I swear my way is working.

There is a crossroads at which stands a
sign post. Nailed to it are any manner of faded wooden arrows
pointing in as many directions they can. On each is carved the word
There is a woman in the center of the road. Her hair has become
long and whitely grizzled, and what energy brought her here has long since left. Her rheumy eyes stare at the sign, all she is able to do.
* * *
Frantic, manic, fingernails splintered,
dirt encrusted, she digs. Somewhere in this earth is the answer, the
balm, the solution. Just keep digging. There was a promise, a legend
that said the key to your happiness and serenity is just beyond where
you are, just beyond this layer of sediment and refuse. Keep digging.
* * *
I went to the cemetery to walk
yesterday. I usually don’t like to walk there, as I believe the dead
have earned their rest, and this is not a theme park or a gym. But, I
wanted the silence.
I walked in the Jewish section, where
stones were etched with names like Saul and Drosser and Abraham. I
thought about my grandparents, my mom’s folks, many years dead now.
About how my mom still harbors anger toward him, toward them, and
about how I’ve felt somehow cheated from good memories of them
because of her ire. That if she could only forgive them, she would be better; I would be better.
I thought about the therapy session I
had on Monday, and the deep, serated, bilous anger and betrayal that
boiled up about my own father. Probing into the memory of a particular series of fights when I was young, and how inappropriate and diminishing it was
– to us both – for a grown man to bellow at and shame a child.
I felt how unready I am to
forgive him. I saw how my refusal to do my dishes is a continuation of a fight that is long past. That my bating
him as a child, in order to prove once again what a shitty man he
was, has become a habit, a battle I’m still playing out. To put
dishes away is to lose the battle, is to fall into line with him and
his way of thinking, and, as I interpreted it, is to lose my
individuality and sense of self.
Many dots connected as
a result of making these discoveries Monday. It makes a lot of sense
that I’ve been reluctant, if not refusing, to grow up and take
responsibility for my life. If I have felt that to be responsible is
to fall in line with his, as he self-described, “Dudley Do-Right” manner of being (which, is a laughable self-assessment), then of
course I don’t want to give him any inch of ground. I don’t want to
let him win.
The problem is. … My dirty dishes are
3,000 miles from him.
My choices only, ONLY, ONLY
harm or benefit me.
How I choose to live my life harms or benefits only me.
are not his dishes. Doing them or not doing them neither invokes his
anger, nor placates his desperate need for order. He has no idea I’m
butchering myself in order to win.
really, does anyone win?

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