disappeared

by Elouise


disappeared seeds
sown in haste germinate –
my heart skips a beat

It’s the late 1950s. I’m a young teenager, sitting at the supper table with my parents and my three sisters. I’m teary, feeling crampy and a bit nauseous. Not eager to eat anything.

My father tells me to stop crying and eat my dinner. I can’t stop crying, and my stomach ache isn’t going away.

My father tells me to stop this nonsense immediately, or he’ll give me something to really cry about. I burst into loud tears and run upstairs to my bedroom, sobbing my heart out.

My childhood, youth and adulthood are littered with occasions that replicate or echo these dynamics. My biggest problem, so it seems, is that I’m over-emotional and haven’t yet learned to control myself.

I learned to ‘disappear’ myself by choking on my emotions, swallowing them, eating them alive, or trying to paste a happy face over my true face.

When I wrote about the pain of retirement, I said I feel ‘disappeared.’ I didn’t hear it then as a loaded word. But now I do. A cue of sorts. The kind that suggests the opposite of what it seems to say. Following is my un-disappeared, crystal clear comment about myself.

No, I do not feel sorry for myself. No, I’m not stuck in a gear I need to shift out of. No, I’m not simply repeating myself over and over and over again.

My words are my words. My feelings are my feelings. I’m as entitled to them as anyone else is to his or hers. I dare not sit on them, deny them, modulate them to suit your ears, or beg forgiveness for not living up to what you believe should be the standard for my life.

I’ve never understood why some men (also some women) have, throughout my life, felt free to give advice about how I should NOT be. Or about what I should be ‘over’ by now.

My father buried and tried to smother in his body and soul the very things he demanded I bury in my body and soul. Not because they would harm me, but because they made him uncomfortable, or didn’t fit his view of the woman he wanted me to become. Or the man he thought he was.

I’m grateful for my feelings. I admit to feeling uneasy sometimes about letting them show. Yet overall, I’m grateful to be a highly sensitive woman of a certain age. Unleashed, untamable, not prone to shame or responsive to scolding.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 December 2017
Image  found at ucg.org