Monday, April 30, 2012

Home....and Soul Improvement


Sometimes when you least expect it, the air gets let out of the room.  Like someone leached the color from the sun and knocked you to the floor.  I’m left gasping and wondering how dark the bruises on my knees will be from the landing.  Life isn’t fair.  It isn't even polite about it.  How we handle these times...how we grab the rail and drag ourselves up, frayed robe soaking in the tears.  Heave a shuddered breath.  And then another. 

How we do this, is the ink of us...writing our story.

I work.  Utterly cliché, I realize this; but when the world has fallen off its axis, this is how I cope.  My emotional realm is a minefield somehow tacked together with spider webbing, treacherously fragile and perilous to enter.  And thus, in the name of self-preservation, I pick up a hammer.  Lug the ladder to the second floor.  Gallons of paint and three trips to Home Depot later, the bedroom has been refinished.  Stenciling added, wrought iron hung, the fireplace in it given a face lift. 

Exhaustion temporarily erases memories.

The next day it begins again.  Only now in my studio.  Rip apart the desk and a hundred times down the stairs it seems, to haul its broken pieces to the curb.  Halfway through I realize I have streaks of dust and grime smeared across my dampened cheeks.  I scrape at them angrily with the rag I used to wipe the sink, adding green paint to the mess.  Everything is a mess.

I don’t answer the phone.  I know that I push everyone as far away as I can, hiding the ache.  I run from friends, family...even strangers.  I hide behind closed doors and glib comments.  Texts that end in “lol.”

I press an ice-pack to my swollen eyes before the boys come through the door.  Again.  Wash my hands and put cookies on a plate for them to have with homework.  Cookies can distract anyone.

I find myself wondering as I spend hour upon hour working on my physical world; sweat and blood, blisters and a missing knuckle...do I somehow think this is going to mend the other?  Is this the result of too many hours of home improvement television?  Do we really believe that a new kitchen can restore a marriage?  A backyard makeover can rebuild a relationship?  The home-improvement movement has hit a jackpot of staggering proportions.  It seems rather delusional.  But then again, a delusion or two, or just a distraction to keep from thinking…could be worse. 

Sometimes simply moving, moving at all, keeps us from the edge.

I don’t know how anyone else does this….gets through.  My rational mind tells me there is another side to get to, waiting.  My emotional one doubts.

In the meantime, I’ve ripped off two nails and scraped the skin from my knee.

But the studio looks great.




26 comments:

Shelly said...

I recognize that flurry of activity to assuage and soothe what's going on inside. You channel it in productive ways, which is a good thing.

mermaid gallery said...

I work too.....until i can't move any more.....crying is awful but inevitable......life's kick in the pants hurts deeply....and we are never ready for it......keep writing....and working it out....cause at least then.....the place looks good.....

BamaTrav said...

I know where you are at. For me though, it has been....I think 4 years, the years run together. xo

Lyndsay Wells said...

"This is the ink." In four words, you captured everything.

xoxo

Lo said...

You describe the inner struggle and the outward efforts to soothe it so beautifully.

When I was younger I used to do as you do....build something, sew something, refurbish something. Now that I am not as physical and mobile I crochet while reclining in a comfy chair and meditate. The difference is, when you finish, your surroundings are improved.......with me, no matter how may I give away, I still need more closet room to store the damned afghans....

Shea Goff said...

This is what I call art, when someone gives themselves to something. It doesn't matter how you do it. You just do it. I don't think there's much more beautiful act than a human giving of themselves through their work.

Thank you for sharing it. You inspire me.

In regards to a silver lining all I can say is that in my experience no matter how hard the rain there seems to always eventually come a sunny day. Even in the rain I tell myself that.

terlee said...

I've been thinking about your post all day. I wish I could say something helpful, meaningful.

Small consolation: I've been where you are...and somehow lived to tell the tale.

Mary: said...

Dear Chantel,
There IS something about the studio looking great that helps us get through. New splashes of color cheer, a small vase of flowers on a recently painted treasure rescued from a curb-side brings a sort of inner-joy, and that's something to be said considering the misery that tugs at our soul. It's the finding a bit of "alls-well" in our etorno, it's finding a patch of something beautiful and interesting when emptiness pounds on our door. One can be so lonely inside and out of marriage. Relationships are the best and yet can be so treacherous. My prayers are with you. I relate as I've repainted, redone, and reorganized many a room, doing what only super-woman could do when the pain hits. Abrazos y Besos. Pensando en ti.

Mary said...

Each of us gets through the hard times anyway we can.

Pearl said...

I believe you and I are in the same boat, aren't we?

Pearl

Chantel said...

Thank you all. I'm so grateful that, as this very moment when no one within a hundred miles of me knows anything is wrong, I can be honest here. When it all implodes, every kind word is clutched, reread and clung to in an ocean of tears.

It's raining again today. I'm painting.

Brian Miller said...

How we do this, is the ink of us...writing our story...true that, great line

it wont make it go away, but it does help to move and not let the emotions ambush you in one place...

i tend to hit the trail until my legs are killing me or the view from the peak or valley comforts me enough...then you have to hike back though, which stinks sometimes...smiles.

hope the sun finds you a bit today...

Aaron Layne said...

Thank you for this post. It's raw and real, just as we are in moments-that-seem-eons of time.

I also believe that work, renovation, remodeling, makeovers, or whatever else we might call it that we do in response to the emotional maelstrom trickles down to control. When our world crumbles, there is a certain amount of responsibility, 100% or .001%, we have in its crumbling. But when we put hand to task, we grasp complete control, and at the end of the task we can definitively say, "I did that! I made that! I accomplished that!" We are able to successfully remind ourselves that we are not a powerless victim.

Hurrah for DIY!

Sarah Kate said...

Now this is something we most certainly have in common. My mantra over the past 10 years has been, 'Just keep moving'. If I don't stop, I don't have any time to break down, reflect, ponder, or do any other sort of activity that requires a lot of emotion. Crisis averted. Don't worry - I'm fully aware of how unhealthy that sounds.

But I like to have control, just like every other human. When there are things out of my control, I turn to something I DO have power over - my productivity. It's a way to cope. And it works. Most of the time...

Paige + Shauna said...

chantel, i admire your ability to
'make' things, to improve on a foundation already laid.

i'm the lazy kitten who curls up
with a good get away book or attempt to teach my self a new
language, fill a looseleaf with
some esoteric theme.

though i have found that a good long walk and a talk with my inner heart has worked wonders.

adore your writing.

Mel Heth said...

Ugh, I hope you're okay.

There is definitely something to asserting that sense of control. Or maybe it's renewal. Feeling like you made things change for the better and somehow that will make part of life ok.

When Mr. W left for London before our wedding, I started cleaning the minute he closed the door behind him. Crying and organizing. Anything I could do to feel like I had a grip on the order of my life.

Hang in there, sister.

jessee b said...

I wish I had something better or more to say than "you're going to be ok." You're doing it, making it through the days... and each one is going to be a millimeter easier than the next.

You're doing it.

I'm sorry you're struggling. Keep fighting. People care.

Pearl said...

Aw, honey, I'm sorry.

It's the way with women, that we keep our hands busy while our heads and hearts scream. It's passed down to us by well-meaning females -- or perhaps it's innate. Either way, we work to put a semblance of purpose and dignity to an internal struggle. I am coping with one of my own, at the moment, and write almost obsessively, hoping that I will unlock something I've known all along...

Pearl

Chantel said...

Brian, Aaron Layne, Sarah Kate,Paige, Mel, Jessee & Pearl....adore you all.

Still working...getting through. xo

ND Mitchell said...

Chantel-for some reason your post made me think of this song by a Welsh singer songwriter that I enjoy listening to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWgokHrNkJ4
David

Chantel said...

Oh David, this was such a beautiful song--now looking up more of his work. Thank you so much. xo

Candy said...

OMG you're an amazing writer..................

The Loerzels said...

They actually say home improvement projects are a test of a marriage. Or when our marriage is tested we make home improvements. Sometimes it's hard to say.

Chantel said...

Candy--and you are a sweetheart! lol Thank you. :)

Marie--it is indeed, and I can relate to both of those. xo

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Tracy Crenshaw said...

I recently had a similar spell, though mine was a massive cleaning jag. I think mine was having control over something when I felt like everything was out of control. I have to say, by the way, that this was beautifully written. Your word choice and descriptions left me slightly breathless.