It’s been clear for a long time that regardless of the complete shitshow the country is swimming through right now, and me losing my job and being unemployed for over half a year, and my mother dying, this has still been a better year for me than last year. I spent most of last year constantly miserable, and that was partially due to some weird setbacks I’d had over the last few years, but mostly due to my toxic work environment. (we can explore later why I’m not strong or centered enough that setbacks or a toxic work environment would throw me so completely, and that is a very valid topic of conversation) But what I feel most deeply inside is how i’ve been able to bring my own life back to normal, now. I’m able to have energy, get things done around the house, clean up my own life a little, I’m in good financial shape, and I actually enjoy my job. And I feel like I’m doing a good job and people are appreciating it, unlike the last one where I was working my ass off, but I was always off target and felt like I was in some twisted funhouse where everything I’d learned in the last thirty years about how to be a collaborative and productive employee suddenly wasn’t working.
I am still resentful that the birthday party we threw me last year to celebrate a big-five birthday and 25 years in New York wasn’t at all what I’d literally been planning in my head about for years, because I couldn’t fully enjoy it. We all had a good time, and I loved having all my friends there, but I still wanted to crawl into a hole. And then things got worse from there, until those two zits burst – getting laid off and then my mom passing away a month later.
Leaving ugly scars, but feeling such a relief afterward. Mom’s cancer diagnosis, a week before Thanksgiving (and her birthday) last year, was awful. But she’d been in decline for years and we’d all been worried about her losing completely her limited faculty for enjoying life. We did not want to see her die a horrible painful death, and she didn’t. It did not drag on, she was at peace with it, my father sensibly got her into the right care when it got too much for him, and we got to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary before she left us.
But this is the first birthday I’ve had since I knew what a birthday was that I couldn’t thank my mom for going through all that effort. Well, I can, I guess, out into the ether. Thanks, Mom, I love you! (echo-echo-echo) And I’ve been missing you for years.
I woke up this morning for some reason thinking about Ordinary People, which is one of my favorite books and perhaps my favorite movie. I didn’t have anywhere near the traumatic teen years that Conrad had, but boy, could I have used a big fuzzy bear of a shrink telling me that it was ok to feel what I’m feeling, and also to tell me the home truths that Berger does Conrad: that your parents may be loving you and supporting you to the fullest the best way they know how, and it still may not be what you need. And when you’re out on your own, you get to assemble your own family with more facility with helping you shore up the broken bits. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a one that shines on you like the sun and lets you spread out your leaves in glorious warmth.
Happy birthday, Eric. Let’s do this thing.