Age 34-35 (August 1986 – August 1987) – focused editorially selected diary entries – First Sweat Lodge Ceremony
August 14, 1986
The pipe I was given at LIFEWAYS I sold at the rummage sale on the 1st. The Indian man who bought it came by immediately after Pam left tonight after dark and asked me who Running Bear was – as he gave it to someone and as they did the ceremony they saw the name carved into the stone. I suppose they needed to know if the pipe belonged to someone who was dead.
Frank is the man who came by – been sober 16 years and must be a spiritual leader of some kind – performs ceremonies and healings. He invited me to a sweat ceremony (I think it’s called) in early September. I am happy and excited and feel lucky and “blessed” and certainly want to go. Makes me think of Alice Blue Leg, and also about being saved in that parking lot in Tucson for a purpose.
[I told Frank that Running Bear lives at Pipestone, MN and made the pipe. He gave it to me after the Native American arts program at the museum I worked at, LIFEWAYS, was completed in honor of the work I did to promote the history, culture, art and life-ways of Native American people – August 1984. I knew enough to keep the two parts of the pipe wrapped carefully apart from one another. I had hoped that by moving to Bemidji, MN, an area with three reservations close by, I would be able to learn more about Native American culture and beliefs. I hoped it would happen naturally, like a gift. By August two years later, after having lived in the area a year during which this had not happened, gave up and made the decision to respectfully sell the pipe on my rummage sale, along with the dyed, flattened porcupine quill medicine wheel I’d been given, books, anything I had that seemed connected to Native Americans in any way. I had absolutely no idea what else to do with it. As it turned out, it was a man’s not a woman’s pipe. In letting go of the pipe the teachings I had hoped for came as a result. Even then, although I was thrilled and grateful, I was slow to understand.]
August 15, 1986
I’ve been thinking most of the day about Frank’s comment last night – that recovering alcoholics need to learn their identity – i.e. women learning about their “grandmothers” – that their identity is taking care of other people.
That statement goes against almost all I believe in. Why should women take care of other people any more than men? I hope I am never again in a situation of taking care of any grown man as if he were a helpless baby. I see so much wrong with the world just because that idea exists – that women, not men, take care of others. That is a job we as humans – I believe – MUST learn to share equally. I believe as long as women are breastfeeding their care of infants will be a bit more involved than men’s. After that – BOSH!
I want Jay as soon as he’s able to understand that I care for him as a human because I’m his parent and he’s a child – not because he’s a male and I’m a woman.
(August 25, 1986 returned from a week spent with Jay on Darlene Dahl’s farm in North Dakota visiting and “helping out” while the girls were with their father in MN)
September 7, 1986 Sunday
I feel disappointed that Frank Dickenson didn’t come back Friday after 4 like he said he would. Not that I know of. I never saw him all day yesterday. I wanted to go to the ceremony – at least I think I did – or do. I had no sitter for the kids on Friday, so told Frank Saturday would have been fine.
I feel an intensity for spiritual answers and connections as I used to at 18-19 – only then I searched through acid – which led me nowhere.
Frank is a busy man and travels a lot – and maybe he will and maybe he won’t come back. It’s meant to be either way. Accepting that and being patient is very hard. I feel as if I got to glimpse through that door, but was denied or I denied myself access. I feel cheated.
I feel powerless – I can’t just go to a “church” and find Frank’s message. I want to be in tune with my own inner realties and connected to that spirit of the world I knew as a child. To carry the peace of the wilderness within me always. To be able to reach out and touch it anytime, anywhere.
I want a chance to look within and share that and feel connected. In the RIGHT way, and I suspect Frank has learned that right way. I like ceremonies, rituals of propriety. I want a vision. I guess I’d like to know more of my hidden side and I’d like to know the “form” of my spiritual helpers. I want a healing of the connection between my body and my soul – one broken and lost first by my mother’s abuse of me, and next by my own abuse through my addictions of my own temple.
I want to cry those healing humble tears of rain upon the earth. To know the meaning of my touch on grass – my earth mother’s hair.
I’ve had dreams and a vision and nowhere to “put” those in this mechanized, technological, materialistic western world.
I want to go into that sunlit attic of my dream house – to experience it. It’s been almost three years since I had that dream, and I though through Frank I could get some help in getting up there.
How easily I give up hope over something I highly value and really want. I used to never hope or expect because I did not want to feel disappointment. I still have those fears learned early in life at the hands of my mother that nothing I hoped for or dearly wanted would ever come true. Again and again she snatched, tore and ripped things dear to me out of my reach.
Those nickels I prized when I was five, the marbles I cherished when I was six – any hope of going to a birthday party – or even my job I worked so hard to get for after I graduated. She stole from me my childhood. Not a small and trivial thing – but she gave to me the very life whereby I sit and write these words.
I have been patient and waiting really all of my life for all my “spiritual pieces” to fit together. Like being saved in that parking lot when I was fifteen – my dreams I’ve had – the vision I had at sixteen on the mountain. I hope, dear God, that Frank comes back and that I can partake of some of his ages-old wisdom – that some of it is meant for me.
I cry in my heart as would a lover or a person starving. I carry a longing for a sweat and some wisdom. Almost like I lived before as an Indian – strange how those things go –
It feels like an obsession.
I guess I also feel “I blew it.” I was told as a child every time mother took something away from me that I deserved it.
“Heidi” was such a theme for me. I loved the homestead so much. And each time I was taken away more than anything else I wanted to return. It was my life. I’ve never finished my grieving over having lost that place as my home.
Now I feel as though Frank holds the key to understanding for me. I want to hold and have possession of my own key. To remember my dreams. To have them. I want to dream.
Things go along their own way and at their own pace –
I sure am a good waiter. I waited for Frank. I’m paying attention to myself and my reactions to this. Pretty intense. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. Dependent on others for things. No way I can get a hold of him. But I’m learning about myself – the running over in my mind the whole conversation – not taking into account that it’s probably not at all personal –
September 8, 1986 Monday.
Still having a “process” over Frank not coming back about the ceremony. My abandonment feelings from childhood appeared tonight. Like in my child’s mind when I must have waited for my Dad. Something, anyway.
I feel sad that I may have missed my “chance” – more also like disappointed that the time wasn’t right. Starting to feel guilty that I made excuses about not having a sitter for the kids where I could have found one somewhere and come up with the money to pay. As though my mind is my enemy and tricked me – and now keeps rerunning the whole thing so I keep beating myself about it. Afraid that I’ll never know. Hopeful that maybe he’ll show up and will say they’re doing it this coming week-end.
September 9, 1986 Tuesday
I think my mind tricked me. It wants to be in control and knew it would not be in the ceremony. So it interfered – blame my mind, huh? Dumb. Now I feel as though I’m left with nothing, which is silly ‘cause I have what I had before.
My rope dream – as if my mind says “If I’m not thinking about God then you’re disconnected.” My heart has faith – it knows I’m connected always.
I talked to Jan – she mentioned how unsafe a place the Red Lake Reservation is – maybe there’s good reason I don’t understand for not going last weekend to the ceremony.
Tonight I thought about how easy it came out for me that I couldn’t go because of the kids on Friday – and yet how I really am all they’ve got. If it works out that I can go at some time I need to know where exactly we’re going and tell someone. Also to know what time I’ll be back.
September 10, 1986 Wednesday
Wonder if Frank will ever come back.
September 17, 1986 Wednesday
Still wondering if Frank will come back.
September 25, 1986 Thursday
Went with Pam out for coffee. Talked about her Tuesday nite pipe ceremonies she goes to. She said it’s a great honor to be given a pipe. Yet I had no “ceremony” along with it when I was given one.
She mentioned menstruating women can’t smoke the pipe – said that seemed negative. I told her what I’ve heard – that women are especially powerful at that time and that we overpower other things – (even men!) – during our period.
She heard Frank would be out of town until the 25th – which is today. Still wonder if he’ll come back. If I’m worth it? Low self-esteem there, Linda. You’re worth has nothing to do with it.
October 6, 1986 Monday
Wonder how Pam’s sweat went. Still wonder why Frank never came back.
October 10, 1986 Friday
“If a tree falls and no one’s there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?” “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?”
I feel like that – no one to be intimate with and a part of me feels dead and dying.
Loneliness – I want it to go away – I need to learn that I can live with it, not have to run from it.
Self-sufficient, huh? Self-contained. Able to survive – no, to be able to live comfortably alone. That loneliness is there – I felt it both times while I was married.
God. God knows me they say. So I’m not alone. Never alone.
January 24, 1987 Saturday 10:30 AM
All ready – waiting to be picked up for the sweat. I feel nervous – started to put my boots on the wrong feet.
When Frank asked me yesterday if I wanted to come to the sweat, one of the thoughts that went through my head was, “I can’t. I’m not spiritual enough. I have to wait.” I am very glad I was able to get “yes” out of my mouth this time, instead of September’s “no.”
Nest to labor, this sweat was the most physically difficult a thin I’ve gone through. The 1st round was OK and certainly tolerable. The 2nd was hard and the 3rd was very hard for me. The end of the 4th also – and this must have been a very short one as there were only 7 of us. They’ve had as many as 14 and even 19. I really don’t think I’d survive the heat for that long.
I was accepted there. I feel ungrateful so much of the time. Also having self on mind more than others.
January 16, 1987 Monday 10PM
Hard to accept the human condition gracefully.
Hard to accept that I feel different and think differently about Frank calling or coming/not coming over than I would if he were a she. Maybe Fran instead of Frank.
I used to wonder if female souls were different from male souls – or if the difference was only physical. Trying to imagine Frank as a Fran is funny. So where does this difference in the way I feel come in? Or come from? Is there a basic part of the adult human condition that seeks to bond with a mate? That stirs those thoughts and feelings and behaviors? Like last night when he said he was coming over, it was important to me the house was in order, and I waited until 1:30 AM. Is it because he’s a medicine man that I waited like that? Would I feel honored and anticipate in the same way the visit of a medicine woman to my house?
Maybe part of it is curiosity. Why did he ask if he could come here to wash his hair/bathe (shower) when he knows so many other people? A single man coming to a single woman’s house for that – He could also heat water and do that in his own house. Many people do that. So that made me wonder – question – curious. And 2 days he said he’d come and he didn’t. Today’s the 3rd day, and he called while I was at AA so I don’t know even now what’s happening. If he called coming into town or from town or leaving town. It’s hard when he has no phone.
I realize that I wait “good” on a man. Patient. Thought absorbed. That made me mad, that my thoughts should be so centered on him. Not knowing for sure how to stop that obsessing. Goes with me during the day as I don’t go out to work and get my mind thoughts altered/changed in that way.
It bothers me that I am so humanly vulnerable where a man is concerned. And also how confused this already is with the “other.” How I have questions I would like to ask about the sweat, etc. I carry those questions, too. If he hadn’t said he was coming I would have carried them differently. As it is, at this moment things feel sour as I lack in patience, acceptance.
And yet it isn’t actually respectful to another not to be true to one’s promise/word. Especially for a man who makes his way being believable. And yet inside I know he is occupied with good and worthy business and quite taken up with other things.
And yet I also am an important person whose time and thoughts are worthy of honoring and respect.
Yet it is a clue I am probably not ready to be involved with anyone if my “self” can be so captivated and caught up –
Kay’s [age 16] comment when I talked to her about this and mentioned that he drank regular orange pop after the sweat when he told me he gave up sugar – she says, “He’s a phony. Don’t let him into your house.”
I need to call Jerry tomorrow and talk honestly to her about this. Also remembering Katie’s words about be very, very careful. That men do not belong in a woman’s sweat.
Part of me says don’t bring this up to her – spoil her “image” of him.
Well, I called Pam and talked this through with her. She said no matter what appears to be true, to also pay attention to my “knowings.” If Frank should call tomorrow I would ask that he and I go out for coffee and talk. Devil’s Advocate – if that’s a part I should play in this I will. He’s not a saint to me. I would also like to know if he’s a conjurer – the bird wings flapping in the sweat – I would like to know what he says they are.
Jim Jackson is another medicine man that a person could go to perhaps. If I wonder about making a commitment to this way – Pam noticed that I looked better today than she’s ever seen me – commented at coffee today right away about the sparkle in my eye. To trust my gut also about this.
Pam says maybe Frank has the hots for me – well I may feel honored but that’s not OK – certainly if he’s still married. And certainly not if there’s not some honest communication about the truth here –
So, off to bed. No matter what I feel better – and I get to go to a pipe ceremony tomorrow with Pam.
January 29, 1987 Thursday 11:40 PM
Doubting I suppose comes from our very human side. I strive for perfection. I want the perfect Faith.
Frank never did call back. All strange. Yet good. I need time to face myself over all of this.
I am not an Indian, nor can I ever be one.
January 30, 1987 Friday late 2 AM
Frank came by tonight. Getting to be a strange relationship. A brief hug good bye – but tonight a quick light kiss on the lips. Says he’ll be in town tomorrow and will call. Says he’s going traveling again to Thunder Bay, and back Monday – then to Duluth area somewhere.
Talks a lot about spirits. Stories . . .
January 31, 1987 Saturday 2:10 PM
Called Larry Mitchell today to talk about the Baha’i Faith, Indian stuff, etc. Says he’ll try to come up here and visit.
February 1, 1987 Sunday late 1:40 AM
The braids are made from the dream I had. Black, yellow, white – conflict interwoven with healing and growth. There’s always the one given with the others. I need to pray for wisdom. The red race – the wisdom.
As a planet, it is time for the red to be plaited into the brain. For their wisdom to come forth.
I wore the braids in my hair at home today. I displayed them prominently. I think I will hand them here where I can see them.
Red – the blood – the heart
I am here to help the red people come into the brain.
Looking at these 2 braids hanging here, I miss the red.
Steve B. mentioned last night about my childhood vision. “There was also a vision, wasn’t there?”
When I was 16 on the hill on the homestead – I was in 2 places at 2 times at the same time. I was with the animals in the wilderness of the valley. There were no humans. I was hidden, but I was most beautiful. And I sang the most beautiful song. People heard the song, and they wondered. They talked about the woman who sang, and a very few times they caught glimpses – fleeting glimpses, but no one knew me. I was cared for absolutely in the wild. [I crossed out the word “today”] I had no need for what man or the world could offer.
Today this speaks to me of humbleness. Claiming no credit for any song I may sing. It tells me I have a song, and that God will take absolute care of me.
Red – wisdom – spirit
White – healing – mind
Black – conflict – body
Yellow – growth – emotions
February 2, 1987 Monday 11:35 PM
Anishinaabeg Cultural Heritage Center
Like the one in ABQ. Smaller – with a village with traditional lodges, etc.
I feel so lost sometimes career wise. The only idea I have is counseling. And I’m afraid of the intensity of that.
I have such a negative attitude about finding work here I could live on with the kids. Mid-winter is such a hard time to make decisions and to pan moves.
So alone here at nights. Not working puts me alone a lot.
February 5, 1987 Thursday 11:40 PM
This star quilt is really quite a project. Spent this afternoon as Jay slept just trying to arrange colors in the star points the way I liked them.
Wondering when Frank will be back.
February 7, 1987 Saturday 12:30 AM
This place does seem like home. I’m sure it does to the girls. I don’t see how I can move them.
It’s been over a week and Frank hasn’t returned yet. My period’s overdue, and will probably come when the next sweat is scheduled.
Sometimes I do feel a little lonely. I think that’s why going to bed is hard for me after all those years of sharing one with someone.
February 8, 1987 Sunday late 12:40 AM
I got my period today. If there’s a sweat this weekend I should be able to go. I want to pray for help so I can quit smoking. I want to honor tobacco as a sacrament and not abuse it and my body by smoking it except in the pipe ceremonious way.
It seemed like a long day. Went to AA with Madge this morning.
I think of Frank each day and not sure why or if I like it. Mostly good thoughts – not “corrupted” – but I think of the “whole” in my life and missing a man in it. I suppose Kay’s “having” Tom amplifies my own loneliness and longing for a deep and sharing healthy committed relationship – and all the fears I have. Need to pray for guidance and healing and patience and wisdom in this matter.
February 10, 1987 Tuesday midnight
Went with Madge to see Lori today. I hope it helped Lori. Madge dropped off some fry-bread – they had a feast tonight. I think we are all preparing for the sweat –
Got Jay some antibiotics today. Hope he sleeps better tonight.
I want to say – I like myself and my life here. Scary in a way to feel good.
February 13, 1987 Friday 4:15 PM
The rare day I write in this before midnight. Been down lately. Really pretty down. Angry, confused, worried, discouraged, burned out, afraid –
Tired of parenting these kids all alone. Tired of poverty.
Still waiting to hear if there’s a sweat tomorrow. Afraid of a crash 3 weeks later – not that this is related to that. Full moon tonight.
Feel so ALONE.
At least my children keep me from being all alone –
I married Leo so I wouldn’t be alone
I smoke cigarettes so I won’t be alone –
I envy Kay’s freedom in going – only time I had that freedom I blew it and got pregnant – I’ve always felt so needy
Valentines Day tomorrow and no sweetie (’cept kids – but I’m a woman, and I feel needs)
I escape in my projects
Bring myself unhappiness by wanting what I don’t have –
February 17, 1987 Tuesday 9 AM
Dreamt about a pipe ceremony but never saw the pipe. Food was a part of it – came together first – shared a tiny piece of cake or something – two Indian women there I’d never met. Later more people came and we were supposed to take a bit of food and go away and pray – none left – Pam was serving – held out like a miniature newborn foot, but not a crumb on it – couldn’t cut the foot – I remembered and found a thin pink candy wafer and split that and went away to pray. There were lots of people (unrelated to the ceremony) around. I had blue under my right eye (most of it was off) and green under my left eye. Found a spot on a hill to pray. Met a young boy as I walked back to the ceremony and talked with him. Woke up? Before I reached the ceremony.
Had lunch with Steve B. Says he’d probably arrange an internship starting next fall.
Decisions – so hard – Another long winter here. Another winter on welfare. Letting go of my hopes for CD counselor training in Fergus Falls is hard. I cannot afford the cost of day care. I cannot move the children.
What is my “Calling?” What work does my Higher Power want me to do?
Went to pipe ceremony tonight. Humility – Marion said tonight how important that was. I felt huge as I prayed tonight. Even my hands felt huge – 5 times their normal size.
I need to offer my tobacco in prayer each day. My pouch disappeared.
February 20, 1987 Friday VERY late 4 AM
Been talking to Thelma for hours. Thinking that I’m living and giving – maybe not making money, but doing things there’s no price tag for.
Taking time with Jay – to give him – and the girls – as solid a foundation as I can. To give them a healthy start so a cycle (generational) can hopefully be broken.
Break the cycle of despair.
Time – a precious commodity. Everyone’s so busy. Giving of self and time.
February 21, 1987 Saturday late 12:40 AM
I have lots to learn about myself sexually. After 2 ½ years of zero sexual contact with a man – having experienced a pregnancy, birth and nursing – I feel clean again – really a “virgin” – birthing a baby is a total experience – a cleansing – no man has entered me since that baby came out. I still need to hope that someday I will find “that man” and that we’ll both be ready – and that in my likes I’d like not too many years to go by.
Yet I still have growing up to do. LOTS to work on as I seek to grow in spirituality and in purity. Quitting smoking, exercise and diet are ultimately related sexually to me because they affect my body and how I feel about my entire body. My wholeness.
I pray for strength, patience, wisdom, clarity and courage for my sexual self. (All of me).
February 24, 1987 Tuesday 11 PM
Read Flight of the Seventh Moon: The Teachings of the Shields by Lyn Andrews today. Will take it to Pam tomorrow for her to read and we can talk about it. Most of it went over my head, or I felt defensive in not letting much of it in. Found myself wondering why the book was written. Probably the most powerful feminist thing I’ve ever read. If I believed it – could probably answer many of my questions about female/male-ness.
Why do women (and men) believe we’re so powerless – when actually we have a lot of power? Women as the void. Everyone with a womb within. People who hurt children hate their own child within. Perpetrators victimize and were victimized. Women should only teach women? So much of what I read I probably didn’t read right.
February 26, 1987 Thursday 11:40 PM
Ramona’s Challenge program had a presentation at school tonight. What a chaotic zoo – and yet a lot for one person to organize. Very noisy. I think Ramona and Becky did a lot and they did really well. Got 3rd place. Ramona lost a tooth tonight – the same one Jay just got in. Hum. . .
Kay said the doorbell rang at 10:55 – got home from dinner with Pan at 11:05. Scared Kay – wondered if it was Frank – if that were so, glad I wasn’t here – no reason for him to come that late anyway – certainly not without calling.
Doesn’t take much for us to feel frightened here. I suppose with rental assistance may need to find another place. Or could get a good watch dog here?
March 1, 1987 Sunday late 12:15 AM
Part of what’s hard is that when I’m the only parent here there’s no one to be with the kids when I leave and then I feel so guilty (Kay was 16, Ramona 10, Jay 22 months) – even when I do things I need and want to do for myself. Went to Pow Wow at 7 tonight and just got back.
March 2, 1987 Monday late 2 AM
Went to sleep once but Jay was coughing and miserable so I woke up. Started coughing myself and couldn’t get back to sleep. Sweat tomorrow – will I make it?
March 8, 1987 Sunday late 12:15 AM
Haven’t been writing in here since Jay got so very sick last week and went into the hospital. He’s so much better now – such a sweetheart – though demanding at times (natural). He was so very sick on Thursday I was afraid he would die, and I realize how much I love him. Ramona’s conference at school tomorrow, don’t know if I want to take Jay out.
March 11, 1987 Wednesday 11:30 PM
Jay ate so well tonight I was very happy –
Went to Lori’s tonight with Madge. She was home alone so worked out well. Got info from Henrietta today on the women’s retreat from Mar. 20-22. Started a blanket tonight for the give-a-way they’ll have at the Indian Women’s retreat. Think I’ll random piece it, then cut into squares and edge, then stuff the squares –
March 12, 1987 Thursday late 12:15 AM
This new blanket for give-a-way is coming along nicely. Mostly blue with white and soft green. Almost finished piecing the top. It’s soft to look at. Sort of restful in its own way.
Went to another Pipe ceremony tonight. I can actually feel myself praying – I like that – I love it actually. And praying for each other and families is so wonderful.
March 15, 1987 Sunday late 12:30 AM
Good weekend here. Things didn’t fall apart and get frazzled as usual. Kay’s working probably helped. Newness in the routine.
Wish I could write something wonderful for this woman’s writing thing. Not inspired, I guess. So much of the ordinary goes on – yet that’s OK.
Marion came over and I bought Ramona and I beaded earrings she made. Makes me wish my hair was longer. Finished the give-a-way blanket. I hope someone’s very happy with it.
March 17, 1987 Tuesday 11 PM
Trying to figure out this rental assistance thing, went to meeting tonight. Maybe could work something out with landlord and take over this whole house. Kids would like that.
Could stay this close to the school. Kay says she’s had the best year here of her whole life.
March 22, 1987 Sunday
Women’s retreat this weekend. Loved it.
March 24, 1987 Tuesday 11:30 PM
Looked at a house, need to show girls…
Period came 8 days early – around too many strong women.
March 27, 1987 Friday
For a long time I’ve written the time of day in here – I’m going to try to leave that behind now.
A women’s call for writing
I want to do something yet so impatient and critical of myself, saying I have nothing to write about and now’s not the time.
So how many of us never speak of our lives, our worlds – we judge as irrelevant
What blade of grass dares to stand out and speak so boldly of itself to find others begin to do the same and find their stories so much alike but only the position has been changed as they each set their roots so firmly but for every blade of grass there’s another connected to it like every thought I think there seems another connected to it. So I write page after page and yet still the paper’s blank as I wait for my own voice to come bubbling out as it did with such conviction as it did 11 years ago when I wrote “Fanny.” That woman and her way of being and speaking impressed me. She’s dead now.
The writer in me is buried beneath always more dirty laundry and never quite clean floors. Changing my life script always to suit the needs of my children as we forget so willingly who we are and go to bed at night and dream of no stars and always forget before we awake.
I thought today about those marbles and that mysterious moss covered green stump I hid them in that treasure spot and then accused of not sharing what a horrible person you are you don’t deserve to have them you deserve to be punished and punished and punished forever until you grow up and move very far away so you forget who you are and have only memories to haunt you and taunt you – those beautiful mountains that never desert me and how I could talk and they’d always listen and stand there and be there whenever I needed and how often I needed and still do and hunt for an alternative replacement.
I wish I knew another language. I’ve said enough already. Bed time, rest well.
[January 24, 2010 note: I don’t think I feel like I really exist. Same feeling I had at 21 and stood in the snow staring at my open palms when I heard, “You are a wraith, Linda, nothing but a wraith.” I didn’t even know what the word meant – Celtic of unknown origin for ‘ghost, shadow, specter’. Maybe I will find that’s what the circle story means, when I get to it – that I don’t really exist in this changed brain I have like I was never really ever born.]
March 29, 1987 Sunday night
I can’t give the star quilt away I don’t think. I have become attached to it. Giving away a part of myself – which can certainly be good – yet I’m not ready. I think a quilt to be raffled must be one by the people – more work on it than just me – ideally. I need more time to finish it – working almost constantly it would still take me 2 weeks to finish if I continue to be careful and do the edging right. I still don’t even know how I’ll do it.
Thought about my priorities as concentric circles – not ready for a primary relationship yet – wrote them starting at the center – God, sobriety, self, children, friends, art, work, marriage
April 1, 1987 Wednesday day
Went to a sweat in Brainerd with Madge yesterday – got home after midnite – Jay didn’t sleep well so I’m tired today.
I forgot the WIC appointment today – that makes me mad! And will cost me $30 this month!
April 3, 1987 night late
Still undecided on house. I think Jay’s getting another ear infection.
April 4, 1987 Saturday day
Made it out to the retreat for a time today. Back into town by 4 – they were heading into the woods to get knic-i-nic.
Have free tickets to go to the ballet tonight – yet I’d rather go to the sweat – yet don’t know anyone to watch the kids – keep thinking I have to live in the real world, too. It would be really late before the sweat was done – and Jay’s borderline sick anyway. Need to feel grateful I made it out there at all – and maybe can go back tomorrow and bring kids with me – and plan to go to the sweat during the next retreat if I don’t have my moon time.
Feels so strange to say “moon time” instead of “period” – and yet have no idea how the word “period” came to be applied to this.
I miss country where I could get up in the morning and go outside and feel as private as I do inside the walls of my own home. In town going outside feels like going into someone else’s living room. This being a more pressing problem for me only when the weather is warm – like now –
April 5, 1987 day
Gorgeous day 63 degrees. Feeling “sad” today (sort of). Missing the woods. If I were out of town, how would Kay get to work?
Sometimes I feel as though something is missing in my life. The making of this quilt passes time. I will be done with it and time will go on by. What is important?
Raising these children – yet how often is my heart not really in it? Thinking things a bother. Wanting to withdraw into myself. The introspection – find balance with the extrospection. Look within, look without. Being a cause of happiness/joy or despair/distress. Looking for a pivot point, a turning place. Feeling so far off track sometimes.
Maybe it’s time to wash some dishes. All that glitters is not gold. Winter in, summer out. Winter – plants withdraw their life force into their roots, into the soil (introspection/west). North – wisdom, preservation
Not that many years ago women (and further back all people) had little question as to what to do to earn a livelihood. I am a good worker – yet not for money. I am willing to work – just still so unclear on direction and fear I “don’t have what it takes” to do anything permanent and suitable to support a family off of welfare. I feel transient in my thinking. Still believe it’s bad to want or to have, or to do for myself. I’m still amazed I really took that pottery class or even the drawing one. I do not want to be mediocre – yet still need others to say that I’m not. Probably quit pottery because no one (I felt) took a personal interest. Held my hand. Cared if I was there or not.
Decisions do mean commitment. I’ve never decided and made that commitment to study art. Be an artist. To go where it takes me – to trust myself in that process. I want to learn to trust myself and to encourage myself. I’ve never made a commitment to feel real joy in my life because I don’t really believe it is possible.
I don’t believe I “fit” in a job –
April 6, 1987 night
I’d like a road map to follow for my life. I want a floodlight to see my whole life ahead of me. Does God show us the way and then it’s all good? I want to fly my own flag – as this quilt is a flag –
April 12, 1987 day
I dreamt last night that I had a pipe – a small pipe – There was a huge stroke of lightning, but no thunder for a long time. There was an elbow on the pipe, but no long end on it, had a hole in the stone where the elbow was, too. I could see tobacco there and had to keep my finger over that hole when I lit it – (which is impossible because it would get hot). It seems that the pipe was flattish and the bowl was dark – but I’m not sure.
I saw the lightning and wanted to go out and offer tobacco. It seems I was awkward in filling it and offering the tobacco properly to the 4 directions (each bit 4 times) before I put it in the pipe.
There was a man in the dream that I don’t remember clearly and a tree — I hope I dream about this pipe and the thunder beings again. It surprises me that I did last night –
The realization last night that right now I need to get filled more than I need to give out – the children are getting so much and need to —
April 13, 1987 Monday day
My home is a mess – hard to get motivated to clean it up. It’s like “Who cares?” Thinking also I should care. Want to find some winning things to do and things to look forward to. If a person doesn’t have clear-cut goals then their life just wanders away – depression sets in. Me today.
I want to find something that I’m good at, that I like, that fills me out instead of drains me – and earn money doing it. Maybe I have some skills that could be valuable in Alaska. I have to start the star quilt for Susan. I don’t like her choice of colors.
I would really like to have a fenced yard for Jay this summer. I guess in some ways I don’t feel we have a home. Not our own home. Don’t know where I’ll end up – just here today —
April 18, 1987
Dream – an eagle body and feathers was hung on a bill board advertising something – some crows or grackles started eating and attacking it and some eagle fluff and 2 small feathers fell at my feet. I wrapped them in cloth.
I dreamt that war planes were accumulating – haven’t had those fear of war dreams for a long time – wonder if they’re attached to my own anger.
April 20, 1987 Monday night
I wonder how the women are doing on their vision quest. I suppose a person could empty their heads of thoughts and make room for some new ones and new ways of looking at things.
I daydream a bit about getting a BFA and then going to graduate school in ABQ. I notice Jay being so busy and smart and knowing he will have to be challenged and thinking about Montessori school for him. Aim for the stars instead of a street lamp.
There are so many things to think about – and I do believe since I started going to sweats and connecting there that wonderful things are happening for me –
April 24, 1987 Friday night
Maybe it doesn’t matter to God where we live – our choice, huh? I don’t know – I would really like to go to a sweat. I would like to have a piano. I would like to take walks and get strong and healthy – to study art – to feel safe – Thinking about what to do about a house. Kay is home less and less, mostly is me, Jay and Ramona at home now. Until Jay’s older I need to be able to work where he is. At the heart of things.
April 27, 1987 day
Had coffee with Madge this AM, feeling troubled. Want to go to a sweat. I have so much. We have so much. Instead of feeling grateful I feel troubled. Burdened. Heavy. Weak. Like it’s all too much for me.
It wasn’t an easy day but I have made a decision to lease the $400 house. Will hopefully feel safer there, cheaper to heat, safer yard for Jay, things in the house will hopefully work better. Went to the food shelf today – it’s been 9 months.
Do we choose what we believe or do we discover what we believe?
May 4, 1987 Monday night
Returned from trip to the Cities – was hard but good. 4 dreams – I think it’s time to speak with Martin. Bolt of lightning in the road beside a tree, no thunder for a long time. The bolt stayed connecting earth to ground for a long time.
The braid of 3 colors, then the 3 other dreams. Black pipe, white fluff, yellow dress and fur. Larry told me that he was able to make that choice to go to that tree hit by lightning or not, and he chose not to.
May 13, 1987
Had party for Jay’s 2nd birthday at the new house. Pretty settled in there, but still not sure I want all this “old” stuff around.
May 17, 1987 Sunday PM
I haven’t made peace with the parts of myself – the one wanting solitude and time to myself – the other committed to parenting – because I want to or because I have to?
Having Jay [now 2] affects my relationship with Ramona – and I know he’s cute and adorable and precious – but he is also such an interruption – and so many years of commitment! Another 16 years to even get him through school – sometimes I believe I can’t make it – that God will have to do it – that I can’t mesh those parts of myself.
May 18, 1987 Monday day
I tell myself I want to do art – and then I say, “Why? You wouldn’t be any good at it, anyway. You have children. Raise them! That’s the only thing you can do, anyway!”
How can I know if I can “do art” unless I try – and that takes time – what time? Jay follows me around every minute – can’t even go to the bathroom and read a magazine in peace. He’s turning my pages for me and demanding his own even though I’ve put some on the floor for him –
Solitude. Sabotage myself. I abandoned my own self and ignored my own needs – Now that I’ve done such a good job at that – built this family I must raise all alone – how can I meet these needs I have?
I try to find myself – get my own life organized – and there’s too much — like I could move from one house – one dream – into another and there I’d be – all put together – on track – yet there’s no one to do it but me.
I think I know part of the medicine dream meaning. After I walked through all those completely clean and sunlit rooms with their polished wood floors, I chose not to have sex with that man that was standing outside that last doorway tempting me so I got to go through the doorway and be in the healing ceremony. I stopped at the threshold and saw that I was transformed. I wore all yellow with that soft long yellow fur flowing from my right shoulder, across my heart and down to the floor. The real joining in the sprit rather than sexually with myself – my split I’m feeling now – the rift – not the good/bad side, rather the male/female side – “healing ceremony for a man’s heart “ – my own heart – the joining, the medicine man also wore yellow and he reserved a place behind him for me to be in the dance, so I followed him. I recognized the indecisive part of me and the compassionate part of me.
Also with the abandonment issue – I have abandoned myself – I left myself behind – never consulted with her about what she needed and wanted in life – the isolation, the loner, the artist, the solitude one, the quiet watcher one, the relaxed one – and how to meld that with my mothering – and still the career direction –
If you don’t know where you want to go how will you know when you get there?
May 20, 1987 Wednesday day
I feel more like a maker than a doer.
Wondering what to give Adam tonight when I go talk with him as a gift. I really have no money. And yet this shawl is worth $100 at least (the rust one). I miss my loom. I wonder if I could ever get another one –
I would like to ask Adam about that stone – and bring the braids. It’s hard to be patient and wait to go up there – nervous, afraid, excited, hopeful.
The split between my man and my woman parts – my maker and doer parts – Can I ask Adam about the medicine wheel?
I need balance of the above, but right now I see and feel more of what this “split” is and how it paralyzes me –how I fight in my head about not doing anything in my life –
My will – I feel almost will-less – and that’s part of where my depression has been – In my childhood I could do neither – I was forced to be immobilized. I was confined much of the time – physically confined – in corners or in bed or in the shed – It’s like in many ways I have never learned to walk and run and dance – part of me is still confined in small spaces, waiting for someone to come set me free – to release me – like when I was five in bed for three weeks – and at 6 when I had to sit on that stool all night – I still don’t believe and have no faith and confidence that I can direct myself and my life – self-discipline.
My will has been damaged – and I watched the ants – and sat still for hours and hours without thinking and watched the ants who were never still – always busy and in motion – makes me think about what Mr. Bob-o-link said: “Look around, things are in motion. They are moving, leaves, water, bugs.”
Except in winter when the water is frozen, there are no leaves on the trees to move – Reminds me of my dreams where the water sits on top of the ice and appears not to move, yet it is wet –
Like I’m coming unthawed – maybe once I move around past the north I will come into motion. Not hectic, stressful, harried, frenzied motion, but purposeful, directed motion.
Maybe after I’ve been divorced 4 years I will be with a man – that would be at the time Kay turns 18. I need to grow and learn and heal some more. If I let my hair grow it will be quite long by then.
In order to survive those times I was abandoned alone as a child, all those times – it was too painful to stay with myself – so I left – abandoned myself –
Now I have to somehow make room and let myself join myself again – I wonder if this did start when the women went away to fast – even before that when I was left out and wasn’t invited to Katie’s feast –
July 3, 1987
Sometimes I feel this loneliness as if it were a part of my body, a part I don’t accept, that is hard to won. I don’t really know where it comes from.
Alone, Huh? Not a part of that first family, not knowing where I belong.
July 4, 1987 Saturday night
I wish I could talk to my Grandma. All the time I grew up I think we were influenced by her values. She was classist – yet I think she believed in success and in lots of ways I do feel like a failure. I must tell myself I should have more money and have done more in my life.
Grandma was a career woman. Mom was a backlash stay-at-home mother. I’m a strange and unsatisfied version/combination of both.
I feel I lack drive and motivation to “get ahead.” I raise kids on welfare. Would probably make grandma very unhappy. She knew I was smart. And I have so many talents. Things started off for me so badly. I wonder how much she knew of what Mom said and did to me.
She would have wanted me to make use of my abilities. Certainly to have made different choices.
July 5, 1987
Talked to Larry and Echo about the differences between Lakota and Ojibway – the ‘backward’ sweats I am wondering about my 4th dream and the clear sensation I had that was a Sioux Medicine Man – and Martin Highbear won’t be back for yet another month – I will need to ask him.
July 19, 1987 Sunday
Just back from South Dakota and Fargo trip. Jay’s father wants to drop child support to $10 per month. I feel so angry and so alone! I also got a notice they are dropping food stamps for the four of us to $99 per month and I don’t know why. I should never have come home and opened the mail this late at night when there’s nobody I can call and talk to. Trying to give my girls a semi-middle class life on this poverty budget makes life tough – creates stress.
This was what I was looking for when I dived into these journals last evening. I found the dates, but no notes about what happened on that trip. I will have to write this from my January 24, 2010 memory: *Age 35 – Bear Butte and the circle around me (1987)
July 21, 1987
I want to go to a high place and survey the world. Yet I must live on this earth in the low places and find ways to help the best I can.
The fact is I decided to stay here until Kay graduates and until Jay was older rather than to go for the training in Fergus – yet whenever these poverty issues arise I go right back to that – really terrified of 2 more years ahead – guilty that I’m not working – no money for daycare – even this single parent book I got makes no mention of welfare home life – like it doesn’t exist.
I can’t do a damn thing without Jay following me around and harassing me constantly. That alone is enough to drive me crazy! I can’t think of a damn job in this town I would want. I wish I were in Fergus doing my training – even if it meant selling all this damn stuff – I’m tired of hauling it around. I feel unable to cope with anything. I feel caught in a trap I can’t see or define. I feel unable to cope with the real work world – or my emotions, money, responsibilities, meals or budgeting. I feel out of control, angry, frustrated, guilty, inadequate. Even with volunteer work I can’t afford the babysitting.
And if I worked full-time I still fear that I’d remain this uptight about myself and my time – yet also I think if I go out and work maybe I could avoid these parenting alone hassles because I would ignore them.
I’m not trained for anything specific, nor do I yet at almost 36 have any idea what I want or “should” be doing. Part of me wants to give up, leave Kay here, sell everything, and move to Albuquerque – ‘cept I fear I would take all of these inner frustrations with me. I still operate with a lot of shoulds – I should make a home for these kids – yet I should also be working. I should somehow know and practice something about getting along in this world as an adult that I missed!
I feel somehow I’m on the wrong track – like I’d like to erase what I’ve drawn so far – or throw it out and start over again fresh –
People say I owe my kids stability – yes, but what options does that leave me with?
July 26, 1987 Sunday day
A beautiful, beautiful summer’s day. “My” flowers are beautiful – yet I feel some kind of fear knot inside like I’m expecting something to happen – and those flowers are not mine –
Putting my life between these pages yet there’s nothing here – substance of cotton candy – no substance –
Feeling a loss, perhaps – indefinable – having to do with summer’s passing and my fear that I’m not making enough joy of it.
Like this white geranium – loaded with buds and yet somehow I have a fear it will never finish its blooming.
Confining myself within my house – so I moved out here in the shade.
If a tree falls in a forest and no soul is there to hear it then does it make a sound?
Questioning my own sincerity or faith or lack of it. The meaning to my life. My lack of feeling connected and in any flow of things. Despondency that borders merely on self indulgence and erroneous expectations of this world I am in. Unprepared from childhood to make much active use of it.
July 28, 1987 Tuesday
Just for the record, as soon as my moon time came I felt like an entirely different person.
I am really looking forward to when we can begin the full moon ceremonies as I think this pms “problem” will repair itself a great deal.
August 17, 1987
I am at the end of this journal book. What have I done in these past 9 months?
I am feeling less and less able to competently function in the world. I feel depressed, useless, angry, hopeless, pessimistic – and guilty and ashamed that I feel any of this. I feel hemmed in, closed in, trapped, blocked by my own mind/thoughts.
I’ve been realizing I’ve been gone from home as long as I was there – and it feels as though I’ve been gone a long time.
So I was HOME a long time – 18 years of constant abuse is beginning to feel like a reality.
How can I heal from these effects? As a tree is bent, so shall it grow – and I feel BENT!! I need some help.
connects to January 25, 2010 post: