For the last year, I found myself doubting my competence. Or better said, others claimed I had none and I let the itty bitty sh*&^y little voices of my mind pick up the chant and amplify it more and more in the echo chamber of my fear. After all, I come from a family system that’s had its fair share of alcoholism and those of us that come from that place easily slide into the shame game.
Part of getting on with life is getting past that foolishness. Last week, I assembled the raised plant bed and then moved 12 bags (18 cu ft) of potting soil from the Home Depot store to the plant bed. It took me three days and my muscles were sore, but I did it. With Sherod immobilized by hip pain, Christmas shopping, decorating, and putting away fell on me. I got help to put up the Christmas Tree and learned how to do it so I can take care of it next year. This morning, I hauled the tree out for pickup next week. My house is neat and clean, Christmas has been put away for another year and in a while, I am going to assemble a new desk for the office space I am carving out for myself now that my work life is in so much transition.
Of course, I understand that none of this is particularly remarkable. But I remember being a freshman in college, watching my college roommate use all kinds of saws and other woodwork tools. For Christmas she had decided to make picture frames for her family; I felt like I was watching an alien. Later, I watched another of my dearest friends, Mary, and her husband Mike, put in a pool in their back yard in Memphis—and do it all themselves, from scratch, with a pool kit they had bought from some crazy outfit out in California, I believe. This wasn’t a little kiddie pool, either. This was a fairly large and deep pool. I can remember seeing my buddy Mary caked in red mud from head to toe, the finernails on her strong beautiful hands dirt stained and torn. I marvelled that she had the imagination to see herself as capable of being the co-builder of a pool and the first time she and I went swimming in it, I was in awe. It is only in the past 2 or 3 years that I learned how to turn on and use a lawn mower. Until then, if I was accomplished, it was in the more “feminine arts”—sewing, knitting, cooking, batik, cross-stitch—I knew how to do all that and enjoyed myself. But none of those accomplishments compare with the feeling of a tired and sore body that has been put at the service of a work project like the ones I’ve undertaken because Sherod could no longer do them.
Sherod’s hip replacement surgery is coming up in 13 days. I hope and pray he will recover and regain his capacity to tinker, take on projects around the house—help put up Christmas lights. I just barely dare allow myself to hope that at least occasionally, he will be able to come along on some of my rambles. But it has been soul-saving for me to do all this hard work, to do what needed to get done. So those mean voices? Lalalalala—I am not listening. I’m too busy being competent—and this “Rosa the Riveter” is here to stay.