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Relishing the pain

August 25, 2006

A clever friend has pointed out to me that what is relevant in a beign relationship is that you must not enjoy another pain. Referring to my mom and her point was that perhaps my mom liked to see that I was fucked up. Not perfect. Flawed. Pained. Confused. Masochistic.

I know she adored my husband. Liked him right off the bat. I believe she thought they were similar in their endurance of me and loving me despite how trying I am. My dear sweet D is very shy in appearance. Mostly he is lazy and does not have much to say because he is in his own Fishy thoughts without much regard for the rest of us. He likes his waters still and quiet and to achieve that will tune out some major noise and shit. He is also somewhat socially retarded and hates the phone and can not remember to write. He has just recently ( in the last 3 months gotten and email account & a cell phone which he never remembers to turn on and it is always me anyway) started to connect to the wired world at large and finds it too daunting to keep up with. They both use to smoke a lot of pot and maybe that haze is what my mother mistook for kinship in shyness and sameness.

I was never really quite convinced she liked me. I knew she loved me and we had moments that were great. I always had the sense I was disappointing her and making her jealous at the same time. At her funeral many, many people I had never met or really heard of told me how proud she was of me and how much she talked about my successes and adventures. How she wished I visited more often but I was so busy traveling and working that it was too hard, but she saw me at christmas and how wonderful that was and blahblahblah. She told them how pretty I was and what a creative person I am. I heard stories about how my wedding was the most wonderful moment for her and she had dreamed of it all her life.  That it was so “Nicci” (my most dreaded nic name and the reason I changed my name when I left my home town). While she called me by my preferred name to to my face, to strangers and family friends, I am always Nicci. Even though every one remembers me saying “it is Nicole, my name is Nicole” but I guess that kind of thing just doesn’t stick in peoples heads.

And you know, to be totally fair to her ( and I don’t have to be because she is dead and I can say anything I damn well want) she was a great mom mostly. Truly, mostly. She encouraged me to be free spirited. To do whatever it was that I wanted. To let me dress any crazy way I wanted and did not insist I iron my clothes. Even when I wore my grandfathers trousers and my grandmothers beaded sweaters and her rhinestone necklace to thanksgiving. (Madonna was my IDOL for fashion for a while) I had all these crazy jobs. I started seriously cooking at a real job at 14 and worked almost full-time since then. I worked on a Tall Ship and was a nanny. I was an illegal bartender in a trendy dive. I moved out before I graduated from high school and lived on my own. I have never been arrested although I did many things where that could have been the logical conclusion. She did not mock me. She did not try to tell me not to do it. She was supportive.

But I never really felt it. I don’t know which movie it is from but I have always identified with this line…” I can see my life all around me, I just can’t feel my life”. In regard to my mom, that is pretty accurate. I know in my head she loved me and I can count many ways in which she showed it. Often it felt like she was only doing it so she would have something to brag about to her friends. It was not my accomplishment or my moment (like planning my wedding) but something that belonged to her more than it belonged to me.

Maybe my clever friend is right. Maybe she enjoyed it. Maybe it made her feel better to know that I was fucked up. Like belonging to the club. Knowing you are not alone, subconsciously perhaps. Maybe that is why she would not look at me or kiss me or talk to me on her death bed. She was so responsive to my husband and would yearn for his kiss and embrace. But would just stare in silence and turn away from me. I thought that the guilt she felt in letting her condition get to such a terrible no turning back point was too much for her to bear. Knowing that she was it for me. My only real parent. The last of MY family. I thought maybe she felt like she was letting me down. But maybe she was mad that I was living and she was not. Not in the sense I think she wanted me to die because that is just an awful thought. Truly I don’t think she wanted me to be gone, but she wanted to be in my place, not hers at that moment. To take it all back and do it all over and she could not and this was the end and it was really scary–especially at only 52.

So, in light of that I am amending my thought that is not enough to just not foist your bullshit onto your kids, you can’t enjoy doing it either because the bullshit is inevitable but the pleasure can be absent.

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