Monsters have been plucking at my nerves, twangs and lightening flashes disrupting my attention and kneecapping my patience. Ugly memories I thought long buried have been hauled to the surface - jagged, ugly, pus heavy creatures all of them - and I'm at a loss as to why they've suddenly taken to stalking me.
I went to the movies a couple of weekends ago, surprising Hatro with a morning session of "Fast & Furious 6" while Wong was at (at last and alleluia!) a friend's birthday party. Fast cars, snarky one liners, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnston - I was ready for some fluffy brain candy! Then, not even ten minutes in, my mouth sucked dry and I was trying to work out why I felt such intense dislike, a burning distrust, of the government agent onscreen. All through the movie, every time I saw the woman I felt something, be it emotionally or even physically - half way through the movie I was rubbing at the crescents my nails had stamped into my palms. Then *spoiler alert* -
towards the end of the movie, the woman was revealed as a traitor, and after my relieved, nauseated, smug-tinged "I knew it!" I realised why I had such an intense reaction.
*end of spoiler*
Later that night, my reactions still bouncing around my skin like demented twitches, I searched Facebook until I found it. Found a picture of Jezzie, compared it to the actress, and could relax again knowing I wasn't going totally paranoid insane. The actress and Jezzie look remarkably similar - so much that I'd had an instant gut response to seeing the woman onscreen. It'd taken quite a while during the movie for me to work out what was going on, who I was reminded of, but I'd gotten there in the end. It wasn't a pleasant situation, to be grabbed in the gut by callous, jagged memories, but something odd and stunning happened. Lying in bed, considering the picture of Jezzie (George sitting and smiling right beside her) the gut punctures smoothed over - not even a puckered piece of skin or dangling shard of hurt left behind - and I realised I didn't hate either of them. Sure and absolutely, I thought they were idiots and incredibly selfish, but that was where it ended. I considered George's hairline (still enthusiastically receding), and instead of seeing memories, it reminded me of the arch and curve of Hatro's bony forehead. George's gut failed to be camouflaged by his trendy shirt, and I realised that Wong's comfortable pukkhu is another reflection of George's genetic involvement in creating my sons.
As much as I often want it, I can't ignore the fact that George gave me my sons. There was love when we created them, and while that love died horribly in the end, what we created together then is blooming, cascading, sparkling and bewildering every day of my life in the forms of my sons.
The woman is a monster. She made my life miserable even before George and I were married, telling us bluntly what we should do when I became pregnant with Hatro, hated me from that moment on. She later fell totally in love with Hatro from the moment she saw him, but never thawed towards me. I called her "Mrs. Surname" for the entire 13 years I was with George, a conversational minefield exploration which never got easier. She never seemed to approve of Wong, simply - so far as I could tell - as she said when she saw him at eighteen hours old "Goodness, he looks so much like you, Sel".
When George told me of his mother's idea, an amused smile sailing across his face, I threw myself out of the lounge, and found myself so up close to George I could feel the warmth of his breath against my lips.
"You're not taking him." I seethed softly into his shocked face, the edges of the words scalding my tongue with their fury. "Don't you take my sons. Don't try it, don't think it. Just don't." My throat cramped, my eyes burned yet again with fire and tears, and I realised I was standing practically chest to chest with a man who now made me physically sick.
I remember the flare of worry and surprise in his eyes, and - wait, panic? He half laughed, half coughed, hands up in surrender. "Hey, c'mon, I'd never do that. I'm not going to do that, Sel. No way." he explained, backing up a couple of steps. I remember seeing Hatro playing at the dining table, over behind George's shoulder in the next room, and hearing Wong say something to the TV. My pulse thundered through my neck, my fingers cramped into fists, and for the first time in days I felt like I had been hauled out of a gloppy, cold grave into the midday sun - I was alive, powered by temper, ferocity and my motherheart willing to punch a cruel, stunted-hearted sixty year old woman through a wall or twelve, and her idiot of a son as well.
That woman has her own monster stomping through my thoughts lately. I have some gorgeous photos Tasha took late last year of the boys, and I still can't bring myself to send them to their Oma. She has sent them money and presents every year for their birthdays and Easter, but no other contact. The last time she saw them was over two years ago at George and Jezzie's wedding. This year, she wrote in both Easter cards that she hoped they would have a good holidays, and enjoy spending their money on something they wanted, but she only put her email address in Hatro's card, not Wong's.
I don't want to send her the photos, but I know I will. Sure, over six months later, but they are still wonderful pictures, and the boys are still her grandsons. I know the grief my absence caused my paternal grandmother, and it is more for my Nan's sake that I will send them than for my ex-Monster-in-law's. I still find it galling, to deliberately be generous to a devoted hater, to ignore the hurts and do the 'right' thing. I don't want to share the majesty and brilliance of my sons with people who don't care about them. I just don't. I want to be jealous, keep them close by me, carefully shared with those who will appreciate them for who they are, who love them enough to rouse on them, mock them, encourage and look forward for them.
I guess I have to get over myself enough - my scars and pains from past experiences - and give the gift of my sons to their (in so many ways distant) family. Even if the puny, miserly monsters have no idea what they are getting, or - even worse - what they are missing out on.
So.... It now looks like tomorrow's Family Home Evening will be the boyos writing to their Oma and Grandad, enclosing their photos, and then maybe a mental palate cleansing Nerf war and Slurpee. God, I am so tired of trying to be better than I am.
All this over sending two photos to a woman I feel pity for. Which kind of explains why, elsewhere in my head, I still actively ignore a task now two years and counting in line, and continue to carefully avoid opening the boxes of photos I have to go through of the boys early years, which are sitting in the cupboard two metres behind me, waiting.
Waiting for me to be brave. Waiting for me to tie on some big boots and go monster stomping. Waiting for me to take a deep breath, a calm afternoon or evening, and sink into the deep, ancient, beautiful waters of memory, tiny babies and unbroken promises. Waiting for me to slay the last of the monsters, or maybe face them (warts, fire-breathing, screaming and all), see them captured in sticky, shiny, matte-finished snapshots, and clear out the clunky, blurry rubbish dense corners for better, brighter memories both past and to come.