Woke up anxious today about piddly details and realized that this is another way I avoid my real feelings. This is the second anniversary of my father's death and this year decided to allow a day for this and not to railroad my feelings about it. But I'm also beginning to wonder about that decision - namely, am I becoming as I have alluded to in other posts a professional griever.
I don't know is the answer to that question. I do have a fairly good sense, especially after meditating this morning, that I have to be careful not to hold onto all this sorrow in the way the old joke goes: a guy comes up to another guy with an arrow in his back and asks if he wants help pulling it out. And the guy with the arrow lodged in his back says "NO, don't touch it, it's my arrow." I think there may be some of that in me...the arrow guy I mean. Which is, well, embarrassing...but perhaps true.
I don't mean by saying this that grief has no role or I don't want to allow this day to unfold as it needs to, but once again I find myself facing the tricky issue of what is allowing in grief and what is holding onto it.
But the most important thing of all, and the hardest thing for me, is simply to be gentle with myself. I find that close to impossible at certain times and yet I know if I'm constantly riding herd on my emotions, thoughts, actions, etc., no good will come of it.
Perhaps this is the gear shift that is most necessary and the one I need to pray for the most, because God/dess knows I can't do it myself. I want to surrender my life completely to this sense I have a higher power or God or Whathaveyou, but there is this freaked out little child in me who won't let it happen. I realize her idea of any power greater is ancient info from growing up with abusive/neglectful caretakers (parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc...) and that the only way I can allow myself to surrender is if I bring my inner adult with me because this little girl doesn't trust anyone and frankly for good reason. But then again it's old information.
As I wrote about earlier, I now teach a class on interpersonal communications, and what I just described above would be considered in sociological terms: cognitive conservatism wherein the self-concept will not budge even when new information is at hand. It's called acting on obsolete information. Yah. (I have inexplicably started typing in a Canadian accent...)
So my prayer these days is that I can let go of this obsolete information and allow myself the gift of trusting in the higher power/s that have in the past 25 years or so taken care of me, guided me through life I would probably not even be alive to experience otherwise.
I should add here though that the miscarriage I had the day after my marriage, and subsequent inability to conceive is something I have still not reconciled with any idea I have of a God/Higher Power. That seemed particularly cruel and unnecessary and is what brought me eventually pouring over the Job story (that combined with other losses, etc.). The fact is, as of now, I don't understand it - still - 4 1/2 years later. Other than: it happened. It reminds me of a great line Mary Karr quotes in (her astonishing book) Lit, via Emile Zola: "The road to Lourdes is littered with crutches, but not one wooden leg."
So, wooden leg and all, my day will include meeting with other folks who've been through a lot with less than perfect home lives, then meeting another friend for manicure/pedicure and dinner. She like me has had a rough time recently and in the past, so am looking forward to the ease these kind of experiences can bring - not having to feel ashamed of my pain or my past. Knowing I don't have to explain it either. What a relief. Speaking of which - again - a shout out to my friends who have helped me through so much, both close friends and friends of friends who I know through meetings.
My shoulders are hunched up in a way which signals a need to defend myself and not surrender, my body too acting off of obsolete information. A prayer then too that I find a way to teach my physical self that it's safe in this world now, that I don't have to be on the lookout continually for predators and that not everyone and everything is a potential threat. You wouldn't know that was my stance if you met me. I'm good at faking openness. But look carefully at my shoulders and neck and there you will see the reality. The physical self in the 'don't hit me/don't see me' tensed up posture. OK, the openness is not all fake but nor is it total, not by a mile.
So, I probably should go back to yoga...I need a gently disciplining force to bring me back to class (which is where I planned to be right now but instead, as usual, find myself writing)...still, I think/pray/hope I'm getting closer to the light. I feel like I've paid my dues in the dark spaces and perhaps now it's simply up to me to make the move out of that musty room - or at least have the willingness to pray for the help to do so. At least I hope so.
Speaking of which I need to wrap this up so I can take a walk in the sunshine. I've managed to miss daylight for the past two days because of staying up late, getting up late and working through to dark. That alone can lead to depression - so I'm off - with blessings to all.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.