Forge Forager

(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)
(or listen here)

Hello out there.

I am now a mother of a teenager type young man.

A single mother of a teen.

I never-have-I-ever-would-I-ever-have imagined this life for myself (or a child of mine), but here we are.

Happy Birthday to me

Today we are house secure, water secure, food secure, sundries secure, education secure, health secure (as we can be), electricity secure, internet access secure, freedom secure (as it can be), peace secure (as it can be), and grateful to be all of those things. Also holding praying and comfort space for all of the humans who are not this secure or are this secure (or more) and are unable to embrace it.

People have accused me of being Pollyanna when I mention these types of things, or when I refocus on the basics of humanity’s shared emotional experiences. Perhaps I can be at times. I think of it more as a momentary refocus anchor to keep me even the tiniest bit grounded during those most difficult untethering moments. It can also be a reinforcement of the Four Agreements, specifically: not taking things personally. I suppose these are my versions of gratitude, and occasionally my only version of gratitude that I am able to harness. If you know the darknesses, you know what I mean. If you do not, then I am truly immensely grateful for you because I would not wish any of it on anyone. Not even on the people who have harmed me or those I purposefully disconnect from.

It seems as if the darkness cycle spins a little more gently when I am reminded about other humans having human experiences too. No, that’s not true. That is sometimes. When I am able to go outside of my experience and forage around to hit on an exact point of compassion for another person, that is when my cycle spins more gently. It isn’t that I no longer feel the darknesses, but more that I embrace what I see in another person and I am able to treat that in a softer way. This is a zillion quadrillion easier than foraging around inside my own self and extending compassion there, somehow making everything a bit softer, thereby quieting my own disastrous internal tapes.

Between the time that I began this post, became distracted by life (tennis, soccer, swimming, laundry, cooking, cleaning, wound care, relatives visiting, food shopping, ironing the linens – why? It’s a thang, back-to-school appointments, supplies/clothes shopping, puppy grooming/emergency vet visits, COVID avoidance, loving my sweet baby, Monopoly, Ted Lasso, painting, Tinker Crates, violin, piano, drums, reading, all of the things etc) my teeny tiny newborn giant became a teen, I had a birthday myself, and something switched in my brain.

It may be a bad fuse switch, though bc it keeps popping off and I have to dig all the way inside of myself to get it flipped back again. The switch is letting myself be. If I see myself as a hawt mess, or ugly, or a bitch, or gross, or lazy, or self centered, or whatever shameful thing – I let it be. Kind of like an observer to my own shame. It dawned on me that truly, who the f cares? Who cares if I am a hawt mess? I still have to make breakfast, take the puppies outside, wash the clothes, do the grocery shop etc. If I want to sink into the hawt mess zone, then whatever, I’m a hawt mess – nothing changes except how I feel as I am living the life stuff. I know I cannot force my brain into unicorn fairy rose thoughts on those deep dark occasions. Platitudes and well-intentioned posts from people who appear to have their shit together, or at least appear to have healthy support and luck on their side to keep their shit together, are not helpful to me. My switch has helped me by my knowing that it is always there. A permanent rendering of the knowledge of impermanence of the dark shameful tropes. The trick is in locating the switch.

Lucky (?) for me, alcohol and drugs are not options – or, at least not unhealthy level options. What seems to help me locate my switch is being outside, outside activity, music, listening to a podcast: finding an artistic expression to absorb my brain enough that I am forced to be present with myself. When I can get my brain still enough that I can be alert to essence, then my sense of who I am clicks for long enough that the shame can still itself and just be shame too, until it no longer dominates how I am.

Does this make sense?

Maybe it’s because I am entering crone phase – no more babies coming from my body, more shiny silver sparkles popping up in my hair, my own squishy baby is entering his final growth into man phase… or maybe I have truly lost my mind. I doubt the maybe’s matter – they just will be whatever they will be, regardless of my participation. Like time is what it is no matter how it is allocated, used, or passed.

I awakened with a panic attack at 2:30am recently. This is not unusual for me. These kind of panic attacks come in waves and then disappear for a few weeks. Occasionally they are part of a nightmare, but not always. Sometimes I’ll focus on my breath until I can calm down, sometimes my body bursts into tears for a bit from the stress of it all. This one was after a nightmare where someone/something took a giant sharp chisel to the crown of my head and hit it directly in the center with an oversized Thor*-like hammer. My entire self shattered into a million fractured pieces. I quickly figured out that I was not shattered, and immediately panicked that I was having the oft predicted mental breakdown. This then of course led to me mentally calculating the logistics of how to handle me having a mental breakdown. Do I phone 911? If I do, then who will take SonHerisme to school? How will he be able to cope with a more shattered me? Did I get enough groceries in the house for SonHerisme to figure out a few meals on his own? What should (or do) I have prepared in the freezer(often on my mind anyway in case I get the COVID)? How much puppy food do I have on hand? Is there toilet paper? Did I already schedule the monthly bills? Who can be on-call to change MotherHerisme’s bandages? Is my phone charged? Did I remember to change the broken brake light? Is there cash anywhere for SonHerisme to use until I can get him a credit card? Is his soccer costume/outfit/kit clean and ready? Did I already cook the spinach and mushrooms or are they slowly rotting in the refrigerator? Will my brain stay functional enough to work any of this stuff out? And on and on and on… until I recognized that it doesn’t matter. I am not literally actually physically shattered, and mentally shattered I already know how to do. Pro forma performance for me b!tches (awww nahs, now I’ve got the awks sillies the agains)

Is this acceptance? Perhaps it is a form of that.

I don’t have the energy to fight anything anymore anyway anywhere anyhow.

I will just keep on being me as best as I can on days that I am able to do so. I hope the same for you!

In the meantime, please keep yourself healthy and safe.

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

SonHerisme has requested that we build a home forge so that he can make some cool stuff and learn about melting metals. I will engage his dream by taking him to visit a private forge and then… I’m not saying, “no,” yet. If you know of this magic, or of the dreams of boys new to teenager-ing, advice and guidance is welcome 🙂

*I know that Thor’s hammer has a special and important-to-some name, which was carefully chosen due to it being full of the meanings and legends and such, and has been passed down through mythology over countless generations, and I also love some good Marvel movie-time up in here – however, despite taking the time to type this excuse, I find I have no time to look up the name of the hammer and include it in my ramblings see: nightmare w chisel. akobc (air kiss on both cheeks)

Below SHOULD BE A SEPARATE POST, but is not. Although, it does have a separate audio file! Huzzah!

(listen here)

***ALERT topical COVID*** COVID is hitting some of my circles hard right now. Shoving kids into overcrowded schools at another upswing of the pandemic without any educational back-up plan despite over half of the kids not vaccinated, is insanity blowing up a shitstorm imho.

I am in a progressive-ish state with masks required in schools – but when kids are crammed into buildings, sat shoulder-to-shoulder for meals, and no masking at recess etc, I am not really sure what we expect. Kids are germ magnets and superspreaders in ALL cases.

Why we every pretended they weren’t is CrAzY cAtS to the max. And we did pretend to boost our own bravado and push an unhealthy unproductive narrative to park kids somewhere culturally convenient and get our moneymakers back where we can watch them and overwork/underpay them to siphon cash to our few investors so that they can buy gold toilets and host “conferences” and “meetings” in Cancun (ooops, it is the angers and outrages).

We never EVER looked at contact tracing of asymptomatic kids spreading the virus DESPITE schools opening = higher hospitalizations/higher rates of infection in the community at large. Teachers and school staff, I am sorry. Kids, I am … sorry doesn’t cut it. Kids, I am horrified at our behaviors. Please know that many of us are working hard to do the right thing with masking, handwashing, vaccinations, etc. 3 days into the school year, we had 41 positive cases in the schools. 1 week into the school year, we have 7 schools declared “outbreak” sites, over 600 kids in quarantine, and an additional 62 positive cases in the schools. After 18 months, many of us are doing many things right but this is not one of them. damnit damnit all to frickin’ hell

Locally our infection rate has dropped again to 5.22%, probably because every student or school staff person with any symptoms, or potentially exposed, can only return to school with a negative test. This means that more people are being tested (which is a GOOD thing, but also makes the infection rate incomparable to previous weeks where primarily people with active symptoms were the only ones getting tested). Our local hospital beds (ICU and regular) are comparable to what we were seeing in late November, February and April. These were all upticks towards peaks about a month later.

WWID? Well, if I was the benevolent dictator who was somehow unable to give into the seduction of power (insert Richard E Grant early 90’s evil laugh here)(yes, I am this evil laugh specific) and screw everything up, requiring a bloody revolution to correct the wrongs of my sycophants and myself… then, I would suggest that we regroup a think-tank of teachers who would take one full working month to develop a plan of hybrid indoor/outdoor options with a shit-ton of large motor activities preK-12, utilizing local parks/parking lots/businesses unused space/whatever space is available, where only half of the kids are inside at any given time. MEANWHILE administrators plan how to reconfigure building use for next year to cut class sizes in half and end the traditional academic day at lunchtime, followed by recess and PE/Art/Music and other specialized interest groups (forensic science, soccer, orchestra, swimming, chess club, Minecraft, writing, academic support, riding, school garden, outdoor skills, cooking, life skills etc) until school closes. Kids leave as early as mid afternoon or option to stay until dinner-time (with a staff change of course). Kids participate in meal and snack preparation, as well as clean-up. All programs begin with grace and courtesy. Counselors, social workers, intervention support specialists are in plentiful supply to support growth, development, learning, and connection with community resources. Make space for illness, sadness, big heavy emotions, as these are to be expected and need supported as well. Might as well dream big, it doesn’t cost anymore than the small dreams (quoted from DS, celebrated author, former co-worker, and all around great person). Oh yes, and take the vaccine as you are able to do so.

UR for Me

my pic, clever person’s words
(or listen here)

It is time. It is time for me to have the uncomfortable reckoning with myself.

Which makes me think it is beyond the time for our uncomfortable reckoning with ourselves and the tempering of the expectation that we are better than we actually are. Not that we believe we are necessarily better, but the expectation that we are (should be) better than.

I think we (I) got culturally stuck on the philosophy that only by recognizing the light, the ideal, will we achieve greatness and enlightenment – not unlike a religious cult. Then we (I) defined light/enlightenment/achievement in ways that (I) very few of us could even grab a sliver of, and attached that achievement, or lack of, to morality. I think we forgot that humans gotta human. The dark is there no matter what. Refusing to recognize it and call it what it is, does not make it disappear to be replaced by frolicking unicorn kitties in a midtown 3 bedroom/3 bath parkview apartment with weekend beach getaway cottage because we believed hard enough in the powers of sunshine gratitude and manifested the syrupy goodness with the correct yoga instructor at the best studio with the correct color scheme.

The culture of happy is killing us.

The culture of racism is killing us.

The culture of this iteration of capitalism is killing us.

The culture of nationalism is killing us.

The culture of not allowing the darkness to be conscious is killing us.

My level of overtly cultivated happiness is used as a barometer for my worthiness to hope.

My level of tolerance for racism is used to justify others’ systemic unworthiness.

My level of mindless participation in this iteration of capitalism is used as endorsement of others’ exclusivity to basic human needs.

My level of blind acceptance of nationalism is used as a weapon against humanity.

Some things are just crap. They happen(ed) or exist(ed) and they are are awful and dark because that is what they are. By not fully recognizing that they too are a part of who we are as individuals and collectively, I think I (we) have been exacerbating and feeding the dark to my (our) own detriment as if it is a mirror of morality and worthiness.

Maybe instead of therapy or a grief doula, I am looking for an accountability reckoning guide. Also, it is a million times easier to talk about theories of “we” rather than “I.” Uncomfortable reckoning indeed. Or just further ptsd wanting to find any way to take responsibility for unpleasantness so that I can give myself the illusion of being able to control it.

Fuck it – who knows? Anywho… turn off the gaslight and light up that dark shit ’cause I gots to gets my truths on, son! Waffles!

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps – I’m popping these over to Spotify if you want to look for me there too