rehab by melissa

when we - me 'n my much older sister queenie - experienced any kind o' heartbreak while growin' up - anything from a minor self-infliction to a true life alterin' tragedy - we were allowed one week to wallow in self pity. that's it - no more. durin' that one week my mom would be so sweet and understandin' and wait on us hand and foot. we could whine 'n cry 'n wallow 'n accomplish absolutely nothin' else while we obsessed about how miserable we were.

if, after exactly seven days had come 'n gone, we had not properly recovered or at least come to terms with whatever terrible teen trauma had been thrust upon us, we would be thrown head first into some project with a deadline that HAD to be met. given barely enough time to completely wake up, we'd discover our closet or dresser drawers or the kitchen cupboards had been turned inside out and needed to be put back together or that we'd been donated to one o' the neighbors to paint a room or wash all their windows or maybe babysit for the world's nastiest child. even if the second week after the current catastrophe occurred during the school year, once we arrived home 'n got any REAL assignments completed, there would be a long list o' newly invented chores ready for us to accomplish - enough to keep us huffin' 'n puffin' 'til it was time for our head to hit the pillow.

i normally adored my mother and would never consider her a fan o' cruel 'n unusual punishment...but durin' these times i felt a severe dislikin' for much so that after an hour or so of slave labor negative thoughts o' her would interrupt the precious time i needed to dedicate to feelin' sorry for myself. as her intolerable treatment continued into the next day my head was so filled with 'mean mother' thoughts i had to actually set aside space for bein' sad rather than just mad.

i wasn't about to let her know i resented what she was forcin' me to do and it's hard to wallow when you're throwin' everything you've got into doin' the best job possible and pretendin' to enjoy yourself while at it. by the end o' that second week my mother's terrible torture and my sense o' accomplishment had just about robbed me o' any desire to feel sorry for myself. how could a good mother steal the right o' self-pity from their child and still claim to love them!!

what a waste o' time all this unnecessary hard labor was! when the mornin' finally arrived that my oh so creatively cruel mother had run outta ideas for assignments, with absolutely no help from her i no longer had the need to feel sorry for myself or obsess about whatever had occurred. completely on my own i would have decided that whatever had been so disturbin' wasn't worthy o' my time or i had come to terms with it and developed a plan on how to cope goin' forward. what was really annoyin' is that each time i finished one o' her rigorous rehabs i knew she felt responsible for the return o' my sunny nature. of course i knew better!

when i went 'home' to take care of my mom before she died i discovered an old reel o' tape on the top shelf of my closet. i love discoveries like old tapes 'n negatives 'n undeveloped rolls o' film and while my mom was nappin' - which at this point she did almost around the clock - i ran to borrow a tape recorder from the technology challenged neighbor. i was pretty sure he'd still have one in workin' order as i had heard him brag that he didn't have anything that ran on batteries or electricity that was made after the seventies.

i sat the ancient machine on the kitchen table and turned the volume up all the way so i could hear it as i cleaned the windows. after listenin' to many sessions o' someone failin' all attempts to make music on my flute (i can't for the life o' me remember ever loanin' it to anyone) i was tempted to turn it off. but then the big pay off arrived....out blasted a chorus o' girls singin' a song 'bout their evil mother and how much they hated her. as i listened my dear completely bald shrunken up mother hobbled down the hall toward the kitchen. she appeared to be cryin' but when i reached her i realized she was laughin' so hard big tears were runnin' down her cheeks.

seems the song was written, composed and sung by me durin' one of the rehab sessions my mom had forced upon me. when singin' it at the top o' my lungs failed to get a response outta my mom, i recorded it then sang along with the recorded version into my brother's tape recorder and continued back 'n forth with this process until i had a version that sounded as if MANY MANY girls hated my mother. i then played it as loud as it would play until queenie could stand it no longer 'n snatched the tape from the machine and hurled up on my closet shelf.

though my short recordin' career makes it seems otherwise, not allowin' us to lay around and feel sorry for ourselves was one o' the best gifts my mom gave us. because of all those rehab sessions, whenever i am goin' through a tough time i naturally get up and start doin' somethin' productive. some how continuin' to move helps me figure out a solution or if there is no solution, helps me figure out how to cope with whatever needs to be coped with.

after listenin' 'n laughin' my mom confessed that the real reason she made us work through our pain was because after a week o' doin' everything she could to make us feel better with no success, she would run outta patience. refusin' to have kids who thought feelin' sorry for themselves was acceptable, makin' us get up and work was the only thing she could think of doin'.

workin' through times o' trouble has served me well my whole life and has always gotten me safely to the 'other side'. but recently i've discovered there are some things that no amount o' work will heal completely. since mini's friend lily was murdered in july i have not stopped workin'. once i did everything that needed to be done, i started creatin' new things that i had to do. around the first o' february i felt that seven months o' hard work was possibly beginnin' to ease the pain. while i still thought about lily throughout the day, every day, my thoughts were more about her life instead of her death.

after i last blogged, the preliminary hearin' for lily's murder was held and for the first time, the details of her death were released. the knowledge of how she died made it feel as if it had just happened. since then i have worked 'n worked 'n worked hopin' to feel just a lil bit better. unfortunately, i am still just about back at the startin' point - far enough along to help mini and her father through bad days but still in need o' lots 'n lots o' hard work.

i have had a number o' my world wide web friends ask me if i was givin' up on my digital doo dads in favor o' the real life doo dads i have been creatin' for my etsy shop.the answer is no. i love designin' digital doo dads for delivery via download and will continue to design 'em. i have made more things with a needle 'n thread than with a mouse since lily's death because less pixel placin' has meant that my family is greeted by my face rather than my back at a computer screen when they need me...and we have all really needed each other. also, for some reason makin' real things seems more like real work durin' a time when real work has been needed....lastly, after almost six years o' scannin' my mom's real doo dads to create digital doo dads i had to figure out a way to recycle the huge amount o' 'stuff' i have. what better way than to 'work' it into somethin' new and let it all live on. i figure it's the least i can do for the things my mom loved.

i am gonna try to be back here more regularly....i appreciate all of you who have refused to give up on me durin' the times i am workin' through somethin' rather than blah blah bloggin over the past 5 years. oh...and the next time your child is going through a hard time, give 'em a week or so 'n then if they are still feelin' sorry for themselves, consider givin' 'em a lil melissa rehab - they probably won't sing your praises now but may really appreciate it later.



Anonymous said...

first, let me say that dear Lily's tragedy is beyond words and is somethin that will stick around for some time, i'm sure. even though i never knew her, i think o her now and again and am quite sure her touch on the world has left many bright spots.

second...your dear mom's methods are quite similar to mine when my kids were young although it was usually when they weren't behavin. i would put them to work. i can still hear my dear son saying to his sister..."you better behave or we'll be cleaning the bathroom in a minute." lisar

Anonymous said...

These things take time Mo.
Sending you a big hug xxox


Anonymous said...

healing from a tragedy of that nature takes all the time and energy you can muster...take whatever time you, Mini and your Prince Charming need Mo...we aren't going anywhere too far away....BELIEVE.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had your ability to be productive during times where I am in self pity or overwhelmed. Your mother certainly left you the greatest gift of all...the ability to keep your mind and hands busy. Idle hands truly are the devil's workshop. I am so glad that you have something as creative as the physical doo dads to redirect your focus. Lovely creations certainly bloom from it.


Christa said...

Dear Mo.. your Momma was a wise woman.. I always have felt to do something productive is also the best way to give the mind a rest.. I found that when my Mom was sick, going to work and doing something else kept my mind off of what was really going on.. that and as I have told you many times, another time I was going through some bad times, your doo dads and scrapping helped me too.

Believe me we are thinking of you, mini and your prince charming as well as Lily's family during this very difficult time.

xoxo and thanks for your blog note.. again, your Mom was a very smart lady with very good ways to keep you busy with your mind on other things, and keeping you productive at the same time.. XOXOXO Christa

charlotte said...

Hi, Mo....I had no idea what kind of sadness you were enduring and working through. I'm so sorry. Loved the story of your tape and your mom's best efforts to turn things around. She must have been a wonderful mom. Like you. xoC