Being Boswell

An unanswered question

This weeks assignment was to write about something unresolved in my life. It had to have urgency and tension.

Tom suggested I post something “light” this week as my last two posts have been “heavy”. I didn’t know if I agreed with him or not, but in the end decided to share my “dark” assignment because I worked so fucking hard on it. And I’m all worn out…

So here it is…the saga continues…

I recoil at the question that invades my day. I close my eyes willing it away, but it inevitably returns, like a puppy undeterred by my avoidance to get the attention it needs.  I have wrestled all my life with my need to belong to my family. The reality is that no matter what role I play to please, I just don’t fit. So if I don’t make the trek home when mom dies, I will be cast as the deserter. But going could be emotional suicide.

The last time I made the journey east across the Delaware was for the dual purposes of following my brother Rob’s edict to sell the family home and to visit mom in the assisted living facility he unilaterally decided to move her into. My plan was to meet with the realtor, visit mom, take her to lunch, drive her around the neighborhood she grew up in, then head west-putting a safe distance between me and my only sibling. I intended to slip in and out of NJ, under my brother’s radar, like a CIA Ninja.

The realtor was referred to me by Andy, my hairdresser and recently licensed real estate agent. He said he had asked for someone that would sell for a long distant client and wasn’t afraid of family ghosts. Debbie Leigh, about my age, with a slight NJ accent and a warm smile, took the job.

Debbie liked the house and was excited she was to sell it. She seemed unfazed as I filled in some of the family dynamics. As we sat in the living room, still full with the furniture of my childhood, Rob, unsuspectedly, blew in through the front door. His puffed up chest, reddened face and clipped speech stopped us in mid sentence. The air was sucked out of my lungs-like a baby in a wind storm. I smelled danger. I wondered how he knew we were there, at that specific time, on that particular weekend. What tracking devise did he have? My paranoia rose in direct proportions to his hostility.

He announced to the room that he had rented the house beginning next month…so selling it would not be an option. I was absolutely silent and my body was still. I learned at an early age that if he doesn’t see me, he will leave me alone. Debbie spoke through the tension, like an experienced family therapist, offering a dual plan of renting while showing the house.

Later, when Rob found me alone, searching for my misplaced sunglasses and car keys, he insisted I knew he had rented the house and went on to conclude I was trying to undermine his plans. I told him I didn’t know. This only infuriated him more. The poison in his voice turned my legs to jello and the saliva left my mouth.

I headed toward my car begging my legs to carry me. As I crossed the lawn I got a whiff of freshly cut grass despite the snow covered ground, an olfactory reminder of a childhood memory. Adolescent Rob shoving grass clippings into my elementary school shirt and pants. I remembered how he would wrestle me to the ground, pin my arms with his legs and sit heavily on my rib cage. I couldn’t breathe or move, then. I was determined to save myself now.

I reached the car. As I opened the car door I felt my right shoulder spasm. My body reminded me of the many times my arm was pulled back behind my back, yanking my hand to the opposite shoulder blade, until I fell to my knees. He wanted to hear me say, Uncle. I always did. I hated him for hurting me so badly. I hated myself for surrendering to the pain.

He didn’t start out mean, at least I don’t think he did. He just didn’t want a sibling. When mom was still in the hospital, after my birth, she called Rob. He was staying with her mother, our grandmother. Rob tearfully asked mom if she had had a baby. My new mom told her almost 4 year old, No. That response sealed my fate and secured her lack of protection of me. He hated me and distrusted her, and I never felt wanted by, or safe with, either of them. I was a kid on a hot tin roof.

I have little defense against his life long bullying, despite the years of therapy I have spent on it. I inevitably end up bloodied and self recriminating for putting myself in harms way, again. So I ask myself, what if I didn’t go to mom’s funeral? What if I stayed where I am safe, finally refusing to cross the state line? Mom and Rob have not been an integral part of my life for well over 30 years. I designed it that way and they didn’t seem to notice. So in an ‘everyday way’ I will not miss mom after she passes. I will not hear myself say, “Oh I should call and tell mom this,” or “ I’ll talk to mom, she’ll understand.”

But deep inside, behind my belly button where we were once joined,  there is a little girl who will still be looking for her mom. When mom dies so does my hope of finding her.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

Where have I been?

Getting married.

 

I thought since it was a second marriage it wouldn’t be much work. I was wrong.

 

Some of the difficulty was me. I changed my mind about “THE DRESS” 3 weeks before the wedding- which led to changing Jena’s maid of honor dress, which led to changing our previous shoe choices, which, of course, led to the changing the flowers we planned to carry. (More about all that in another post.) The truth is, planning a wedding, regardless of the number, is a ton of work! Ask a bride.

 

Part of the problem was Tom. (He knows I am telling on him.) His “party planning” style is “last minute and trust the outcome”. The first party we threw as a couple was his idea, he wanted to have an engagement party. “Okay,” I said to myself, “I know how this worked in my first marriage. Let’s have a party translates to, you make a party happen and I’ll come.”  So I said to myself, “Patricia, you know how to plan a party, work yourself to death, make sure everyone has a great time and then feel resentful that you did it all. So, this time don’t take the reigns, wait and trust the outcome.”  (I was consciously monitoring an old, habitually destructive, relationship pattern and challenging myself to rework it.)

 

So, a week before the engagement party, no menu had been discussed, no beverages purchased, no paper products considered. 3 days before- nothing. 2 days. 1 day.

 

I began to reassure myself that my side of the guest list would still love me when we served them freezer burned hot dogs and filtered water. They may not come to another party of ours, but they would still love me. I worked with myself to not to feel resentful by picking up the party ball but to remain interested in this absolutely foreign style of  party planning instead.

 

The day of the party we woke and had our coffee together in bed as we do each morning.  As we finished Tom said, “So…. I guess we should get shopping for the party.” “Yes”, I responded a little too casually, “I guess we should.” We headed out the door at 1 in the afternoon with Jena in the back seat of the Honda. She had come in for the party that morning. As we drove down the road she overheard Tom and I creating the shopping list. At some point it became clear to her we were not running to the store for a few final items, we were on our way to get EVERYTHING. “Mom,” she said, a bit quietly, “This is really unlike you.”

 

Out of the mouth of babes! “Yes” I smiled, feeling a bit proud for being noticed in this new way and equally uncertain I could maintain it, “It is.”

 

By 4 o’clock we were home with all the food, drink and paper products of a good party. We went to Costco and bought prepared hors d ‘oeuvres, cheeses, dessert and paper products. Then to  the state store and finally the beer distributor.

 

In my past life, any party I hostessed everything was homemade.  That was my expectation of myself. It is what a good hostess did. As a result of this I admit I felt a bit of shame popping the prepared puffed filled pastries into the oven, defrosting the bite size cream puffs, and pulling a party together in a few hours versus a few days, maybe weeks. But I was learning, right?

 

Our friends arrived. The party got rolling. The food came out. I held my breath, adverted my eyes, and waited. Lisa, my corseted renaissance  friend,  wanted my recipe for the spinach and cheese filled puff pastry. The cream puffs were a huge hit.  Everyone ate heartily, drank merrily and stayed until late! I had never had such fun at a party I had thrown. This was a revelation to me. If I am not exhausted I have a good time at my own party. WOW, I had indeed learned something new! And Tom was spared my rendition of “poor me I worked so hard.” I had been spared too. We stayed up most of the night talking about what fun we had, how much we enjoy our friends and wondering when we would have our next party!

 

So Tom’s “last minute, trust the process” style has worked well for our parties.  But… not so much with the wedding. I told him, “I don’t want to do the wedding like our parties, there is too much to do, I want to plan ahead.” You know where the story is going….don’t you?

 

Much more of the wedding was last minute than I liked. I wasn’t as gracious about it as I had been with the party… Tom would agree. I wrestled with discerning, “what are my belief systems, perhaps control issues, and what it the reality of securing wedding venues. Where, when and how do I push and where, when and how do I yield.”

 

These questions kept me honest and my therapist busy (every therapist should have a therapist.) I learned how to push without anger and yield without resentment. Some of the time.

 

Yielding was the hardest for me. I had to not only trust the process, but Tom too. I learned he cared about things differently than me, but that did not mean he didn’t care.  By waiting and trusting, we found the PERFECT place to be married.  If we had followed my style, which in some ways is fear based, we would have missed this opportunity.

 

In the end, a week before the wedding, I got sick. My body insisted on rest, and I wasn’t listening, so she knocked me off my feet and put me in bed. Again, I had to yield and again I had to trust Tom to be there for me and for the last minute wedding details. He was.

 

Long story short we had the wedding of my dreams! I didn’t want the night to end. Our friends are still saying it was the best wedding they have ever been to. We married over looking the city of Pittsburgh in an amazing home. The weather was perfect. The food amazing . (Catered by Chrissie not Costco.) The people we love most were with us. And Tom and I are now happily married.

 

you may now kiss the groom

I trust the outcome.

 

Patricia Boswell

An unanswered question

This weeks assignment was to write about something unresolved in my life. It had to have urgency and tension.

Tom suggested I post something “light” this week as my last two posts have been “heavy”. I didn’t know if I agreed with him or not, but in the end decided to share my “dark” assignment because I worked so fucking hard on it. And I’m all worn out…

So here it is…the saga continues…

I recoil at the question that invades my day. I close my eyes willing it away, but it inevitably returns, like a puppy undeterred by my avoidance to get the attention it needs.  I have wrestled all my life with my need to belong to my family. The reality is that no matter what role I play to please, I just don’t fit. So if I don’t make the trek home when mom dies, I will be cast as the deserter. But going could be emotional suicide.

The last time I made the journey east across the Delaware was for the dual purposes of following my brother Rob’s edict to sell the family home and to visit mom in the assisted living facility he unilaterally decided to move her into. My plan was to meet with the realtor, visit mom, take her to lunch, drive her around the neighborhood she grew up in, then head west-putting a safe distance between me and my only sibling. I intended to slip in and out of NJ, under my brother’s radar, like a CIA Ninja.

The realtor was referred to me by Andy, my hairdresser and recently licensed real estate agent. He said he had asked for someone that would sell for a long distant client and wasn’t afraid of family ghosts. Debbie Leigh, about my age, with a slight NJ accent and a warm smile, took the job.

Debbie liked the house and was excited she was to sell it. She seemed unfazed as I filled in some of the family dynamics. As we sat in the living room, still full with the furniture of my childhood, Rob, unsuspectedly, blew in through the front door. His puffed up chest, reddened face and clipped speech stopped us in mid sentence. The air was sucked out of my lungs-like a baby in a wind storm. I smelled danger. I wondered how he knew we were there, at that specific time, on that particular weekend. What tracking devise did he have? My paranoia rose in direct proportions to his hostility.

He announced to the room that he had rented the house beginning next month…so selling it would not be an option. I was absolutely silent and my body was still. I learned at an early age that if he doesn’t see me, he will leave me alone. Debbie spoke through the tension, like an experienced family therapist, offering a dual plan of renting while showing the house.

Later, when Rob found me alone, searching for my misplaced sunglasses and car keys, he insisted I knew he had rented the house and went on to conclude I was trying to undermine his plans. I told him I didn’t know. This only infuriated him more. The poison in his voice turned my legs to jello and the saliva left my mouth.

I headed toward my car begging my legs to carry me. As I crossed the lawn I got a whiff of freshly cut grass despite the snow covered ground, an olfactory reminder of a childhood memory. Adolescent Rob shoving grass clippings into my elementary school shirt and pants. I remembered how he would wrestle me to the ground, pin my arms with his legs and sit heavily on my rib cage. I couldn’t breathe or move, then. I was determined to save myself now.

I reached the car. As I opened the car door I felt my right shoulder spasm. My body reminded me of the many times my arm was pulled back behind my back, yanking my hand to the opposite shoulder blade, until I fell to my knees. He wanted to hear me say, Uncle. I always did. I hated him for hurting me so badly. I hated myself for surrendering to the pain.

He didn’t start out mean, at least I don’t think he did. He just didn’t want a sibling. When mom was still in the hospital, after my birth, she called Rob. He was staying with her mother, our grandmother. Rob tearfully asked mom if she had had a baby. My new mom told her almost 4 year old, No. That response sealed my fate and secured her lack of protection of me. He hated me and distrusted her, and I never felt wanted by, or safe with, either of them. I was a kid on a hot tin roof.

I have little defense against his life long bullying, despite the years of therapy I have spent on it. I inevitably end up bloodied and self recriminating for putting myself in harms way, again. So I ask myself, what if I didn’t go to mom’s funeral? What if I stayed where I am safe, finally refusing to cross the state line? Mom and Rob have not been an integral part of my life for well over 30 years. I designed it that way and they didn’t seem to notice. So in an ‘everyday way’ I will not miss mom after she passes. I will not hear myself say, “Oh I should call and tell mom this,” or “ I’ll talk to mom, she’ll understand.”

But deep inside, behind my belly button where we were once joined,  there is a little girl who will still be looking for her mom. When mom dies so does my hope of finding her.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

Where have I been?

Getting married.

 

I thought since it was a second marriage it wouldn’t be much work. I was wrong.

 

Some of the difficulty was me. I changed my mind about “THE DRESS” 3 weeks before the wedding- which led to changing Jena’s maid of honor dress, which led to changing our previous shoe choices, which, of course, led to the changing the flowers we planned to carry. (More about all that in another post.) The truth is, planning a wedding, regardless of the number, is a ton of work! Ask a bride.

 

Part of the problem was Tom. (He knows I am telling on him.) His “party planning” style is “last minute and trust the outcome”. The first party we threw as a couple was his idea, he wanted to have an engagement party. “Okay,” I said to myself, “I know how this worked in my first marriage. Let’s have a party translates to, you make a party happen and I’ll come.”  So I said to myself, “Patricia, you know how to plan a party, work yourself to death, make sure everyone has a great time and then feel resentful that you did it all. So, this time don’t take the reigns, wait and trust the outcome.”  (I was consciously monitoring an old, habitually destructive, relationship pattern and challenging myself to rework it.)

 

So, a week before the engagement party, no menu had been discussed, no beverages purchased, no paper products considered. 3 days before- nothing. 2 days. 1 day.

 

I began to reassure myself that my side of the guest list would still love me when we served them freezer burned hot dogs and filtered water. They may not come to another party of ours, but they would still love me. I worked with myself to not to feel resentful by picking up the party ball but to remain interested in this absolutely foreign style of  party planning instead.

 

The day of the party we woke and had our coffee together in bed as we do each morning.  As we finished Tom said, “So…. I guess we should get shopping for the party.” “Yes”, I responded a little too casually, “I guess we should.” We headed out the door at 1 in the afternoon with Jena in the back seat of the Honda. She had come in for the party that morning. As we drove down the road she overheard Tom and I creating the shopping list. At some point it became clear to her we were not running to the store for a few final items, we were on our way to get EVERYTHING. “Mom,” she said, a bit quietly, “This is really unlike you.”

 

Out of the mouth of babes! “Yes” I smiled, feeling a bit proud for being noticed in this new way and equally uncertain I could maintain it, “It is.”

 

By 4 o’clock we were home with all the food, drink and paper products of a good party. We went to Costco and bought prepared hors d ‘oeuvres, cheeses, dessert and paper products. Then to  the state store and finally the beer distributor.

 

In my past life, any party I hostessed everything was homemade.  That was my expectation of myself. It is what a good hostess did. As a result of this I admit I felt a bit of shame popping the prepared puffed filled pastries into the oven, defrosting the bite size cream puffs, and pulling a party together in a few hours versus a few days, maybe weeks. But I was learning, right?

 

Our friends arrived. The party got rolling. The food came out. I held my breath, adverted my eyes, and waited. Lisa, my corseted renaissance  friend,  wanted my recipe for the spinach and cheese filled puff pastry. The cream puffs were a huge hit.  Everyone ate heartily, drank merrily and stayed until late! I had never had such fun at a party I had thrown. This was a revelation to me. If I am not exhausted I have a good time at my own party. WOW, I had indeed learned something new! And Tom was spared my rendition of “poor me I worked so hard.” I had been spared too. We stayed up most of the night talking about what fun we had, how much we enjoy our friends and wondering when we would have our next party!

 

So Tom’s “last minute, trust the process” style has worked well for our parties.  But… not so much with the wedding. I told him, “I don’t want to do the wedding like our parties, there is too much to do, I want to plan ahead.” You know where the story is going….don’t you?

 

Much more of the wedding was last minute than I liked. I wasn’t as gracious about it as I had been with the party… Tom would agree. I wrestled with discerning, “what are my belief systems, perhaps control issues, and what it the reality of securing wedding venues. Where, when and how do I push and where, when and how do I yield.”

 

These questions kept me honest and my therapist busy (every therapist should have a therapist.) I learned how to push without anger and yield without resentment. Some of the time.

 

Yielding was the hardest for me. I had to not only trust the process, but Tom too. I learned he cared about things differently than me, but that did not mean he didn’t care.  By waiting and trusting, we found the PERFECT place to be married.  If we had followed my style, which in some ways is fear based, we would have missed this opportunity.

 

In the end, a week before the wedding, I got sick. My body insisted on rest, and I wasn’t listening, so she knocked me off my feet and put me in bed. Again, I had to yield and again I had to trust Tom to be there for me and for the last minute wedding details. He was.

 

Long story short we had the wedding of my dreams! I didn’t want the night to end. Our friends are still saying it was the best wedding they have ever been to. We married over looking the city of Pittsburgh in an amazing home. The weather was perfect. The food amazing . (Catered by Chrissie not Costco.) The people we love most were with us. And Tom and I are now happily married.

 

you may now kiss the groom

I trust the outcome.

 

Patricia Boswell