musical milliner

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

May 26, 2014

“Fallen”

  images The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 What is this, the nineteen-fifties? The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it is he tells them. And it’s always  the kids who suffer from the disconnection.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Do you get that? Do you wonder why your many granchildren are not in touch? Do you understand that your own flesh and blood choose not to be around someone who tacitly disapproves of them because of lazy thinking?

Good tunes, thoughtful & personal lyrics, are one of the most effective therapies for hard times. That is, if you believe paying attention to the process will help you through the challenges. Here’s a good one.

Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me from the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals

The lonely light of morning
The wound that will not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything that I have held so dear

I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don’t see
But it’s one missed step
You’ll slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…
(c) Sarah Mclachlan (Tyde Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC)2003



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Sarah McLachlan 2003

July 8, 2013

Think For Yourself

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 10:24 am
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Image

I’ve got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You’re telling all those lies
About the good things that
We can have if we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you have in mind
And though you still can’t see
I know your mind’s made up
Youre gonna cause more misery

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Although your mind’s opaque
Try thinking more if  just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you’ve got time to rectify
All the things that you should

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I wont be there with you

Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

(Harrisongs 1968)

February 12, 2013

Stupida?

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 12:54 pm
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imgresI have never felt more alone than when I‘ve been in a relationship.

Love makes me stupid. I have made a handful of life-altering decisions while in that initial giddy state of passion. Most of these were situations I came to regret. A few ended badly because I did not take time to consider the practicalities. This is an enormous, rather forceful instinct, a human failing of biology. Like other species, we have imperatives to attract and be attracted, to reproduce or have fun trying.

There were a few who got away and a couple with whom it ended gracefully. One I just ran from, only to rekindle later, then quickly recall why it didn’t make sense the first time. There is the one who was the man of my dreams who eventually dumped me in a hideous way. I wandered in a very dark and dangerous place for a time after coming unglued in the process. Finally there was the disaster of marriage between two people who were ill-suited, tried to pretend it was normal to be toxic, and lived with it for too many years.

The husband was my age, and far too young emotionally. The more successful partnerships were with men some years older.

But I am no longer a young woman. I am still vibrant and attractive, and capable of companionable behavior. But the reality is I am midlife, and by choice alone. Lately I have been considering if this isn’t the best way to live out my maturity. I have responsibilities. I have certain duties and projects to occupy me. At the end of the day, I no longer wait anxiously for the husband to come home, obligated to listen to his drivel and neuroses. He of all men I’ve been with had the most distinctive defining character of a high maintenance housemate. I feel relief.

I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I don’t want to live with a man who keeps tabs of my failings and throws them at me when he is upset with himself.

There are other considerations. Can I afford to live alone? Will I end up homeless and destitute. Not having supported myself (although contributing from odd jobs and volunteer work) in over twenty years, will I be able to carve enough of a living to make it?

When I become conscious in the mornings, my first thoughts are always a flood of anxiety and despair over these frights. It is the smell of fresh coffee, the machine responding to my programming, that breaks through the haze.

Do I believe in fate or chance or serendipity? Fairy tales? Not any more. For this reason, I am wary. Men always show up when you are not looking for a relationship.

I truly hope I have gotten over being stupid.

December 24, 2012

La Sono Viva!

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 7:55 pm
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imgresTo any women out there who are stuck in a bad situation, you can get out. It will be anguishing.
You will make it. And you will learn who your true friends are, because not only are the marital assets divided, but often long term friendships are as well. Be prepared for his extended family to completely shut you and your children off. Be prepared, in case you weren’t already aware, that his family never really liked you anyway.

Almost four years ago I got to a place of such intense discouragement and pain that I jumped ship. This was the beginning of the end, which has still not ended. There has been a mandated truce, but no resolution. I am no longer living in fear, although I am wary that he will go postal. By all accounts, his behavior continues to be strange and negative, and he says random and odd things which get back to me. He complains to anyone and everyone, often to people he only knows casually. The overall theme is I have made him this way; I have ruined his life.

I am no longer the person I was. I am no longer anxious and self-loathing, nor all the bad things he said I was.

In the beginning of the big change, I was like someone touched by both Stockholm Syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. I knew with certainty I could no longer bear the life I was leading. All the pretension and all the social masks had worn me down. I couldn’t fake it anymore.

At a point some years earlier, I observed how the situation was affecting the kids. They are perceptive and intuitive, and once they realized I had been lying to them, I had to come clean.

Each went through his own process of dealing, and that will continue to cycle back over time. I am pretty sure both were relieved, and at different times informed me that they were glad that home had become a quiet refuge. I’ve also been on the business end of their anger over the fact that the financial situation has negatively impacted them. They know I love them beyond reason,

The good news is I am more myself than I’ve been in 25 years. I don’t have someone telling me on a regular basis how I don’t measure up, and how useless I am, and what a sponge I am. I know better now.

I am thriving. I am at peace, and I am alive!

September 20, 2012

La strada panoramica

There are times to keep one’s stories close, and there comes a time to share them with the innocent involved because it is also his history. Timing, boundaries, the effect the information may generate with other parties is tricky business. As a mother, I believe my children deserve to know their complete history. You have to gauge your child’s maturity. Too soon, and they may not have perspective. And then there is understanding that waiting too long can create resentment. They want the truth, and they deserve it.

My timing in these matters can and has missed the mark, but when giving a young adult child bits of their story previously hidden, especially those factual parts steeped in my own deep emotion, when is there ever a right time? Tricky also because in some cases, my perspective is biased to a point where there is only one point.

Recently prompted by a reference to a possible future road trip involving side trips and scenic routes, something long suppressed surfaced. I told my child one of his stories. I started with a disclaimer that he would learn some facts, and some bias, and I would be honest about when the lines crossed.

I was heavily pregnant, just six weeks to go. The idea of going for a ride up the coast to a nice spot seemed a good idea. But the trip was long, and I always had to pee. We made frequent stops, but I had to concentrate on holding it. After an hour or so, I wanted to go home. This trip had become exhausting. But no, the driver, the father of this child, decided I would feel better when we got to this specific land’s end, so he kept going, and my resentment increased.

Soon we were travelling in our old Jeep down a pot-holed, rocky road, full of dust on a hot day in mid September. My discomfort grew to abject misery. I felt every bump and shake, and my Braxton-Hicks contractions became increasingly painful.

I begged him to slow down. I told him this was not good for me or the baby. He seemed most focused on his own enjoyment. He kept saying, “Buck up. We’re almost there.” Which of course we were not. I’ve never reviewed a map to be certain, but I believe the dirt road was about twenty miles.

We got to the destination, and yes, it was lovely. But I was not feeling well. I was nauseous. I went to the loo at the visitor center and threw up my lunch. All the while the pre-labor contractions came and went. After a short nap on the sand, and lots of water they stopped.

The ride home was better, but by this time I was angry and in tears. He drove more slowly, but spewed a litany of reasons as to why I was such a wimp: I didn’t exercise enough; I didn’t get out enough; I was too consumed with being pregnant; and why were we even having this baby when we were having so much trouble with our relationship. (That last one came up again on the walk between parking the car and a two block waddle to the hospital.) I’ve since learned that this is the language of a bully.

As the story goes, we made it home. There was tension, which was usual, and I went to sleep without supper.

Next day, I had a doctor’s appointment. I got into the shower, and in the course of washing up, I felt my amniotic fluid leaking.

How could this be? I was just entering the thirty-fifth week of pregnancy. I used a piece of Nitrazine tape I had on hand, and it was blue, which was positive for amniotic fluid. Oh shit. This baby is coming too early.

Off to the doctor. I told her about the previous days outing, and she asked me “What was he thinking?”  As she examined me, my little leak turned into a gush all over her table and floor. The membranes had ruptured, and I was going to have this baby. I went home to get some things, and tried to track down my husband, who was two hours away in a business meeting. When he got home, we headed to the hospital during which his insensitive and absurd comment, still burned into my brain, was uttered. I understand his statement was the expression of a compilation of fears unfiltered at an emotional time. But really, his inability to filter is part of what doomed my respect for him.
I was set up with an IV of antibiotics, and the plan was to give me 24 hours to go into labor naturally. The odds of the baby having respiratory issues was about 50/50, his gender making him more vulnerable, as neonate boys produce less surfactant, a substance which allows the lungs to work smoothly. If he weighed in over six pounds, he would just be “pre-term.” Babies under six pounds are premature. I had to get my head together, put my fears aside and birth this baby.

His was an easy birth. He weighed six and a half pounds, and but a for a transitory episode of struggling to get his lungs going, he was plump and pink with blond hair.

When I started this essay, I brought up the ethical question of how much and when to tell an almost adult child. This is the hard part. This fabulous boy, though within normal ranges, was developmentally on the far side. He later had challenges with fine motor skills, and minor learning issues which he has learned to manage and for the most part outgrown. He is a solid student, a creative thinker, and one of the kindest people I know. He is tall and gorgeous.

But I told him of the long road trip, and my belief that his birth was early due to it, and my bitterness over knowing that a few weeks longer in the oven may have made his school days less harrowing. I blame his father, but it’s pathetic because his father discounted my knowledge, went against medical advice and forced us on that drive. I don’t want him to resent his father over this. How can I be objective in this situation? I don’t think it possible. My son will make up his own mind.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap) 2012

August 26, 2012

Inside the Fog

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 2:14 pm
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St. Augustine called it imtima mea, the ‘inward dwelling.” In the East, it is called the Maha Sunn, a void which separates the Created from the Uncreated worlds, where souls wander alone being cleansed, awaiting realization of a higher plane.

For the past several years, this is where I’ve lived. From time to time, there are days and weeks where the air is clear and sweet. There are hours of peace and contentment in the middle of a dark day. Mostly though, the fog is thick.

Sometimes I hear faint voices from the other side reminding me that there is another side. But my compass is broken, and I can’t find my way in the dark. I grasp what is left of the thin thread that keeps me attached to sanity. Is it strong enough? Will it break?

I am tired from standing in one place for so long. I feel the past, but not the future.

I remember being reminded by someone (who claimed to love me once) over and over that my problem was that I measured my life by my feelings, and lack of empirical evidence. The word “feeling” was used as a taunt.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap) 2012

March 9, 2012

Segni e presagi: primo anno (Signs and Omens)

It happened too fast. He proposed three weeks after their first date. They married four months later.

He had a hot temper, initially observed when a situation or something he did made him angry at himself. Later redirected to her.

The engagement ring had been recycled. Made for another, rejected, and held for safe keeping by his mother. One of the sisters let this information slip.

He went on a three week trip a month before the wedding, and became intimate with another woman, with whom he traded a couple of letters. She only read the other woman’s, of course.

He spent a lot of money but he was finishing graduate school.

After the wedding, the top of the cake was given to a sister for what the bride  thought was for freezing so they could have it for their first anniversary, per tradition. After her attempts to collect it, she was told that “it was good!” They had eaten it.

His requests for an inappropriate display of public affection on their honeymoon.

The mother announced, “We have a real girl in the family.” Three sisters and a mother with excess body hair, prematurely aged skin, and only one who made an effort to look nice.  Goes along with “She has such beautiful skin.”

A family where there is no concept that feminine and strong are virtues. A family where subjugation to the husband is the rule. A longer engagement would have clarified this and other important issues.

All four adult children call her “Mommy.” Girls, maybe. But from a 30 year old man?

The name thing. The refusal to accept that she had not changed her name, but received mail addressed to Mrs. His First and Last Name. Ordered address labels, Ms. Her Name, and Mr. His Name.  Get the hint? Nope. This continued for twenty-two years.

It was assumed that she was a radical feminist. Not “radical,” but didn’t most women who came of age in the 1970s  naturally embrace feminism as synonymous with the idea of choice in manner of living?

The vegetarian thing. The father constantly needling her about being a PETA type activist when she never even thought of converting his food preferences. Her personal choice made fifteen years before. She doesn’t eat meat, and won’t cook it in her home. What others do is not her call or concern. Both parents making it clear that a good wife would cook her husband anything he wanted.

Reading the $200.00 phone bill in the second month of marriage and finding an alarming number of phone calls made to sex chat numbers. Husband confessed this was a long term habit he would stop. He went on for hours after the resulting confrontation muttering “I’m a bad man.”

Her awareness that she had married someone missing certain interpersonal skills, but with the hope he would mature.

That he told his mother things which no self-respecting man would, such as the frequency of their sexual relations, or to phone her to complain of every disagreement or argument.

The first time he threw her up against a wall and slammed her repeatedly into it, and the resulting bruises around her upper arms and back. Her shame, and the regret she still carries of not asking her father to help her.

The first time he hit her head and she saw stars.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(2012)

July 10, 2011

Tirannia

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 7:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“…so he had power over me. That’s all tyranny is: it’s not in a personality; it’s in a set of circumstances. It’s being trapped with your enemy in a limited space- a country or a family- where the balance of power between you is unequal and the weaker one has no recourse
-Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 6/6/11.

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