Saturday, March 30, 2013

The friend who can be silent

I need to do something for myself, under my own name.

In my other life, I am the woman behind the curtain.  I do a damn good job of it, pulling the big green bead's eyes & mouth to say wise things that help people Like Me.  But I get tired of being the mostly unacknowledged presence or, when I do add a comment to the Wizard's social media, being banged away at.  After all, people come to the Great and Powerful Wizard, not to the fat woman behind the curtain.

I'm sorry if I'm confusing you.  Let's just say I have a secret life with a confidentiality agreement sealing it from too much sharing.

Today the Wizard mouthed this command:

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen

It speak to me more than to the supplicants, I'm afraid, but every once in a while the woman behind the curtain has to make the Green Head waggle its ears.  Maybe someone out there knows what it's like to be that person who needs a witness to their pain but adamantly does not need advice.

I hope so, because the woman behind the curtain, who is Frances Kuffel with her own writing life, needs such a witness.

So thank you in advance and let's talk about that.

I am tired of walking the same old dogs.  I am tired of staying behind the curtain.  I am tired of myself -- my addiction to sugar, my depression, my deepening social anxiety, my slothfulness that I indulge in to calm myself (along with the sugar), my guilt, my loneliness, my anger.  Tired.  Tired.  Tired as in book a cruise to nowhere and reread the Harry Potter books with a ginger ale to the sound of shuffleboard in the distance.

I am also tired of my financial debt, which I am trying very, very hard to pay off but which makes me impatient.  In this respect, thank God for the Great and Powerful Wizard.  When Daisy got sick I could write a check instead of hand over plastic.  Some of that plastic will be retired in the next couple of months.

I am also tired of being stuck in finding a novel to write.  Tired of being overwhelmed by household chores I put off.  Tired of not having anywhere but bed to read or watch TV.  Tired of reality television (I knew I'd watched too much, I posted on Facebook, when Pope Francis made his first appearance and my immediate reaction was, " that a yes to the dress?"), which I watch for its ability to numb that overweening anxiety.

I am tired of diarrhea, also a result of the anxiety.

I am so tired of it that the other night I reached for my evening cocktail of a Klonopin and two nighttime ibuporfins and watched my hand hover on the Klonopin.  For a moment, I thought I'd had one of those what-did-I-come-in-this-room-for moments.  Then I realized my hand was considering taking the 75 or so little green pills in the bottle.

It would be that easy, some voice whispered in my head.


I was not shocked.  I was reassured.  I felt a certain amount of peace mingling in my anxiety about whether I'd get to sleep that night.

I didn't do it.

The next day, I was doing my Transcendental Meditation like a good little girl behind the curtain and began crying.  Gushing, really.  I wanted someone to say, "I love you" without being asked.  The one smart thing I did was to go visit my friend Grace, a nine-month-old white Labrador who, I think, loves me to distraction.  She thinks she's my lap dog.  I can't wear my glasses when I sit down at her face, or wear black that I care about, or, tomorrow, make-up.  She is very thorough about washing my face and dusting me with love hair.

I had to go back again the next day for another scoop of Grace.

In the meantime, I had a conversation with the Great and Powerful who has gotten interested in binge eating.  I don't fully understand what her plans for this interest are but she wanted my feedback.  I could only cry.  There is someone who is going to writing about bingeing for her but it won't be me.

Pity.  I could make it real.

And as the G&P talked on, all I could think was, "You understand nothing" as I cried as quietly as possible.

I think that conversation was the one that sent me back to Grace.

Later, as I was switching back and forth between Supernanny and Say Yes to the Dress, I thought about the moment my hand hovered over the Klonopin.  I would have to find someone to take Daisy before.  If the Salvation Army came and took bags of my clothes away, would they come in and clear out my apartment if I could get it together to box everything up?  Would my sentimental niece be angry that I didn't separate out my jewelry and salt and pepper shakers and Barbie dolls for her?  What would happen to my debts -- would my family have to pay them?  I could imagine the long, vastly deep silence that would follow my brother telling my father what had happened.

I hauled my teary, angry self into the kitchen for a cigarette and whispered, "I want to go home.  I want to go home."

Home is a long, silent, flatline away.

I am owned by my books and CDs and nun doll collection.  I am bound by Discover and Visa.  I am beholden to not being the second child my father has to bury or burn.  I am claimed by a niece's gobbling, good-natured desire to possess the same small things that possess me.  I am buried under stuff.

I added another book to the bag I'm taking to the library when I have the wherewith all to cross the boundaries of my comfort zone.

Grace torments Daisy.  She can't go live there.  But she's nine.  Daddy is 95.  I got rid of 11 boxes and innumerable bags of clothes this winter.  I donated all my VHS movies.  I can keep at it.  Surely.

All the while knowing this will pass.

But to what?  What?  The same old dogs.  The same old Giant Green Head platitudes.

And inevitably the cycle up.

It is wildly unfair to be this weight and age, to smoke, to eat what I too often eat, and be this fucking healthy.

Although I couldn't afford being unhealthy, either.

Round and round.

I write this is hopes of catharsis.  I write this for anyone who lies a similarly mobius psychological life.  I write this for those who are mystified at where I go, where their own friends go.  I write this to say that there's not that much difference between dying and death.

And please, I beg of you, don't offer suggestions for fixing it.  I'm not stupid.

I'm tired.


CatM said...

Frances, No advice... I know nothing. I will, however, thank you for always posting beautiful and compelling art with your posts.... from your own lovely photographs, to Van Gogh, to this beautiful forlorn angel. I am generally uncertain about most things, but I take continual pleasure and inspiration in the seen world, and in how this has been felt and interpreted by others... I think you have this sensibility also, and I appreciate what you bring to our attention. best, C.

Unknown said...

Just letting you know I read, and will be thinking about you.

E. Jane said...

I hear you, Frances, and I'm thinking of you.

Jessica said...

I read too, and will send good thoughts your way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. --Jessica

Anonymous said...

And I, too, hear you and send hugs from a stranger.

Hilary said...

I wish that we weren't programmed to want/need partners. I remember reading a book by a single woman (the title and author escape me now). One night she was eating dinner and she had a good book to read while she was eating. But she felt a kind of emptiness. But she didn't quite understand why. In a way there was nothing she wanted more at that moment than her dinner and her book but nevertheless she felt empty. It can be a lonely feeling to hear people saying, "We" all the time. "We're having dinner at 7:30," "We have to head out now--the grandkids are waiting!" What do I say in response? "Oh, yeah, me too--I have Marie Callender waiting for me at home." Sending hugs your way.

Anonymous said...

I also have no advice, but I have a thank you.
I only recently came upon your first book and want you to know that the portion where you were sitting with Barbara and you put your fork down and told her you would be looking for work was profound to me.
I also struggle with my weight and have struggled with an abusive work environment and felt urged into action by that scene.
Thank you.

Christie Priem said...

I read, too. And I have thought of you as a beloved friend since I read "Passing For Thin" many years ago. You touched my heart and continue to do so. You may help (it may not) to know that you are being prayed for. I'm sorry it's a hard time.

Anonymous said...

Spent the day reading your first book. I'm 46, I weigh almost 300 pounds and I want to kill myself almost every day. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how much it means to me to get to read what you write. I feel that every word you write just wrings another knife out of my heart. It hurts, but it helps. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

You are right. It is about being tired.

Meg said...

Hoping that everything goes well. It is truly tiring to face all the challenges over and over again. I somehow experienced that before. When all you can do is cry and you can't think of anything because of the pain and you are tired thinking about your problems. Hope you will have the strength to face everything. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this…Amy