family and friends, support and love. Because depression is kind of like that.

Then, yesterday, after I saw Kacey’s public slam (except not really), I was talking to my friend Marie and, because our conversations always take wild and weird turns, she told me about a super bitter guy who never got over losing half of his hand in a factory accident and I instantly imagined him as Nicholas Cage playing Ronny in the movie Moonstruck.

"I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget it?" {Source}
“I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget it?” {Source}

I love the movie Moonstruck so ridiculously much — I mean, it’s kitschy (Marie’s perfect word!) and ridiculous and Cher-filled and perhaps Nicholas Cage’s poorest acting ever, but OMG, I cannot help but LOVE it. And my little chat with Marie and the knowledge that Seth’ll be out and about policing the good city of Marshfield Friday and Saturday night settled my plans to stream Moonstruck at least once over the weekend, probably with popcorn and some cider and a pup to snuggle me. Yes, this sounds quite good.

And then as I was scrolling through Facebook last night (took it off my phone, but I cannot completely kick the habit), my friend Sandy posted about watching Moonstruck. Of all the random 1980s movies…

I don’t really believe in meant-to-bes anymore. But it was an interesting coincidence, and it certainly made me think because I suddenly saw myself in another 5, maybe 10 years, screaming at Seth from my basement bakery:

“I lost my baby! I lost my family! [Every single other woman my age] has her baby! [Every single other woman my age] has her family! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget it?” in a self-righteous pity party many bitter years in the making. Just like the movie, except considerably less likely to lead to a tumble between the sheets, amazing wolf-based monologue, and a bloody steak for dinner. Because (1) Seth isn’t super turned on by my crazy, (2) he’s really not really much for metaphors, wolf-based or otherwise, and (3) he doesn’t generally do the cooking. Instead, he’d probably just shake his head, suggest I make an appointment with my therapist, and leave me be for another 5 – 10 years. No makeover, no opera, just real life and bitterness… because life is not a movie, no matter how much I love Moonstruck. (Although — basement bakery, babe? Let’s please consider that for seriously someday…)

I don’t want to be that person. I really, really don’t want to be that person — spending the rest of my life bitter over my missing limb.

Granted, depression, sadness, grief… none of that is the same as bitterness. But I think it could be a gateway, so to speak, if I don’t keep working on myself. Keep looking for the positive, finding ways to expose myself to light and love and goodness, to let it come in through the cracks. Bitterness would probably be easier, born of non-action, but it won’t end as well for me as it does for Ronny. I choose to work for the alternative, even when it’s hard.

And maybe that’s what the commitment to 26.2 miles is, the email to my friends even though many of them are the “every single other woman my age” that bitter-Ronny-me could end up ranting and raving about, the time spent with family despite the panic in my chest on the way. But it’s also gentleness — because life is hard right now, I did lose a limb, and that doesn’t heal overnight. I can only bend so far without breaking, but even slow progress is progress. Or so my yoga instructors tell me (that’s point 8 — it was another thing I wrote about).

 

In the spirit of advent, my friend Dawn recently reminded me of a Leonard Cohen quote:

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Turns out, he wasn’t the first one to say something like that. Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” And Sufi mystic Rumi said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” That’s a lot of pretty wise people — Muench, Cohen, Hemingway, and Rumi. My job, as a person full of cricks, cracks, and crevices then, is to expose myself to as much light as possible, even when it’s hard, when it’s blinding, and when it’s faint, if I want to avoid the bitterness that can creep in otherwise. Right now, that means running and yoga, family and friends with self-respecting gentleness, and, as Kacey was right to point out, Under the Tapestry too. thanks for hanging in there with me and for being a source of light, always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of this post! You’ve earned a bonus photo!

Full family photo from my grandfather's wedding to his second wife, Anne, in July 1994. The things you uncover before a funeral...
Full family photo from my grandfather’s wedding to his second wife, Anne, in July 1994 (excluding, of course, the three grandkids who weren’t yet born and who got quite the kick out of my hair). It’s no wonder my Great Uncle Elmer didn’t recognize me if this is the picture of me he carries around in his mind’s eye. The things you uncover before a funeral…

5 thoughts on “Kacey: “You’re a loser!” Me: “I lost my hand!”

  1. Oh goodness, I hope you had a genuinely joking tone about me calling you out! I was only encouraging you and other friends to participate in the Blogmas-themed idea I had, not necessarily referring to any lack of blogging (although I do read your blogs consistently, and notice if there is a length of time without one- I do enjoy reading them!). I usually go into the holidays with a grumpy attitude (I’m not a big fan of Christmas) and this year’s Blogmas is an attempt to have fun and be joyful about the season by blogging, which I enjoy. I hope that joy of blogging comes back soon for you. I know for people like us it can be very cathartic; it must be such a strange feeling for it not to feel so! Certainly don’t feel the need to blog unless it’s beneficial to you, and something you enjoy in the moment 😉 Your readers understand 🙂

  2. do you remember trying on a dress you picked out in the store and that moment when you realized it was actually culottes and not a dress? I was tricked a lot (and during my formative years!). I know I owned at least a few of those– don’t feel bad!

  3. I like this Kacey girl 🙂 You are so brave Rachel- one of the most courageous things in all the world that a person can do is live their life out loud, honestly, the good and the bad. As you let in all that light into all those cracks, the most amazing part of it all is that you then are glowing with light for other people! I know it doesn’t feel like that but it’s so very true. So you write or don’t write about whatever you want, and we will read it and remind you that your words matter. Have peace and love and patience and grace and more love for yourself this beautiful and hard season when loss seems bigger and dark and light fight for position sometimes. (But we know, the light wins! Always :)) Watch some Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas, eat some sweet and spicy popcorn with really good champagne, wear some fuzzy awesome sweaters and know that you make the world better just being here- irregardless of what you or any part of your body does or doesn’t do! If I wasn’t already registered for a race that day, I would so be running with you in DC!! Can we pick another! 🙂 So much love from WA to you there in MN/WI/WY/SD…wherever it is you are- one of those snowy places that looks so fun 🙂 Love and light Rachel 🙂

  4. OMG Rachel, how many times did you watch Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas?? I always thought your looked cute, even in culottes, with mushroom hair!

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