Saturday, December 11, 2010


The third try is IT. Two draft posts (which must be deleted before something awful happens and they somehow appear), just brimming with angst, uncertainty, estrangement, the gloom of my inner Eeyore, doubt and what may be a bit of depression or may just be self-pity, on which I have been laboring for far too long, have not managed to express whatever THIS is and the writing was truly cringe-worthy.

Instead I will share my discovery of the week: it is not possible to hear the voice in my head when I'm singing. To call the voice an inner Eeyore disparages the grey donkey of whom A.A. Milne was clearly fond, for it is not merely glum with a tendency toward pessimism. It has come to spoil the party. I am getting way too old for this.

Wearing a crowd-counter on my waistband might help me keep track of how many times in a day I say, "I don't know." Or I could do those |||| marks with the diagonal that signifies five. In my (not yet operational) wee notebook. The only things that make sense are close-in and would be judged small by other yardsticks. I've decided the only one that matter is mine.

The time of year doesn't help. Since I don't know, it may be the problem. Almost nothing feels right. We have people who love us, and we love them back, people who help us out of tight spots and add sugar to the tea, who listen and speak favor over us and our creative output. We each have a substantial friend in the other and harmony in our small family. Life is good. What I don't understand is why my heart aches so.

If this is old, old business, come to call on its way out of my life, the timing is grotesque. It feels like an ancient sorrow, maybe some bizarre confluence of sorrowful events arriving en masse. We know from Dickens what hell Christmas can raise. Last night I dreamed of a high school reunion. One of the women I encountered had wanted to be an actress, but never reached that goal. I realized that I HAD gotten my wish, to be a writer, later an artist; the pond in which I've been splashing for 41 years has supported me, has given me more than I asked for. Amazingly, it continues to widen. Good thing. I displace more water than I used to.

My understanding of the process tells me that sometimes we are asked to be with sorrow, patiently, no fidgeting or eye-rolling, no clock-watching. We are asked to hear what it has to say, to feel what it has carried in its finely-woven basket, from which we would rather flee but know if we dodge it now, it will only return.

Three nights ago I was trying to dispose of a ill-intentioned life form, identifiable in the dream but not known on this side, at least not to me. It was very strong, mottled or marbled shades of red and cream, the diameter and depth of a stack of a couple dozen tortillas, roundish and thicker in the middle, then tapered around the edges. Its head and tail were indistinguishable, until the head muscled around and tried to bite me. I was set to flush it but was advised that it had to be cut in half, lengthwise, or it would clog the plumbing and show up again. It was fully engaged in whatever its task was, trying hard not to be caught, trying harder to bite - and poison - me and I was not going to let that happen.

If recent dreams were not so vivid and if I hadn't awakened with clear memory of them, I would not assume they brought messages. And what I interpret is, realizing the information is not new but seemed to bear repeating: (a) this is no cakewalk, (b) sad and bewildered are not permanent states, (c) trap nasty creatures under a sturdy bucket and ask questions later, (d) be fully who and how and where you are. It's the only way to get to whatever great thing is about to appear.


Melissa Green said...

Marylinn, sitting with sorrow is indeed asked of us, knowing we can do nothing, should do nothing, but take a deep breath and bear it. Sit with it without a word and feel its weight and accept it. That dream-creature whom you magically knew how to de-fang will always return--you were savvy enough to have a bucket with which to capture it. My komodo dragons are especially fierce this time of year. Brava! L, M.

Sultan said...

Jung would say that accepting the monsters and befriending them metaphorically speaking is the path to freedom from their power.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - I am grateful that my beast wasn't the size of a komodo dragon (heaven help me, perhaps I'm working my way up to that). I can easily imagine them being lured forth this time of year...peppermint, damp wool, lowered resistance. Letting the sorrow be, actually gesturing it to a seat by the fire, produces such a different result than those eternal shoving matches. How please I am to receive your Brava! Thank you. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - We are certainly never too old to learn; I will be the poster girl for that. It is good to have wisdom far greater than mine to affirm the taking of different action. I appreciate your enlightened words.

Kass said...

I like your understanding of the necessity to sit with your sorrow.

I have a friend who is inexplicably blue lately and I hardly know what to say to her. She says she has thought of suicide, but would never do it. I offer lame advise about SAD and chemical imbalance, but still feel ineffective.

I like what Vespersparrow said. Maybe I'll share this post and comments with my friend.

Radish King said...

Oh thank you. We know from Dickens what hell Christmas can raise indeed and boy howdy yes. So far I've done my personal best to cry uncontrolably pretty much all the time, go batshit insane for a while, ignore all the consumerism and embrace Christmas Music with a passion.

I think the sea and a huge raging fire are the only cures for me.

And knowing others know.


ps. WV: Rackem who of course annotated Alice with such care and social commentary and brilliance

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Please, if there are words here that might help, share all you find with your friend. When I sat down to do the post, I was in a state of numb sorrow and had no idea why. As I wrote, the proper response became more clear - be with it. Old business, what can I say. Vespersparrow, here and on her own blog, has much to offer us all about the human condition. She speaks eloquently about practicing compassion for ourselves, how much that asks of us.

I send hope and encouragement to you both. You are a good friend.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - It troubled me to let my son know the extent of my sadness, until it began to seem less pathological and more - amazingly - normal. It IS Christmas. And to be able to demonstrate that crying was not a sign of the apocalypse. It may be one of the acts that keeps it at bay. I can't claim I've been weeping willingly, but certainly with gusto and honesty.

The sea, I regret, is too far for immediate comfort but dreams seem to have stepped up as a refuge and source of alternative responses.

Batshit happens, oh, way too often. And others DO know. What a relief.

xo and for finding a way back to Alice through rackem.

37paddington said...

This post is just stunning. That last paragraph is such a testament to the teaching power of sorrow and other hard-to-bear emotions. it is so wise and just gut-level practical and true. it's the kind of truth we need to paste on the mirror and remember every day. thank you. i have just found you and look forward to coming back here often. it's a hard season to get through but you have a lot of company, if that helps. it probably doesn't.

even so, you have helped me.

susan t. landry said...

perversely, it's good to know i'm not the only one weeping all day. jeeze louise. it is the holidays...right?
i can only admt this here: i actually asked the man i live with if he was going to get me a christmas present. oh god. how pathetic is that?

Radish King said...

Susan I tend to take things I already own but love and wrap them and put them under my tree. My son has told me I'm nuts for years for doing this practice. So what?

Child at heart and why should't I (we) be?


RachelVB said...

It seems the weather, the lack of light, the dampness sure doesn't help things this time of year. The ache of a heart should never be ignored (how can it?). Mine today has a case of the hiccups and it feels harder and harder to be the way that I am at times. The things we want to change present themselves more as weights when I wish they could fall away like feathers, fall off like a shed skin. If there's anything I know it's when dreams present themselves so vividly, we have to pay attention. They are begging our attention. Giving them air, for me, seems to give them clarity as well. Warmer days are always ahead.

Rebecca, I love love that tradition. It's so joyous, as is your sending notes to the netflix employees. I think I may try that this year. I'm having Christmas morning with friends, but am on my own for the rest of the day and can't help feeling again like an orphan in a land not my own. I may wrap up lots and lots of almond joys and fuzzy socks.

Robert the Skeptic said...

My dreams become more dour as I am swallowed up by winter. I love living in the Pacific Northwest with the exception of the winters.. they seem long and wet and long.. and wet. They are.

We try to escape to Mexico or Hawaii in the winters for at least a week, but did not last year and have no plans for this one as well. Just seeing that it is sunny someplace gives me hope. It may be medicinal to put a vacation on our credit card.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Thank you so much and please do return often, it is good to meet you here. Knowing there is company helps quite a bit...the sadness is enough without feeling freakishly alone, too. It seems at times miraculous the way we find each other, and what we didn't know we needed. I am glad I had something to offer which was a good match.

Artist and Geek said...

I never know what to say when friends' beasts overstay their welcome. Mine usually leave overnight.
Scientific studies found that this works:
-Exercise, anything that gets heart rate up
-Learn something new, taking up a new or neglected hobby
-Full spectrum lights

As to holidays, I really think that it's a consumer induced phenomena. Sometimes, less is more.

Marylinn-this too shall pass ;)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Oh, sometimes we just have to say it out loud and live with it. Pathetic? No. Human, under Christmas siege and the heavy tread of depression, possibly, which seems to be here and looking for hostages? Yes. So glad not to be the only one, not to have to find a different species to join.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - As forgetful as I can become, yours is a charming plan. In fact I can probably go into my studio, find things I didn't remember I owned and even surprise myself. Why, what's this? Those children deserve all the fun they can muster.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Not even really winter, yet it seems to have manifested early for many, weather inside and out. That desires and aspirations seem remote tells me that being, just being, with THIS is indicated. I agree, when dreams are insistent, they are important. Our volatile climates will bring new vistas soon, I trust.

How did I not remember Almond Joys, not have eaten one in, perhaps, decades? Mmm, and fuzzy socks. I think Rebecca will brighten many Christmas mornings with her tradition. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - With the information arriving from unsunny parts of the country, it may be essential to put a vacation on the credit card. At this moment the fog is so thick I can't see across the street and I am nowhere near the ocean. Yet this follows a Sunday of record December heat - and sun - and at least a week of beautiful, Chamber of Commerce days. It will always be sunny someplace. Hang on.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Once the beast is identified, the length of its stay causes less concern. Know your enemies, or perhaps it is a benefactor in disguise. Too early to tell. I very much appreciate your concern and sound suggestions. Blueberries, more drawing, movement (exercise, how easy to leave that out of the day's activities). At least the light here is generally beneficial. How did we allow ourselves to be seduced into equating opening our hearts to one another with shopping? And designate one day out of the year to do so? All will be well, my friend.

Claire Beynon said...

Thank you, Marylinn, for the nudges and prompts in this piece. I especially appreciate your discovery 'It is not possible to hear the voice in my head when I'm singing'! How true this is. And I agree, Eeyore (bless him - and bless him in us) needs sometimes to be sent off to munch on daisies and contemplate worrisome 'stuff' at the bottom of the garden...

On the other hand, we are asked to sit with sorrow, too. I do think that some of the ache we feel and carry is personal and specific to our own 'home' circumstances, and that a great measure of it is in response to the world's ache; the 'corpus mundi/anima mundi'. It feels important to know and experience these different aches and for them to become prompts to action and empathy? I wonder whether there are aches that separate us from each other and aches that bring us closer together.

Whatever is at work and at large, I hear you saying 'let us both sing and listen'? Yes, yes. ; )

L, C xo

My First Card said...

Dear Marylinn, I went through a really hard time in the past with depression because I had some personal issues to go through. You are a beautiful person and thank you for this post.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - Sing and listen and be. I also believe that some of the sorrow belongs to the whole world; it reaches us and there is no real immunity. How do we feel while not being frozen in place, unable to proceed with whatever work we have come here to do.

My experiences lean toward aches that bring us closer together, especially in this electronic world where honesty and generosity of spirit shine, certainly among the people I've met. In the outer world, indifference and misunderstanding have often made the ache something which keeps me apart. I find there are two distinct factions - those willing to own, bear and explore their sorrow and those who are not.

Yes, I shout my agreement. Yes. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Thuy - You are so welcome. I'm glad you've found this place where readers are very generous sharing their own processes. Creativity and depression seem to hold hands much of the time, all the while one of them stealing joy from the other. It is not always a swift ride back to solid ground. I hope you have been restored to yourself. Thank you. My best to you.