Friday, October 20, 2006

Where I am

I don't remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotations (ok, paraphrase) is, "The secret to happiness is a poor memory." I was able to fit that line into a dinner conversation one evening. My husband looked at me and said, "Honey, you're doomed."

I was always the sucker with the golden memory. This is nothing I can take credit for. It's a gift, not a skill. It's just one of the weird configurations of my mind that recall is easier for me than for others. It amuses and annoys the crap out of my sister who wonders how I can remember odd bits from our childhood (usually something that casts her in a less than saintly light.) I hide from her all the memories I have of making a complete ass of myself. As a recruiter, my memory was one of my chief strengths. It would take me a few minutes to recall the name, but I could recall the employment history, background check and interview of just about any client accurately within seconds. I spent many hours feeding info to other recruiters who had more dazzling sales skills than I did, and luckily I had a boss who showed her appreciation for that. I've described myself as having a velcro memory: small, fluffy things stick to it, while bigger, more important things (like anything numeric) slide on by.

I'm sick of memory though. It feels like a muddy swamp that will just suck me under the muck of outgrown images of myself, the ones that are beautiful and grand as well as the ones I wish I didn't remember. Part of me wishes I could face the future with a presence as smooth and crisp as a freshly ironed shirt, but I'm more of a wrinkled linen kind of woman -- definitely quality but the wear shows.

Sick of the past, part of me is ready to jump into the future, but I know that I'm not quite ready for that either. It took me a long time to get to a point where I could say, "This will not be in my day." Every morning I wake up and each day is defined more by what I will accept than by what I want or truly need. The depths of my wimpiness astound me. I'm a woman who broke the collarbone of a would be rapist, who's held friends as they shook through the hallucinations and terrors of drug withdrawal, who was in induced labor for three days, who handled caregiving for my father during the assault of senile dementia, who battled doctors, hospitals, school systems and my daughter herself when an eating disorder threatened to steal her forever. These things have all required strength, but saying and backing up, "I will not tolerate something in my life" has been harder. Sometimes, I look at the stuff I've just accepted as beyond my power to change and the only label I can put on myself is gutless. Of all the southern woman bs I've swallowed, the measure of a woman's strength is in her ability to endure is one of the hardest to dislodge.

It's not the easiest place to be, but I know it's a start. I know more and more what I don't want and will not accept. I think mining my past to understand who I am is starting to transform into something else. I can sense vaguely a future in front of me that's more than just slogging through a work week to clean house on the weekends. I hope that my golden, velcro memory will have its place as a resource and not a minefield. I can choose what's important to remember. I want to be able to envision and create a future rather than just fall into one. I can do it.

However, I'm not going to jump when I'm just re-learning to walk. My experiences on literal crutches have taught me that much. A fall when I'm recuperating is harder than a fresh injury. I get through each day as best I can now, dealing with just what's immediately in front of me. I'm pleased daily with how much I can do, and I sense so much more coming. I can wait to do more, because I can feel my strength gathering. I'm going to be something else.


Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Hang in there, Cynthia. Cynthia, you should look into arts grants in your state: see if they give grants in essay writing/non-fiction. I just bet you could put together a great portfolio of your writings.

October 20, 2006 1:19 AM  
Blogger Nelle said...

All great destinations begin with those first steps. I always had a memory that never failed. Until my surgery. Now I have trouble and it's very frustrating. I still remember all the details of my previous life but the past few years I have lost things that never got transferred over to the long term area. Congratulations on the weight loss. It's hard work.

October 20, 2006 9:02 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

At this stage of my life, I'm not even thinking about being "something else." I would be happy with being something...recognizable. :/

October 23, 2006 10:25 PM  

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