Home » A Wasted Life » Where Did That Steel Magnolia Go?

Where Did That Steel Magnolia Go?

I went to the doctor on Monday.  I have lost another four and a half pounds.  The nurse said….”and that’s with your coat on.”  That puts me just under ninety-four.
Dr. S** said she could tell just by looking at me that I was severely depressed.  I wanted to say “do you think?”  She offered drugs but I declined.  Then she started asking me questions…questions that I have been asked a hundred times in my counseling sessions.  “Have you lost the desire to do things you used to love to do?  Have your sleep patterns changed?  Do you ever think about harming or killing yourself?”
Having been an EMT, I know the way most women commit suicide.  They either hang themselves or swallow a bottle of sleeping pills.  I told her it was too much trouble to go to the store to buy a bottle of pills and hanging just wasn’t my thing.  The one thing I did tell her was, “no, I don’t think about killing myself but I really don’t care if I live or die.”
I thought about what she said during my drive home.  I wondered if I wasn’t unconsciously doing just that….killing myself.  I haven’t been able to get my appetite back for almost two years now….and I don’t seem to care.
I came home and did something I have never done before.  I stripped and stood in front of a mirror.
I was looking at the shell of the person I used to be and I wanted to close my eyes to the skeletal reflection that was mocking me.
If I was inclined to be a gardener, I could conceivably plant flowers in the craters above my collar bones.  I didn’t have to feel how many ribs I have because they are clearly visible.  My pelvic bones protrude like two mountains cradling a valley.
My legs look like toothpicks and my arms are about the size of a Sumo wrestlers’ finger.  I can now wear an infants’ bracelet on my wrist.
I dared to turn around and look at the spine that resembles a miniature train with tiny little cars, creeping up my back.  My shoulder-blades, if painted white and feathered, could pass for small flightless wings.
My hair long ago turned silver and has during the last few years, started falling out.  My eyes are still relatively clear, having never been abused by the effects of alcohol but they are noticeably sad.
The smiles I used to give away so freely are now reserved for a select few.  The laughter has all but fallen silent.  The practical jokes I used to love to play on my children have been forgotten and even with my photographic memory, I can’t seem to be able to recall them.
I can see the physical scars on my arms and hands and knees and legs.  I can see the emotional scars that are carved into my face, disguised as wrinkles.
I can see the broken spirit that seems to hover just out of reach, taunting me because it knows I don’t have the strength or desire to try to recapture it.
I can’t see the broken heart that is encased in the transparent rib cage but I know it’s still there and I know it’s still bleeding.
The trusting, childhood beliefs that I clung to for so many years, floated away and eventually drowned in a river of tears.
It seems that the love of so many things that used to define my life, has morphed into a plethora of indescribable, unrecognizable and terrorizing feelings.  Or maybe it is none of those.  Maybe it is a comfortable numbness.  Maybe what seems to be a constant barrage has become so expected that I react with the same emotions that I have always had in the past, even if they are not warranted.
My love of quilting all but died when I made the last one for Loser.  I have never been able to make another one.  I think about how many quilts are still in my head.  I think about how many peoples’ lives are still waiting to be put onto a quilt and I think about how many grandchildren will never get a quilt from me because the inclination is just no longer there.
I think I have been in mourning since I was three and a half years old.  I mourned for a family my entire young life.  I mourned for a husband even though I was married for almost forty years.  I mourned for friends that I never had.
I am mourning for the children who refuse to have anything to do with me.  I am mourning for the woman who used to hit the floor running when she got up because she had plans to knock down a wall, or paint a room, or make a quilt that she had designed in her head before she went to sleep.
I feel like I have been sentenced to wearing that long, black veil of mourning for the rest of my life but again….I don’t seem to care.
I can function but it’s a robotic function and I am not fearful that the batteries will run down.  Everybodys’ life runs its course in time.  Everybodys’ strength eventually runs out.
Some people ultimately give up.  Is that so wrong?  When you have spent your entire life being strong and weathering storm after storm, isn’t it understandable that you would finally exhaust every ounce of your being that is left and then say….I’m just too tired to keep fighting?
I have seen that with people who are terminally ill.  Their families don’t understand why they don’t want to continue to fight and have trouble hearing their loved ones say they don’t want to keep going because they are just…too…tired.
What does real peace feel like?  What does pure joy feel like?  What does true love feel like?
Those are things that I have never known.  I’ve always heard that you can’t miss something you have never had and I think that’s true.  If I ever did run across things like pure joy or true love, it would probably scare the Hell out of me because I wouldn’t recognize it…and I would never believe it.  What a challenge I would be for a psychiatrist.
B***** was right.  I am stuck in this “dark place.”  Could it be that it is now so comfortable that I really don’t want to leave?  My children having grown up, as I have said, thinking that I was the strongest person they had ever known, could only be left in a quizzical stupor, after witnessing me hitting the ground and not being able to get back up.  Where did all of that strength go?
I took care of four children, moving all the time and dealing with not even having a bed for them to sleep in because the movers decided to take a vacation with our stuff.  Loser didn’t have to deal with it.  I did.
I had natural childbirth with all of them.  I never screamed.  I never cried.  I weathered Loser snarling at me and telling me to “just shut up and have the fucking kid” when all I wanted was a sip of water.  He wasn’t in pain.  I was but I never complained.
I dealt with being alone most of the time.  He wasn’t alone.  I was.
At some point, you break.  It doesn’t matter how strong you used to be.  It’s about the here and now….kind of like what Loser told the court….he wants to concentrate on “now and tomorrow” which saves him from responsibility and atonement.
I don’t know if I would say that “I’m happy” virtually being a recluse but I don’t grieve about it.  I live off of Boost and I even have that delivered so that I don’t have to go to the grocery store.  That could be why a tank of gas could conceivably last me for close to a year.
My house is neat and tidy but I don’t dust or wax the floors like I used to.  I have pictures that I have bought to put on the walls of one of my bedrooms but they’re still wrapped up in the bag, where they’ll probably stay.  It doesn’t matter anyway because nobody ever comes to my house.
I do laundry occasionally.  There are never any dishes to wash, except for the water glass I have with me all the time.  I’ll mow my lawn when it needs it but I do it quickly.  I don’t want to have to talk to any of my neighbors and pretend to be bright and cheerful.  My neighbors seem to be very nice but I can’t offer them anything at this point and I don’t want to get involved with any “neighborhood traditions.”
So, what happened to that Steel Magnolia?  Is she gone forever?
I think she is and it saddens me to say that I don’t care…..but I have enough sanity left to realize how wrong that statement is.

16 thoughts on “Where Did That Steel Magnolia Go?

  1. Oh wow! Nothing like the present. I hope this leads you to something that brings you- healing? Contentment? Hope? Peace? I don’t know where it will go. But I have hope for you. And love for you. No one deserves what you have endured.


  2. You have been through so much. Maybe resiliency to pain is your gift right now. You can’t be around happy people- have you thought about volunteering with some group that helps people from situations like your childhood? Like your marriage? There’s a blog called moving liquid where a woman outlines her absolute financial and life ruin- clawing back from suicide attempts, bankruptcy, and infidelity… And one of her inclinations is to volunteer at an organization which helps kids talk to police after violence. She had never done anything like it, had no experience with it- but knew that she had experienced crazy pain, and maybe she needed to see someone else’s, support them through it. It’s beautiful because her changes over the past two years- are triumphant. And they started when she started taking care of others, and herself (a boost and a bagel! Just a thought…) you are wonderful. You can do life. You deserve good.


    • I never thought about that. Thank you. I’m not sure how to go about it, but I might very well check into it.
      I remember talking to a child I had to pick up, who had been beaten by his step-father. I tried to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and I could see the almost tangible fear in his eyes. He was young, so I don’t know if what I said had an impact or not. I’m not sure anybody could have convinced me when I was younger. I just wanted my mama.


      • Well- that’s true. You’ll never know. But I bet you he thinks on that and holds onto that one nugget of possibility. Probably not enough to sway the whole family bond- but -what if your councillor had said that to you- instead of lying to you and breaking your trust? If she had become a confidant. Someone who made you feel like you had worth… A quiet unknown force that could help instead of cause more harm at home. How much would you have relished in that? Instead you suddenly had enemies at home and at school. That’s terrible. (And that’s not how schools deal with this stuff now either… For these reasons) You don’t know how much impact you have- and people imprint so young on very specific things- like you still say you killed your brother- um- you were a child. You didn’t do anything, your caretakers are the ones who let it happen by not protecting both of you. It was NOT you. NOT your fault. That’s 100% true- but after this many years, from some random commenter on the Internet- it’s not going to change that your mom blamed you (either verbally or through her obviously epic abuse) because she (like loser) then didn’t have to be responsible or accountable. And you hold that all on your very tiny shoulders. And that has set you to take on this persona of fault, which tied you to a crazy man for years. And your kids don’t even get it. Your son in prison- he needs you, but he needs you to be strong. Your ex isn’t wrong in the ‘cut him off, no enabling’ thing. But not because he is a waste. Because he deserves to value himself more, and every time you help him (which allows him to) steal and cheat and drink, or survive to do those things- you are enabling his addiction, not him seeing his truth. Your other kids- I did see your other comments. I’m sorry if you felt I was being mean or unfair about them. I understand they are good people. (But this is your blog and it sounds like they’re fine, while you are on the edge of a dark pit. I tend to think YOU should be the focus and get my love.) I am actually really curious- have you ever stepped back and looked at the parallels between your relationships with your grandparents (love you, want to help, you don’t really respond to it) and your momma (terrible and abusive, and yet you keep going back looking for love and validation)…. That echoes in your relationship with your kids. You are much like your grandparents. You even see the disfunction in your past but you don’t really identify what would have been necessary to change it (like- what could your grandparents have done or said? Nothing? Momma was all that mattered?) … I think you have written them letters, you have an open heart, they know how to seek you out. You obviously have a huge heart and a huge capacity to love. And that needs to be used. But they are clamouring for daddy. You don’t make the radar. Don’t waste it pining for maybe. Find someone who really desperately needs to know that the world doesn’t end after abuse, or that there are ways to pick life up after the prices fall apart. You have that gift. You can give it to the world, and I’m certain it would welcome you. I know you would have some immense love back from these folks who need to hear it. And maybe help you find some peace. Or some cookies.


        • I did not take offense to what you said about my children. I think it’s simply that they have always looked at me as their “mom” and not a human being who could be broken. My oldest daughter once screamed to me “you have to decide whether you want us to treat you like our mom or our friend.” I didn’t know why I couldn’t be both.
          And, you’re right about how things have changed in schools..thank goodness. I also know that if my childhood was happening now, my mama would be in jail but I would be thinking it was my fault.
          You are right on the money about seeing the dysfunction parallels. I have thought many times about how to repair the relationship I have with my children but at this point in my life, I am not going to “obey” their rules. The rules are not applicable to both parents. The respect that they show Loser and everybody, it seems, differs immensely when it comes to me. I used to ask Loser to pretend that I was his drunken mama because he would never talk to her the way he talked to me. I have asked my oldest daughter to try to talk to me the same way she talks her husbands’ mama….or Loser. It didn’t work.


          • You’re amazing. I’m just going to read and pray that you and your loved ones all realize it. I respect that you are unwilling to play by their silly rules where dad gets what he wants and mom gets the shit. That’s terrible and you deserve better. Much love.


            • I just ‘applied” to volunteer to help abused children. I have no idea if it will come to anything, but I’ll see. Trying to help a child see that there is something wrong with their abuser and not them is difficult, I imagine…and yes, the intelligent part of me understands that but by the time I realized it, it was too late for me.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. You said “from now own I’ll just “care”……Sounds good if you’re comfortable with letting the people who mindfucked you win. Baby girl, get yourself some meds for the depression, eat a couple of cheeseburgers with fries and kick some ass. The only thing wrong with your steel magnolia is the need for some fertilizer. Visit your ex, that should provide a bountiful amount of manure.


      • You’re a southern woman, we don’t ever loose our chutzpah and we sure as hell don’t let an asshole take it from us. I was born in the Carolina low country and was fed on a diet of sas, it’s our heritage. Busted a gut laughing about your ex asking that the divorce records be sealed because he’s a celebrity. OMG, the P&C is not The Washington Post. Pretty sure Bill Bradlee would chuckle in his grave at that one. ………Share with us how you got started with your quilting……where did that talent come from? Writing and quilting. You’re quite a talented lady.


        • Ah. A low country gal. I was one for ten years. Bill might very well chuckle in his grave, although Loser said that he wanted him to come work for him after his stint at H******. Normally, I would have never doubted anything Loser said but now, everything he has ever said is suspect. I will share how I got started in all of the things I undertook. How lovely it would be for me to be able to continue doing the things I once loved to do.
          And you’re right. I should have never let that asshole take away my chutzpah but it happened like a slow growing disease. By the time I knew what was happening, it was too late. Now, it’s like I’m trying desperately to find a miracle cure.


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