I’ve shied away from picking annual WORDs because I usually poop out on them long before the year is through. Nevertheless, this year requires one and it is: CONTAINMENT.
An iron pot symbolizes CONTAINMENT, and for 2016, both the inside and the outside of the vessel matter.
The inside of the cauldron stands for a well-tended creative process. In the coming months, I want to stoke the fires of intention/desire/discipline and see some results. I will set deadlines. I will be accountable. I will lean into offered help.
The outside of the pot stands for well-defined personal boundaries, necessary to the process of excluding that which is toxic and debilitating. Some things cannot be excluded. But lots in my life can be.
And yes, now we are talking about my very difficult sister. I am the only person who relates to her on a nearly daily basis and it is one of the most taxing, draining, annoying, infuriating, challenging, and unwelcome responsibilities that I have ever shouldered. It has made me curse my dead parents and God. It has made me hate myself frequently. It has made me hate her frequently. The lessons are there, oh yes they are there, but I’m unwilling to keep paying the price that I’ve been paying to learn them (prime among the lessons: humility and compassion; the big price tags: my health and peace of mind).
For better boundaries, I seem unable to simply ‘create distance’ or ‘compartmentalize’. So I’ve come up with: BRACKETING, DISTRACTION, BREATHING, and MEDICATION.
Maybe these are just ‘creating distance’ and ‘compartmentalizing’ by other names, but they feel different.
BRACKETING: the process of deliberately indulging in simple, pleasurable routines before and after contact, especially visits and the outrageously awful phone calls. This can be self-care at its most basic, but no less potent for its simplicity — planning a hot bath with eucalyptus salts, having a homemade soup at the ready, asking K. to build a fire. It’s not complicated and some of it I do already, but it needs to be more conscious. Some of the rewards could be bigger. DISTRACTION: I can’t really cook while talking to my sister on the phone, or even run water. It offends her. But with a teeny bit of preparation, I could flip through picture books, hem a long hem, or knit. My repeated attempts to craft a mutually agreed upon, respectful way to terminate calls when they get loud and ugly has failed abominably. But the truth is, even some of the less-screechy calls tax my patience — the weird theories, the paranoia and conflict with neighbors, the objection to this celebrity’s forehead or that celebrity’s nostrils, her infatuation with Chuck Norris or Hop Along Cassidy, the hip pain, knee pain, insomnia, gastric upset….
BREATHING: for when we she is pushing my buttons (OFTEN) and I need (URGENTLY NEED) to remain silent. I am going to count to ten. Original, huh? One visit I gave myself ‘a time out’ and did the crossword puzzle for awhile. This seemed acceptable to her and it worked for me.
MEDICATION: hers and mine. Attend to timing. Lastly, I need to be careful about what I ask for. Because I am in this ’til death and because I wouldn’t feel good praying for my sister to drop dead, several times in the last few months I looked heavenward and begged, “Please God, take ONE of us!”
Then I had to have a biopsy. After two unnerving weeks reading about Graves disease (which I have) and radioactive iodine treatment (which I’ve had) and learning of my increased odds for thyroid cancer, I decided to never again utter that plea. (The biopsy was clear). This is an unusually personal post and quite at odds with the notion of CONTAINMENT. This kind of disclosure will never be the mainstay of this blog (although I’m not sure why). But I’ve found from reading other peoples’ blogs that occasional personal revelations draw me in and make the more craft-focused posts more meaningful. I hope this does the same.
It’s also my way of saying, fuck it. It’s a new year. I’m gonna take a few risks.
So, on that note: Happy New Year!!