Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Thing About Damage

These days I cry at everything. Could be hormones. Could be the news, which has been dismal this summer, with the exception of the royal baby, and c'mon, a woman had a baby. Happens quite often. Could be that lately I've had to revisit some trying family circumstances. Even the ancestry.com fellow who professes to be related to me in some oblique and distant way sets me off with his frequent and obsessive emails. I don't want to trace the lineage of my ancestry. I don't want to think that much about my family of origin. Some people get lucky in family.

Others don't.

I listen to the classical music program on the radio station. A woman is singing an aria so guttingly gorgeous that I freeze. Tears, again, although I squeeze my eyes shut to stop them. Isn't this sad?, I ask my son.

No, he replies, puzzled, and adds, as proof: It's in a major key. He stares at me, scrutinizes my reddened face, searches for signs of tears before finally turning back to Minecraft.

Ahh, I acknowledge. Just me, I guess. This summer I find myself saying that last bit a lot.


Once my family, which then consisted of three of us, not four, my last son not yet a thought or promise, was driving east on a major highway. My husband was at the wheel, and my firstborn was sleeping in his car seat. It was raining, hard, and then harder still. We considered pulling over to the side of the road to wait out the storm, but before we'd committed to a course we were first sliding out of our lane and next off the road and finally as if in a dream flying for a moment before bumping and scraping across an overgrown, rutted field. My husband and I fixed shocked eyes on each other before remembering to turn back and check on the baby, who had awakened and was sucking his fingers thoughtfully.  

We were lucky. Of all the places to go off that particular interstate, ours was one of the least steep drops. So said the man in a truck who drove onto the field to check on us. Our car hadn't even flipped. Only a sprained finger among us three, mine, from clutching the dashboard in a reflexive attempt to protect myself from harm. (I always seem to end up hurting myself in silly maneuvers intended to circumvent pain. A post for another day.)

We'd thought our car was more or less intact, aside from deep scratch marks in the paint courtesy of the bushes and brambles we'd encountered during the accident, until about a month later when we were in the midst of an automatic car wash and water started coming in through the car windows. The closed car windows.

At the repair shop we affected nonchalance as the technician told us that the frame of our car was so damaged, bent out of shape in fact, that it would cost some thousands of dollars to have it fixed.

Funny thing about damage: sometimes it's obvious well past the time when it should have been, and even then, it's obvious only to auto mechanics and musically inclined children.


Emily said...

Nothing to say. Just want you to know I read and hear this.

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

Two years ago I had a summer where the tears were always just behind my eyes. Always. I felt I was standing right on the edge of Completely Losing My Ability to Function Normally.

It doesn't get much attention, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not just about depression triggered by short days and long nights. It can also be triggered by long days and short nights.

I've had it both ways in the past. My worst perods in terms of mental health are most likely to occur in the six weeks after winter solstice or summer solstice.

I am not trying to diminish in any way what you are feeling or the events past and present that are hurting you now. For me, knowing I'm susceptible to SAD helps me understand where some of my melancholy or anxiety comes from.

alejna said...

Oh, Sarah, this just gripped me. That story about the car, the accident, the hidden damage is so powerful. (And I say this as another person with hidden damage.)

I find myself sitting here with too many thoughts to type in this little box. I start, and then I delete.

I wish we could hang out and talk. If you ever want to, we can make it happen.

Anonymous said...

I read this recently and it has helped me with my own damage:

"You don’t have to let go of anything. You have to realize that everything has let go of you. You are not attached to anything in reality. Everything will die and change regardless of your love and attachment. Therefore renunciation isn’t an act but an awareness. It is an awareness that all things will pass away, that all things are not yours, and that you exist among and yet beyond it all. When your love for your family and friends can simply be called Love, you will Know. Dying from a smaller world into a larger one." - The Lazy Yogi
I think I will try this week to stop calling my mother an egg donor and just let that piece of my damage go to the extent that I can.

We are so much more due to the damage we have endured. ((hugs))

Amanda said...

Loved you since day one.

ozma said...

This is the best metaphor I've ever read to describe damage.

Damage is so strange and you don't know how to explain it to people. Suddenly there's something you can't be or do--the water's coming in.

If you are like me, you blame yourself completely. But I hope you aren't doing that.

I delusionally think I can fix the damage. I swear I will fix it someday. Maybe that's where I go wrong.

I hope you feel better. Family stuff is such a--what can you even say about it? It's a rift in the frame basically, the basic frame.

Anonymous said...

Love to you my friend. I think most of us have some sort of damage once we get to this age.

I cry all the time too. Especially when I'm angry. It's so embarrassing.

Heather H.