I grew up playing the piano. Initially, by choice and then later by force. This force is the thing that continues to plague me and I keep chasing it against my better judgement I guess in an effort to squash it, heal it, resolve it, be at peace with it, destroy it– I’m not really sure. I started playing piano around three or four years old. Stopped at 18 or I guess “quit” would be more accurate. Now at 47, I started playing again but on my own terms, meaning when I feel moved to and for as long or as short of a duration as I wish. My relationship to my piano has changed. Evolved. I don’t resent her as much as I used to. I find myself returning to the same repertoire of songs that I played decades ago during what was a difficult time of regular pre-teen/teen angst and insecurity coupled with not-so-regular dysfunctional family relationships with a generous dollop of trauma. So I guess it would be fair to say playing these songs are both a source of comfort and pain. I suppose that’s what great music is all about. It’s good to play old songs. It’s also good to learn some new ones.
I should also mention my need for comfort comes mostly from the events that have occurred so far in this year of 2020. My mother died unexpectedly in February and then the world went into lockdown a few weeks later. I was with my mom while she was dying. But I could not save her. Over the last couple years, a lot has changed for me and my family. We moved from NYC to a rural town, avoided a near fatal car accident, my mom narrowly avoided open heart surgery and brain surgery, we bought a house, I incorporated as an actress, buried my mother, became unemployed, became a Christian, became a full-time homeschool teacher to my now five-year-old son. Currently, I’m deciding if we’re moving again, figuring out if I’ll ever work again, avoiding Covid best we can, planning for uncertainty, and trying to climb out of a deep hole of heaviness that seems there is no escaping. I suspect the thing most of my friends and family don’t realize is that, of course the death of a parent is obviously painful, but the death of a parent (and last surviving grandparent to our son) with a complicated relationship involving trauma is, in my opinion, a bit more challenging. It feels as though every item I had neatly packed away and left in the past has resurfaced and been blown open against my will.
I think it’s obvious, but part of the reason why people struggle with this pandemic and with the isolation, the social distancing, etc. is that not only is every aspect of your life impacted but you have no more distractions or excuses and are forced to be with your own thoughts and fears, fears which are relentlessly stoked by the all the news and noise and there’s nobody to reassure us with any certainty or confidence that this is temporary and not, in fact, the end of the world as we know it. Or just the end of the world. Experiencing bereavement during this time while trying to raise my son in a joyful environment that he can trust is safe is, well, fucking hard as fuck. I do attempt to call upon my skills as an actor but I’m a better actor than I am a liar.
I’m learning quickly how we’ve all been seduced by this cultural brainwashing into believing that there is a goal to avoid pain and discomfort at all cost. That there is some other point to reach, or some other thing that needs to happen in order for ‘me’ to be a better person or feel better about myself or be happier. The myth of the “if only.” I’m understanding the nuance and subtleties of holding two opposing things at the same time, like loving and hating my brother simultaneously. Or feeling so grateful and so sad at the same time. That there is the child and the adult within us and the importance of acknowledging and accessing both. That you strive to do what you can, the best you can, take up your space, speak your truth, and at the same time surrender, be still, listen in silence, and have faith.
I believe up to this point in my life I’ve gotten quite good at detaching from things, identifying what truly makes me happy, what I ultimately desire, holding myself accountable, taking responsibility, (what the kids call “Adulting”) and achieving a state of satisfaction and content which I suppose is exactly why I find myself sitting here in the darkness of that deep hole I mentioned. I’ve noticed we have words like “irony” and “paradox” for a reason. I think I’m finally embracing how to not be afraid of the dark and rather than searching for the light – or giving up on the search completely, I’m just gonna have to feel to find my way.
I’m profoundly grateful that we left NYC. Living amongst nature growing food and breathing clean air doesn’t compare in any way shape or form to what I thought I might be sacrificing by leaving a cosmopolitan cultural hub. I thought I loved the city but the truth is I fucking hate it– I don’t hate it. After 20 years of incredible, rare, awful and awesome experiences, I really just hate living there. The people where I live now are grounded. There’s less bullshit and noise. My intention was to be closer to my mom. In a way, I suppose I am. I am home now. I am completely in love with my husband and our son. I know that all our basic needs are met and we are very comfortably safe. Simultaneously, I recognize that I have a sizable shitload on my plate. I recognize that no matter how much my brain tells me I’m okay, my body tells me that I’m not. I force myself to eat. I force myself to get my son moving so consequently I end up moving too. I force myself to lean hard into humor and music and all the things to switch up the vibe. And now I’m tired. I’m trying to let it all just be. This force. Force. To force. To be forced. I thought it was called Will. Determination. Survival. Fortitude. Fear. Love. I’m still not sure what it is and if it’s Good or Evil. But I guess that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?