I’ve found abandonment to be at the crux of pain in my life, in my very own household. The children act up when I withdraw to my room, to my books or movies, because I’m too tired for much else. My husband gets grumpy and resentful at that same separation. My friends wait me out, perhaps impatiently. Back in my younger days, my romantic relationships ended in so much hurt and depression not because I felt I lost someone I loved but rather because I lost a connection, period, I felt abandoned. Younger still my fears of death and separation came from my own mother withdrawing from me to her tear-causing music, to her journals, to the darkness of her bedroom.
For the past weeks, I have been short in temper and patience and energy, even knowing consciously that to slip in this way causes the family to rebel more intensely which in turn drains me further still, leaving me to be a dust rag of a woman, crumpled and waiting.
During these days, I don’t comment to others, I don’t respond to the sweets I so adore, here, I let e-mail sit. A sin, I feel. It is as if I have been sung to and I say nothing to the soul-baring effort.
The days click by and I wait for something to change. I wait for the sense of self-abandonment to pass because that is what has happened – I have abandoned myself, the things I love, and the people who mean the most to me. So what is here, I wonder? What is here in my bedroom, a pale version of my mother’s bedroom, the stacks of books to my left, the vast space to my right, what is here behind my head, the pillows with the seams stretched and the insides cottony and spilling out, pillows being emptied, innards being slowly and deliberately plucked by my littlest one inches away from me.
“What are you doing, my dear,” I say.
“Pulling the white out.” She takes strings of it and throws the collection into the air, watching the descent.
“Please don’t do that,” I beg, the tiniest amount of whining present in my voice. This is one more bad in a series of bads, the most recent her deliberate crumbling of a chocolate cupcake onto the floor.
“Why what will happen if I take all the inside out, softly, mommy, softly and carefully?”
I remember a time when I left my puppy in my apartment, alone and abandoned, and when I returned hours and hours later, I peeked in through the window next to the front door only to find the floor covered in billowing white, the insides of my couch pillows, the insides having been spread about, madly ripped out by the puppy.
“If you take the insides out, if you keep throwing the stuffing around, the room will look like heaven.”
“Heaven is white?”
“Yes, it’s white.”
I leave her with that nonsense and she wonders the meaning and then proceeds to list all the people we say are in heaven, ending with the desire to go to heaven herself so she herself can see the insides of the pillows spread about in such a delicious, wicked way, keeping company of people she doesn’t know.
So what is here in this room, on this bed…I turn and see my daughter with her fingers in her mouth, watching a talking cat on the television, on the verge of sleepiness, determined to not feel abandoned by plopping herself next to me, hot on top of the comforter, happy next to the insides pulled out, having gotten a confirmation of what happens when the insides are out.
So, what is here in this room is but a reminder to return home, to return to myself.
Yes, yes, how do you do, I say. Why, I’m fine, Miss, I’m fine and dandy and awake and taking a ride on my bike, up, up, up the trail to the park with the trees and roads and playthings and noise. Why don’t you join me on this fine morning?
I think I will, yes, I think so.