I’ve lost the certainty of me and the diplomacy of the filter.
Patience is a coveted virtue.
Everything is a personal affront.
I fixate on situations that are irrelevant, or should be.
I have forgotten who is an ally and blame them as an enemy.
Last night I said to my husband, “You’ll have to tell me- ‘Remember that you love me.’”
I don’t like it. I don’t like my spare thoughts to be devoted to plotting wounding ambushes against extraneous characters. I don’t like the erratic interpretations of innocuous comments. I don’t like the undignified internal decay.
During the 60’s before my parents divorced, a female cousin, twice removed, took every bit of the food in her kitchen and dumped it, unceremoniously, in the trash, roasts, steaks, milk, eggs, every item in the pantry-gone. She was 48. I don’t know why I remember how old she was. They sent her to the state hospital because surely she must have been crazy. I think she was too polite. In the 60’s, women of a certain age did not contradict. They gagged on their resentment because they were nice. She had no other way to express her discontent.
I don’t exist under those rules. I have a husband, who worries himself over what is happening to me, who wonders why I’m happy one minute but not the next. His heart is gold and his efforts, where they really count, are flawless. He doesn’t experience my life the way that I do. He doesn’t see that time eludes me. Everything takes a long time. Small household chores can take a week. Just a decade ago I cleaned the entire house, washing floors and stripping beds, scrubbing bathrooms and dusting, Saturday mornings before noon. I don’t know if I’ve lost focus or energy or both.
Yesterday, I talked with a high school teacher on the west coast. She’s 24 months older than I am. Her filter is broken too. Her students ask stupid questions- “Do we have to write our answers to the quiz in French?” they ask on a Wednesday. She is, after all, the French teacher. Before she can stop herself she snaps- “No, today is Swahili Wednesday, write your answers in Swahili.” We laughed and laughed because we know it’s not nice but we can’t seem to control it. Later, we mourned the loss of our critical thinking skills AND our vocabulary. Both are accessible in the morning but slip away over the course of the day until 4P when the best response we can muster is “Oh.” Oh is a suitable response to almost anything. It is a generic word, we can’t manage the name brand words.
I’m writing people off with alarming disregard. It doesn’t alarm me but it alarms my husband. My sister, who is 11 months younger than I am, raised her voice to me. Indeed. Incommunicado. It was two months ago. I ask myself, before I fall asleep at night, how I will feel if I am never able to talk with her again, the recurring answer is “She yelled. I am 51 years old, people do not yell at me.” She should have had her filter repaired. I had a close friend, 4 months younger than I am, who isn’t quite as close now. She called me the day after my birthday to tell me about her dog’s $10,000 surgery on speaker phone. I saw her in the market a week or two ago. She is an advanced practice RN. HR spoke to her about her attitude. She doesn’t talk to anyone at work about anything other than work, now. Her filter is broken too. I am intolerant of the changes in them that are apparent in me.
It doesn’t bother me that people are inconsiderate and pretentious or that they refuse to recognize my limitations. It bothers me that it bothers my husband and makes him worry. I forget that he is on my side and, while his reactions to events are less reactionary than mine are, he is my ally. I hope I will change back.