Scattering Shadows

I rearranged furniture, making a new nest, one where my kids can easily curl up beside me, one away from the picture window and winter’s wisps. When I move the recliner to the east wall where our futon was, I sweep up months of hidden life. Lost lego pieces nestled in hairy dust bunnies, a Playmobil sword gouged in the crack where we haven’t yet installed edging for our new laminate and half of a red bead are placed back in proper bins in a room full of youthful disorder. The boys wisely keep distance. Devyn is on top of a four foot snow mound created by an efficient plow. Matthew is cross legged on his floor, engaged in a world of play foreign to me even when I was his age. I was often found with a pen in a sea of paper.
My boys can spend hours spinning an adventure with super heroes they’ve created. Magic boy plays a prominent role. He has no weakness. Matthew created him. Devyn, try as he might, cannot convince his normally pliable sibling that Magic boy needs a weakness. He sighs at the injustice of trying to battle Magic boy, but usually manages to play along.
When I call Devyn in, I put him to work, wet and dry swiffering. I’m lucky. He doesn’t balk but he has no interest in going over the floor twice. I know this because he asks with tilted head, “Why do I need a wet cloth out here?” I tell him he’ll know when the floors are done. Fifteen minutes later, he proudly shows me a damp gray sheet before adding it to the garbage.
I move our life around now similar to how I used to change my life when the lure of financial chaos still had me by the throat. Instead of looking for new living rooms, I make ours new.
For a couple days I have been followed by shadows of disbelief. I move and speak as if all is well, but my muscles tighten against thoughts of my own irrelevance, incompetence, uselessness. These are not dominating notions anymore. Rather, they are a film over my efforts, a sickening green slime of lies masquerading as reality. These days I can look at them the way one glances sideways at a man yelling nonsensical syllables in a corner of the subway station. But I hear and feel them as if they know me.
When I was first married, this shadow of gloom crept up on my back after every warm gathering we hosted, which was often as we both love spontaneous company and a home filled with laughter. It crept up after every experience that had once been merely a hope on my list of visions and dreams for my life. Though during these episodes of darkness I knew what was real and what was knee jerk defense from that part of me determined to keep a low profile lest others see the real me, I was no less desirous of escape from the discomfort, still very susceptible to weakening and a sense that I was a failure (evidence be damned!).
Over time, I’ve been granted weeks, even months at a time full of wonderful experiences followed by rational delight and reasonable feelings of serenity.
Then one day, with no logical trigger, I find myself dodging darts of futility, having inner conversations with an inconsiderate critic, measuring my breathing to relax out of a faceless mounting tension. In response, I pray longer, let a list of gratitudes scroll through my inner hearing, sing into sadness in hopes of shedding the kind of tears that wash away pain and I reach for order. Yesterday I took a damp cloth to the floorboards in the bathroom, moved up to the walls, and every other surface. Soon I was looking around at a brighter place to take care of business. I made an important decision in the process. If ever we build our own house, the bathroom will be large and round. The toilet, tub and sink will be in the center. This way, I don’t have to reach around a lovely porcelain chair to clean all sides and clearing corners of wet dust won’t require special tools.
I say no logical trigger, but there always is one, whether I recognize it or not. Last night, I finally got to arranging money for the week. When I checked on two of our accounts, I discovered the bank thought we had less money than I had recorded in our savings log. Maybe this wouldn’t send most other people into fits of panic and anxiety, cold sweats and near terror but I was a mess. The shadows I had been trying to manage materialized, gathered in too close. I knew I had to say something to David and I was sure he would be angry, sure he would tell me how stupid I am. No matter that the scenario I feared does not occur in our marriage, early conditioning presets were lit up, and I could not see today, only a lifetime ago existed.
Davidasked questions until he understood my concern. Then he looked at our recent bank statements. In a short time, we knew what happened. No big deal. During a particularly busy time, I had failed to record certain transactions anywhere besides our main checking account. Because we did find them recorded in at least one place, he wasn’t alarmed and I was able to clam down, look up and stop acting like Chicken Little.
Moving furniture this afternoon gave me closure to last night’s finale, provided a sense of freshness and possibility, a new view.
So now our home is cleaner, more logically arranged, we have clarity about our finances and I’m serene. Maybe I should have waited on sorting out money until after tackling the cabinet below the kitchen sink. Too late. I’m happy to sit here now, listen to folk music and weave words to tell a tale of life.

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