Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bright Day

I put on a skirt today and sleeveless shirt. It was, despite the blue sky and strong sunshine, a bit too optimistic. It is spring but sweatshirts and sweaters are still needed. All the heat is off in the house. I'm happy about that because the electric and propane bills will be lower. For the first time in many days I've had enough sleep and my heart is at peace. Not painting. Not yet working on a book. But my morning was productive with errands. Mike has the car so walked around town. Put sunscreen on my face under makeup. Wore black tee shirt, black blazer, dark jeans. Around my neck is a heavy necklace, purple amethyst and green serpentine beads. Went to the bank. Picked up medication. Ate a bagel. No howling emptiness in my chest. No fear that when others look at me they see failure, abomination. No tears threatening to leak out of my eyes. This is sanity. Perhaps I'm a little bewitched by Spring.

Have had a stretch of days to react to the information that Jennifer is stripping. She told us that she lost her computer job in January and has been stripping for a while. There was so much that she wanted to tell us about the strip club where she is working. Apparently she thinks it is top notch. She even gave us traffic directions so that we could come see her where she works. I said, "No dear, we won't be visiting. We're going to give you your privacy."

I've had trouble sleeping at night, thinking about Jennifer, and had to take a nap yesterday in the middle of the day. When I woke there was one thought in my head. "She isn't your daughter". I think that I've wanted the impossible. I wanted to go back in time and give her a different childhood. I've wanted to raise her myself. The number of times, these past few days, when I've told Mike he was a crappy father. Jennifer wouldn't be a stripper if he had been a better father. That behavior has got to stop. Jennifer knows that I believe her story that Mike was an alcoholic for many years, and when I asked her why she thought he was drinking so much she said, "Because of Debbie." I know what happens when Mike drinks. He is happy and floating. He is removed and unavailable. I guess I must be doing something right with my marriage because now he doesn't drink except for the times when we eat at a restaurant. Social drinking we call it. During Easter at my father's house he allowed himself two glasses of wine, both watered down, and then switched to drinking coffee. I was so proud. I must concentrate on his behavior today and not punish him for his behavior years ago.

I remember my marriage to Bill and I remember the flush of happiness I had when I first had so much money to spend. Jennifer is experiencing this. She told Mike that she earns about a thousand a week. I am concerned that to get this money she is manipulating men's emotions with the sight of her naked breasts and ass cheeks and conversations that have forced cheerfulness and good will. She is learning to seduce and lie. This isn't exactly character building but it isn't criminal either. I suppose it will help her to get ahead in the world. I am certain that stripping will harden her, make her less trusting, help her to build walls around herself to distance herself from other people. And then I wonder, has all this already occurred due to the nature of her childhood? Do strippers come ready-made? I think that if she learns to negotiate the social currents of a strip club she will be able to negotiate the social currents of almost anything the world has to throw at her. I don't think the job will crush her. Strangely, I think it will turn her into a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps this is my optimistic fantasy. The Amazon Stripper. There are so many ifs. She will persevere if she continues to turn down the propositions for prostitution that she keeps getting from customers. She will persevere if she continues to drink cranberry juice instead of the liquor that so many are trying to force upon her. She will persevere if she doesn't get followed to her car and raped. Oh, she has been clear with us. Her job is not for one of the faint of heart.

I said last night at a psychiatric support group that today I would paint. Well, that didn't happen. But I don't hate myself for not painting. I say to myself, tomorrow I will paint, and I feel hope and confidence. In my mind the boundary walls between myself and Jennifer have been sorely tested. Jennifer does not know, and probably cannot imagine, how important she is to me. Should she know she would probably be very frightened. I know, and I am frightened. Today is the first day that I have felt composure and oneness, internal integrity. Jennifer is no longer the beginning and end of all my thoughts. Easter night I considered swallowing all my pills because I was tired of being so crazy. I loved and I hated Jennifer with equal force. Today is the first day I can write about her because I have finally achieved some peace and distance. Too much emotion and you cannot even construct grammatically correct sentences. What put Jennifer so central to my thoughts is not much of a mystery. I am probably a lonely person, who is at an age where the decision not to be a mother has come back to haunt me, and because of the schizophrenic disease the I/thou separation in my mind is permeable. I stay at too much of a distance, I get too close.

I like being obsessed. I like being focused and concerned. When I am obsessed with a writing project or painting this hurts no one and I suffer the least amount of harm. Oh how I long for the nights where I can't fall asleep because I am too excited to wake in the morning and begin work! To be consumed by the color green! If my life has a direction, at this very moment, it is a direction with a very familiar feel to it. I want my pet project. I want to create. I am, at this moment, poised, I think, on the brink of being productive. Jennifer will strip, and I will be busy making something out of nothing, the very act of creating which is the closest thing I know of to natural magic. Jennifer's personal private odyssey is now simply part of the way the world turns and my job, as the world turns, is to bring something new into it.

Spring is here like a gentle blessing, and better days are coming.

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