Peace in the Chaos
July 01, 2022
I cropped the monitor out. There are eight people in a Teams meeting with THEIR CAMERAS ACTUALLY ON. Not to mention the working file on the main screen. That's just not the sort of thing we want to put out there. It makes more noise than anything else.
Back in February, 2021 I covered the walls of my office with yellow post-its. They each had a single word written quickly by me but utterly legible.
Eventually there wasn't a single wall in the house without at least a handful of those reminders and it worked too. My resting heartrate dropped from 120 (yes, that was RESTING, the lowest heartrate on the charts in the deepest of sleep). My resting heartrate dropped to 92 in the first three weeks and by the time I moved to Vermont it was down to 78 in the middle of the night and about 83 during the day (if I sat still). I put the monitor back on two weeks ago. My dead of night heart rate was 58. I don't think it's been that low in my life.
So that works, people. The reminder to breathe.
I sent this photo to my brother last night and he replied thusly:
"Our breath is [hardlined] to our nervous system. It may be an elephant but I'm the fucking pilot."
And for the first time (in my life), I believed him.
"You don't have time for the noise <3"
Noise is noise. It is always present. In my life, in your life, in all lives. Noise is a good chunk of that survival business. The old brain speaks and we listen. Our power lies in the ability and willingness to acknowledge and then shelve the noise that isn't useful in the moment. That's the beauty of the new brain. The thing is, we can't do that if we're not breathing and most of us don't know we're not breathing. We've got this belief that the body will take over and do it for us. Not so. If we eventually pass out (or faint, or something), we do indeed resume the intake of oxygen but not soon enough to start thinking clearly again.
I've got a lot of noise. My past is a storm coming over the mountain. These days it brings the chatter of my children and my agreement that I was, and remain one of the most horrible parents since the dawn of time. Doesn't matter if it isn't true. Perception is the truth. It's also about the most detrimental business in my life just now.
I don't have time for it. I love them. I wish them peace, but I won't have a single moment of my own peace if I turn to face it. I can't fix it.
I sent my daughter a Kintsugi kit the day after an unfortunate episode on the train back from Elizabeth's graduation celebration in the city. In truth, my behavior wasn't necessarily bad, unreasonable, or unrealistic. I stood on the platform, having already banished myself to the exit area in front of the doors where I waited ten minutes for my stop. When I got off the platform I held my left hand open to the sky, to them, to me, and my right hand on my heart. I couldn't see through the window and I've no idea if they were looking at me.
When the train pulled out of the station, I walked to my car. In the middle of the road I broke the chain with the Kintsugi pendant my daughter gave me for my birthday (I think) in 2021. I didn't see her but she sent it and it meant just about everything. I dropped it on the yellow line and drove back to Pat's apartment to wait for Elizabeth who arrived several hours later.
I cried through most of those hours and when she arrived I did something unprecedented. I told her the truth of what I'd done and said I had to go back for it.
And you know what? There it was, face up, unshattered by the fall, unmolested by a single tire. It was dinged up on the backside, but that's the way life works. I couldn't put it back on because I'd snapped the chain, but I picked it up and took it home.
I've always done this sort of thing. I will push you away so hard you'll never find me again. I'll do this before you can possibly do it to me. I've threatened to throw wedding rings in the swamp. I'm dropping the shame of that and it will come back again and again but I really don't have to engage.
The Kintsugi kit went to Lucia because there is literally nothing I can do to fix this or fix her pain. That belongs to Lucia alone. It's her choice, not mine. Her power, not mine. And I let it go. I hope she turns to face it. I hope she finds her peace. This isn't for or about me. Just for her. That's the mother I am today. She may never see or acknowledge it but if she doesn't, she will carry her own version of my pain.
That sucks for her. It sucks for me that the other lightening carried by the storm is my mother's pain. I have to get it off me right now. Compassion helps but I can't do a damn thing about that either. She'll have to find her own way home. Or not. An approach by me would likely kill her the same way an approach by my children, enough years from now, would likely kill me if I don't perform my own Kintsugi ceremony.
I keep Lucia's gift where I can see it to remind myself that I have the capacity to care beyond their expressed pain and anger. And I have the capacity to receive just what they have given, and ask no more.
The rest is on me.
So, the noise. The noise is still there. The chattering, yammering announcements, still there. The ALL CAPS command that I end it right now and spare the world more of this shit.
God, that's dark, except when it's not.
The sign works, it really does. I'm sleeping again. It's still broken sleep, but it's also healing sleep.
They may never come back. I may never be brave enough to go looking again but they are grown ass people and that part is on them. It's not as harsh as it reads. I believe they will. I believe, in one form or another, they'll come back to themselves and the good news?
The good news is, it's NOT MY JOB. My job is to take care of myself.
It might be an elephant, but I'm the fucking pilot.
How cool is that?