The Thing in My Closet
Here's where I tap my fingers, sip my coffee and consider which direction to go in. I stop for a moment to get the kids out of bed, wait a few minutes, flick the bedroom lights on and off and then yell again for them to get out of bed. I sit down at the computer. Again.
Had breakfast (ok, another cup of coffee), did laundry, took shower. All in a morning's work when you get up at 4:45 a.m. I fell asleep at 9:30 last night - passed out so hard I'm sure I was snoring and sputtering because when I woke up half an hour later my pillow was soaked with drool. Don't make those faces, you all drool when you sleep hard. Don't pretend you don't.
At ten I transferred myself from the couch to the bed. Kids were still up, husband was still painting. Not me. I had this overwhelming desire to sleep like a dead person.
Not to be. I woke up ever half hour or so. I couldn't get comfortable, the dreams were bad, my neighbor was gunning his motorcycle again. Always something. The fitful night finally ends and I wake up exhausted from chasing down an orphan girl in my dream - an orphan girl that turned out to be my daughter at an earlier age. Well, how could she be an orphan if I was still alive, my dream self wondered. And then she came and sat with me, next to a reflection pool that had been emptied of water, but whose cement floor was scattered with pennies and dimes turned blue from chlorine.
I almost wasn't here, you know, she says to me.
I know, I say. I'm glad you are.
And that was that. Orphan girl/daughter got up and walked away, stopping every few feet to pick up a faded coin.
I wake myself up thinking about that line, I almost wasn't here, you know. And that much is true. I had some complications late in the third month of my pregnancy with Nat. The problems were enough to warrant the fear that I was having a miscarraige. When I told my then husband about it, he immediately started making plans for the money we would save by not having a baby.
I remember this distinctly. Driving down Fifth Street, towards our apartment, in his yellow Subaru wagon he inhereted from his older brother. I was wearing loose black pants and a long t-shirt. Even at just three months, my belly had already started to swell. I had black Converse low-tops on my feet and those feet were rested on the passenger side dashboard, because I was supposed to keep the lower half of my body elevated, which seemed a bit ridiculous to me because if I was going to miscarraige, gravity wasn't going to make much of a difference.
It made my heart hurt just a bit to hear him treat our child-to-be with such indifference and I said so. It's not a child, he said. It's just a...thing. It's just a three month old thing.
That thing eventually healed itself and made its way out of my body and became our daughter and there were times when I was in that delivery room, pushing and sweating and cursing, that I wanted to remind him of the moment when he referred to this baby as a thing, but I couldn't, because he wasn't there. Wasn't his thing, is what he said. Not a delivery room kind of man.
So I was there alone when the monitors went crazy and the oxygen mask came out of nowhere and I had this absurd moment when I thought I was on a crashing plane and the masks were popping from the ceiling, but that was probably the Demerol speaking.
I had no idea what I was doing, I realized at some point. I wished I could rely on my Lamaze lessons, but the husband wouldn't go to those because he had better things to do and I couldn't go alone because, towards the end of the pregnancy, I didn't quite fit behind the wheel of my Mustang or his Subura and I depended on him to drive me everywhere, but everywhere did not include a few lessons designed to make childbirth easier. So I wasn't sure how to breathe and I wasn't sure how to find some comfort in this physical nightmare, and the nurses just wanted to pump me full of Demerol and give me way too much of that epidural.
Just a little, I want to be able to push, I told them. Two minutes later, I was numb from the pelvic area down. There would be no pushing.
You could today put me on an empty cruise ship in the middle of a vast ocean and I would feel less alone than I did in that hospital room.
The rest is a blur of motion and fear, soundtracked by a too-fast beeping monitor, a barking nurse and my puzzlement that my own OB/G had yet to show up. It was when I saw the forceps, oversized and ominous, and knew those forceps were headed for a space between my legs, that I nearly passed out. They threw an oxygen mask on my face and told me to shut up and calm down.
I asked them to please let my husband in the room. Not because I wanted his comfort, but because I wanted to rip his balls off for leaving me alone like this. The nurse shook her head disapprovingly when she realized my husband did not take his little course that would have allowed him in the room.
So there I was, alone, and they were using scissors or something very much like them to slice open my va-- well, they call it an episiotomy. Eventually, my baby girl, the thing, as my husband called her, decided she had enough and made her appearance kicking, screaming and red faced.
Later they wheeled me out to another room and my husband, whom my sisters had to go find to tell him that his daughter had introduced herself to the world, was holding the baby and while other new mothers might be overwhelmed with joy at this sight, all I wanted to do was crush his heart into tiny, bleeding pieces.
Which I did, six years later. Six years and another child too late, I know.
It wasn't really that particular day that warped and molded me into the person I am today, but the six years that passed from that day until October of 1996 when I finally realized that I had, indeed, given birth to a thing; a weird version of myself, that is. Like Frankenstein's monster or anything created out of a vulgar hatred for yourself, a mutated personality is born and it's not until someone performs an intervention of sorts and shows you a mental film clip of that monster that you realize what you created.
So now, almost eight years after that six year period of gestation, the monster has been slain and the place from which I got the body parts is mostly a distant planet, still viewable off in the far reaches of time, but a safe mileage away.
It's good to keep the telescope out, as I have done. It's good to look at that place every once in a while and remember the monster that existed there; the thing that walked the earth on its own accord, powered by anger and fueled by self-loathing and a hatred for most everything in its path.
Packing yesterday, I found a stack of some mix CDs I made. In my usual haphazard fashion, none of them were labeled. I grabbed a handful of discs so I could check them out on the way to work, to see what kind of music was on them.
The first disc struck me like the proverbial hammer. Damn, I was angry. There was one song - a slow, hard sludge-rock song - that acted like a zoom lens on that telescope and I saw it all so clearly, if from a safe distance. And I felt it, too. It's amazing what one simple song can do to bring back everything associated with it; every single feeling and emotion, every moment of the creeping death of who you were and the slow crawl to what you are.
If I've learned one thing over the years, its that anger at the world and anger at one specific person are two entirely different animals, and while neither one is particularly productive, at least you can act upon your anger at the world with productive action, while acting upon your anger at a person will only land you a restraining order.
As with most of my rambling reminiscences, this started out as something else - at first it was one of those dedication posts (Faith wanted me to write about the Michele that she knows, which is in some ways different from the Michele that most of you know, as she knows me outside this box), then it was going to answer some questions about blogging, and then it was supposed to be about abortion and the rally in D.C. yesterday, but it turns out its about all of that and more - you just have to read between the lines to get to it.
And there's a lot more to this story, if you want to know it. I'd be more than happy to write it down if you put it in the form of a request accompanied by a donation to SOA.
I'm not a whore, I just play one for charity