9/6/11 very early dawn:
I woke this morning with a sudden shudder of revelation. I had been having another of these strangely semi-realistic dreams. In this one I stole a baby -- if I work out the details they will speak to me of my life and explain my feelings and how to cope better (Freud was right there), one no one would want; the shudder came from my realizing it was a dream, one highly self-destructive, and in that a type fantasy Donoghue exploits in Slammerkin. Unfortunately by the time I came to consciousness I lost most of the details. There was my father in it, and he was to pick me up in the car. We were to flee but I can reach no more.
Yesterday I woke in the same way: another dream, one I had also believed in as real during the day, one I had been re-dreaming. I am driving along or walking and everywhere on the sides of the road are huge branches with large leaves of poison ivy. No one cuts them. No one cares. I come across a bunch in the center of Vassar, a road I usually must drive by to get to my street. I don't know what to do. I was plagued and troubled by these fronds of poison on and off all day.
Realistic dreams are said to be morning dreams, but I doubt that. Perhaps we remember them only when they come again in the morning, for they seem to my memory to come intermittently through the night and are part of what wakes me in the night. I then get up and read.
9/6/11 now during the morning light
I have been having a bad couple of years, strong distress. Among other causes (why should I not say it) has been my older daughter, Caroline, has estranged herself from me, her father and sister. The pain of this has been terrific. What has welled up in the last season -- say this summer -- has come from an intermingling of this core with my new insight into myself as afflicted with this Aspergers set of disabilities, inabilities. I see now the set of fantasies -- romance ones, ones I know and knew and realize as I dream cannot be -- are a reaction to this condition, a natural one for me. I must and do repudiate them. Wild car rides, babies, poisoned leaves.
Repudiation. It seems a word I want, reach for this morning. Why? because I want to take on board something else, something very difficult for me to square myself with and to articulate adequately or accurately to capture it. Now a morning later (for it has taken several bouts to write this blog). I can't take on board the resolution to live the compromised existence as an ideal. I can do it only in resignation. Why? because I'm no good at it; performative life brings me nothing. If I am safe, it's from my marriage; if I know some happiness, it's from real friendship and genuine companionship with intelligent decent good hearted people.
What I can learn is that these kinds of dreams, fantasies don't help. Read them not as a warning lesson of the punishment if you act it out. Perhaps as an instance of what happens to those who are driven to -- by class, the circumstances & places they are born in, and then bad luck: who you are thrown amongst and how they can hurt you. But they are no release; the thrill or exhilaration is meretricious, tinsel. In Slammerkin, Mary should have married Daffy.
Heroines to live through. "Reader, I married him" is also her sign. Graham's Demelza or (more poignantly) Morwenna, Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark Warleggan, who dies in childbed (about whom as a type I wrote a novella at age 13 to 14), cool, imprisoned (regarded as a prize by her keepers). The cynosure of kindness and prudence (as Eliinor Dashwood).
It just all has come together. The shabby clothes, the house, and now wanting to write Elizabeth's Story.
In truth where have I looked for consolation, solace, strength is l'ecriture-femme, women's fiction and memoirs of the mood and aspect that does produce the virtuous heroine -- virtue here being redefined as stoicism, holding firm to doing no harm, acting out an ethics where one can (not very much or often) that encompasses outlooks that value genuine art, controlled generosity. Women's poetry. The men that write in this vein too.
It was Labour Day so Jim and I took a walk in Old Town and headed for the one brick-and-mortar used bookshop left. Leonard Cohen was singing and I bought Sarah Grand's Beth Book and a Complete (!) Poems of Stevie Smith. This past weekend I had concocted a foremother blog for Stevie Smith Taken as a whole, the collected poems do leave a different impression or at least more concerted impression of melancholy and quiet despair as well as a genuine understanding of kindness and acted out integrity. Now here she says what speaks home to me about Caroline.
I am that Persephone
Who played with her darlings in Sicily
Against a background of social security.
Oh what a glorious time we had
Or had we not? They said it was sad
I had been good, grown bad.
Oh can you wonder can you wonder
I struck the doll-faced day asunder
Stretched out and plucked the flower of winter thunder:
Then crashed the sky and the earth smoked
Where are father and mother now? Ah, croaked
The door-set crone, Sun's cloaked.
Up came the black horses and the dark King
And the harsh sunshine was as if it had never been~
In the halls of Hades they said I was queen. _
My mother, my darling mother,
I loved you more than any other,
Ah mother, mother, your tears smother.
No not for my father who rules
The fair fields ofI taly and sunny fools
Do I mourn where the earth cools.
But my mother, I loved and left her
And of a fair daughter bereft her,
Grief cleft her.
Oh do not fret me
Mother, let me
Stay, forget me.
But still she seeks sorrowfully,
Calling me bitterly
By name, Persephone.
I in my new land learning
Snow-drifts on the fingers burning,
Ice, hurricane, cry: No returning.
Does my husband the King know,
does he guess In this wintriness
Is my happiness?
In her talk (a UTube which was blocked on my blog) Smith said she writes out of a need of release. I need to do that more effectively, getting at the source and bringing out the antidote and the explanation, the understanding that leads to acceptance or at least seeing truly.
Not so I can act differently, because I know not how to. But this epiphany I've had should eventually as I begin to develop its inward life enasble me to reaact from another angle, contain the losses more effectively and by holding firm when I'm in a healthy state of mind enjoy what pleasure and reciprocity comes to me.