january 2003 -
I'm in a foul mood right now because I've been reading some other people's journals which are generally all about their particular complaints of the moment which is, surprise surprise, generally the nature of journals. I know that going in, and one of the great satisfactions of reading journals is that you get to see what people are doing with their time and how precisely and predictably well they are getting along or not getting along, oblivious to their own shortcomings and/or advantages just as I am often oblivious to mine. I get to be the guy who sees lucky or unlucky people not realizing just how lucky or unlucky they are and then I go off and agonize over my own lack of luck in some area or another. Understand here, dear reader, that I'm bringing all this on myself.
The same thing happens in the real world. For example, from time to time it's very difficult for me to be around typical children. They speak in cute little phrases, and grab things with both hands. Eventually they walk, and run, and belong to a world that welcomes them straight on without having to whisper and inquire surreptitiously about what's wrong with them, what's that thing on her leg and her arm, is she deaf, did the parents do something bad during pregnancy, is it contagious.
Every encounter with a typical child is a lesson for me, a reminder that I have to get over feeling sorry for myself and my daughter. It's difficult. I always blink away tears and shove my mind toward something altogether benign, like roof repair or how I need to get more vacuum cleaner bags (for you new readers out there, we're talking cerebral palsy from a massive stroke at birth, hemiplegia, epilepsy, and a host of various developmental delays, comparatively speaking).
My heart breaks every morning when I take my daughter to school. Onto the campus she limps, dropping things along the way. Other parents bustle about, getting their hugs and watching their kids run to the playground and to class. Typical little girls speak amongst themselves with all the speed and vocabulary of young women, and it's so easy to see them as college students. Try as they do, they've learned the ache of impatience in trying to converse with my daughter.
Picking her up from school is remarkably similar except that now we're just that much closer to sitting down and doing homework, which is, as I'm sure you're well aware, a glorious exploration of the ecstasy that is learning and joyous spontaneous discovery of life's rich pageant.
Like I said, I'm in a foul mood right now. I'm jealous. I'm tired. I'm certainly not living a nightmare, but I suspect this is not a dream you'd like to have.
To be honest, I am not in need of the repair that the intensity of this entry suggests. I long ago pursued emotional remediation for myself, one of those remedies being this journal. I am not soliciting offers to fix me, for I am, in fact, not broken. And neither is my daughter. She is who and what she is. Many therapies have been pursued, some successful, some appropriate, some not. The pain we feel is the pain of comparison, of not meeting other people's expectations and seeing the behavior such a disconnect elicits in others. As social creatures we are susceptible to their influence and good intentions, however direct or indirect they may be. And, unfortunately, it is sometimes impossible to quell whatever longing there may be to have a life free of one's own relentless challenges.
It's odd and frightening and infuriating to realize that, just because of how she is, had my daughter lived in another place in an earlier time, her community, in the name of God, would've stoned her, drowned her, or lashed her to a stake and burned her to death.
Makes ya think.
"The Touch Of Your Lips" -- Oscar Peterson -- OSCAR PETERSON AND FRIENDS
"Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrow which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow