Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Death and Writer's Block

Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of my mother's death, but rather than reflect on her affection or lost personality traits, but considering the difficulty I am having with my publishing my "genocide theory" posts, what comes to mind is how her death affected my writing.

Mom died the summer between my first and second (final) year of my Master's program. Not surprisingly, I had no idea how to cope with her unexpected death. I considered taking time off from school, but listening to my father's advice ("that's not what she would have wanted") I soldiered on - in my own way. Simple coursework (and papers) didn't fill my mind enough, so I applied for (and was hired) as a full-time employee at REI. (I was already working there, part-time, but became the full-time frontline specialist. Oh, and I was good, for whatever that counts.)

I contented myself with working 38 hours per week, going to school on my two days off and reading (for school) in the evenings. I also had AA meetings and alcohol education classes to fill my time (requirements of my drunk-driving arrest the previous year.) No time to think about death or my mother or anything, really - which was the point. Complete focus on everything except the devastating reality of Mom's death. I also drank a lot.

I didn't fully realize what I was doing until I attempted to write my end-of-quarter research papers. I admit I don't remember too many details (I hate to sound cliched, but that time really is a blur) but one course's paper revolved around the initiation and circumcision rituals of Nilo-Saharan (African) tribes, though I don't remember the actual point of writing about it. (That particular laptop suffered horribly under some pornsite-inspired virus - obviously not my doing! - and, still stupid enough to not back-up information, I lost everything on that hard-drive. Though, considering the paper in question, not such a loss to posterity.) What I remember is sitting at my desk and typing: The majority of Nilo-Saharan tribes performed circumcision, with the exception of a few who didn't for various reasons. Yep.

I am fairly sure that "yep" was in my original draft - if you consider two sentences a "draft." It was while staring at my pitiful opening (and current best attempt of the paper) that I realized I was avoiding my mother's death. Of course it wasn't central-African circumcision rites that provoked such a realization, but rather my inability to think, much less write, analytically. I had spent the past four months actively suppressing my emotions and memories; writing anything of value required that I open my mind, thereby freeing those emotions I was desperately trying to Forcing my brain to work beyond basic functions freed emotions I was desperately trying to suppress. Yet no matter how much I tried to avoid life, subconsciously I couldn't avoid my mental breakdown. And that's what it was: for a time, I completely lost my grasp of reality and refused to acknowledge what was before me. Writing forced that acknowledgment on me and, ultimately, I was better for it.

And here I am again, trying to write while trying to avoid something. Not death this time - I have accepted the loss of my parents and though I miss them terribly, painfully, I no longer have to ignore those feelings to function - but rather the realization that I need a guidance counselor. Do they have those for adults? My life has taken so many unexpected turns that I can no longer guess where I'm headed. Not just death, but marriage - when did I ever believe I would get married? Never, until Seth came along, so now I not only think about "where is my life going?" but also "where is our life going?" A year into wedded bliss and that one still stumps me - how do I think about two people when I can't even manage one? If there's ever a time when I miss my parents' guidance, this is it.

Seriously, though, about that guidance counselor: where can I make an appointment?

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how time can heal some wounds but then love comes along and heals the rest. God knew you would have an empty spot and he sent Seth to fill it. Your parents are STILL listening darling...never forget that. They can hear you speak, see you cry, and watch you succeed from their home on high. And if you listen, you may even hear them talk to you. I don't know if you believe in a spiritual highness such as that but give it a try. Just open your heart and use that to listen. Let Seth be your guidance counselor. You two have embarked on the most sacred journey two people can embark; the path of marriage. He is your guidance counselor, your peacemaker, your tear-dryer, your EVERYTHING. Let him be your shoulder always. Nothing can replace the love of a parent and I can not say that I understand what you feel. But I know that with my husband I can overcome all things and be stronger...I hope you can to.
    P.s. Miss you...hugs and kisses :)