Betty Duffy

Friday, July 6, 2012

Coughing it out

Let's try keeping an online diary.

I've given up for the moment on writing soul inspiring things. Can't give what you don't have. It's something that's sort of been bothering me lately--I pray with the Magnificat Mag almost every morning. I say the Rosary, on average, four times a week. Mass, on average, 3 times a week. Confession, on average, once a month. It's my unofficial rule of life with a scattering of other prayers and devotions mixed in here and there.

In the past it's worked for me quite well. Not so today. I'll read the Meditation, think, well, that was nice, close the book and go one with my life. After Mass, there's those three minutes after Communion, and I think, Well Lord, thanks again.... And that's about it. Petitions: For everybody! Just take care of everybody. Or there's the Marian Consecration fallback--for Our Lady's intentions--which I know are worthy, but I feel sort of lazy about it.

In short, this dry-heaving theme has taken over my life in so many different ways--body, soul, it's outside, it's inside. All this coughing. No relief.

My impulse, with praying, and with writing, it seems--is just to keep clearing my throat. Just keep working at it. And so I treat you with the current and past missives, which sound, maybe, one step away from the grave. It's not as bad as I make it seem. But I'm discouraged. I cannot tell a lie. It's been going on for too long, and while these two things--praying, writing-- won't let me ignore them, a lot of other things have fallen by the way.

My husband likes cooking, so I let him do it. That's fine. The kids know how to clean up their own messes, so I let them do it, that's fine. But I do have a sense that I should be orchestrating some sort of summer fun for people around here--that there's a giggle missing from the general atmosphere in my home.

I'm hooking onto that word, orchestration, because it's in the same vein with how I man-handle my prayer life, trying to shake the spirit into it, when the Spirit, for whatever reason, has chosen not to come. But I think orchestration applies well to domestic life, because I've seen it done, and I've read about women doing this thing, where they conduct the various components of their lives, and set the household simultaneously in order and motion.

The kids and I visited a friend today, who is one such domestic conductress. She manages to do these things, like using beautiful pottery for every day, making bread every morning, having a cake resting under a dome for after dinner, keeping the house neat and uncluttered, making quilts, home schooling the kids--all in such a way that I always leave her, not feeling inadequate and discouraged, but totally, completely nourished.

There's a wholeness of being in her, a lightness, that enlivens others, or at least, it enlivens me. I want to be like her, or, failing that, I wouldn't mind being her child.

Scarlett O'Hara recognizes these qualities in her mother, Ellen O'Hara, and in her sister-in-law, Melanie Wilkes: kindness, industriousness, comportment, authenticity, selflessness--the qualities of a true lady. I hate reading essays or books talking in pious and raptured tones about all the things a woman ought to be--but when I see these things in action, I find them utterly attractive, as anyone who admires beauty would.

And you, my dear, are no lady. Always looking for some other breast to suckle off of, but rarely providing succor.

I'm experiencing a window of rebellion against what I've made of my life--rebellion against the droopy, sloppy, piecemeal way in which I live. I think it would be nice not to feel crabby. I would like my kids to enjoy having me for a mother. Is it possible for a slug to stand upright? And how does one go about it?


etteloc said...

Oh, goodness Betty. I get how you feel, but it made me chuckle to realize that's what you are to me. I'm not a practicing Catholic at the moment, though equal parts of me want to be one and don't, but reading your thoughts on faith and life, someone who freely admits to her doubts and makes me think I have a chance at grasping some sort of peace and truth beyond myself.

I'm glad you have someone who nourishes that feeling in you.

Anonymous said...

sounds like acedia, aka attack of the noonday devil. Brief explanation:

Erin said...

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

I know how you feel. I have felt so far away from God since moving into my new home. I can't seem to get back on track with anything and everything, every little thing in my life is always messy and cluttered. I don't feel inspired and I'm usually somewhat depressed about it, though I try to seem happy and content. It's hard to see the bright side all the time, but I think the point is that we're working on it. God did not create us to be perfect, but rather to strive for perfection. Some people seem to have it down more than others, but they struggle too... in different ways.

By the way, I love your uninspired writing. I like when you write from life and from what you feel. I can relate. Thanks for sharing.

Annalea said...

You've definitely got one up on me. My husband can cook, but he doesn't very often.

Coming from a completely different tack, here. For me, it's mostly neurological/metabolic. If I eat the wrong things, I feel exactly as you describe. My kids don't like having me around, my husband isn't sure what to do with me, I feel so far from and foreign to the holy spirit . . . and things don't work so well in general.


When I'm careful to go to sleep before 10pm, get up early, eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies, and no gluten, sugar or dairy, I'm a different person. I have energy, enthusiasm, I sleep better, feel better, the holy spirit can touch my heart again, and I can hear its whisperings.

I know, that takes a lot of the fun out of the food side of life . . . but the tradeoffs are so worth it. I'm not constantly trying to fill a void, feeling vaguely grouchy and discontented, all while not so sure what I should really be doing--even though I know what I'm supposed to do. Stumbling onto some info about the G.A.P.S. way of eating confirmed, medically, what I knew from my own experience, and gave me a lot more info on what was actually happening in my body.

BettyDuffy said...

Oy! I'll own, my eating is terrible. And I'm a gestational diabetic, to boot. I'm sure this has something to do with it. I also don't rule out acedia--only the devil arrives long before noon, and totally wears out his welcome. But a nice mess it all makes--knowing what I need to do, feeling unable to do it.

etteloc, your comment made me smile.

ElizabethK said...

Well, let me say this: I love your blog because we're a lot alike, and I like to read the things you write that resonate with me and that I'm too lazy to write myself.

And I think, and I hope I'm not being presumptuous, that you, like me, might have a tendency to be very hard on yourself when really, you're just tired and (as Annalea said, not fed right).

Listen, when I was pregnant with girl #2, I was completely filled with testosterone-inspired road rage. I hated everyone on the freeway. And I hated the food court at school because their oniony smell made me sick. Also, I hated a lot of my students, as individuals. And I cried all the time because we had moved back to California, and I hated it, and I hated my beloved family for settling here three generations ago.

So really, to me you sound like you're doing great. I think you're just tapped out, a bit. And all of those hormones--oy! Frankly, I think it's hard to grow a baby and be cheerful at the same time. These two things require a lot of energy, and sometimes there's only so much, and then no more.

Take care!

jan said...

I like you. And your writing. And your normalcy. Makes me smile :)

MrsDarwin said...

I testify: you were not visiting my house.

Keep writing, baby. You need it more than you know, and we need it more than you know.

rosetells84 said...

Oh, holy cow. You have words to express what I feel so much of the time. Thanks for that. I have a lot of kind-of-vague good intentions, and a lot of very specific faults. How about you figure it all out for me, and let me know how it goes?

And really, is it ok to not be Fun Mom or Crafty Mom or Activity Mom or Organic Mom? Because that would be great.

Also, am an idiot and can barely read the word verification. Apologies if have published this comment twelve times...

Jenny said...

Honestly I'm impressed you are doing that well while pregnant.

When I'm pregnant I barely function. I hear about women who feel great and find such spiritual richness in the process. Not me. I feel like a giant void. My prayer life sounds mostly like, "Dear God, Blech, ZZZZZZ." It is such a struggle to stay awake, to focus, to think about anything beyond my needs in the next moment or two.

I look at other women who seem to have it all together and I wonder where they get the energy. I wish I had it, but I don't. Keep writing! It's good to know I'm not the only slug around.

Anonymous said...

I've come to the conclusion that the only way for this slug to stand upright is to go to the monastery, am full of awful respect for you mothering types.

mommyadventuresintx said...

OOOHHHH girl. Another post where you write what's in my head. I am experiencing a similar time of dryness in all aspects of life. I need to find one of those nourishing friends in the new town I moved to. Well, first I need to find A friend. Goodness is this a depressing comment!

As always, wise Anne Shirley provides an apt life lesson: "Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds."