Monday, September 23, 2013

A Bag of Cement

So, there was this 80 pound bag of dry cement in the back of the van for the last two weeks. Tom bought it to repair our fireplace and to repair the fireplace at his parents' house. For some reason, Tom slit open one side of it, so that the wrapped folded open like a book. (Which I was clever enough to discover when a bunch of it went flying through the van as I drove with all four windows open on a nice day earlier in the week.)

Well, this morning, we were trying to get out the door at a reasonable hour to pick up some friends and spend the day at the Wild Center. I needed to haul this 80 lb open bag of dry cement mix out of the back of the van and into the wheelbarrow that was sitting alongside the garage before I could pop the back seats up and get us on the road.

I grabbed the little bag (it couldn't have been more than 15 inches long - and, yes, it really did weigh 80 pounds) and tried to pull it towards the back of the van. It budged about half an inch. This thing was heavy. I probably would have had better luck trying to haul an entire dead deer out of the back of that van - at least I would have something to grab on to.

Little by little, I nudged it towards the back of the van. I had sorely underestimated just how heavy 80 pounds of dry cement is, when it's crammed into a tiny little package like that. Every time I budged it another quarter of an inch, the bag tore a little more. And every time I budged it another quarter of an inch, I got angrier and angrier that I couldn't pick the damn thing up and just slug it into the wheelbarrow and get on with it.

The cement started spilling out all over the place. I tried to pick it up, the bag tore a little more, and I got angrier, and I tried to yank on it.

Mind you, my arms were still a little sore from the intense AcroYoga class I'd been in the day before, so I wasn't really at my best to begin with.

But I was getting damn angry.

Colden was on the back porch, yelling about wanting me to put on his shoes for him.

The cement was spilling everywhere.

I was getting angrier.

Finally, I somehow managed to drag the bag, half into the wheelbarrow, half balanced on the back of the van. It continued to tear, slowly, spilling cement everywhere. I could feel my heart going into palpitations, I was so damn angry. I wondered if I was about to have a panic attack or a heart attack.

Colden was still yelling about his shoes.

And that was when I lost it.

Fuck it, I thought. Cursing as loudly as I could, I got into the van, turned the ignition, and drove forward until I felt the thud of the bag of cement hitting the driveway.

When I got out of the van, I saw that the bag had torn completely in half. Tom had suggested to me on the phone that I get out the shop vac and try to vacuum up whatever cement had spilled so that we didn't get a little concrete ball on the driveway. I dragged the damn shop vac all the way into the driveway, plugged it in, and started to vacuum.

Then I realized that all I was going to be doing was vacuuming up dirt - and what the fuck did I want to do that for, anyway?

I went back inside. Colden was still screaming about his shoes. And I yelled, at the top of my lungs, for him to put on his own damn shoes or we would not be going anywhere.

I was covered from the waist down in dry cement. My comfortable pants, my comfortable shirt, my shoes - covered. I was sure that I'd inhaled a good amount of it, too, judging from the coughing I was doing.

And as I started stripping off my cement-covered clothes, I suddenly started to cry. I mean, really cry. Big, fat, hot tears, the kind that come out in yoga sometimes. And it hit me - my entire life, I've felt as though people have been asking me to do things of which I am just not capable of doing.

Dealing with an anorexic/bulimic/agoraphobic/mentally ill mother like a grown-up. At 11 years old, I was not capable of doing it, yet I had to. There were times, I realized, that dealing with my mother's mental illness felt a hell of a lot like trying to move that damn 80 pound bag of cement. Impossible, yet I somehow had to do it.

Trying to get my own apartment at age 18 because I just couldn't live with my mother anymore. I was far from capable, yet I had to do it.

These things made me angry. So angry, and yet I felt like I wasn't allowed to be angry, because what good would it have done me?

Angry that my mother refused to eat, even when she thought she was starving to death. Angry that she was so afraid of, well, everything that she refused to let my sister and I just be normal kids, or normal teenagers. Angry that she finally said to me in the hospital, the week before she died, how sorry she was that she "screwed up all our lives".

That's how angry I was.

I went back out onto the porch and saw that Colden, now in tears as well, had put on his own sneakers. I gave him a big hug, and he snuggled down into my lap, and we cried together. I apologized for getting angry. He gave me a kiss on the nose and said, "Mommy, what would make you feel better? Some Starbucks?"

This is what makes me think that I'm a terrible mother, but at the same time, maybe I'm doing something right.

I cried pretty much all the way into town to pick up our friends, and even though it was a nice day to be at the Wild Center, I just felt sort of off the whole day.

But the cement bag, it really brought something out of me. It brought out all the anger and the frustration I've felt for most of my life, anger that I've always just ignored or held back or squashed because I was afraid to let myself feel it.

It's something that I feel during yoga practice a lot lately. Anger. Anger that I can't do a forward bend. Anger that I can't do a crazy backbend or a shoulder stand. When it comes to a pose that I can't do, I get angry that I'm not like the other students in class who can do that pose. And it's not one particular pose that makes me angry, it's any pose that I can't do in its full expression.

I just get mad.

So, I have no idea what to do now, except to do more yoga. I've been crying on and off for two days now, trying to figure out what I do next. I feel as though I have no idea what I'm capable of, and I sort of feel like I'm not capable of doing anything.

The only path ahead me that I can see right now is...more yoga. Maybe the answer will come there.

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