So before all else, Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Holidays; Hope you all celebrate(d) in good cheer and may all your selfish shameless wishes come true in the form of your loved ones’ empty pockets and twitching smiles around the Christmas tree.
The Duck is also open for business to send out late Christmas cards because after her first one, she deems it fun. Really, I will write exactly what I said above with pleasure.
For myself, this Christmas eve had been quite the night of confessions. It’s hard to even begin or try to sum it up. How to explain one’s first experience with a panic attack? You can’t really. Or I can’t. So I’m going to attempt.
In the house of the Duck, it’s usually an atmosphere of quiet. Brimming silence that is penetrated with an on-going TV show that she can repeat off the top of her head (10 years of knowledge crammed for life!) and the scuttling of a scaredy-cat – which sometimes might be myself running once I hit that tab on the toilet – but mainly is my cat if nothing else to save my delicate pride in hindsight. So to have celebrated the Christmas eve at my sister’s boyfriend’s house this year, it was a very different environment. Make no mistake that they were wonderful people; his mother whipped up a beautiful feast that I would never have thought myself to lay intimate eyes on in this life time. And here’s where I get into my writer mode to help myself cope in social situations.
There was this one particular gentleman, let’s call him Steve…with a lisp, just to be slightly childish and spiteful and have you think of that dreadful sssss-ing of the s in your head. Now Steve could be the nicest person in the world, turn his car around outside to go visit the shelter or the homeless – after he shoots down a couple of a shots, who wouldn’t feel homey and giving. Yes, Steve represented a great deal of things that the Duck does not incline towards… like constant reference to alcohol or just the absolute depletion of Christmas spirit in this man. We had just watched Elf ! How could you !
“So you guys only have wine? Man I thought -beep- would’ve had hard drinks or something.”
“Yeah, my brother is at this party..but I didn’t want to go because it’s with people that I don’t really like.”
And here’s what’s interesting, there’s always a slight pause, like a lilt in the sentence for a breath before he continues, by himself, “but I haven’t seen my brother in awhile, yeah.”
“My mom’s having her own Christmas party with her friends. I don’t really like them, they ask too many questions.” – at this point the hostess of the house said aloud that she always saw him with a new gal each time. I don’t know if that’s true, but what a madame at 50-something, won’t you agree with me?
It’s about 10pm. “Hey, yeah, I came here too early didn’t I? So we’re just going to go grab some drinks.”
Brings home about what the Duck perceives to be 4 tonnes. “Anybody want some of this – beep-?”
We’re playing board-games and you see him silently pouring into his glass. If the colors of the alcohol had been different maybe the Duck could tell you how many bottles went by under her nose. In retrospect, the Duck blatantly thought Steve was an asshole. BUT, in efforts to revise herself in such crippling company, she tried folks, to pay attention to the words he’d say, lest he becomes one of the best-worst characters that she will write about one day. Let’s face it, authors who write wacko characters are either them themselves secretly, or needed a rude example of it. Living life vicariously.
It didn’t really work.
Sitting on the couch playing board-games, for someone who is not near much company at her own place to be suddenly surrounded by a wall of guys, jostling each other and egging comments while deeply indenting the backseat of the sofa with their weight…the Duck began to slowly ebb towards panic.
At first, it was the mild discomfort of feeling warm – which my sister later confirmed that the room was in fact quite warm truthfully – then it escalated to unease, constantly changing positions, the inability to lie back on the couch lest I could feel their masculine breath upon my head. Shudders. I began cold sweat, even though I wore only a tank top under my knit sweater. My face felt red, skin felt clammy, my mindset was in want of shutting down, and so my facial expressions went along with it. Nada.
“Are you okay Sarah?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
The Duck attempted a few times to remove herself of the situation at intervals. Silently exiting and entering the amorphous blob as what she will always try to find the words to describe for the rest of her life as this ‘social setting’. Even walking towards the doorway, where it was cooler helped. Cold hand bars at your fingertips, I had only wished I could have pressed every inch of hissing body frame against it.
Eventually the Duck had to actually walk outside. This is a townhouse, so in the square of everyone’s front steps there was a little children playground. I went behind the shed of a wooden house, invisible from the front steps of said house.
Creepy thing is that even writing about it now brings back sweaty palms, without my having noticed it, sticking to my laptop as I type. Does anyone else have a better word for what I always say is the anxious tugging of heartstrings ? It’s happening.
This situation was somewhat similar to the one I had in early January. Having been at the function of a birthday party – one which was much different than the one the birthday girl had planned or warranted. Except that this time, the Duck did not have the exclusion safety to opt out completely. While drunken strangers at my friend’s birthday party could not give two crap for the girl who just virtually disappeared from sight as it would seem, my sister called out to me after I took a few deep breathes listening to Jeff Buckley sing ironically, his song called “Everybody Here Wants You.”
It helped, but then she called me back in to take pictures, and immediately I could feel the brief peace of listening to Jeff’s soft voice singing Lilac skin dissipate to fear and panic. I walked back inside the doorway and stayed there a moment longer until my sister appeared again to get me, at which point I crumpled on the stairway steps and said I needed to get out.
It’s impossible to remember everything that I said, only that I briefly said I had anxiety, whimpering that it was really warm inside while gathering my shoes in front of me. I don’t think my sister comprehended because her immediate reaction was to confirm what I had said earlier – it was indeed very warm – so she offered to open the window when we walk back in.
Sadly, that wasn’t what I was looking for, so the Duck began to actually cry fully. It was too late. My sister asked me what was wrong and rather than resume stoic-ness I did what I had pondered and dreamed about always in the past year, but never had the courage to do. I told my sister about me.
Before anyone gets a big epiphany here, for those of you who have been with me in the turbulence of last year, you already know, for those that don’t, it’s a rudimentary series of teenage mistakes and downfall veiled by the express desire to ‘grow up’ hence the dabbling in promiscuity, beguiled at times, guilty at others, and almost raped once, to self harm from spite and hate. Yes, last year was tough. And living with my mother all the while is tough.
The conversation maybe at whole took an hour and a bit, because at the end of it the Duck could scarcely recall the feeling of her fingers. I can’t tell you either what my sister’s immediate reaction to my confessions had been because the Duck was not in the least brave enough to look at her head on. My confession brought on a weird expulsion of calm – almost – a sad little voice that tells a bleary story that happened, deceived only by the fluttering palpitations inside my chest that tells me that this is in fact very real, and only an outwardly reserved recollection of events does not take anything away from it. At one point I erupted to panicky statements, defiance against the doorknob that is life, retreating from an embracing sibling, escalating to a yell that, I didn’t want to be strong.
It was interesting to find that my sister had always had the same view of my mother as I had half way in my head and half way out my conscience.
My mother is very childish at her worse moments.
Spoken in no spite whatsoever, that’s just who my mother is. Youngest of six, she grew up with a mother – my grandmother, my po po – who complained, gambled and did not take care of her. Sometimes I wonder if I should feel bad for either of the two parties when I watch them communicate in the hours my mother goes to visit po po at her senior home. I found out also that my father was discovered of his affair at a much earlier time then I had thought. I saw the glimmer of a reverberating story line – if only because it is actually true and close to me – that my mother had turned to my sister, at age 6, to dare her to live with my father’s ‘aunty’.
I had actually smiled warily at that confession. Simply because it summarizes so much about a woman of volatile temper and damning laughter.
And so my sister proceeded to tell me over and over again, paraphrasing to shield my fat load of self-pity, that we all make mistakes, and that she is so proud of me for having turned towards her. Proud and surprised that I had not fallen to narcotics or alcohol. Telling me that our mother does not heed the feelings of other people, many a times, when she speaks. Proven just then when my mother did come out for a brief while to inquire what was wrong, to have threatened to go home and leave before us because she was having cramps. Had I been alone with her, had it been someone else who stepped aside and let my mother through to personally question me, I’m sure I would have said my most practical line. “Nothing.” And the issue would have been resolved in her stormy awkward silence and a runny nose in the center of the living room. But my sister didn’t, and she told my mother to go back inside or to just leave if she wished to because I could either stay with my sister for the night or be driven later. She asked my mother whether her cramps or my crying was more important, and for that instant, my mother thankfully shut up. She went back in.
See, you guys, I am not really all that strong at all to have been so crippled by the sound of my mother’s irritation, to be asked directly what was causing the commotion and for me to be upset. It was nice to have your older sister with you again, to feel that someone should speak words that you only wish to say calmly one day.
I keep saying every year in the cards of Christmas, or Birthdays or Mother’s Day, that I forgive her, if nothing else but to be herself, to be her disappointing self because it was part my fault to hold a ‘mother figure’ at such high esteem and her’s for having been so different from my imagination, even if that is what we are all ultimately guided to do. I say that I am at peace with her for whatever she has or has not done. I hope I’m not lying. I really do foresee that what they say about distance going hand in hand with love is true, because I am really trying to honestly be bigger than that and love you, mum.
After an hour of freezing cold in the dark, my sister and I re-entered the ‘social setting’. We opened presents and had food. And of course, Steve passed around drinks. My sister’s gift to me above all else was unexpected and incredibly thoughtful, it has it’s own podium here alongside the large feast. And with that, I conclude a Merry Christmas and the longest post I had ever written.