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Not Celebrating

13 May

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are miserable after your parents die. In less than an hour, this Mother’s Day will be behind me. This will be the third Mother’s Day since my mother’s death in March of 2016. It hasn’t gotten easier.

So many businesses inundate the Internet—including my inbox—with ads that say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” and urge me to buy gifts for my (dead) mother. This is what greeted me this morning, after I finished writing in my dream journal. I wanted to scream at all these businesses. NEWSFLASH: NOT EVERYONE’S PARENTS ARE STILL ALIVE! Their behavior seems not merely inconsiderate but downright cruel. I unsubscribed from three email lists.

In the late morning, I took a walk in my neighborhood under a too-bright and relentless sun. As I walked past a neighbor’s house, I noticed a lilac bush in their front yard, so I leaned forward and sniffed the beautiful aroma.

I recalled that during my childhood and adolescence, a vacant lot was across the street from our house, and in that vacant lot were two lilac bushes. For years, I picked lilacs on Mother’s Day and gave them to my mother.

Remembering this on my walk today choked me up, after all that anger at the internet. I kept walking and knew the high for the day was supposed to be eighty-three degrees, and it felt like it had already reached the high. It must have been the sunlight, because as soon as I got home, my smart phone indicated that it was only sixty-six degrees, which I could hardly believe.

This ended up as a day of bereavement more intense than I anticipated, especially since I was closer to my dad, and my mother was a narcissist. Even if your mother was a narcissist, you grieve for her…and sometimes for the nurturing mother you never had. I spent the afternoon napping, meditating, and reading. I managed to finish reading three books in one day. This evening especially, I’ve allowed myself to be with the grief. The anger I felt earlier is gone.

Campus Dream/ House Dream

3 May

I was a grad student and was in a classroom full of students. The instructor was a middle-aged Tibetan man (I’m currently reading a travel memoir). Someone announced a protest march on campus, and people started leaving the room. I was confused, because nobody said where or when to meet for the march. I was slow and one of the last people in the room–everyone packing their backpacks and rustling and bustling–and finally I asked someone a question such as what’s going on or where do we meet. The person, I think a young male student in black, looked at me like I was an idiot and just repeated the info that there’s a March. He glared at me suspiciously. ‘You are attending, aren’t you?”

“Yes, of course!”

I wandered through the building and saw other students hurrying away.

Next I dreamed that I bought a large, quirky, somewhat old, two-story house out of pocket. Inside the new house, I found a sort of hidden crawl space…where there were a lot of things still inside, bags and boxes and a big fake gargoyle that startled me when I first came across it.

While I was looking through stuff, I suddenly remembered the political march and felt guilty that I was missing it and wondered if I could join it in time. (There was no break between dreams, and this suggests that the campus dream and the house dream were one and the same.)

While looking around the house and going through stuff, I talked on the phone with my mother, who informed me–she didn’t ask permission–that she and some other relatives were moving into my house.

Upstairs, I had an odd bedroom–at least, the long, narrow bathroom attached to it was odd. It was covered in tiny yellow glass mosaics and included a curved corner cabinet that swung open near the door to the room. Right next to that was a closet where I had several bright calico tunics hanging.

I took off my shirt and began putting on two of the tunics together, when I heard a door opening and voices; family members were as already there, at least my dad and brother.

I was anxious to be neatly and fully dressed before anyone found me; I was struggling to button up the multiple tunics (or shirts) I was wearing.

Soon a bunch of relatives were stomping around the house and claiming their bedrooms. It was harrowing. My brother and dad were okay so far as I was concerned, but my mother, Aunt Asshole and Uncle NRA, and Batshit Aunt Bev were all invading and claiming bedrooms without my permission. I was in shock and wanted to enjoy my new home. They somehow already had beds and other furniture in “their” rooms in no time, and one of them was lounging in a queen-size bed and watching a loud tv. The evil relatives paid pretty much no attention to me. Remorseless, empathy-less, and self-entitled as ever. They had absolutely no permission to invade and move into my new home, obviously.

After seeing them and hurrying back to the big empty room with the odd crawl space, I was able to begin thinking. I reminded myself: I bought this house for myself and for my cats. I didn’t invite these monsters. I don’t owe them anything—quite the contrary, they owe me my mental health, self-esteem, etc. (okay, admittedly, this last sentence wasn’t actually in the dream and just occurred to me). They had no right to take over my house.

My brother joined me, and what may have started as an internal monologue became a conversation with him. He agreed with me but was passive and probably wouldn’t do anything to help; I knew I had to do it all myself, but I didn’t know what to do. They’d already moved in! They had their furniture already in my house! I was freaking out. As large as the house was, there’s no way in hell that I was going to live with these nightmarish monsters. This was yet another betrayal.

At some point in the dream, I was showing my brother my quirky bathroom, swinging out the curved corner cabinet and all. Most of the house wasn’t painted—indeed, most of it, from what I remember, was wooden and the color of unpainted wood, even the walls (which, realistically, would be plaster).

A striking element of the dream was that my parents were still both alive, but that often happens in my dreams. Sometimes I dream that even though I’m an adult, I’m living with or moving in with my parents.

Because of the toxic relatives, what should have been a happy dream turned into a nightmare. Of course, something like that wouldn’t really happen, because I’d be at the door locking it before the monsters could get a single foot through the door, and I wouldn’t care if one of them ended up with a broken foot. Realistically, the front and back doors wouldn’t have been unlocked while I was upstairs looking around. Post-2002, I wouldn’t have let such toxic relatives have a key to my house.

Just recently I was thinking about how two evil aunts stole a house from me… but the joke is on them, because I now have a bigger house that’s far away from any evil relatives and that has absolutely no associations with toxic relatives. A home is supposed to be a haven—not to mention a home rather than only a house—and the house an uncle left me was never truly my home and haven, thanks to toxic relatives breaking in whenever they pleased. (I’m sure that if I were the same person then as I am now, I would have changed the locks and thus prevented Evil Aunt Ethel from breaking in…well, except for the fact that she was usually my cat sitter.) Not only do none of them have a key to my house, but they’re not invited (and some of them are deceased now). When I think of putting a “no soliciting” sign in my front window, I also think of adding: “No sociopaths, no narcissists, no fundamentalist xians, no creepers, no trespassers, no meth addicts, no assholes of any sort, especially not manipulative assholes.” In short, such thoughts probably helped to conjure that dream. Something else that influenced the dream: I’m often distracted by my home and cats (that’s my family) and haven’t been to a political rally or march in a while. I need balance.

Return to Normal Life

4 Jan

Yesterday evening I arrived at home after spending a month with family in Phoenix, AZ.

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I was startled at how much weight the cats gained; the cat sitter didn’t have time to hang out with the cats and dashed in, fed them, and changed their litter boxes, and these are very sociable cats, so I figure they spent most of the time eating and sleeping. Fortunately, now that I’m with them, they’re happy again, aside from my attempting to turn them into indoor cats.

I knew the return to cold weather would be a shock; the highs in Phoenix were between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time I was there, and when I arrived in Oregon, it was thirty-seven degrees; but at least there isn’t any ice.

What I didn’t anticipate was that returning to my own house, where I live alone with cats, and returning to normal life, would be something of a shock. I felt somewhat disappointed and lonely after a month as a houseguest, even though I’m not compelled to live with people, only with cats, and I’ve read that this is typical of empaths. I also felt overwhelmed with the home improvements and cleaning up that the house needs. It has a new quirk: the door to the hall closet (or cupboard under the stairs) no longer clicks shut. The lack of central heat is a considerable problem; even the house in Phoenix has central heat.

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The cats are extremely cuddly and fight over my lap. I can and shall get used to this life again. Dressing in layers helps.

On the front porch were two bins of mail, in addition to many packages, so I’ve been streaming the second season of The Crown while sorting through snail mail and cuddling the cats. That first night, one cat purred ecstatically, while another cat sat nearby and stared jealously. They took turns doing this; Virginia sprawled out on her back, and facing us was her sister Vita, huddled on a chair and glaring. Fortunately, they’re handling the situation better today; Virginia and Gabriel both occupied my lap without any growls from Gabriel, perhaps for the first time ever. I’m making a point of staying at home as much as I can, to reassure them.