Monday, January 08, 2007

I Leave First

Hello lovers.

Sorry for phasing out of the internetty universe. It's been kind of mad since I last blagged it out here but mostly it's been sad - especially this last week.

On 1st January 2007 one of my mother's relatives was killed in a car accident and even earlier that same day my good friend, Shell's own father passed away. Both souls left this world quietly and too soon.


All is Well

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.

Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918


As MyMama left PNG and moved to Sidoneeee before the end of 2006, it's been my responsibility to do the right things 'by custom' for the relative we have lost, where MyMama would have, such as prepare food and go to the cry-haus and give money and whatever else is required of kin of kin of kin. So I did that and by all accounts I've been doing it right.

What's been harder though, has been watching a dear, dear friend, Shell, lose her own dad.

Beareavement sucks. It's a bloody hard and needfully thoroughly personal journey. And mostly the hard work of 'missing' can only be done by the persons suffering the loss directly and everyone else just becomes a handrail on their slow climb out of the pit of sheer loss.

The way I used to feel was that grief was so immensly personal that I couldn't let it be shared or even seen . When MyDad went into an ambulance alive and came out Dead On Arrival one long March day in 1987, I swallowed my grief like bitumen grit and swore that was a burden only a faithful daughter could understand. I felt that there was something kind of perverse about displaying true sorrow. If I had it my way, I would bury myself into a tiny cool hole in some anonymous dark universe and cut my heart out in tiny strips until the pain seeped away with the blood. I think, being the focus of a lot of pity and always being on view made me hide and protect my grief like it was my own personal cross and just scream (inside, always just inside) a deafening fuck-off to anyone that wanted to see it, touch it, test it. And unsurprisingly, burying all that heavy inside my baby skin made me one highly stressed and strung out ricebag - but I NEVER showed it. At least, I thought I wasn't. I was acting my ass off for almost 2 decades and I fooled everyone so good I started to fool myself. I thought that was me too - The Impenetrable One. But all good engineers know the cracks show up sooner or later when immense presure is applied and and my cracks came up both sooner and later. And dealing with the bursting dams has been the sweetest and most painful occupation of the last decade for me. And a solitary one. Solitary but not Lonely, thank Christ. Because I have learnt not to be ashamed. Not to be ashamed of my deep deep grief. And not to be ashamed of the way I took the weight of it so selfishly, so securely, never allowing others to know or to carry or to even see. But most importantly, I've learnt that grief does give way. It lets some other strange feeling slide sweety into the same space and that feeling is not utter sadness and is not utter devastation. It's just acceptance and love really. And it's not a betrayal to let go of grief. It survives in some kind of sweet and lesser state in symbiosis along with the sadness and sense of loss shared by BabySister and MyMama and OurHero and PapaJoe and Puffy and EmmieMama ... all all that I call mine that were also MyDad's ... my family and my family's families. And letting go of my load and let me see the pain others felt, different to mine but no less and that in turn, has let me let others see my pain. And doing that, has helped me release it. Oh joy. I now understand what people mean when they say we should celebrate a life, and not just miss it. I've been missing MyDad for so long I forgot to remember the real reasons that his living was joyful.

So when I see my darling Shell and her pain and that of her loved ones, I know it's just the beginning of a whole process and all I can do is just Be There. And I hope I am being there. So that with grief, Shell also celebrates the life of her dad. And I know she will. She's strong.

Living this last week has allowed me, in a sort of tired way, to pick through the fading stable of memories I have of the days, the hours, the minutes and the miliseconds surrounding the day of and the weeks after MyDad's death almost exactly 20 years ago. TWENTY YEARS!! How could something so fucking ancient still feel so unburied and still feel so unfinished. I still have moments where I hurt in the minute in the second in the very heartbeat of today like I am back in that swinging solitary hot horrible sad day in 1987 when the world came crashing down. Some things just snap before they can bend - especially the purple hearts of Daddy's Girl's. And yes I was. We were inseperable. In spirit, really. And in person. All the psychic shit that happened to us and between us - that wasn't proof of our connection - that was just Extra. It was filler. The truth was in the closeness we shared and the very very real love that only fathers and daughters know. And his death, the very awful wrenching away of him from our corporeal existence, bent me so sharply I snapped inside somewhere little but somewhere core and not fully grown inside and sharp little splinters were sprayed across my the muscle tissue of my functioning heart and it's an injury that I picked at and picked and never wanted to heal because my suffering signalled some kind of silent devotion, a witness to a long lost future with a dead father and to my very selfish agony.

And so I covered up my seeping wound so other's wouldn't see and it started to poison me from within. And when I saw it, the muck inside sometimes felt like it would need centuries to heal. But it didn't. Death and loss are consuming but those times of utter despair, even if they last a decade, will also come to pass. Because you have to choose to let it go. Because grief is part of life. It's not a constant state of existence. It doesn't leave much room for living and loving when you cling to it. And when I realized that, I started to let it go.

And that freed me.

And then I started to pick up the pieces and let my hurt heal. And I think it's almost done. The scar will always be there, and I need that reminder, desperately, as a testament to the truth that pain helps us to grow and growth frees us from pain.

Part of my journey has been removing the terrific pristine idealsed notion of MyDad from my awful, incredible, idealised sense of MySelf and acknowledging the memories of the "real" physical, spirutal loving flawed famous generous and troubled man that was MyDad so that what I have kept has been honest and mine. Doing that has also helped me see that making my father the dominant male figure in my life has overshadowed almost every other relationship I have with all other men - whether familial or friendly or workerly or loverly - and whether consciously or not.

In terms of my love-life, I don't need to be Freud to deduce that my romantic relationships have always been overshadowed by my inability to commit myself truly - I have been conducting my love life with a get-out-of-jail card gripped tightly in my comic phantom wallet. I said it was a symptom of being young. But it isn't. It is a symptom of on the one side, my deep desire to be heart and soul with someone conflicting with, on the other hand, my deep desire to be a solitary, unitary being - and the two opposite charges repelling each other. Why? What better excuse to be alone than to say I can't get hurt again if I don't give away all of myself . But I am changing. Ricebag is relearning that people love and let go all the time. Making promises and being hopeful and then breaking promises and losing love isn't a testament to personal weakness so much as real life. See? Everbody does it. People fall and then get up again. People commit all the time and sometimes they bake cake and others they just can't get it together. Giving over to another isn't giving yourself away, it's creating something else.

I used to say I was an All-or-Nothing baby. Love all of me or leave all of me. But I don't think that's true anymore. Instead, what I understand is that love isn't finite within the strict lines of words like "all" or "nothing". Love exists on all the spaces, consonants, vowels and mistakes inbetween. It is messy and it fucking hurts. You take the risk because the reward is massive and life-affirming and because if you fall down and fall out, that doesn't mean it was because you weren't worth loving. And that's where I am. Standing on the precipice. Waiting to fall so that getting up again shows me I'm not broken, just human.

The distinction is not that I can't now (at least honestly try) to be faithful to a relationship and it's fullest possibility (despite my own fears) - I can see the distnction is that it is true for me to say that I can't and in fact I don't do "casual love". Not anymore and even when I did it before it wasn't ever casual ... it was naive-and-young loving ... the way a teenager never knows how truly physically and inherently beautiful they are while they're growing, the way they can never know how utterly disarming and potent that innocence is. I don't think love is ever "casual" and I don't want to be with someone I don't love in some way - whether passionately or personally or physically or spiritually. It's just that now I see I don't need them to jump off the end of the world for me as proof that they love All of me, especially my ugliness. And neither do I. And I am sure that realizing that is going to free my future from some of the more kamikazee-like relationships I've had in the past. I have jumped into the deep end in some beautiful, in some spectacular and in some scary ways in the past with some beautiful, spectacular and scary men. But never with the idea that I would Stay. And the root of all of that was one of the very few things that I know to be true about ricebag - that I Leave First, before the boy finds out that I am not worth staying with. Yessah. Islandbaby and her deeply religious devotion to the altar of Lack of Self-Worth at which she divines on a daily basis. But my fervour to the faith in self-loathing is fading. And replacing that is what looks like an open table. Laid bare. Where my simple hopes and my simple desires and my simple dreams laid alongside my simple sins and my simple fears. I have very little to hide. Others have seen straight through me when they cared to look closely enough. I was only hiding from myself. Hiding my true beauty and my true flaws and creating in its place a mythical Athena willing those not willing to look to hard enough to Fall (or Jump) In Love instead. Now maybe I don't need to convince everyone else, not least of all, myself, that ricebag is worth loving properly, fully and deeply.

So that's how I'll deal with it. With the loss of MyDad and the gaping hole I dug out around my heart because of that - by loving better than I knew how to before. And respecting myself, respecting others and taking responsibility for my actions is, I think, loving too. And loving Shell through her loss is also, part of that.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Manu said...

True true R.B.

Each time a relative of mine passes away, like Uncle Andrew (Shell's Dad), the more convinced I become that I will make a difference just like them. Their death in many ways challanges me to be a better person.

Thanks for being around R.B.

17 January, 2007 17:08  
Blogger islandbaby aka ricebag said...

Hey Manu

I saw you rising up to the challenge.

I did.

23 January, 2007 14:56  

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