Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She's back!!

Ah, the Blog. The thing which demands attention. The one where I am actually required to sit down and write words. Words that make some sense. Nice blog. Pat. Pat. It has been a while.

Well, hello, everyone who is still out there, and thank you for all your lovely messages. Here I am, alive and (maybe not) kicking, and repeating myself once again. I seem to vanish now and then, re-appear and apologise. Rinse and repeat. Sigh. This is the nature of life, I suspect. Well, my life, anyway.

I have had loads of excellent intentions, none of which have sprung into action. "Action" and "Linds" are two words which do not seem to go together well right now. Autumn is rapidly developing a distinctly wintery chill, and I am still stuck way back in April, or thereabout.

And today marks the 4th anniversary of Diana's arrival in NZ. So much has happened in those 4 years, and she has had the most wonderful experiences down there in the bottom corner of the world. Let me emphasize "the bottom corner of the world" bit. Far far away. I always said I raised my children to fly. I just didn't realise quite how far they could fly.


This is a bit of a down day for me, I confess. The bounce has deserted me a little. I did not need to be reminded of the fact she has been away so long, even though she actually left home more than 9 years ago. First to go on her global trot in her Gap Year and then to uni for 3 years and then working in London for 2 years and then to fly away in an aeroplane. Sigh.

Add to that the fact that my neighbour's building project outside my kitchen window has taken on epic proportions and he appears to be constructing a garage and store room more suitable to Windsor Castle, which makes me want to either scream or burst into tears when I walk into my garden, or boil the kettle etc etc etc etc, and my mood tumbles further into the abyss.

I love autumn. I love the colours, the sounds of leaves crunching under foot. The idea of homemade soups, cosy fires (if one actually HAD a fireplace) and sorting through ideas of things to make for Christmas. So many negative things have been dominating life recently, and it is a struggle at times to keep grinning. Horrible things happen to good people. A friend had a stroke last week, 6 months into a much anticipated retirement, and that is just for starters......

My sister once told me that every hideous photo taken of me, or her, or anyone is real- you know the ones where the angle is wrong, the lighting too harsh, you were not ready and smiling in the proper way, your eyes look slitty and where on earth did the 7 chins appear from?????? You know the ones? The ones you delete immediatelybecause you look so hideous??? Yes, I thought so. Well, those ones - they are the real you. The "you" people see when they look at you randomly. The unsmiling you. The one frowning. The one with the intimidating expression. We all recognise those expressions from our experience of the people we live with, of course. There is not a woman alive who cannot catalogue her husband's many expressions. Or her children's ones. My sister threatens to take a zillion photos of me in that mode, so I can see what people see. Gee thanks, Marge.

So when I was walking around Tesco yesterday, with a pained expression on my face, I suddenly wondered what total strangers were seeing when they looked in my direction. At the very least they would not have been drawn to my bubbly personality. Random glances tell such different stories. At the lines and frown on my face, they may have thought - bitter and twisted old woman, or grumpy old cow, or miserable middle aged woman, or ugly old woman, or ...... the list goes on.

That would have been their impression of me at that moment. The head was not posed at the most flattering angle as I plodded up and down the aisles. Nor was I aiming to be the centre of attention. Nor was I grinning a cheesy grin. However, had I been grinning, they may well have thought I had escaped from some secure facility nearby. This was Tesco after all. And the basket was very heavy. I bought flour. To make bread, and you try managing a stick and a basket, and handbag which falls off the shoulder all the time, and reaching things on the shelves....... but I digress.

So there I was, having an epiphany in the middle of Tesco. Wondering what impression people would have of my expression. Knowing that I knew my face was screwed up and my shoulders were hunched because it HURT dammit, but they couldn't have known that. And wondering if it was right to fix that cheesy grin in place and pretend I was all sweetness and light. Or not. I probably looked as old as the hills.

I am caught in a conundrum, you see. I choose to keep moving, I do not want pity, I choose to hide what I feel inside, because I want to keep being me, Linds, the positive, optimistic and mobile one. And this, my friends, generates exactly the opposite. People (in Tesco and out there in the world) see me and make their own assessments, judgements etc, based solely on what is in front of them. If I had given in, I would be in a wheelchair.

I. Will. Not. Give. In.

If I had a wheelchair, people would understand. Sympathy, pity etc would be their first response. They do not understand determination, because it is invisible. Or the lines on the face are misinterpreted as miserable, grumpy, bitter etc, and no-one sees the jaw clenched to stop from moaning, as just that. Determination. They see ugly. It is understandable, because we are talking total strangers here. I get frowned at when I get out of my car in a disabled parking space, even though I have a badge. I look normal. And frowns hurt too, you know.

So is the hiding of emotions good? Or is it bad? Maybe we all need sisters armed with digital cameras to dog our footsteps for a day, to actually see what face we present to the world.

It is not the face you look at in the mirror. That one is the "pretty" one.

It is the "face" you wear when you are in the middle of yelling at your kids, the one showing your frustration, anger, exhaustion, worry, annoyance, irritation, being defensive, battling to thread a needle with wonky eyesight, hurt, laughter, while reading, chatting, cooking, gardening, thinking, whatever. Not the social face. The real face of each of us. Which is the face my children think of when they think of me? Which is the face my friends visualise? Colleagues? Doctors?

We never get to see those faces, because, so help me, they are not photo opportunities. Thank heavens. (Unless you have a sister on a mission.)

But maybe we need to see those faces. Need to know what others see. If we dare.


esully said...

I think you might be too hard on yourself(this coming from someone who is too hard on herself)You have faced up to some really difficult physical challenges with remarkable humor,spirit and guts.As far as putting on a brave smiling face for the world to admire...I think most people are so wrapped up in their own lives that they aren't really giving you or me much thought as they go through their day.One thing that really used to tick me off when I worked with the public was someone coming up to me and saying "SMILE" like I was a trained dog that should obey their commands.It was almost always a man who would say this by the way. If I saw you I would think "good for you" you are getting around as best you can under difficult circumstances. The main thing is to keep getting around as long as you can ..I intend to be the old lady at the flea market with the walker or the scooter if need be.Peace .

Becky said...

Wow, that's a pretty powerful post. Don't be hard on yourself. All of those phases, moods, expressions, emotions make up the total you. We don't have to be perky all the time. We just have to be kind and get on the best way possible.

You've been through a lot and I can't imagine your life not having changed, matured, slowed down, sped up, grown. You are amazing.

Dawn said...

What a thought-provoking post. I have to say I rarely like a picture of myself lately, but Marge's theory is scary!

I have a friend who's in pain all of the time from numerous, too many to count, surgeries on her back, feet, and other places. When anyone asks her how she is, she says, "I'm doing the best I can." She tries so hard to hide her pain.

I feel so much for you, my friend, and my brother-in-law who are in constant pain. The Lord bless you as you endure, because you have endeared yourself to all of us out here in blogland!

I got another post done about the time you commented on the last one. Welcome home, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Vicky Pruitt good to know that you are able to write! Deeeep thoughts, Linds. I hope that you feel better that in the realm of possibilities? God bless you, I'm thinking of you and praying for you!

Needled Mom said...

Those are some very interesting thoughts. I will now be more aware of others and myself.

I truly wish there was something that could help with your pain, Linds. We always seem to take our health for granted until it is no longer there. Perhaps we can all appreciate it more through your very poignant writings.

We so enjoyed our visit to Britain having returned late last night. I do, however, feel that it is time for tea and it is only 5 a.m. here. Hmmmm!