Je Pense

I was corresponding with a high school classmate on Facebook and she asked me about running, and I was very nearly about to link her to this blog, and then I decided I just couldn’t. I don’t mind if people I know in real life read my blog and I’ve come across this from both sides. People I already know read it, and people who were strangers become friends. I looked back at what I have written in the last few weeks, and it just seemed so depressing and miserable that I couldn’t bear to show her. I’m not sure when I became so negative and miserable.

::

I was at the hairdressers last night and she introduced me to another client as “another woman whose baby died”. Now, the introduction was done in a spirit of compassion and a sense of “Oh, look this is rare, and there are 2 of you who had this experience“, and I suppose that this is true, but I was really offended. I don’t want to be known as the woman whose baby died. I want to be me.

::

My blog readership is down. Really down from last year. I’m getting about the same number of comments, but fewer people are reading, and I’m not sure why. I keep telling myself that really, I write for me, I write because I need to, because it’s a part of who I am, but that’s not entirely true. If I just wanted to write, I could open a word file and start typing. I write because I need to, because I want to, and also because I am a story teller, and blogging lets me tell stories. So my blog readership is declining, and I’m not sure if it’s because I started a different style of summary in blog aggregators (In which Mrs. Spit . . .) or if I have become boring or depressing or what have you.

::

I was contemplating my SIL and my cousin, and why they make me so angry. It’s really irrational. I interact with them perhaps 3 times a year, and each time they set my teeth on edge, and after about 3 minutes I feel like every last one of my nerves is on fire. I used to think it was just because they were so darn nice, all the time, but I know women who are nice. I think my problem is that they aren’t real. They are so busy only being nice, they are never real. They speak in Christianese, and they don’t ever seem to inhabit the same space that I do. At the end of a conversation with them I feel this irresistible urge to kick a kitten – do something – not evil – just plain mean.

::

I am working, very hard, on having no personality at work – at being a person who comes in, gets her work done, doesn’t talk much and leaves. Obviously not with everyone, but with everyone I don’t know well. I don’t have any particular idea why I am doing this, other than to tell you that I need to do this. I need to be less public, less visible, less transparent. Equally so, I am not always good at judging my humour. I have an obscure sense of humour and most people don’t get it, and so they think I am being flip, and I am, but they don’t understand the flipness.

::

In a very perfect world I would have been able to set up those 5 paragraphs in a circle around the rest of this post, with circles and arrows pointing at things. I have been trying to write a post for each  vignette, and none of the words are coming to me. I like my blog posts to be a bit like an essay, with an introduction that catches your eye, a middle that argues the point and an end that wraps everything up.  I don’t have enough words about any of the above paragraphs. I am not thoughtless, but I am certainly conclusion-less.

I have a rich thought life. I am always turning things, situations, events, philosophies, random spots of beauty, over in my mind. It’s not new that I would be thinking of those things above, even if I don’t have words. Perhaps what is new in the last few years is the notion that I should seek to think about how I felt about those things. That I should seek to understand why these things are upsetting me, that I should seek to identify feelings around each of those paragraphs –  I should move those facts from my head to my heart. It’s easy to assign feelings, upon proper reflection, I can attach sad, happy, joyful, wistful, amused, frustrated to those vignettes. From feelings though, what I am trying to get at is meaning. I want to know why I am thinking about those things, why those 5 ideas are so often with me these days. I want to ascribe some meaning, and then I want to finish with those thoughts. I want to wrap them up in nice packages, with feelings and thoughts and meanings and be done with them. Stick them on a shelf and move on to the next things.

The reason that I have grouped those 5 little vignettes together is because I think there is a commonality beyond my present feeling of discomfort. I am looking at outward appearances, I am looking at balancing who I need to be and who I want to be, and how the situations, the people and the events around me balance how I appear. For a very long time I was utterly unaware of how I appeared to others.  If you asked me I would have told you that I didn’t care, but in hindsight that was never the correct summation. Correctly I didn’t even think of other people and their perceptions – it was an area of the world that was not part of my life. I’m still a bit weak in this area, although I’m getting better. I couldn’t and I can’t develop a set of rules to predict how people would react in a given situation, so I didn’t think of them. Since they were going to be unpredictable, I wasn’t going to worry about it.

I am finding, more and more, I care, and I care deeply about how I am perceived. It matters to me that people like reading what I write and in equal measure it matters to me that I write about things I care about. It matters that I write well. It also matters that some things are private. It especially matters to me that I listen more to people. That I am less cynical, that I am more open and less brittle. It matters that there is less of me, so that there can be more space for those around me. The people I love, the people I care for, and the hurting and the broken. It matters that I don’t work so hard at being the smartest person in the room, that I spend less time proving myself, and more time not caring. I’m not stupid, and I doubt that people are going to think that I am if I remain silent. I’ve tried making sure I take advantage of opportunities to show off my smarts, and now I’d like to leave that bit up to Providence, at least for a bit.

But I have 31 years of being the shining star in the room, the centre of attention, the vibrant, flamboyant one, and this change in priorities, this change in ethos is a hard habit to break. I am struggling about how to be genuine, I don’t want to be one of those people who is so focused on niceness they miss the ugliness in the world.  I am trying to balance being resilient, not optimistic, how to reconcile knowing the very, very bad can and does happen, with knowing the good can and does happen. I’m trying to reconcile the crushing sadness of being still childless with a need to live and enjoy the life I have. I am working very hard to be silent, to allow others to speak, to leave a bit of mystery about myself. I am working on moving past being only Gabriel’s mum. The problem is that everything I do, almost every interaction I have seems like work, as I try and change my habits, my inclinations, my traditional behaviours. I seem to still screw up more than I ever succeed. I wind up feeling really rather helpless and hopeless.

So, here I am, a grown woman, thinking about thoughts, emotions, feelings and meaning, a place that I have been oh so many times, and I don’t have good answers. I don’t have meaning. I don’t have wants or needs, really.  I have, at best yearnings, a vague notion of what I want – of who I am moving toward being. I don’t have a plan, or even a particular destination.

And I don’t have any sort of summary to this post. Not even that thing I so often do, to say “except perhaps this”. There is no except, no perhaps. I’m still thinking, still turning stuff over in my mind. I am interested, have you ever found yourself in this position? Do you have any thoughts for me?

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23 Responses to Je Pense

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hey Mrs. Spit,
    glad I clicked over today. You have such a beautiful heart, and certainly this rich inner life that shines through on thoughtful and moving posts like this one. I have to admit that, while I appreciate the vintage feel of your “in which Mrs. Spit…” blurbs that show up in my reader, they don’t generally inspire me to want to read the whole post. Maybe it’s the use of third person that’s a little distancing, or maybe it’s not enough of a hook as to what’s really in the post… I’m not sure. But like I said I’m glad I clicked over today. This post gives me insight into your life and mind and heart, and also into my own – through the pieces that I can relate to and think “I feel the same way” (e.g. the Christianese-speakers who annoy).

    I hope you have a good day today.

  2. HereWeGoAJen says:

    The paragraph on your sister in law and your cousin puts into words what I have been struggling with in regards to a friend’s new wife. I CANNOT stand her and I can’t explain why not. And I like everybody!

  3. Heidi says:

    I have no real thoughts to help you, other than to mention you are not alone. I’m feeling lost right now and can’t even put it into words to post onto my blog, so know that you’ve gone one step further than I can.

    I’d wish for that magic wand to make everything all better. But even that wouldn’t really help. We have to get through things, grow through them, and past them.

  4. Brown Owl says:

    hmm, just a thought Mrs. Spit, though not necessarily in the order you presented:

    1. Be true to yourself. You want always to be comfortable with who you see in the mirror every morning.

    2. No kittens. No kittens yet. No kittens for kitten kickers ever, so just delete that phrase from your script. (And yes, they could come tonight in the windstorm)

    3. Being introduced as “insert relationship with someone else here” speaks not about you but about them (relationship-or?). I am sure the introduction was used with good intent, perhaps to try and provide a connection? Maybe your hairdresser thought you had something to offer, that was needed, not by you but by the other party.

    4. Needing always to be recognized as the brightest star in a room – maybe not such a great thing. It limits you. Cuts you off just as surely as it limits everyone else – and, incidentally, impacts how they think about you.

    5. I had a SIL – who was “born again” – and constantly made a point of preening, always a better than thou, and always looking down on all the IL. Never got on well with her either.

    6. And last but not least, writing is a joy that requires no audience. It supports reflection, growth, change, and understanding.

    Keep it up Mrs Spit. The rest of us, are here, and others will be too.

  5. debby says:

    Mrs. Spit. I love you because you are real. Really real. Really imperfect too. Here’s the deal. I think that sometimes when something huge and life altering happens, your life is, for a time, totally hijacked as you learn to deal with what has happened. It happened to me when my daughter was molested. That actually took years for me to get past, only because I felt so guilty, as if this would have never happened on a ‘good mom’s watch’. I pray and pray, and I struggle with my grief and guilt as my bi-polar daughter struggles and refuses to be helped, even as she waits to be rescued. What is my answer? I don’t know. I was talking with my oldest friend today. It was a big turning point to go to her wedding. I was so afraid of seeing my ex again. There is still a big part of me that wants to shake him until his teeth rattle and demand that he answer me as to why he would have done such a thing. I worried about my dealing with my negative and angry family. I prayed so hard, just this one prayer: I wanted to be able to celebrate this union. I just wanted to see His hand in it. I did. Mrs. Spit, I realized as I watched my mother and brother complaining and glowering that I was not to blame for that. If they cannot be happy at a wedding, well, that’s to their own shame. My ex? He looked so ashamed that what I felt was compassion. I realized that it was very hard for him to come to this, but he did so, because Brianna had invited him. I behaved as a Godly and compassionate woman. I behaved graciously. The point of this story is this: Mrs. Spit, it is a journey. You struggle, but God knows, you have a lot on your plate. What you struggle with will shape who you are becoming. Don’t be frustrated with what you are not. Look at it as that you are in the process of becoming. And this process is never easy.

    Your readership will pick up again. Don’t worry about that part of things.

  6. Alice says:

    Hey you. I don’t read that often, but not because of what you write, but because the rock I am hiding under provides me the isolation I seem to desire lately.

    Your post, big surprise, inspired me to write tonight.

    Hang in there kiddo. 🙂 I promise things will get better. And as I remind myself occasionally, when you hit the bottom the only way to go is up. And if I need a good laugh (or at least a chuckle) I tell myself a horrible joke – such as this one I heard waaaaay back in high school. Two ants were sitting on a toilet. One got pissed off.

  7. Sue says:

    I have to say that I fear I am becoming “that woman.” The one who. Because me research is going in that direction, I feel less empowered than I used to, and more like… I don’t know, awkward. I feel more…different. Different from others, different from me.

    I have no advice, only that I am still reading, though not as much as I had in the past. Mostly, that is my own retreat or withdraw. I will say that the “in which” does not draw me in the way your posts used to.

    You are a brilliant and sensitive writer. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts.

  8. a says:

    People change and evolve…you are doing it, and perhaps the readers who have left either don’t appreciate the changes or are changing in their own ways.

    I really cannot abide people who slap you upside the head with their, how did you put it? speaking in Christianese. It always sounds false. Also, actions speak louder than words.

    Re: being the smartest person in the room. Even if you know the most and have the highest IQ and fastest working thought process, you are still limited by your own worldview. The other people in the room do not have that particular constraint (only their own worldview), and are therefore able to come up with ideas that you might not ever think of. Having to be the shining star can really limit you, in terms of learning from others. This is something you will learn more about as you get older. So be vibrant, outspoken, opinionated…but listen too, and realize that none of us really know much of anything at all (in the grand scheme of things).

  9. tash says:

    I just happened to click today because I HAD TIME. Gah. I am a bad, bad reader. I will say for the record that I don’t read everything by bloggers who post daily. That’s just me — I know others who won’t read bloggers *unless* they post daily.

    I think there’s a fair amount of existential angst around both blogging AND losing a child that intertwines and makes one wonder about identity. I know I did pretty frequently because on the one hand, I didn’t want to be HER either, but on the other, being a blogger and communicating/writing made me feel better and was for quite some time my life. What to do. I finally just stopped thinking about it which is the lazy man’s out, but hey. I think it’s important sometimes to tally up the things you are off the computer, in addition to being Gabriel’s mum (not that that’s not important, and there’s no need to prioritize) just to remind yourself that you are more than the sum of the parts that we might only get a passing glimpse of. And one of my favorite words in reading/writing history is “complicate.” Life is. It isn’t one or the other, it’s a matter of integrating stuff together because it can never be all of one thing.

  10. Martha@Sense of Humor says:

    Is it a sin to despise the holier than thou??

    I thought Owen was the smartest one in the room, gee that is a lot of responsiblity.

    Sometimes, Just to Be, is the hardest task of all.

    Big ((Hugs)), laughter, good food, sunshine, and enchiladas await you.

  11. anonymous says:

    What you discuss on your blog is some very real, very intense stuff. You touch on a lot of issues that require a great deal of compassion to process, especially by someone who has not faced those particular trials, and practicing compassion requires a lot of mental energy. I am not saying not to express yourself or to change anything. This is 100% your forum, but I’ve noticed at least here in the US that with the economic downturn people have gradually become unsympathetic, even down right nasty, toward their neighbor’s plight because they are fighting so hard to stay afloat and protect their own. Again, it’s not any indictment against you, your blog content, or your style, but I suspect a lot of people are very stressed out and scared over losing a house or losing a job – very bad prospects, yes, but in no way as bad as losing human life, which you have. When times are good, honey, everybody is your friend! When times get tough, well, good luck trying to find a shoulder to cry on! If it were my blog, a drop in the number of readers wouldn’t trouble me as much as if I were getting gratuitous hits by trolls on a regular basis. Quality trumps quantity all the time.

    I would totally be offended, too, by the hair stylist’s remarks, though I am sure she probably meant well. This is why I get my hair cut by an efficient, pleasant, but largely silent woman.

  12. Carmen says:

    I love what you write – it’s always something that makes me think and reflect on my own life and way of viewing the world. That’s a good thing. But, I will admit, I also don’t stop by daily. My life just doesn’t allow for it. But when I do come by, I’m always glad I did. I will raise my hand and admit though I don’t always leave a comment. Sometimes I just steal the food for thought and walk away to ponder it. Not polite, true. I will try to improve, or at least leave a note saying “Hey Mrs. Spit, I was here!” I have a problem with “Christianese” people too – soething about the way they view others seems so completely un-Christian it rubs me the wrong way. You need a new hair stylist. One who doesn’t make comments one should know better than to make. Sometimes I think it’s ok to learn to be quiet. I’m not good at this and at times, try to pull back a little. Hugs to you.

  13. Natalie says:

    Oh Mrs. Spit. I’ve been thinking the same thing about my blogging. I know why I have been getting less readers, less commenters. Before it wouldn’t have bothered me, but now there is something in me that struggles every time I write. It was easy before – now it seems to have added weight to it all, responsibility to what I say. I want to be real and honest. But it feels like there is so much expectation now. Maybe too much.

    *hugs*

  14. loribeth says:

    I read this yesterday & had to come back to it, because there was so much food for thought. I do read you every day, although I don’t always have the time to comment or any profound thoughts to share. ; )

    Not sure why blog readership ebbs & flows as it does. It’s possible that the readers who came to you to read & commiserate about Gabriel are less likely to read or comment when you write about other things. Their loss, because you are a wonderful, insightful writer, no matter what the subject.

    I was struck by Andie’s comments about how, when you’ve always been the shining star in the room, it’s hard when suddenly you’re not any more, when things don’t come as easily as they once did. Beyond the whole “deadbabymama” thing (the one really important thing that I tried & failed at, which most people just sail through without much thought), I’m starting to feel that “invisibility” that middle aged women talk about. I was never popular in high school, but when I went to university (& gained contact lenses) it was like a whole new world opened up to me. I felt pretty and desirable & gained confidence in myself.

    And yet, suddenly, I’m almost 50, overweight & getting grey hair, and it’s all about the thin, pretty young things around me, wearing short skirts & high heels. I’m invisible to many of my peers because I’m not a mommy; I feel invisible at work because I’ve been here so long, I think my contribution is taken for granted — I’m starting to feel like part of the furniture — and now I’m starting to be invisible because I’m getting old & starting to look it. I could easily be the mother of some of the younger people I work with.

    It’s hard to cede the spotlight, & to figure out who you are & who you want to be when one part of your life draws to a close and another begins.

  15. Donna says:

    Hello Mrs Spit,
    I’m a new-ish reader that found her way to you via “Glow”. I do read every day and have commented once or twice. Often I fell I need to chew on things a bit before commenting, and then a few days go by and then it feels too late.

    I’m struggling in much the same way you seem to be. I perhaps am not the most clever person in the room, but I’ve often been the most opinionated – very boring. Not caring about what others think of me though has never been my problem – just the opposite I’m afraid – also very boring. I’ve tried to make “what you think of me is none of my business” my mantra, but to no avail.

    The bits about silence and listening and mystery speak to me deeply right now. Being silent, especially when I have a lot to say, makes me feel just a little proud of myself. Like after 41 years I’m finally gaining a bit of wisdom. Being mysterious leaves me feeling lovely and enticing, even if I don’t look it.

    Sue, thank you for this “I feel less empowered than I used to, and more like… I don’t know, awkward. I feel more…different. Different from others, different from me.” I don’t feel like I fit – anywhere – at all. Being babylost is part of it – but only part – a rather small part actually. It is lovely not to be alone.

    People who speak Christianese – ugh! Why oh why do they rub me the wrong way? “Haha – God likes me better than you……” – that’s what I hear. Again, not alone.

    As for your hairdresser. I do hope you can forgive her. I am babylost and I still blunder miserably in my interactions with other babylost moms. I am aware I am walking into a mine field because I inhabit the world and I STILL blow myself up regularly. In fact I believe my remains are scattered on the comment section of this very blog, just a few posts back. 19 months out, I feel deeply grateful to anyone who will acknowledge that I birthed a baby who isn’t here. Most pretend it didn’t happen.

    I too lack a summary. I enjoy your blog and your writing style and feel blessed that I’ve found you and by your willingness to share so much of yourself.

  16. Mel says:

    You know what, this may be one of my favourite posts of yours ever (I know that wasn’t fantastic English, but it’s late-ish). I didn’t need to have the whole post come together. I liked the thoughts–I’ve thought some of these same things myself within very different situations. Which means that I connected to each small section, and read the next one eagerly to see if it was a “me too” or a “let me try to imagine that.” And, of course, the whole thing was so deeply honest that it grabbed you by the arm and shook you a little too.

  17. Loretta says:

    This is an amazing post. Very genuine. I have to say that you have this ability to tap into exactly what I am feeling at the moment. I think what you are feeling is still very normal. All of it. I can relate to everything ~ feeling like less people are responding to me in the writings I put out there. Then psycho-analyzing my words to see if they are alienating or offending. Then putting a post out there where I feel like I am trying too hard~to be witty, spontaneous, bright. Then kinda disliking myself for trying out for approval.
    It is a maddening space to be in.
    I said mantras all last night, trying to escape the negativity that can creep in at the slightest invite. I have been also trying to figure out how to be in this world after the death of my baby girl. What I came up with today, once again, was to be gentle with myself, with every emotion whatever it may be. And I admitted out loud ~ I do care. I care what people think about me. This was liberating and seemed to lighten the intensity of my insecurities.
    I found myself apologizing recently for what felt like relentless “witty” posting on Facebook. Then I cut myself some slack. I realized that I am just trying to stay in the game. That if I stop putting it out there, I may close up and not be able to come back out at all.
    You are very brave ~ it takes so much courage and strength to show up everyday. And so many of us are glad you do, Mrs. Spit. Maybe those readers have moved on because your words helped them through a time in their lives. What a gift you give to us lurkers out here.
    I guess I will leave you with the same words I posted on Facebook this afternoon:

    “I’m not trying out for perfect today”

    xo

  18. Kristin says:

    I love how open and honest you are. You are an amazing writer. I wish I had some advice for the things that are bothering you but I don’t. All I can say is I am here and I care.

  19. Maureen says:

    I too find it irritating to be introduced as parts of my life that are difficult (one of a couple chronic conditions I have, or other difficult life circumstance that I have in my background). I have been asked in tasteful ways (i.e. private and not around the other person), if I would be okay with the 3rd party telling the other person of our common tie. Most of the time I say yes. Sometimes I say no. But it is my choice. Then I let it be the other person’s choice if they want to talk about it. I really don’t define myself as one particular event/condition/whatever. And I hate being pigeonholed like that.

    I’ve noticed over the past year, some of your style has changed. The Etiquette Lady has disappeared, as have the Grammar Lessons. It almost seemed then that you wrote more about thoughts on specific events then made more global thoughts, more recently it seems to be more about more global thoughts of a subject (I hope this sentence makes at least a little sense). Not that it is exclusively one or the other, but it has seemed to trend that way to me (but I could be wrong on this account too… I haven’t been reading as much… see later comment). I too often read a post and must think about it for a while before I put my thoughts together, and then sometimes it is a day or two before I can type those thoughts. And often at that point I figure everyone has moved on, so I don’t bother. In general, I haven’t been reading as many blogs. Too many things happening, not as much time to just chill.

    I do enjoy reading, sometimes you echo my thoughts, sometimes you put words to my thoughts, and sometimes you have a completely different perspective than me. But all things I can ponder as I’m washing the dishes, working out, walking, exc.

    I don’t know where I’m going with my life. Since being a teenager my motto has been “You make plans, then life happens.” and to follow up on this, that “Its easier if you don’t have plans set in stone.” I have an idea of what I want to be doing on the road I’m on, but don’t have plans of where it is going to go or how long I’ll be on it. My dad in particular never “got” this. After he was diagnosis with a fatal form of cancer, he said, that up until a few weeks after he was diagnosis, he never understood this of me. But he got it. And he said he understood my general opposition to making plans (in a general sense… I’m no good with really long term goals… I don’t know where life is going to take me in the long term). That said, there have been several points I suddenly found myself on roads I never thought I would be on (currently I’m trying to figure out what road I’m on… not the one I thought I was on a year ago…)

  20. Without reading anyone else’s replies above … I’m just going to say that I absolutely “get” it. I know there are days that I have those same thoughts in my mind, those same fears of worries about how I’m perceived by others. Even after years and years of being away from the “school” environment, I have this issue with my self-esteem that always has me wondering about how I’m seen.

    But things I’ve learned along the way are this: 1) You can’t always worry about how your perceived because each person can perceive you in a completely different manner than the person next to him or her. 2) It always helps to remember who YOU are and to stay true to THAT. And finally, 3) When in doubt, it’s always good to check in with that one person who knows you THE MOST to remind you of the person that you are. For me, it’s my Hubby … and I suspect for you, it’s Mr. Spit.

    Anyway, those are my two cents. Sending Hugs your way …

  21. Sharon says:

    You are not alone. There are so many things running through my mind right now. I stopped and tried to think about what makes me feel most at ease when I am feeling jumbled, which is a fairly familiar feeling these days. I want to know that I am not alone. I am keeping a good thought for you during your unsettled time. I hope you are enjoying California.

  22. kate says:

    “to kick a kitten” HA!

  23. Jess says:

    Yes, I have these same thoughts. I am still here, just being mowed down by a temp job at the moment. I love you, Mrs. Spit!

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