10 March 2011

The Missing Puzzle Peace

One of them hates Thomas Kinkade. Thomaskinkadepainteroflight, she calls him. I did a puzzle of his once, when we were roommates in Virginia. It glowed in the dark. That’s when I first found out she hated his paintings. I found one of his works online once. I thought it was pretty, and put it up on my social network page. Another of the she’s told me about his DUI in Monterey.

I haven’t done a puzzle in years. I mean, a puzzle that has more than six pieces and a moo cow on it. Putting them together was peace for me once. She got me into them when I came home for a visit from Afghanistan. It was hard to be peaceful or still, and focusing on the hundreds upon hundreds of tiny splashes of color somehow took some of the pain away, made the post trauma less stressful. I like the feeling of accomplishment when you're done. I also like that there's a picture on the top of the box. Just prop it up, and you know what the outcome is supposed to be. I haven’t done a puzzle since I left from that visit. I guess it just doesn’t feel right…like I don’t deserve the peace, I guess. Like I haven’t earned it, or that there’s too much to do to feel peaceful. The house never seems clean enough, but the energy to take it apart and clean is just beyond grasp. And if the energy is summoned, the job isn’t ever done well enough. The kitchen floor might be clean, but I didn’t clean behind the fridge. Or I could have mopped the bathroom. Or there’s a pile of clothes in the bedroom that needs to be folded.

Reprieve comes in small doses. In the form of uptake inhibitors, coffee, cleaning, music, or TV. I look at my son, and hope that he never feels this kind of anxiety, or pain, or fear of being alone. I think the alone is the worst part. Being alone is hard, but being around people is harder. Thinking that stupid conundrum has made me tear up a bit. Not in a bad way, really, just in a confused sort of way. Sort of like there’s an answer that everyone else has, but I didn’t buy the right handbook. The boy is so young, and I hate to think that he’ll ever feel the helplessness of being unable to stop the pain, or the fear. The fear of being left alone. The fear of being the boring one. The one with the issues. The fat one in the wedding pictures. The one that yells too much at her kid. The one who has a husband gone, and can’t handle it. The one that can never focus on anything. The one that won’t join a book club and is afraid of junior college at thirty, because she can’t concentrate on a movie, let alone two years of school.

I stopped writing for a minute to light my candle. It smells like sweet pea. Another of the she’s got it for me, because she knows I like sweet pea. The smell makes me feel peaceful sometimes, like if things smell flowery and pretty, that they will look and feel flowery and pretty, too. It usually doesn’t work that way, though. I wish it could. I needed to get more coffee, too. I feel like if I can get enough coffee, I can get up and move through the gloom. Then maybe this feeling wouldn’t wash over like a wave. Sometimes it’s a little wave, and I can ignore it. Sometimes it’s a tsunami, and I just have to pretend it isn’t there. I tried a few times to go to a place where other people hurt, too. You stand up in a room of absolute strangers, and talk about what you feel makes you vulnerable. I can’t seem to make it work, though, because sometimes I feel so vulnerable that talking about it makes the lump in my throat act like a mute in a trumpet. Then the tears come. Then people want to hug you, or be encouraging. Who wants encouragement when you’re talking about what a loser you feel like? It’s like the band playing while the Titanic went down. No one enjoyed the music, and the cello just ended up waterlogged in the end.

I’m afraid even while I’m writing this. It started as a blog about my friends. I’m lucky to have them. They’re an amazing group of she’s, and I’d be in a state of loss without them. Some are new-ish, and some have been here…well, forever. We’ve dressed up, driven through the hills, eaten junk food, cuddled, lived together, spent every day together, and stood solid as mothers, as wives, as daughters, and as friends. And somehow, despite all of this, I wonder why they’ve stood next to me. It feels like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, but the creepy “without him” world should have won out. I can’t even tell if I’m writing this for bravery’s sake, or a cry for help, or just to be self serving. The tears and the words just keep pouring out, and I’ve always been a bit of a slave to both.

I needed something to keep my mind occupied while I waited for the man to assess our house for packing.

I guess I wasn’t ready for the puzzle peace. I wish I was.

I wonder when I will be again.

I wish I knew how to fix this.


Linda Medrano said...

Sandra, I doubt that people outside the military know that horrid empty feeling quite as well as you do. I think when Alex was deployed for a year (as a reservist), I was terrified about the Iraq War, but even more so because I knew I'd be alone. I can't even imaging the added responsibility of having young children too. My heart goes out to you. I know you are a strong woman and you can always manage the impossible!

Anonymous said...

Every one's faults are not written in their foreheads.