I’m an old woman now, happy, happy, happy to be so. I’ve been trying to dig myself out from under my “piling systems” and bring some order and beauty into my home. I tend to float along every day, paying very little attention to myself or my immediate surroundings, so busy am I in serving others. Not complaining, just noticing. So this Christmas Eve, my gift to myself is to stay home and clean my house — really clean. It took me all day to reduce the piles and boxes and bags of papers to two filing boxes and two large black plastic bags of recycled paper.
In the process, i came upon a journal written in the Spring of 1995. Believe it or not, I had traveled to Mexico with my housekeeper and her family, leaving my anti-depressants behind and escaping my very difficult life of the moment, as I was separated from my husband and children in order to heal from some heavy emotional steamer trunks that had popped open and buried me in their contents. My intention in going to Mexico was to take a break from my constant urge to do myself in — came to find out, the anti-depressants were contributing to that urge — and leaving them behind was very helpful in getting through that part of my journey.
While there, free to be on my own for much of the time, completely removed from family and friends at home, I spent long hours in my journal, reading, praying, trying to make sense of my situation, heal my wounds, etc., etc.,
An 1890s advertisement showing model Hilda Clark in formal 19th century attire. The ad is titled Drink Coca-Cola 5¢. (US) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On one of these days of solitude, the rest of the family had traveled to visit other family members, leaving me home alone for the day, in a sweet little dwelling with a dirt floor. Because I was desperate to telephone my best friend at home, I spent the entire day across the village at the store, awaiting her call at the only phone in the village. I found out later that she was ignoring my calls, and wasn’t ever GOING to call, because she was afraid of a long distance call to Mexico running up her bill. Some best friend. Anyway, as I waited in vain, I ate fake chocolate chip cookies and drank bottles of Coke, and spent hours musing in my journal, doing my best to “do my work” so I could be done with it. I didn’t dare leave the phone, I was hot, hungry, and had begun my period. For the entire day, I sat around gingerly dodging anything that would stain, because there were no “facilities” to be had.
Though my friend had left me the keys to her house, they were the wrong ones, so I was locked out. There was no public or private restroom available, and I spent a miserable day. At the end of a 12-hour wait, I was discouraged and angry and chaffed and wet and sticky and had to go to the bathroom. Luckily, I had eaten and drunk very little.
As dark settled in, and I was locked out of the house, I made my way to a relative’s house, and begged to be let in. They knew who I was, and could follow my broken Spanish enough to get that I desperately needed a bathroom. I hobbled carefully to the back yard, following the young mother out, wincing at every chafing step. She finally made me understand, by showing me herself, that I could choose my place to squat!
I decided to wait a while longer, since my situation was a mite more complicated.
Back in the house, I settled gingerly onto a bed, grateful for the fan, for the dark, fearful for the bedding. As others around me began to breathe regularly in sleep, I lay and wondered what lesson was contained in this misery. Hadn’t I just passed a day in joy and hope and righteous pursuit of the best I could be and have and give? I prayed for understanding and the answers seemed to flow… (sorry, couldn’t help myself)
In my musings, I pictured myself before an audience of lovely Mormon mothers, in my presentation entitled, “Just for Mormoms.” (Forgive the specific cultural innuendos here — Those were my very devout LDS days – I’ve since become an apostate). So here goes…
“The subject of my discourse today is the M-word. No, no, not MEN – that’s the F-word. I don’t mean FRUSTRATION, I mean MENSTRUATION. Confusing, isn’t it?
I have a dear friend whose one Mormon doctrine is that when God created men, she was only kidding. I think the truth is, that when God created women, he outdid himself. He is, by his own admission after all, a man. but as He created women, following the pattern of his eternal companion before him, he realized that with all that desire and capacity for being good, faithful, determined, truth-seeking, tenacious, intelligent, capable, virtuous, intuitive, creative, courageous, charitable, child-like, nurturing, sensible, wise, loving, optimistic, confident, spontaneous, fun-loving, generous, invincible and humble, we women would need a little help with the humility, a way to ground us, so to speak, in our mortality.
Otherwise, we would all rise like bouquets of brilliant hot-air balloons, (except of course, WE would be filled with the Spirit). No, no, there had to be a string attached — somewhere in the course of linguistic history, someone named the grounding wire “TAMPAX”. Of course, there have always been various means of restraint — elastic with hooks, safety pins, now they even have adhesive strips!
In the scriptures we’re told by a loving Father, “I give men weaknesses that they may be humble.”
Weakness just wouldn’t stick to women, so he had to resort to more drastic means — something as a dynamic reminder that we are, still and all, MORTAL.
In characteristic over-achieving fashion, however, I fear that we women have carried it all past humility to humiliation. By going to such lengths to deny our basics of mortality, we call it base. While men, basic as they are, think nothing of their mortal rumblings, we of the more “refined” set ignore and deny any such evidence, perhaps carrying our disdain too far.
By hoping the bathroom doesn’t smell the same when I leave as when I follow you in — by pretending to have been twinkled beyond the need to tinkle, we pretend to be more than each other, more than we truly are.
When God says, “Be still,” He’s not referring to the occasional plop, splash, paper-crackle, or heaven-forbid, FLATCH that we may hear in the next stall. Those are not the noises He meant to hush.
Just because you seldom hear these sounds from the next stall does NOT mean the other occupants are more Godly — they are simply out-waiting you.
Of course I’m not suggesting we all regress to 4-yr-old antics and fascination with bathroom noises – but reminding myself and whoever can hear me to be as little children, kind to ourselves, kind and tolerant to the mortal weaknesses (THERE, I’ve gone and admitted it) of ourselves and one another…”
Anyway, long story to explain a feeling that night, and many since, that in my mortal struggles, when I pray, I am often given humor and gentle teasing to help me remember that I am not alone. i would never have poked so much fun at myself in that mess, but I still think it is hilarious.
Looking back these many years later, I am ever grateful to be beyond the flowing years, and more settled into the quiet ones. Old journals are ever-precious sources of inspiration to me. Reading this particular one from death wish to immortal wannabe, I enjoy the roller coaster — given the distance of years and retrospect. Life is good.