Dear Augusta (About That List)

This comment was left at my blog today, from Augusta Godenot:

 Such beautiful blog posts. They make me sad. Since you shared your story, i am wondering why you and your sister moved into your mother’s home? What happened to your home?

 Your blog is like a saga and I want to know how it ends…i want to know that you have a happy ending.

 Dear Augusta,

Thank you! It’s a pleasure to meet you here. I don’t know how you happened across my blog, but your comment made me think, and I appreciate that. After I read it I composed a little note to you in my head, telling you my story. And while I did, I realized something important. I realized that I have a List. A List of all the things that have happened to me in the past… 2 years? It’s been almost 2 years of The Hard Times. And I wear that List like a cloak. I hold it in front of me like a shield. And it’s my excuse for everything.

“No, see, I can’t be happy right now, I have this List. These things have happened in my life. Happened to me. Let me list them for you.”

And I can, too. List them for you. Tick them off on my fingers as I go:

  1. 2 years ago on Christmas eve, my sister was diagnosed with cancer.

  2. Chemo made her weak, so she and her daughter moved in with me and my 2 daughters.

  3. At this same time, my mom fell and hit her head on a block of marble.

  4. At this same time, my daughter fell from the roof of a house and broke her leg in several places.

  5. I had all three of them in the same hospital at the same time.

  6. After months of rehab, my brain injured and insane mom moved in too.

  7. I lost my teaching job for missing too much work to care for my family.

  8. After caring for all of them, my house, my sister’s house and my mom’s house for a year, we put my house up for sale, rented out my sister’s, and we all moved into my mom’s house.

  9. I lost my beloved dog to seizures in May…

I could go on. The hits just keep coming. And I could go further back, too. Back to my father’s suicide, my husband’s moving out, my fucked up childhood. My list starts a very long time ago. It’s lengthy.

I’ve known people like me before, people with Lists. You can practically see them etched into the bags under their eyes. How are you? Well, let me recite my List for you. And they do, they tick off their problems, their hardships, their traumas. In essence, they’re handing you their List, begging you to help them carry it even if for just a moment. They’re pleading with you to excuse them for their appearance, their stare, their forgetfulness. They’re foisting their List onto your shoulders, too.

It’s a sad thing to wear, this List. It’s heavy, too warm and it’s very, very sharp. I shouldn’t wear it. I should let it go. This List isn’t me. It’s not even about me. It’s about traumas that have made things difficult for me, but these things shouldn’t make me.

Sometimes, the List is all you have to hold on to. And sometimes, reciting the List is like a mantra, a comfort, as if I’m explaining that I’m not really like this, this isn’t who I really am, this is me when I have to wear this List.

This list doesn’t tell you who I am.

I am so much more. I need to remember that, too.

So, Augusta, let me try a new list for you. For me.

  1. I am a survivor.

  2. I’m a loving mom, a tolerant sister and a passable daughter.

  3. I’m a good writer and in my head, I’m a great novelist.

  4. I’m jaded, bitter and sometimes sarcastic to a fault- but I still see the good in myself and others.

  5. I’m kinda cute. I rather love my hair.

  6. I have a righteous collection of freckles.

  7. I’m lousy at accepting compliments, but deep down I hear them and appreciate them.

That’s a start. And that’s a far lighter list to carry. Heck, it’s not even a list, is it? It’s more an inventory of me. I don’t need a List.

All of this time, I’ve been rolling this goddamn boulder up this fucking hill, over and over and over- and my List was making it far more difficult that it needed to be.

I need to stop reciting my List and start taking inventory. There is good happening here. It might not be where I expected to be in my life right now, but it is where I am.

I don’t want to carry this List anymore.

So thanks, Augusta. Because the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? And your comment prompted this train of thought. I’m admitting I have a problem. The next step is… wait. No one ever tells you the next step after admitting the problem. I’ll figure it out.

I always do.



12 thoughts on “Dear Augusta (About That List)

  1. I wonder if you’re aware that I, and likely others, follow your blog like a silent shadow, smiling at this post, saddened by another, but always *feeling* with you? I smiled at this post because I heard a different strength in your words.

  2. The next step after admitting the problem is to do your best. Recognise your successes and understand that what you see as failures are just consequences of not being able to be in several places at once, with more arms than Buddha, and less money than Croesus. Survival under such stress is success. I know you have succeeded at sublimating your liking for vodka (BIG win-win-win!!!) by will power, but I reckon the AA mantra of “One day at a time” is critical – after all, none of us might wake up tomorrow, and what good would worrying about next month do us then?

    Your list is history; it has made you what you are, and I admire your self-awareness, but you don’t drive a car by looking in the rear view mirror the whole time. You have to look forward to little victories, as you seem to do with each week’s blog post, picture-story, and tweet.

    Props, WHiskey, you’re a winner Whiskey. Just keep it going.

    Pep (The serious version.)

  3. “They’re foisting their list onto your shoulders, too.”

    I’ve backed away of sharing things about myself recently because I don’t want to be seen as doing doing eactly that. But you know what someone wise reminded me? Friends are the ones who want you to share that List with them. They don’t mind so much, and they often find it easier to help carry items from someone else’s List, at least for a time, than it is to carry your own.

    You have a great inventory for your new List. But don’t forget that friends will help you carry the other List, too, if you’ll let them. It doesn’t totally relieve the burden, but it helps to know you aren’t carrying it alone in the grue-infested darkness.

  4. Made me cry (which I never do).

    You are the voice of so many who astonish themselves by continuing to take one more step, one more breath, when doing so seems impossible.

  5. I clicked here through flickr, like I always do because the picture always tells the story but the worlds explain the story. Reading the first half, my mind was frantic with words, trying to keep up with you and the list. But when I got to the who you are list, I automatically slowed down in reading, it was like the breath started against, with more meaning and I could pace myself.

    I’m not really sure if that was how you intended it to be read, but it’s how I read it. You slowed down, looked at the good and positive and (yet again) reminded me that *I* need to slow down, stop my own ‘list’ and make a new one.

    Whiskey, you say so much and show so much that helps others. Thank you for that.

  6. You are wise dear Whiskey! Your wisdom shines through your traumas, your love for others is so apparent, you struggle on when many would give up. You shout, you scream and still you continue – I have told you before and I shall tell you again, ” It will get better” and then you will look back at this period of your life and realise how it has helped to form YOU. You have the blessing of your wonderful daughters and you are the most amazing mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. You should be proud of your strength – I am proud to be a friend of yours.
    Keep strong
    Keep smiling
    Keep blogging
    Hugs you big time

  7. Through all of your pain, you manage to create such beautiful imagery. Which begs the question, must artist suffer so much to expose their soul and their art?

    I was moved when I read your story and no words seem appropriate to comfort you for all your suffering.

    The best we can hope for is that someone hears us and listens for a moment. Maybe a life can be changed.

  8. Pingback: Reminding… « eleslilworld

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