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Friday, June 8, 2012

Make Me a Day

Baker, Baker,
Baking a cake
Make me a day
Make me whole again

Don't know if anyone actually knows that the title of my blog comes from the Tori Amos song "Baker Baker".  In fact, I am now positive that no one knows that is where the title of my blog comes from, because, until this moment, I have never told anyone that.  It's pretty obvious why the song speaks to me.

Firstly, there's cake.

So there's that.

There is a girl full of regret and concern over the past.

There's that too.

But then there's this hope.  The hope that if she can make just one, beautiful, delicious day, she might be whole again.

And that's me.

And I wonder
What's in a day
What's in your cake this time

 I've been making days lately.  Carefully crafted, purposeful days.

Playing with water barefoot.
Over the last week, I have been fully confronted with the reality that I have not been actually living in reality.  I have been living in a watered down, heavily edited, largely apologetic version of the life that I could be living.  Not for no good reason though.

I guess you heard
He's gone to LA
He says that behind
my eyes I'm hiding
And he tells me I pushed him away
That my hearts been hard to find

I recently asked people to share the first word they thought of when they thought of me.  


These were great words, and I was very humbled by what people thought of me.  Then someone who knows me better than anyone, for longer than anyone, told me they had a confession.  The word they gave was not the first word they actually thought.  What WAS the first word they actually thought?


Here there must be something
Here there must be something here here

I am a tortured.

When we are young and tortured it isn't our fault.  We are victims.  We don't get to pick our set of circumstances.  We just have to learn to cope with our circumstances as best we can.

Uh oh. First Spaghetti O's.

The trouble is that if we are tortured for long enough, we become too good at coping.  We make a choice and it is a simple but effective one.

If I have to choose between feeling this or feeling nothing...I choose feeling nothing.

Baker Baker can you explain
If truly his heart
Was made of icing
And I wonder
How mine could taste
Maybe we could change his mind

Once I became an adult, I was no longer a victim.  I could choose to put down the lidocaine and dare to feel.  Dare to feel the heartache of losing someone who was a very worthwhile person, just not right for me.  Dare to feel the pain of failing at something I really loved to do.  Dare to feel lonely, while I waited for all the love that may come my way.

But no one told me that.

So I continued to make sure I would feel nothing.

I know you're late
For your next parade
You came to make sure
That I'm not running
Well I ran from him
In all kinds of ways
Guess it was his turn this time

Started doing Yoga and have become obsessed. HJ wants to help.

If you always pick abusers, you never have to be sad when they are gone.  If you never try anything new, then you can never end up loving something and then failing at it.  If you surround yourself with enough people and noise, as toxic as that noise may be, you never have to feel lonely.

You just get to be numb.  Not joyful.  Not ecstatic.  Not heartbroken. Not disillusioned. Not curious.  Not thoughtful.  Just numb.

Feeling numb is torture.

And I have been tortured.

Still working toward that half marathon.  Maybe Iron Horse?  Please Please Please Iron Horse?
I came face to face with the voice of my jailor this week.  The voice that tells me it is better to feel nothing than to feel pain.  I saw the words spelled out on paper, pouring out of my own pen, the voice that has kept a thick layer of insulation between me and the world for almost thirty years.

It was terrifying.  Horror movie, metallic, adrenaline-soaked tongue terrifying.

Then I realized it was my own voice.

It was my own words.

And that meant I could change them.

Time thought I'd made friends with time
Thought we'd be flying
Maybe not this time

Running through the sprinkler

I don't know what life has in store for me.  I don't know if or when my circumstances will change or if I'll be dealt a new hand or how everything will pan out.  By most people's standards, I shouldn't even be here right  now.  Able to talk.  Able to type.  Able to breathe.  I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring or if tomorrow is even going to come at all.  But I do know one thing.

I want to feel today.

National Runner's Day at the Arboretum with HJ. Jogging stroller becoming a permanent fixture.
I've been on hiatus from social media this week.  I have still been on FB and Twitter periodically, and I've answered a couple of messages, but for the most part I'm on radio silence.  I'm not withdrawing.  Quite the opposite.  I'm feeling.  I'm trying to be present in my reality.  As scary as that reality is and as much as it hurts in some ways.

I can't believe how much better it is to feel.

First lightning bugs.
I have been making days this week.

And they have been delicious.

When I get into conversations with people who are unsure of whether or not they want to have kids, I always tell them the story of Hannah and the pop up toy.  There are these toys that have little creatures that pop up when you push buttons and pull levers and turn a key.

That damn key.

They look like this.

Pop up toy with the damn key.

When HJ was little, I spent weeks showing her how to play with this toy.  She picked up on the buttons and knobs and levers really quickly and squealed as the animals popped up and delightedly smacked them back down again.

But that damn key.

No matter how hard I tried to show her, even taking her tiny hand and twisting the key with her fingers, she just could not get the concept. That bastard lion remained ever elusive, and I started to lose hope that my child was every going to be able to unlock a door or cabinet in her life.

One day, she sat playing with the toy, pushing all the buttons and playing with all the animals but one.  I stared bitterly at that teal square.  I hated that lion.  But not as much as I hated that key.  Then I saw her tiny fingers reach down...grab the key... and twist.


Just like that.  Like she'd been doing it her whole life.  I grabbed her and screamed and twirled her around and burst into tears. She laughed loudly, probably completely unaware of why we were twirling, just thrilled to be her mommy's arms, spinning through the air.  I graduated from college Summa Cum Laude, received the Dean's Award at my graduation, eloped and got married on a beach at sunrise, pushed a human being out of my body, and I don't think I had ever been as happy as I was in that moment.  And that is when it hit me.

This is what joy is.

It's the turning of a key.

Some people get the concept on their own.  They either have something innately or have had life experiences that have revealed the truth about happiness.  Happiness isn't something you wait for.  It is learning to make joy wherever you are in whatever circumstances you are in.  Bankruptcy, abuse, divorce, failure, job loss, breakups, makeups, loneliness, hopelessness.  They don't keep the key from turning.

Not showing up keeps the key from turning.

If you can't understand that on your own, I strongly recommend having a Hannah in your life to turn keys and chase lightning bugs and lead expeditions through "the jungle" from her jogging stroller at the arboretum.  Or an Emma to remind you how fun splashing is or how amazing tasting new foods can be or how fun big sisters are no matter how much you annoy them.

I am not going to turn into a bucket lister.  I think it's morbid and exhausting to try and cram as much joy into every second of every day as humanly possible.

But I am going to show up.  I'm going to show up for myself and my girls.  I am going to feel this whole damn thing. The good, the bad, the excruciating, and the exhilarating.

I'm going to make me a day.

Because that's all we're promised anyway.

Baker Baker
Baking a cake
Make me a day
Make me whole again
And I wonder
If he's ok
If you see him say hi


Heather said...

Awesome entry, Ann. This is so thoughtful and full of hope. Proud of you, girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just happened to decide to read what else you've written about other than you know who and find some of the same problems I've been dealing with myself.

In my case I think I purposely shut down my emotions due to a severe outbreak of anger when I was a kid, so I've never felt like a victim due to it. It probably didn't help being a guy and having some aspect of society telling me it was wrong to feel things.

Spending time living by myself in my own house, I've found myself seeking out ways to just feel. Some nights this has left me laughing and others crying. I realize that our experiences are quite different, but I wanted to let you know that this struck a chord with me, and even though we seem to be a lot different (I've always been extremely shy and I doubt my family realizes my 'torture' and I'd probably get 'quiet' to describe me) it's nice to know someone else feels similar.

Interestingly, I've thought of adoption (similar to your suggestion of having a Hannah), but I'll probably let fear put that off for awhile yet.

Ann Bransom said...

@Anonymous - thank you for reading!

Believe it or not, I am a recovering super shy person. I have forced myself to "fake it til I make it" for so many years that I have finally learned how to be outgoing and open with other people. For me it's a lot like being a person who can read sheet music, but isn't naturally talented on the piano, though. I can bang out the chords and finish the song, but it requires a lot of effort. My instinct will always be to turn inward and avoid feeling in the open.

Keep taking time to just feel. Whether its laughing or crying or singing at the top of your lungs or just being quiet and breathing. There is a peace afterward.

I'm learning too.