Musings of a Southern Life

Life, writing, photography

Day Two

Vase at SunriseSticking to this writing routine is becoming increasingly difficult. Day One was interrupted when my husband, who had left to visit a friend, abruptly returned because his friend was not at home. Husbands require attention, like children.

After lying in bed this morning trying to fall back to sleep for almost three hours, I decided to get up instead. I usually prefer this quiet morning time to check my email and social media, but I am unusually hungry, so I stop what I am doing and put some bacon on the woodstove to cook. When it is ready, I make a BLT for breakfast.

I am one of those who actually make my living as a writer, so I find that when I try to write for creative pleasure, it is very difficult for me. I don’t want the pain that is often associated with journaling. I should know, I have journals spanning close to 40 years. I have a diary I started when I was only 12 and dozens of more notebooks crammed with my writing.

It was the last ten years or so that I actually found I could not journal—the years of my son’s heroin addiction and all that entailed—somehow stopped me from writing my daily musings—there were too many downs, too many sorrows, too many shames. My dark days. With my articles—I write for newspapers and magazines and even have won a first place award from the New York Press Association for a three-part feature article—I do not need to be emotionally attached. I am merely the vehicle for someone else’s story. I write the words and bring emotions into those stories without lying my own soul bare for the world.

I recently started the book I always said I wanted to write when I learned my brothers do not know my story. I thought everyone knew what I had lived through especially my brothers, after all, they grew up in the same household I had. I thought they realized what powerful forces shaped and molded the path of my journey—but they really do not know. My oldest brother recently noted that he did not know our mother had once ripped me from every family picture and mailed them to me with a note that said I was no longer her daughter—my sin? I had phoned to tell her that her first grandchild was on the way. Then, in an email, my youngest brother, trying to soothe over an earlier email, admitted he did not know me at all. What is sad for me with that confession from him is that of all my siblings, he is the one who should know me best and he doesn’t.

Wasn’t he paying attention?

It is also difficult for me to write while the world is still dark outside. Winter has a way of closing in on me like a snowfall covers the earth, hiding all the glories beneath. As I sit at the table, I can see just beyond the panels of glass on the door, the grey-blue light of a February morning. Winter just won’t give up because it is already the third day in March, but the morning light bears the bitter cold of a mid-winter day. In this early morning light, I try not to move around the house too much—my old donkey can see me from his pasture and he will bellow for his morning hay once he spots me.

As I sit here writing, I think back to when I was a lying in bed trying to go back to sleep. I was going over an earlier dream I had had—I often dream now of having a baby or being pregnant—truly a joyous time in my life—and how sad it makes me feel when I realize I was only dreaming. How can it be, I will rationalize with myself—I know dreams from real life, but something in me wants that happiness again; that joy. I have a difficult time when I finally awaken and realize it was only a dream. I am almost sixty and there is no way I could even become pregnant—after all, I have had a total hysterectomy, but in my dream state, I am once again happy and content.

As I was rationalizing reality from dream, I heard a helicopter pass over, the whomp, whomp, whomping of its blades beating the frigid air. The only helicopters that fly over my home are the ones on a Medevac mission. I stop my dream rationalizing and wonder whose life is hanging in balance that requires the Medevac at three in the morning.

My youngest son was Medevac’d several years ago. He was a heroin addict at the time. But that incident where he was almost killed in a car accident was not the worst thing I experienced during those drug days, but it does rank high up there as the most surreal. (Thank god no one else was in his car with him when he nodded off and ran off the road, taking out fences, small trees and mailboxes before smashing head on into an oak tree, four foot on the stump; nor that he hit another vehicle or a pedestrian in his heroin-induced nod.)

That is what I call that period of time—the drug years. The middle-of-the-night phone calls, the endless court dates, the lawyers, the eventual stint in prison; the constant companion called fear—a fear so deep it is a part of your soul and you cannot separate it from real life because it is life; the shame; the covering up, the lies you have to tell just to be a part of society. The inability to even breathe. Those years are so jumbled together that I wonder how I even survived them.

Surviving them was hard enough, but to try and put it down on paper was impossible. Each day I felt I had made progress if I got up, survived and went back to bed. On the outside, I lead a normal life to even the closest observer, but life was anything but normal.

The 30-day writing challenge rules state we must try and write for three hours every morning, but I can’t without intermittent breaks. I have a husband who requires attention or else he sulks. Yesterday was our anniversary and we have been married for 23 years. Combine my two marriages and I have been married for nearly four decades. I have learned to choose my battles wisely and that is one I no longer care to fight. Now that I hear him stirring, I will have to stop and make his coffee (I no longer drink coffee,) and I will have to roll his cigarettes (I do not smoke either,) or else he will complain when he is not viewing me favorably of not taking care of him.

He is up now and has made his presence known as I continue to try and write. He knows I am a writer and he knows I am accepting this challenge, but he can’t help himself. I blame his mother. He yawns loudly and turns on some more lights and yawns some more, so I will stop my writing and get him a cup of coffee.


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