Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Zippy" November 22, 2008 by Bill Griffith
Spin /SPIN/ VERB to contemplate on a subject in a negative manner which could lead to needless anxiety and worry. Synonym for “beating a dead horse”
In a rare moment of lucidity, my psychotic ex-girlfriend, aptly pointed out my penchant for this sort of spinning. Admittedly, it was my hobby. I’m not as prone to spinning as I once was and now it resembles a slow twirl versus a vortex of self recrimination and regret. It’s more like wandering in a circle. This week I have been wandering around in my head. Aimelessly, I might add and I find myself listlessly staring into space. This would be all well and good if I were say Elizabeth Gilbert in India. But I’m not a wealthy and self-indulgent writer. Nope just a self-indulgent wanna be. Eating in Italy, meditating in India and fucking off in Bali isn’t in my future. Can you tell I don’t think much of this book? I loved it when I read it but I‘ve had almost a year to consider it and now I think it‘s dreck.
Saturday, I was reminded how much I dislike this book. I was helping a patient--easily the angriest woman in the world-- wash her hair. Some of her anger is understandable: she suffers from both chronic pain and is disabled. However, X is more debilitated emotionally than physically but that‘s another story and a HIPPA violation. She is bed bound and it was tricky to set up the room so I could create a sink of sorts behind the bed. Much to her consternation I did manage to move things around and so I could pour the water, catch the water and wash her hair, away from a sink or a shower. It was a relief for me to slow down for a few minutes and despite her grumbling protests, X appreciated the attention.
I‘m such a Piscean creature so water always settles me and even through the gloves, the water trickling over my fingers was calming. As I washed her hair, my free floating ire was falling away and the room took on a Zen like silence. (Whenever this happens with a patient, I’m about to have an epiphany or learn a lesson.) I’m pouring water over her head and meditatively massaging shampoo into her thinning hair, when I saw it: Eat, Pray, Love on her bedside table. The Zen left me. I felt my eyes roll and I sighed.
“Oh, I bet you can really relate to Gilbert’s angst ridden drivel?” I smirked, my voice dripping with sarcasm because I was the second angriest woman in the world.
“God, don’t get me started. She should trade places with me for five minutes. This--all of this--would make her long for her ‘loveless marriage’. And we would never have to hear about how much she hated to meditate ever again.“, She spat back. *
This week, I have mulled over many parts of the time I spent with X and this conversation came back to me again and againa because I think about trading places with other people, a lot. It's a terrible habit and some days envy moves to bitterness. Which is pointless for so many reasons. I believe the dis-ease of bitterness can put the body in harms way and lead to illness. It’s also pointless from a more pedantic point of view. We see other people’s lives only from a single dimension. We can’t see history or fight their internal battles. Usually, the people who spawn the dreaded bitterness are strangers, usually imaginary friends. I do think there is a fine line between wanting a life like someone else’s and wanting to trade with them. Wanting a life that looks like someone else’s can be a creative start. If I'm not mistaken part of Gilbert's appeal is just this.
For years, I wanted my life to be just like my dear friend A’s, who is a remarkable woman; she is extraordinarily talented, drop dead funny, creative, a great mom, intelligent and gorgeous. If I didn’t love her so much, I would hate her. She was also married to The Perfect Man. He too, was funny, smart, good looking and very successful (whatever). Sometimes, I’m not really quick on the uptake and it took about 10 years to see the cracks in that myth I had written about Mr. Asshat Esq. He traded her in on a foreign model. Now she is navigating the unsure waters of being single in her fifties. Damn. No thanks. I mean it was enough to navigate being single--and embracing the fact I‘m a lesbian--in my forties. But to do it again? Um…No. Besides, if my wrinkle in the time space continuum occurred and I had stepped into her life, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of watching her grow the last two years. And what pure grace that has been, too! I know sometimes she is awash in bitterness because her life doesn’t look the way she mapped it. Does anyone’s? I mean really. When I was thirty, if you had told me in seventeen years I would be divorced and in love with a woman; I would have done the Elaine thing: slapped your shoulder and said: “Get out!”
I do find myself scratching my head when I look at my map. In 2002, I discovered the map was upside down. Of course, I spent time rolling around in bitterness. Now I avoid what ifs and regrets. Isn't that why I spent thousands on therapy? My baseline happiness quotient doesn't call for regret, either. A delightful friend pointed out an upside down map turns hills into lush valleys. I threw away my map this week because I'm sick of trying to plot out the details of my life. Especially, when what happens is a million times more delightful than the plans I make.
I’m thankful, I don’t have to leave home to find myself. I’ve been here all along and I don’t really need a map. Besides, I will miss something surprising and wonderful if I continue to look down at the map. Rascal Flatts says it best ". . .thankful for the tears I've cried with every stumbled step that led to you and got me here, right here. . . "
*please say a prayer of peace for this woman. She has so much left to offer this world and my prayer is she discovers this before it is too late.