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To Catch Ourselves with Quiet Grace

***Ruminations on an almost-year (The title of this post is from the same INXS song as the name of this blog.  The subtitles are from the Indigo Girls.)

I. Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable

Back before Thanksgiving, things began happening at work that we were asked not to talk about.  Though the situation has evolved somewhat, this is essentially still going on.  It’s not anything espionage-y and earth-shattering in a Sydney Bristow sort of way; it’s tedious and corporate and would probably be of very little concern to anyone not involved.

Still, I was in a meeting where we were expressly given the okay to talk to our spouses—that this seemed necessary pretty much says it all about exactly how much fun it is going to work these days.

It happens that I am a veteran secret-keeper. 

(It’s terribly easy to convince a small child that you’ve got not only the means, but the will, to see that she stops breathing.  In my case, surviving such a conviction took a team effort.)

I’ve posted a little here about having Disassociative Identity Disorder, but a random reader or two out on the great wide web knowing is not the same as having people who see me in the office, or at Christmas dinner, knowing.  My parents know.  J knows.  A few very close, very trusted friends know.  That’s it, full stop.

So it might seem that keeping my employer’s much more mundane secrets would be small beer.  But teamwork takes a lot of energy, even with just day-to-day stuff—it’s hard to care about being late to work when you’re four, especially if you’re scared of the T’s escalators.  I think we do a pretty damn fine job, but we were already bumping our limits, and it’s been months and most nights I’m so tired that I can’t even pull it together to answer the phone, even when it’s someone I really love calling.

So I haven’t been writing or reading or pretty much anything but watching tv.   I’ve got a bunch of stuff I want to post about various shows, and thank God for that, cuz we’ll probably all need the relief after the second half of this post, which is all about the things I meant to be writing in April, before my idiot brain got sidetracked with 9-to-5 minutiae.

But that’ll have to wait until after Monday.  Because J and I have the day off, and we’re taking the tuff one to the zoo.

II. Would you trade your words for freedom?

It’s National Poetry Month again, and if anyone happened to look at the site where my poems reside, they’d see it’s unchanged since the day I put it up, down to the nonexistent syllabus (well, it exists.  It’s just still yet-to-be-posted.) 

I’ve written a lot more here than I thought I might, but no new poems.  I kind of have a theory about that, and it isn’t really one I like.

I didn’t know about my alters--known collectively as the Crew--until the year I turned 29.  When the tuff one first began to make appearances, I argued rather loudly that it was not possible that I could have DID because a) I did not black out and lose time when she showed up and b) I was too frickin’ old for this to suddenly be an issue.  I had been in therapy for years by that point, SURELY someone would’ve noticed.

The problem was, the person noticing was J.  We’d been best buds and confidants and dykes-in-arms soul sisters from practically the day we met, in my junior year of college, and she’d known all my secrets for pretty much always.

But then in May of 1998, we were both suddenly single at the same time.  What I really mean, of course, is that her long-term relationship ended…I’d been single all along.  (Every few years or so I’d get tired of my seemingly perpetual celibacy, but it only took a date or two to remind me that, really, my neuroses did not need company, especially of the kissing variety.)

When J and I got together (it took us ‘til the tail end of December), it was not that physical intimacy suddenly got easy…it just got possible, in a way it had never, ever been. 

And the tuff one, who’d been very, very still for a terrible scary long time, knew someone had finally come to her rescue and it was okay to talk.

It took me awhile to accept that she was around, and much, much longer for me to make peace with it, though we’re in a pretty good place now.

I’d say it’s still a work-in-progress with her big sister, except it’s really more of an armed draw.   You could call her the reckless one.

A little more than a year ago, I had one of those prototypical writer’s dreams, where you wake up sure you were just in the middle of the best thing you’d ever gotten on paper, if you could only remember it. 

I was still completely preoccupied during my commute, when I got bumped into by a guy running for a train.  Luckily, he kept moving, and so probably didn’t hear what I called him.  Not that it was me--my rule is, Do. Not. Engage.  (you can never tell when someone’s going to up the ante and deck you, rather than just swearing back.  I once saw this happen in a Boston movie theater.)

I knew who it was, but not why she’d bother—accidental shoves on the subway being generally beneath her notice.  She likes to save her heat for home.  She seethes hurt and hatred and a grim determination that anyone, **but most especially J**, can so be pushed far enough she’ll want to leave our sorry freakshow ass.

This is hard, hard, hard on the tuff one, who gets the threat, but not the underlying teenage yearning to be proved wrong.  And while I do get it, I’ve also got a grown-up’s understanding of collateral damage.  It’s just easier to wish she’d shut up and, mostly, that works for her, too, ‘cause silent resentment and fine bitter spite are still wholly adolescent talents.

There I was, working to recapture whatever I’d had in the dream—a phrase, a rhythm—because that’s how I’d always done it, the right note in my head and eventually other words would gather around it.  Could be hours, but it might be months, until I was ready to write it down.   That’s the way my poems got made.

People always ask why I stopped writing and I can hardly understand it myself.

The world went quiet…I don’t know how or why I came to be bereft. 

Except maybe I do.

Turns out you could call her the poet.