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Archive for the ‘the Past’ Category

I miss the recognition in your eyes. It’s been over 20 years, and I’ve come to understand over the years why I miss you still. You are the one person who really knew all the parts of me.
On the rare occasions that reunites us, I recognize that momentarily when I look in your eyes before you mask it. We all want to know that someone really knows us, that place where secrets live and are safe outside of us, the history of us, the totality of us. It’s not fair that someone can steal that from you and you can never get it back. You carry each other’s unspoken secrets with you and it’s a burden and a blessing. The agony is knowing someone walked off into another life with that piece of you, and left that piece of them in you, and you can’t give it back any more than you can get it back.
Building a new life isn’t really so difficult when you do it moment by moment, year-by-year, experience by experience. You add in many pieces, so many pieces, to make up for that one large piece you lost. But you realize that no matter how many pieces you add in that piece lost can’t be replaced and that the scene is forever changed and the picture can’t really be complete because you are always trying to find another piece to fit in that hole.
It’s not wrong that I miss you, I’ve learned that over the years. I have a full life, I live a full life, I’ve chosen a full life. But when I’m sitting by the window, and it’s raining outside, and a song comes on that pulls at me, I go back to that missing piece….and it’s raindrops falling like memories, cascading down, drenching my view.

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Let me just make a recommendation right off the bat, if you adore your mother, if you love mother’s day, this may not be the blog for you…or it might. Personally, every year I struggle with mother’s day, can’t even bring myself to capitalize it. It is by far my least favorite holiday/celebratory day of the whole year. I prefer Groundhogs Day, Presidents Day, Humiliation Day (Jan. 3rd), National Bubba Day (June 2nd), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th) and Marooned Without a Compass Day (November 6th), all to mother’s day.

I no longer struggle (much) with this day, I mainly just quietly ignore and wait for it to pass. And just so you know, I am a mother of two adorable grown daughters, who do not know I do not like mother’s day to the extent I dislike it, because what they do know is I LOVE being their mother.

See, I have learned over the years, many years, that there is a huge difference between being a mother and a parent, a father and a parent. My ‘mother’ is still living, so I do not speak of this unknowingly or lightly. As you may be aware from previous posts, my father is still living also and in an Alzheimer’s facility.

When I was blogging in my head earlier today I knew I had to write about it. I do that, blog in my head. A past acquaintance referred to it as ‘mind %#$@ing’. He didn’t get it, and it was before blogging.

My mother/parent, gave it what she had. She simply was not equipped to be a mother to me, but was able to parent me, and for that I am grateful. She met all of my basic needs wonderfully, faultlessly. But she wasn’t able to mother me. This was not unique to my mother, it was the relationship she had with her mother, her mother had with her mother, and I don’t know beyond that but probably went back more generations. It took therapy to get to a point of first recognizing it, accepting it, forgiving it and letting go of it…except on mother’s day. This was complicated early on by the fact that growing up my father had very high expectations of myself and my siblings on just how mother’s day would go, and it required excellent behavior and big displays of love and affection from us. I couldn’t muster either so I remember mother’s day as always being a struggle.

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Then I became a mother, a young mother, and my husband was determined to override my mother’s day wiring by spoiling me, having the girls spoil me and doing his damnedest to make me feel loved and appreciated. And it helped for a while, but always those feelings of “will this day never end?!” hung on. You see, when you know you didn’t get to have a mother and you watch everywhere around you and see what it is like to have a mother, even in your own home as you are mothering, you have a hard time embracing the celebration of it. My mother made it very clear very young that she did not want me, confirmed this to me when I was a young adult and saw no problem with it. Again, she parented well, and provided for me. But there have been so many, many times in my life that I have struggled with how to react to something because it was never modeled for me. It was not only up to me to figure out, she resented my ability to figure it out. My mother was emotionally abusive from the time she found out she was pregnant, details don’t matter here. I learned to mother myself, and from that learned to mother my children. My children were my saving grace as I was able to feel the love of a mother by being a mother. I was also able to feel the pain of what I missed by what they received. I feel mainly just pity for her at this point, long gone are the days of anger or need.

At some point many of us, for various reasons have to make a decision between leaving our past and choosing our future. Sometimes that choice is forced on us, sometimes it is a long slow process and if you are lucky, it never happens, you are able to mesh the two. For me, it became clearer and clearer that to own my life and live forward, I could not stay engaged with her. It was the final step in truly letting go and accepting that ours was a relationship not made of choice, not wanted and not necessary. I learned that I needed peace in my life more than I needed a ‘mother’ and that ship had sailed. I felt free for the first time when I came to that realization and realized it didn’t even matter to her.

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My greatest reward for mother’s day is watching my daughters enjoy it with their children, knowing that cycle has been broken. Watching them joke about it and detecting no stress or anxiety about it, makes it all worth it.

In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law the resolution unanimously adopted by the U. S. Congress establishing the fourth Sunday of every July as Parents Day. This I can get behind, because sometimes that is all that is possible. Sometimes a parent just isn’t equipped to be a father or mother, but they do their best to be a parent, to meet those basic needs.

And it isn’t about all the hugging and kissing or sitting up late at night talking through things. It’s just about being there. What makes my father, my father, is not any of that, he traveled much of the time I was growing up, he left the parenting to my mother. He was the disciplinarian. But he was also the teacher of principles, the one who though was wrongfully hard on us, was equally hard on us. I think each one of us felt we had a special relationship with him. He wanted so badly for us to be independent, strong, happy women, and it was his mission in life to accomplish that. That is what made him a father, not because he did it all right, because he did not.

Parenting is not for the weak of heart, mothering is not for everybody. And sometimes the two just don’t go together, and that is what keeps therapists employed! I hope that if you struggle with mother’ss day, that you are able to find peace in the ability to mother yourself, and know, it was never about you not deserving a mother.

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Last night I was watching one of the singing competitions, yes I’m one of the few that is still suffering through it, and mainly for this reason ~ there is a woman on there named Candice, and when she opens her mouth to sing I am transformed by her voice. Last night she sang one of my favorite Billie Holiday songs, “You’ve Changed”.

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Others have also sang this song such as the great Ella Fitzgerald, but I love Billie Holiday, there is such a raw emotion in her.

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And Candice did not dissapoint, she sent it soaring.

What struck me is I’ve heard this song many, many times before, but last night I heard it different. Instead of hearing the song from not only the heartbreak of the person who is being left, I heard it from a point of saddness for the person who ‘changed’. Maybe this is simply a reflection from my own experiences and distance from them.

I realize that when a relationship ends, and one of the people, though typically both to some extent, have ‘changed’, there is a lingering malaise. It seems that the person who ‘changed’ not only disconnects with the person in the relationship, but all too often disconnects with themself.

Sometimes this is short term, but it seems at times it is ongoing. You look at that person that has changed and see a loss of not only the connection they had, but a loss of who they were, the very spirit they had. The lingering questions in their eyes that over time turn into a certain acceptance of being lost. In the phrase from the song “That sparkle in your eyes is gone; your smile is just a careless yawn” there is a warning. I can tell you from being on both ends, I would rather be left than lose myself. I have watched that struggle in others as they struggle to regain who they were and what they had, and still see the sparkle missing that has been replaced by weariness.

Now the good news is, it makes for great song material and Candice nailed it which brought me great delight and thoughts to write about!
Peace to all going through change or to someone who has changed!

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Twenty years ago I was divorced from my high school, no, junior high school sweetheart, after 23 years together.
At the time I wrote a book about how women grieve to help me through it all (the ‘all’ part being another woman). Then I forgot about it as I moved on piece by peace.

Then a couple of weeks ago I rediscovered it! I didn’t even have a copy if you can imagine that. Fortunately I had given a hard copy to my best friend. Over the years and move from one computer to the next it just disappeared.

When a recent conversation with my sister made me remember it I decided to try to find it. When I couldn’t locate a copy of any type in my possession I asked my friend if she still had it, and she did. She mailed me a copy…seems we came full circle.

It is so incredibly strange to be reading through this! I feel like I am reading it as written by a stranger. The pain is so raw in places. It makes me appreciate my journey of the past twenty years, my current life and husband of 13 years. Mostly it makes me proud of the work, focus and determination to have a ‘healthy’ (for the most part) divorce and heartbreak.

But I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how it pulls on me too. Mainly I just want to hug that woman and tell her I admire her and comfort her. My first husband, I won’t say ‘ex’, he wasn’t crossed off a list, and myself enjoy a nice relationship. Too many ‘what ifs’ and regrets for him to let himself trust himself around me, so he stays tightly wound. It’s actually his wife and I who get along great. Our children enjoy being able to have family gatherings with us all together, with our little grandchildren, as it should be.

And each time at some point we catch each other’s eye and for a moment, we both know and share what we lost. And I feel at peace.

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You know those moments that sneak up from behind and at first you feel their chill, like a cool breeze out of no where, and then spooked, you see a flash of something you know no one else saw? Those moments that yank you from present to past and back to present so fast that you aren’t sure what happened, but it leaves you feeling momentarily confused…maybe it’s a song, maybe it’s a smell, maybe someone who in a blink looked like someone else….or maybe it’s the world whispering to you. When that happens, it can be so startling for a moment it makes me gasp, then I have to stop, like playing freeze tag, before I can go on.
Such a moment happened today, and it felt like I was momentarily removed and replaced in my life. I was walking through a store, looking at clothes that I found completely uninteresting and kinda humming to a song playing in the background when I saw the oddest little picture that reminded me so much of one from 25 years ago on a Caribbean island my first husband and I had visited and the enormously fun day it was a part of, and then all of a sudden the lyrics overhead were “I wait patiently for the day you leave my head”…it brought a gasp, a moment of confusion, and then I smiled. I accepted long ago that will never happen. That he will never leave my head, that moments will always exist where he is there with me. I know all the memories, stories, plans and inside jokes will forever be a part of me, and I am at peace with that. I know I can pack them all away neatly and place them on the top closet shelf out of the way, but every now and then they will get bumped and come tumbling down. The difference, between him and me, and now and then, is that when they inevitably fall down I find something amusing among them as I put them back away. No longer do I become angry, frustrated or overwhelmed by the mess. Now I know I simply and calmly place them back on that top shelf labeled “past”. I am comfortable with the part of me they belong to and how they have shaped me.

When you left
you left much behind
for so long
I didn’t have the strength
or care, to clean it all out
now I do.

There is no room in the attic for anger
it must go
The sadness clutters my soul
so I keep it put away
The loneliness for so long was not to my taste
but now, it has become comfortable
so even though I’m not sure what to do with it,
I keep it
just to sit with sometimes

I have decorated now with things that are more ‘me’
forgiveness fits perfect in my home
makes it warm to be in
But what I have gained and enjoy most
is Peace
I have it in every room, always with me

Still, sometimes, there seems to be something missing
and I know it is you
But I continue to go on with my decorating
Knowing one day
I will look around and notice
the void is gone.

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Isn’t it funny how we end with just what we intended but it doesn’t look anything like what we ‘wanted’ our lives to be. My friend has been divorced for a number of years, always seeking companionship, love, whatever you want to call it, but is married to her career and needs to always be in control, which is her intent, but she would never say its what she wanted. A dear friend is married for the second time, is wealthy from the first marriage, has two amazing homes in amazing locations, but is estranged from one child, rarely sees the other and doesn’t seem overly concerned…lives the lifestyle she intended but would deny its what she wanted. And the examples go on and on. We make our decisions so often in life to meet intent and then are confused when the outcome doesn’t meet the desire. I want peace in my life…I must now reflect on what my intentions were, my motive.

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that the band ceased to play. It’s odd to ‘celebrate’…definitely the wrong word, ‘mourn’, wrong word too…an anniversary that involved so many, but that you alone know is taking place or remember. A day that changed my life, so many lives, so permanently, and yet quietly it slips in and out today. Twenty years. I remember when twenty years seemed like forever, now twenty years later it seems like yesterday. Twenty years ago I just wanted to survive that day, that week, so sure that twenty years later it would all be so far in the past it would just be a blink of a memory, if I remembered. Now it is twenty years later and I remain with the question of ‘how?’, not ‘why?’, I understand the ‘why’, but not the ‘how’. How did this happen, how do I move on, how do I stop the ache, how did this happen? But I did move on, not sure how, day by day. The ache doesn’t stop, but I did learn to live with it…most of the time. But never got the how it happened, how you actually left.
I wish you peace, I love you still.

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