~Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We are Frogs

We are more accepting of change when it is gradual. A hoarder doesn't come home with 10 dumpsters of useless crap and shovel it in her house until it's stuffed. The useless crap comes in bag by bag until one room is filled, and then another, and then another until the house is crumbling on its foundation.

It's the same with relationships. They sour slowly. He doesn't pin you against the wall and choke the life out of you on the first date. Or the second. He promises to love you forever first. He promises to make up for the wrongdoings of every man before him. And then you have a fight, and that fight is kind of scary, but he says he's sorry and he goes back to loving you forever so you forgive the momentarily scary part. But every subsequent fight gets a fraction scarier and you find yourself forgiving him. If you were able to forgive the first scary part, why shouldn't you forgive this? It's only a little worse than the last thing you forgave. And it repeats and it repeats until he's drunk and throws an empty wine bottle at you and it shatters on the slate tile underneath your bare feet and your legs are bleeding from the broken shards. And as terrified for your life as you have become in this moment, you have one coherent thought: How did I get here?

(For the record, it was a white wine bottle. Cast in green glass. And I barricaded myself in the closet until he passed out drunk on the couch. And I finally called my mom and told her I was ready to come home.)

The change happens so gradually that you don't realize how bad the relationship had become until you get out of it. You don't realize how bad you had been feeling until you feel better. After my mom and I got out of our relationships, we spoke a lot in metaphors. Always having long, thick hair, I'd describe the feeling to my mom as getting my hair chopped off and how much lighter my head felt because I wasn't carrying the weight of my hair anymore. My mom, never having long, thick hair, described the feeling as getting a new pair of glasses and not realizing how poor her vision had become with the old prescription. I heard someone else—who had neither long hair nor glasses—describe the feeling as getting an abscessed tooth pulled. We describe what we know.

The thing about all these metaphors is that it makes it easier to forgive yourself for getting into a situation you thought you were too smart to be in. This was the unspoken conversation we had been having.

One day I was out shopping with my mom and we were still talking in metaphors. She used my Graves Disease as an example, with me not knowing how sick I was until a tumor on my thyroid grew so thick that it restricted the air flow in my throat.

"Do you know how to cook a frog?" I said randomly.

"No."

"You don't put it in boiling water; it'll jump out. However, if you place the frog in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat, it'll sit there until it cooks. It doesn't feel the temperature rising. We were frogs who were able to jump out of the pot in time."

She gasped. My mother acted like this was the most intelligent thing I've ever said, "You are absolutely right. We are frogs."

That was it. That was the metaphor my mother needed to forgive herself. Not the haircut, or the glasses, or the tooth abscess or my illness, what my mother needed was a frog in a pot of water.

I went to a jewelry shop and bought my mother a silver leaping frog for her charm bracelet. The bracelets we both have that contain our histories. Only it was too perfect a gift to wait until Christmas, so I handed her the box after she dogsat my dog one weekend. She opened it.

"So you don't forget the frogs," I explained.

My mother cried.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

you could write a book about your life. Seriously. I got teary eyed just now. And it wasn't the first time reading your journal.

j said...

This is going on my list of favorite posts..it speaks to me.

WannabeRunner said...

Beautiful. <3

katielookingforward said...

Very powerful.

Jenica said...

This IS beautiful. I wish I could find a meaningful way to look at my experiences.

Ms_jones74 said...

Really great, poignant post that I think people can totally relate to. I hope it speaks to someone today.

The Singleship said...

Wow, what a great post. Very well said.

LP said...

what a beatiful post, it does make you think. When I ended my previus relatioship I compare it with being numb for a long time and finally getting my feeling back... we are certanly frogs

freckledk said...

I agree...this is one of my most favorite posts. Very nice, Sarah. Lovely.

Annie said...

love this.

Emma said...

I'm getting a little teary-eyed. Well-written.

treacle said...

Your Mum is really lucky to have you to remind her in such a beautiful way.

Tiffany said...

This is amazing. I love your realization and the fact that you got something for your mom to remember it by. So great!

~Tiffany
http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

Paige Jennifer said...

Yup, love this one.

 

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