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Crazy Eddie here: Everything Must Go!

I’ve been on a Craigslist frenzy in the past couple of weeks. For months I’ve been looking at our garage with disdain as I’ve squeezed through the narrow walkway, not-so-light toddler in arms, feeling a bit Fred Sanford-esque in my inability to get rid of things.

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Shades of goodness

Mirror, mirror that I see,

Am I the mother that I could be?

I won’t soon–maybe ever–forget the look on her face. She was stunned, just a little bit scared, and mostly just couldn’t comprehend what happened. Time stopped, and we just looked at each other. And looked at each other.

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Well, I’m diverting from my normal self-reflective blog to post a yummy recipe I stumbled upon today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

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I’m tired.

And sad.

And, if I’m completely honest, angry. Yeah, pretty angry.

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Missing you, Autumn

Today is a slightly overcast day in South Florida. Its as close as we get here to anything that feels like fall. We’re going pumpkin-picking today. Well, we’re going to get pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch anyway.

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Unplanned healing

Sometimes–well, many times, I’m learning–life just happens. And you catch yourself in a moment. And it’s wonderful.

Today that happened to me.

You see, it’s September 27. And that’s an anniversary of sorts for me. For the past 16 years, September 27 has brought with it a range of feelings and pain the depths of which I had never experienced before. The garden variety sadness, fear, and anger were there, but there were also some feelings that I can’t even put into words. (I know this, because I reworked this whole paragraph trying to find words, and I just can’t capture them.)

On September 27, 1992, a man broke into my apartment and sexually assaulted me. It was the slowest hour of my life and one that I struggle to forget and remember a thousand times over.

I remember how afraid I was in the months and even years following the assault. How I would stay up all night and sleep all day to get through my life. How I quit job after job because I couldn’t get through the day without panic attacks. How I loved walking in the cold, autumn Washington, D.C. rain, because it woke my skin up from otherwise deadening numbness and reminded me that I could feel something.

I remember reading an article just weeks after it happened from a rape victim that was “celebrating” her ten year anniversary. She talked about the minutes after it happened when she picked herself off the floor and called 911. She recounted subsequent years of milestones and realizations that she was healing. And then it was ten years, and she couldn’t believe she had made it that far.

I read that and thought,”Not me. Never. That will never be me.”

And then there was year one where I didn’t sleep that night but cuddled up with my cat and knew I was alive. It was scary and awful, and a big part of me was waiting for the door to open and for “him” to come right back into my life.

And then there were the years after where I always took the day off from work and did something special for myself. I still had problems sleeping on that night, and sometimes alcohol took the edge off.  But I started to live through it in a particular way. Nothing celebratory about it, but I learned to mark it. Still scared, still sad. But starting to live.

And then there was 1999, when the police called me out in California and told me that they had finally caught the man who had assaulted me.

What?

I mean, what?

That was obviously a very different year, marked with new feelings of reopening a wound I had thought I closed more of less (you never really close it, but still).

I remember thinking how I had finally gotten the strength to throw out everything surrounding the case–statements, police documents, potential sketches of the victim–around year four. How could this be popping up again?

I mean, really, I had healed after all.

And then there were the trials. Oh yes, I say trials, because after the first one took place in January 2000, a mistrial was declared, and I had to do it all over again in May of that year.

That was a whole new stage of healing. If I tried to explain it, it wouldn’t make sense. Suffice it to say, I emerged from that experience with an understanding and compassion for others in a way I never dreamed possible. For my assailant of all people. (I told you it wouldn’t make sense.) That experience was one of the most profound of my life. It changed me forever.

He was found guilty of some charges (he had done this to multiple women) and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. End of that story.

But then September 27 would come around, and I’d always stop and pause. I’d take the day off from work and do something special for myself. I’d say to my mom or Kyle,”Do you know what today is? I can’t believe it’s been x years since it happened.” And I just needed to be there, in it for some time.

In 2007, on the fifteenth year, I was in the midst of a home pancha karma treatment for myself (an ayurvedic fast of sorts) over the course of a few days. I booked a private restorative yoga session for myself. (And oh my god, if you haven’t done that, it’s the best way to take care of yourself. Truly. Do it. Don’t walk, run to the phone.) I remember my husband saying that he was surprised that I was doing it, because I just hadn’t seem that affected by it in the past years. I struggled to explain why I wanted to do it, but I knew I needed to. So I did.

Then wonderful 2008 came, and Delaney was 15 days old when September 27 came around. Still, I was aware. I remember hugging her and thinking,”No, you’ll never know of these things in the world. I promise.” Not consuming, but still aware.

September 27, 2009. I woke up to some back pain, which I’ve been having quite a bit lately but which is hopefully on its way out. Normal morning. Waffles with Kyle (Delaney had her first bite of waffle this morning!) and then plans to grocery shop.

“Okay, you take the dog for a quick walk. I’ll change Delaney and jump in the shower. Shoot for 10ish?”

Done.

Getting out the shower, I heard Kyle on the phone with our nephew, Liam. It was his fourth birthday today.

Oh my god.

“Do you know what today is?”

“Yep.”

I hadn’t even known the date today.

And just like that I realized that life–my life–had taken over and healed me. Had moved me from a place where it took a hold of my life to a place where my own life was moving enough to push it aside and make my current life more important to my conscious mind.

How wonderful. How unbelievable.

How honoring to that young girl who sat up all night watching the door, waiting for her assailant to return even months later when she lived in a different city. To the girl that thought she would never ever feel normal again or not feel afraid.

What a tribute to that life that seems so long ago and so distant but is still such a part of who I am.

I woke up to smiles this morning from a little red-headed angel. My heart feels like it will explode just thinking about it. I remember a time I thought I’d explode from all the other feelings inside me that I couldn’t make sense of.

What a different time. What a different life.

September 27, 2009. Nothing too special about today.

It was a cosmic intersection: Seal, Banana Republic, Delaney, and I all converging on a moment in time. And it was one of the sweetest moments of my life. Worth writing about to try to capture some semblance of the moment.

Last weekend, Kyle, Delaney, and I made a trek down to the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida. I’ve had dreams about the Mall of America, and I’m sure this is not nearly as large. But believe me when I say it was the biggest place I’ve ever shopped. And it’s shaped like an alligator to boot.

Don’t ask. Not sure.

We made it through the equivalent of 3/4 of one section of it, which is probably 15% of the mall. It’s enormous.

The shopping was great. Thanks for asking. And those of you who know me well know that normally that might be the focus of this moment.

Not this time.

So, we were shopping for Kyle, who needed new casual clothes. We hit Brooks Brothers 346, Gap, and Banana Republic and even got some lunch in at the Rainforest Cafe (best fish tacos I’ve ever had, incidentally. so, so yummy.).

When all was said and done, we spent probably four and a half hours at the mall. Great for Kyle’s wardrobe. Potentially not-so-great if you’re toting a nine-and-a-half-month-old around.

But she was a trooper, as she so often is. Just such a wonderful little soul.

So, we’re in the home stretch in Banana Republic, and Kyle is showing no signs of slowing down (in real time, this is hour four of shopping). He’s got two pairs of bootcut khakis and two shirts, and he looks at me and says,”I’m going to go into the clearance section to look around.”

(I’m thinking that now would be a good time to ask him to see a chick flick with me, because what has he done with my husband?)

As he enters the clearance section, Delaney starts to crank up a bit. She was in the Ergo, and she started to stiffen and whine a bit. She hadn’t napped all day, so I knew she was crispy. I thought a change of scenery was the key, so I put her in the stroller.

Wrong answer.

So, now crank is upped to eleven for her (my salute to Spinal Tap, for those of you who love Christopher Guest flicks), which is still probably only a five or six compared to other kids. But for her, I know it’s time to act.

I try to get my beloved’s attention, but he’s enthralled with a blue blazer missing buttons that’s 60% off. (I believe his exact words were,”I can’t afford not to get it!” Seriously, what have you done with my husband?)

Once, twice, three times.

“Kyle. . . Kyle . . . Kyle.”

Finally, “KYLE!” (Followed quickly by the,”I wasn’t being bitchy, I just wanted your attention.” Because, let’s face it, that could have become the next issue vs. keeping our eye on the ball–the ball being Delaneys’ needs, of course. Crisis averted.)

I’m not sure, but I think he had swirls in his eyes when he looked at me. Seriously, I think he’s going to leave me for Banana Republic.

Oh well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer couple.

I had swirls in my eyes for a different reason: we had arrived at the mall at 11 a.m., before it got to be a zoo. However, now it’s 3:30 p.m., and zoo would be a nice word for what was happening around me. Banana Republic was buzzing with kinetic shopping energy. I’d like to say it energized me. Not so.

Not so for Delaney either. She needed some quiet, some recharging. Nursing always does the trick. Miraculous.

Anyway, so I grab the bug and we go off in search of a dressing room to nurse. This is where I have to use my assessment skills every time to figure out the best way to either (1) sneak in so no one knows we’re there or (2) approach the keeper-of-the-dressing-room (too often some really thin blond named Brittany or Taylor) in such a way that we get our room.

[An aside: it might sound weird that we have to do that. Or maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure. I don’t know many people who nurse this long, so I only know what I do. Dressing rooms have become a staple for our shopping days, because it’s private and quiet. I do what I can to use them, even it if means pulling a few god-forsaken pieces from the Sag Harbor collection to tote in there with me to look legit. Come to think of it, since I’m not buying–or even trying on for that matter–I think I’ll start pulling from Ralph Lauren, size 2 to take in with me. I mean, hey, why not shoot high?]

So, we go in, and three very young but very friendly girls are there. My assessment says play on the cuteness of the baby and act confident like I’m going to do it no matter what they say, which takes the form of me starting down the hall before they actually give me permission. Oh yeah, and look a little bit frazzled and elicit sympathy.

Tall order, but I think I can do it.

First response: “Um, there’s a bathroom right back there. You could use that.” (I think there was hair-twirling and gum-smacking, but I might be just imagining that.

I kind of looked at her confused and said,”Um, I need to feed her. Can I use a dressing room?”

Second response: “Oh, I thought you said change her. Okay, I guess we’re not too busy.”

Split-second assessment followed by manipulative technique coming: “We’ll only be five minutes or so. If you get busy, just knock on the door.” (as if someone would actually do that!)

So, there we were, in our dressing room, feeling relieved, because you never know how people are going to be about it.

Delaney was powerful hungry, and it was if her body sighed in relief as she settled in. She was immediately tired, and within three minutes tops, she was asleep in my arms, lying across my body, lifeless. And I was amazed again how nursing seems to erase the past. It’s like a reset button on my little love. It’s miraculous.

I sat there for a minute looking at her, loving her so much I thought I might explode. She looked as content as a soul could be, which brought me back to the only thing that matters: the present.

I gingerly got out the dressing room door and whispered a thank you to the sales associates as we passed. And we re-entered Banana Republic’s shopping crackfest with people scurrying about, clothing strewn everywhere.

But this time, I wasn’t a part of it. We weren’t a part of it.

I walked to the front of the store, and Kyle was making his purchases. It was taking quite a while, so I stood near the front door of the store, Delaney draped across me, perfectly content sleeping in the midst of chaos.

And then Seal’s “Love’s Divine” came one. Now, I’m not normally a huge Seal fan, but something about that song cut me to the core in that moment. And I began to cry.

And I didn’t even care.

Because all of a sudden I felt like the Universe was shining its spotlight right on us, in the middle of Banana Republic. It was like the whole world was scurrying rapidly around us, but we were in this protected little circle in slow motion. It’s very hard to explain, hard to find words for it.

But it hit me hard that in that moment, I had all I needed. And so did she.

All she needed was me. I was enough to calm her, relax her, make her safe and comforted enough to just lay across my body in the middle of craziness. It was all that mattered.

So I sat there in Banana Republic with tears rolling down my face, staring at my little miracle, listening to Seal, so filled up with love and gratitude for the moment. I couldn’t believe that people going past didn’t become part of my moment somehow, but they were busy with their lives, and I don’t think anyone noticed. Kyle didn’t even see it happening.

I wish there were more words to describe it.

I know Delaney’s purpose in life isn’t to help me learn my life’s lessons. I know her path is her own, and it will be a joy watching it unfold for her in her lifetime.

But in 10 months of life, her presence has been the catalyst for my biggest lessons. And hers is only to be who she needs to be every second of the day. I’m so blessed to be able to provide her with that opportunity.

This is the part that makes my heart break over and over again and probably why I feel inspired to write so much more since her birth: I want to capture it all somehow. This particular moment was so sweet, it makes my body buzz. Pure joy, pure truth, pure love. I want to be able to step back into my skin in that moment and re-experience it whenever I want (need) to.

I know another moment will replace it as the newest wonder someday soon. For now, this sticks pretty strong in my heart. But I don’t want to lose this one when another one happens. It’s almost like I’m betraying that moment in time by allowing a new moment to steal the spotlight.

Last week, I was looking at this awesome frame we have with a picture of Delaney at around 4 months old. I remember the picture, taking it, thinking it was the cutest one ever. I said aloud to Kyle,”I guess we should put a new picture in here.” And then I started crying. He asked me what was wrong, and I said,”I feel like we’re replacing Delaney at that age with a newer model.”

And it just made me so sad. It’s like admitting that that period of time is over. Which it is, of course.

But it’s just hard. I want to keep it all. I want to be able to step into the moment four, six, nine months ago and be there when I want to. Just for a moment.

And I guess when I realize that time ticks by, it makes those moments in the moment all the sweeter and all the more important.

I’ll never forget that moment, and I know Banana Republic will always have a wholly different meaning for me than it used to.

I wish for everyone in the world to have their own moment in some ridiculous place that has no business being divine. I guess that’s what it’s about: finding the divine in the mundane, the unexpected, the chaotic. In life. In our regular lives.

Practical magic, I suppose. What a wonderful gift.