Never let go…

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad's hand.

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad’s hand.

 

Humans of New York (http://www.humansofnewyork.com) posted this photo with the caption “Dad let go of her hand, but she never let go of Dad’s hand.”

My earliest and perhaps most innocently poignant memory is of having to let go of my dad’s hand. I guess myself at around three. My mother and father were viciously arguing. My sister and I were hiding on the stairway. My heart was racing; scared of the fighting and petrified I’d get caught for sitting on those steps listening to all the loud yelling I didn’t understand and be punished for my curiosity. Two policemen showed up. They appeared larger than life and what frightened me most was the billy club each had dangling from their belt. Menacing, baseball bat looking clubs as big as my leg, which I knew were there to be used. In my confusion for sitting on the stairway…or maybe it was the automatic assumption I’d carry with me for the rest of my life that as usual, I’D done something wrong …whatever it was, somehow I knew instantly that billy club was to beat me with. The minute I saw it, I ran as fast as my legs could fumble themselves up those stairs in my panic, too scared now to even worry about being quiet!

I ran straight to the top of the stairs and turned into the first door on the left, my parent’s bedroom. My bedroom was straight ahead and the same distance to run, but somehow I felt sure that billyclub would come looking for me in MY room. So, I thought I was quite clever to hide in my parent’s room where they at least wouldn’t come first looking for me, maybe buying myself a few precious seconds before the beating.

The yelling downstairs had ceased. I could still hear talking; the policemen and my parents’ voices, but no more yelling. I wanted so much to hear what they were saying…to know what I had done this time…and get a clue as to how bad the billyclub beating might be….ohhhhh, how I wanted to know! Sheer terror kept me hiding behind the leather rocking chair in the corner of my parents’ bedroom, though. I didn’t DARE peek out and be nosy with the billyclub man there, no matter how overwhelming my curiosity was!

My sister had gone under their bed. I stayed behind the chair for what felt like my last eternal moments before my inevitable death, making myself as small as I could to hide completely and occasionally putting my head sideways against the floor to peek under it and see my sister under the bed.

That lasted forever and I must be missing some time in there because the next thing I recall is my mother standing in front of my dad by the big wooden front door downstairs. My mother facing my dad directly, his face looked sad and hurt, not angry and mean like my mother’s and I knew something was horribly awfully wrong. My dad smiled and laughed perpetually. I’d never seen this look on his face ever.   Not once on my entire three years! My mother held mine and my sister’s hands on either side of her, facing him and saying to us, who do you want to go with? This was a hard question. I didn’t want to hurt either of my parents’ feelings and I didn’t know what the right answer was. I love my mommy so much and I love my daddy too! And forever without one of them seemed an impossible choice. At that moment, I really believed this was the most final and permanent decision I’d ever have to make in my lifetime. My sister immediately piped up with, I’m going with you, Mommy.  She either knew the right answer because she was an older, wiser five years old or it simply wasn’t the dilemma for her that it was for me? I didn’t know. I was looking at my dad’s face right that moment, still that sad look that was hauntingly unknown to me and I knew I couldn’t leave my daddy alone no matter what. My sister had already picked mother. I couldn’t leave my daddy alone with that expression on his face and I could feel the hot anger seething off my mother, while my dad felt quietly just hurt and defeated maybe…somehow seeming much safer than the alternative. I stepped over to my obviously wounded gigantic daddy and said, I’ll stay with you, Daddy.

It was decided. My sister left with our raging, seething mother and I stayed with our wounded, broken hearted Daddy, just knowing I could love on him enough with hugs and kisses to chase that sad look away and bring back his usual jolly smile. Strange that the few seconds it took me to make that choice feeling afraid because I believed it would be forever and I’d answer wrong, was immediately replaced with as much confidence as any three-year-old could have after answering such a question. I knew I belonged with my daddy. I loved and adored my mommy like crazy as any child does, but I knew the minute I took those few steps over to stand by my daddy’s side, that that was exactly where I belonged in this world, even if it DID mean I’d never see my beloved mother’s face again. I felt sad, but I was no longer afraid that I’d answered the question wrong. Yes, I belonged with Daddy; my happy, laughing, loving daddy with the smile that lifted my heart high in the air full of joy every day.

I didn’t understand this was only for the night…or a few days…or whatever it ended up being. I can’t recall. The last thing I remember is feeling that odd confidence that I’d made the right choice and knowing I would be safe forever right next to my daddy, holding tight to his great big warm hand.

But it wasn’t forever. Not too long after this painful choice…a night…two or three days…my mother returned and took me with her and my sister. And, my daddy had to let go of my hand. I never let go of his though. Over the next 14 years, I held onto my daddy’s hand once in a while in person when I was allowed to see him, but every day and night I held onto his hand in my prayers, in my dreams, in my thoughts when I was scared, and in my heart when I felt unloved and unwanted or confused and beaten. And I continued to hold it the 27 years following that as I trudged my way through life, love, rape, abuse, and many scary choices.

Forty-one years later from the day I made that first great big life choice to hold my dad’s hand, I’m still holding that big warm hand in my mind and my heart. My daddy is gone. He let go of my hand again to go to heaven but I haven’t let go of Daddy’s hand.

With or Without…Him

Will I ever stop loving him? I truly think not…

Things are better, but only as friends… a friendship which is slowwwwwlllyyyy developing and gaining trust (I think!?). I’m okay, no actually, I’m grateful for the friendship we are creating. I would rather have him as a dear friend than not have him in my life at all.

Just when I really believe my feelings for him have finally transformed into a more brotherly-like love, I will look at him and…

I just stopped over to his house to get a donation for a cause I’m collecting for. Coincidentally, as I’m driving over there, the song he once told me in the smack dab middle of our personal not-together-but-not-separate hell starts playing. Even as I pull in his drive, the song (With or Without You) is still playing. I can’t help but play the moment when he asked me to be sure they played that at his funeral through my mind. A thought I’ve not allowed myself to re-live in quite a few years. But I do now. It’s safer now, right? We are truly just friends. Pulling in his drive, I hesitate to turn the car and song (and sweet memory) off, but I gotta grab the donation and get somewhere else.

He’s just fresh from the gym, wearing sweats and kinda sweaty… I actually think my feelings have changed. No, I mean I really believe that.

Then he holds me for a moment and after all this time of craziness and whatnot, I feel for the first time in years, more than a mere friendly hug. His arms wrap around me just a bit softer and more tender than they did for our last few hugs. They hold onto me just a tad tighter and longer. At first, I don’t want to let go. I want to cling to him for life the minute I feel that something more from him. I do hold on, not for dear life, but like him, just a smidgeon more from my soul and not just from my trained-to-love-him-as-a-friend mind (that protection mode I’ve developed after all this time).

And I think to myself, am I imagining this? Is my eight year long fantasy running away with my rational side? I hold on for a minute right back, then gently push away from him and tell myself, Yes, you’re only imagining that something extra. Okay yeah, the hug is slightly different than he’s been hugging you for the past few years, but it does not, and I mean does NOT mean anything.

Snapped back to the reality, we continue a friendly chat for a few minutes. As I prepare to leave (no matter what type of visit/relationship/hug/whatever, I always, always hate leaving his house!), he grabs his donation to carry to my car for me. I walk next to him to grab my handbag sitting on the table. I’m not sad we are just friends. I don’t look at the picture on his refrigerator with the girl he’s dating now and feel any jealousy or even any hurt or twinge of “what if” like I once would have felt like a nail piercing my heart. No, I don’t feel that anymore. So yes, my love for him now must truly be friendly only; love coming from that pure place in my heart which loves forever when it truly loves at all. So, as I’m standing rather close to him grabbing my bag and he’s got his donation bag, I’m preparing to leave. We are laughing about something trivial and suddenly he sets the donation bag back down…(what? what is he doing? No donation after all?).. Yeah, he sets it back down….to hug me again!

tidal wave

This is an even longer hug than the first one…and just as tender..but maybe I sense something almost sensual in this one as he holds me close and brushes the small section of exposed skin on my upper back. Is it? No! I only love him as a friend… yet my heart soars, pitter-patters, skips, and plays hopscotch like a little girl. And this time I struggle with correcting my feelings and I rest my head in the nook of his neck and shoulder where it has always fit just right and I want to let go and melt into him like I have a million times before.

Oh, will I ever, EVER stop loving him?

Our humble return

I do not know where or how to begin back on this blog… I do know, however, that unless I just “do”, the random pieces of me – the pieces I love, the pieces I detest and every other element in the middle – will begin to float out into a vast black hole of nothingness. And it will be as if it never happened; even perhaps as if I haven’t existed in those frames. There would merely be long frames of life and action, empty of humanity…filled with nothing but the space around the people: an entire section of a movie void of any activity or characters; photographical “still” shots, running consecutively without humanity to define it.
I’ve yet again returned to my home that never was. I’m delighted to do so as for a moment there, circumstances and events all pointed to the distinct possibility that returning ever again might have been an unfortunate impossibility. So, I return with gratitude… Gratitude that I had a place to “return” to as well as mass gratitude that I was given the ability and resources against the odds to actually do so.
In the City of Sin, I lived in a lovely house with my two daughters and Jasper the cat. We lived about ten miles from the children’s father. I could go on and on about the terrific points of our brief stay there. It was certainly not as horrible as it could have been. However, my children’s father was not the same person I’ve we’ve thought he was for many years. He was cruel and abusive. This began as being directed only toward me, which was disappointing and uncomfortable, as well as shocking and unwarranted. Shortly after I realized that I was to be treated like the unwanted step-child, I soon realized that this wasn’t to stop with me. The daddy slowly started directing it toward our children – the very children whom he was “moved to tears” that they would be living in close proximity to him. Even this I thought would be workable, such was my faith in the man I’d come to think the daddy was. Yet, when we combined his blatant disrespect and dis-compassion to me with his treatment of my children, our children, I very quickly realized that I was powerless to protect my children from the same treatment. Without the mutual respect of our previous relationship, my attempts at interfering on their behalf merely caused huge arguments, more disrespect, more apathy, and the treatment continued…and worsened.
I want so much to be grateful that my children had never before seen or heard their parents argue and be grateful that they had no concept of how horribly unkind their father was capable of treating their mother. After all, this was the very reason these children had never lived in a “nuclear family” situation. I decided when they were still infants that I would prefer them to grow up in a single mother dysfunction rather than expose them to the kind of environment which was their parents living together as a family. My choice in moving across the country in order to allow them more contact and closeness with their father was based entirely upon the mass changes he had made in himself, his life, and his character since our early days. It proved, however, that I merely postponed their exposure to these things for thirteen years and then promptly moved them directly into the line of fire to experience the very way of life I so proudly and fiercely had protected them from as babies.
So, I wish to be grateful that they were saved from experiencing this as their only life experience up until this point, as I understand some children have… But, I can’t. I’m angry as hell that I made this choice: angry at myself and furiously angry with their father! Had I not regained such faith and trust in him, my children very well might have gone their whole lives without knowing on any personal level the kind of person their father could be… and often is. But now they know. And even my attempts at coloring the events with my rosy crayon fell upon eyes now too old to fall for such deceptions. It wasn’t long after we arrived that I ran out of smoke and mirrors and plausible explanations for his behaviors.
Now my gratitude is only in that I was able to successfully remove us from that situation. Not without massive loss… we had no choice but to leave our belongings there and leave with only a few suitcases of clothing. We were satisfied with that exchange when we thought we might lose our home if we did not leave these things behind. However, in his anger at our choice to leave against his will (and more notably in spite of his “power” over us), he opted to take our home from us anyway. So we returned “home” homeless. To add insult to injury, “Daddy” also decided to contact my father to warn and threaten him not to “assist us” in any way, claiming that it was for “our own good” to suffer the consequences of our “rash and thoughtless” actions; threatening to never again provide any support or assistance to either myself or our two children if my father opted to assist us in any manner. Adding in there that any kindnesses my father might offer us would be taken for granted(by us), as any and all previous kindnesses had been. The “Daddy” was terribly insulting to my father, as well as our two children and me.
I am exceedingly grateful that my father did not heed these threats or warnings and chose to assist us anyway. Thankfully, I mustered up the finances to get us back in a safe environment and we were fortunate enough to stay with my dad for a few months until I could find a place for us to live.
And we are home…with not a single desire to ever leave again. I don’t miss my things much… my clothes, my furniture, not even my precious life mementos. What I deeply miss is the innocence of my children; their beautiful faith in their father, our respect for him as a good man – those are the things I miss the most that in the aftermath of this whole disaster, I fear can never be replaced or restored.
I realize here on my blog, that only a few months ago, I truly believed the worst pain I could feel was a repeatedly crushed and destroyed heart courtesy of Dave K. I now realize with horrifying impact that even that doesn’t compare to the agony of watching your children’s hearts break and knowing you are powerless to ever repair or soothe their pain.
I have the most amazing and beautiful children any mother could have, as well as the blessings of angels in the assistance my father provided us in our desperate time of need. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

the home that wasn’t

In exactly one week, we head off to a whole new life…a new world to us, new environment, new culture, new (to us) house…..everything new and different!!

I am scared, excited, fearful, exhilarated, anxious, and sad…  I see the sun peeking up as I write and I think of the thousands of sun rises and sunsets which have encroached upon this world for me…  I’ve had the happiest sunsets I ever thought possible right here in this little frustrating town.  I’ve had the absolutely most phenomenal sunrises here as well.  I can say with complete candor, I’ve had experiences and moments here which were the very stuff that dreams are made of…the very fiber of fairy tales come to life.  I have made some unbelievably wonderful friends and known some interesting people.  I’ve laughed till my stomach hurt for days following and my cheeks felt like they had done strenuous Pilates.  I’ve cried more tears than I knew I had in me.  Here, my heart has been so full of love I thought it would burst and so broken, I thought I would die.  I’ve spent days on the beach about which I could have written novels, both comedic and romantic.  I’ve met pilots traveling through, partied with hundreds of people inside military planes.  I’ve gone swimming by moonlight, laughing through the waves.  I’ve skipped in the rain and laughed in the snow. I’ve sat out and I’ve danced.  I’ve lived in ten different houses here, all with unique people and experiences.  I’ve been single here.  I’ve been married here.  I’ve been a mother here and responsibility free.  I had my first real boyfriend here and my first grown-up love.  I’ve learned lessons I never even imagined as a child.  I’ve grown, I’ve stagnated, I’ve flown free as a butterfly and I’ve been imprisoned like a criminal.

I’ve played house and wife, mother and employee.  I’ve played conservative party-girl, lost hippie child, and unemployed beach bum.  When I moved away for college and a few years later my world crashed, I ran here.  This has been the only home (“base”) I’ve ever known.  The only place I’ve been able to return to (come “home” to)in the whole world  no matter what happened.  As much as I’ve often felt out-of-place here, out of sorts, and like an “outsider”, over the years, I’ve become this place; both the things I love here and the things I don’t.  This place is a part of me…a huge and irrevocable piece of my growth and my essence.  I will carry people and memories, lessons and experiences from here as though it’s part of my genetic DNA.  In spite of the fact that I did not “grow up” here, I very much did grow up here in so very many ways.  The people and things I’ve done and known here have shaped my soul in a good ways and bad.  The sand from the beaches has become embedded in my skin forever.  The memories rooted in my soul, never to be un-done, even if someday forgotten.  I carry every person, every moment, every encounter, every drop of beach water, every crashing wave, every love, every hurt, every tear, and every laugh with me for the rest of my days.   I’ve been hated here, loved here, nurtured and abused here on every imaginable and unimaginable level.  I’ve wildly dreamed of escaping this hell-hole and I’ve ached to return to its embracing shores…

I’ve never known a “home”, a home base, a place to run to…never.  And yet, I knew that here; the home of a place to go when I was lost and scared in the world (my dad).  The home where I felt I was always supposed to be, the place I walked into and realized I had been holding my breath for so many years, I didn’t realize how beautiful breathing could be (Dave).

This has been the only home I’ve ever known by any definition or connotation of the word “home”.   I am scared to the pit of my soul to leave here…and yet I’m scared equally to stay.  I fear I can never come “home” again, in the way that this is now my home.  I’m a mother and a college graduate and I wasn’t even raised here, and yet somehow it almost feels like I’m leaving the nest for the very first time.  I feel like a high school graduate heading off into the world on my own into the far and unknown beyond.

What will be here when I next return to visit, to live, to escape, to…????  What feelings will remain?  How will I be changed?  Nothing will ever stay the same as it is now and has been.

Life is scary.  Change is inevitable.  This was never my home…and yet strangely it’s also been the only home I’ve ever known.

Washed in a forgotten moment

There was one night…it was pounding rain in fat bullets from the sky.  We ran quickly in the house, but still we were drenched!   Tiny Jake was soaking wet and shivering. Grabbing a towel, I wrapped him up snuggly and tight like an infant swaddled.  And you…. You….  I could see directly into your heart through the look in your eyes.  It was big and warm, vibrantly green  and had rays of hope shooting from it like a starburst.  So bright and full, it shimmered all the way through your eyes, dusting me with a mist of sparkling light as you watched me drying Jake.

I could have sworn at that moment that love was not merely an intangible emotion or some silly concept for romance novels and love songs, but solid and as truly touchable as a soft, furry, smiling puppy… shivering and wet from the driving rain. 

Maybe that is why I still ache for you every time it rains…

“…Ladybugs Katherine! Lots and lots of ladybugs!”

Lazing in the glorious sun in my back yard yesterday, chatting with girls and Mark about the big upcoming move, feeling mostly excited and thankfully, only mildly overwhelmed at the moment thinking of all that has to be done…all that’s to be left behind, and what’s to come…  Sweet ladybug lands on my thigh, just hanging out for a moment.  I try to recall what this means.  I have a vague recollection of some movie or some symbolic meaning of this ladybug in this moment.

 “Ladybug: Perhaps best known as an emblem of luck, the Ladybug is a love symbol too. Asian traditions hold to the belief that if caught and then released, the Ladybug will faithfully fly to your true love and whisper your name in his/her ear. Upon hearing the Ladybug’s message your true love will hurry his/her way to your side. Ancient farmers of the land have considered the Ladybug a good omen as she controls aphid populations. The number of spots on a Ladybug’s back is said to indicate the number of months to pass before the wish for love comes true.”

My ladybug flew off and then returned briefly to the same spot on my thigh.  She only hung out with me for a moment…long enough for me to curiously wonder.  Later I found the above explanation when I Googled animal symbolism.

Strange feelings stirred this weekend with Mark’s visit.  He shared some upsetting news with me and it turned my world around.  It was as if some ancient forgotten feelings were gently brushed. There seems to be a woman he has casually dated, who is claiming she is pregnant with his child.  Oh geesh…hello and welcome to the Jerry Springer Show!  What the heck is this?! I remained fairly calm at first but the feelings slowly snuck up on me as I pondered and tears threatened to spill.  I was hurt. 

Only last Christmas I asked him if we could have another baby.  He was adamantly and decidedly against this. Mostly I was teasing him, but I was really hoping at the same time.  A part of me longs to know what a planned pregnancy feels like before I hang up my reproductive abilities forever.  I love our children and wouldn’t think to change a thing regarding them, but I have the saddest sense of never knowing the excitement that comes with learning I am pregnant, in spite of the fact that I have two fabulous children.  I only know the, “Oh my GOD! I’m pregnant..what the heck should/am I going to do?”  I don’t know the, “Yay…LOOK we’re having a baby!” feeling.  At one point, I was absolutely certain I would have this with Dave, but that’s not going to ever be and I resigned myself to the mercy of my children’s father hopefully granting me the third and first expectedly planned child.  Again, not to be…

And now this…a “stranger” having a child with MY children’s father?  A half-brother or sister right in the delicate era when I’m desperately trying to explain intelligent life-choices to my teen/pre-teen girls?  Immediately following my pleadings for a planned child? It’s upsetting to me in a very selfish way and in a not-so-selfish way in regards to my daughters and the family we have created in spite of the divorce.  Mark confessed strong hunches and disbelief that this really is his child.  I admit I share these hunches, but I can’t tell if this is wishful, desperate hope or actual intuition.  Really feels like intuition, as the circumstances surrounding this pregnancy as relayed by Mark, are clouded in a dark suspicion.  Apparently he had “the” conversation with this woman and even prior to their intimate relations which resolutely explained his unwillingness and total lack of desire for any more children.  I certainly am no hypocrite and fully understand taking chances and what happens sometimes, as I have one unplanned child with this man and another one who borders between the planned and unplanned – but purposely and knowingly (on both our parts) taking a BIG chance area.  However, something just feels different with this.  Mark and I never had this conversation he had with this woman, until last Christmas…years after our two children’s births.  And keeping these children was never a thought to Mark.  He would discuss no other options with either actually.

I did finally find my voice to say softly, “Dammit, I wanted us to have one more and I even begged you last Christmas!” I was a little comforted when he replied, “I know and it would be totally different if this was you.”

Something passionate and historically forgotten (but not lost?) for this man, this unbelievably fantastic father of my children, awoke with those words. Momentarily I forgot my sadness and the- what-will-this-do-to-our-children fears and it dawned on me that there IS one person on this planet with whom it is different for me in a good way.  A place on this earth where I have carte blanche and the huge margin of error I’ve never known and always hoped to have somewhere in my lifetime…or recognized might be the more appropriate word?  Hindsight tells me I always had it here, but never fully realized or comprehended. And as hurt and afraid and sad as I felt, it was temporarily overcome by love for this beautiful man, who after everything, does love me and does put me in a position of greater respect.  This man who, other than our two terrific children, has more reason than anyone to NOT put me in this position.  The same man who knows of so many of my faults, mistakes and truly ugly characteristics…still chooses to give ME this place, this status, this beautiful acceptance and WIDE berth of error. 

I flash back to the deciding moments I’ve had with Mark.  The tearfully spoken “Ummmm…guess what?” moments in which this man responded with every support and every ounce of respect any one could offer a woman in such frightening times.  He never once veered in his choices to want and to love our children, unexpected, unplanned, whatever….  Never once.  I did.  I was confused and scared and undecided..reflecting on ALL our options.  While he, he was stout and strong and beautifully decided.  And my selfish, spoiled self rears its ugly head now to scream at this other woman, “Na na na na boo boo…I’M the mamma dammit…I’m the wanted Mamma.  He was never willing to discuss adoption or abortion with me!”  It never even occurred to me that Mark had any other responses to, Guess what?  I’m pregnant than full and total support and strength.  Seems he does.  Although in my defense, I was not a grown woman with a professional career who engaged in the I DO NOT want any children discussion with him just prior to our pregnancies.  Seems as though our accidents were more in the area of mutual accidents and never came across as even possibly planned or pre-meditated, as this situation screams.

I have not always acted honorably in our various life challenges as people or as parents with Mark.  In fact, there are many occasions when I have acted horribly and been just mean and hateful.  I can blame some of these on circumstances, innocence, and youthful self-righteousness and I have had cause to regret them anyway, but they will now always be sources of shame for me after this one little sentence he spoke like a gift from God.  Have I really given Dave K.  every chance, every forgiveness, every excuse for a million horrible and hateful beyond explanation behaviors and actions against me while being selfish and stingy with these in regards to my children’s father, who has repeatedly and thoroughly proven himself as far more deserving of forgiveness and acceptance than this, or any, other man?  Am I this blind?

I was.  I must have been.  Was the intoxicating joy and perfection I felt with Dave and never once prior so much that it knocked me senseless and blind to see the beauty of Mark’s love and respect for me?  I’ve always been admitting and openly praising of Mark as a man who worked hard to change his early shortcomings and surprisingly became the greatest father I could have ever hoped for my children.  I have almost always been open to seeing this and believing in it from the actions-speak-louder-than-words faith, but I just never really “got it” fully.  Am I part of the reason he succeeded so well in this?

I never would have guessed or presumed this.  EVER!   And it smacked me so beautifully and lovingly that I was taken aback with a brand new love and gratitude for Mark, the most beautiful father, ex, and friend any woman could dream of.  I fell just a little bit back in love with him this weekend. Whoa…life sure is surprising in its sudden and totally unexpected twists and turns!  I can’t even imagine what this will or will not bring… or what it even means…

Alexander Supertramp

Into the wild.  Wow…what a story!

A deep respect for Alexander Supertramp (Christopher Johnson McCandless) grew as I read of his solid character, his fierce determination and independence, and of course his stunningly daring adventures! Every person whose life he touched on his journey felt changed for the better by their association with him (That is one of my ultimate goals from the words of Mother Theresa).   He must have truly been a phenomenal human being to have touched so many lives of so many different types of people and earned their respect and love!!   Amazing!  I adored Chris McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) throughout this book!  His premature ending was a  tragic loss for the world.  

I am envious of the life he lived in his final two years – an entire lifetime of experiences gathered in two short years.  I felt his self-righteousness and his need to veto all the mendacity in the world and his life as my own.  I admired his ability to make such a stand and his courage in walking away from all sense of security and achieving his dream.  As I read on though, I began to wonder many things.  In spite of his angry resentment toward his father, had he not had the kind of parents and support he did for his entire life prior to leaving it all, would he have been the same person?  Would he have had such courage?  I say no.  To have such a vast sense of independence and confidence as he did, he must have been given the luxury of a powerful inner sense of stability created at his core that allowed and developed such a firm and fierce stance. …Until I read of his parents visiting the “magic bus” 10 months after his death.

 Suddenly, I was envious of the parents he so vehemently and immaturely resented, wishing I had such loving and accepting people as the main characters in my first 24 years of life.  I gather he had some major discrepancies with his father and the deceit his parents shrouded him in for so long and I certainly ”get” that.  However, some of that was standard child versus parents stuff, that period most go through when forming their own individual identity ….if they are fortunate enough to have parents who allow such growth.  With my history, I could never take such a gift as that for granted.  We don’t all have parents like that. 

My heart tore as I pictured his mother standing sentient in that dilapidated bus, among his personal belongings at the end of his life, breathing in his clothes for any trace of scent of her son to whom she gave so very much free love and acceptance.  She loved him and he broke her heart.  The movie indicated that he might have come to a place of recognition and understanding of his parents before he passed, although I was disappointed to not hear of him leaving them any kind of communiqué specifically telling them and so we can’t ever know for certain.  He owed them both a huge apology!

As a mother, my heart aches for Billie McCandless and wants to have a strongly worded conversation with her son, Christopher.  As a child of my mother, I can’t help but have a fierce envy of this boy and his wide open life possibilities which he was afforded due to the kind of parents and upbringing he had.  It’s clear he was not nearly as stifled by them as he felt he was and it’s deeply tragic to me that he passed before gaining the maturity to acknowledge and comprehend what a priceless and precious gift that was for the very life he so resented.

I ended the story feeling conflicted among feelings of jealousy, admiration, disgust and adoration for this brave and intelligent, albeit selfish and “bratty”, young man.

An interesting personal point to me in Chris’ story is that he shares the same brirthdate as one of my best friends’.  Doubly intriguing in its coincidence(?) of their very similar personalities! (I confess: I’m fascinated by astrology.)  George was such a quiet, intelligent, and reflective type who was fiercely resentful of his parents (with good reason at times) and always far more comfortable alone than in society or groups.  He spoke often of going off into the wilderness someday and living far from what he termed the “concrete jungle”.  He dreamed of building a cabin with a huge garden and just living in relative isolation, free from the deceit of government, society and materialism in the world which deeply disgusted him.  The similarities between George and Chris’s personalities are truly amazing.  This added to my understanding of Chris (and surprisingly, George as well) as a soul who reveled in nature and shunned all things which society represents and reveres.  It definitely added even more depth and beauty to his story for me, although the story certainly doesn’t lack those things entirely in its own right.  Makes me more grateful to have the opportunity to read of this unique and morally strong man and makes me miss and appreciate my friendship with George from so long ago as well.

Broken wings

She felt like a child still in so many ways…wondering why the world always seemed to roughly push against her when she tried to stand up for herself and expect to be treated like an equally important member of society…  It was so uncomfortable to stand up for herself against anyone for any reason at all and the slightest resistance or push back and she just crumbled…feeling more and more weak and pathetic. She often wondered why she was so easy to knock down?

As a child, she hadn’t been permitted the luxury of finding her own way, questioning authority, having opinions, or expressing  any type of individuality.  These things simply had not been permitted or tolerated in any form.  What evolved from this was a fearful person; one who fit smoothly into the world and so many lives of others merely because she wasn’t equipped with a backbone to go against the grain, much less, stand up for herself.  Although it sometimes seemed to her that she’d been born without a back bone, a genetic deformity of sorts, logically she understood her mother had removed it entirely over a slow and degrading 17-year-long process. A few times when it seemed  one might be trying to develop in her, it was quickly squashed and eliminated.  One did not question adults, either respectfully or otherwise.  No questions whatsoever.  One liked whatever one was given, one liked what other people liked if one wanted to BE liked or ever hope of being loved.   Always just smile and go along with it.  This made her an easy target for all types of abuse and manipulation. 

So at 5, she didn’t question the teenage boy who insisted she go into his bedroom with him every day.  She didn’t question the other babysitter either, an even older teenage girl  who manipulated her even further.  She didn’t question the elementary school janitor who groped beneath her panties after school.  They were so much older and she desperately wanted to be a “good girl”.  She wanted to be liked and thought well of and maybe if she was ever good enough, someone would come along who could love her.  And anyway, she learned from a very early age that if you didn’t like something, you’d better keep your mouth shut and pretend to or it promised to get far worse.  Plus, she didn’t want to be the fussy, problem child.   God forbid she be an insolent, precocious type child who disgusted the adults with sass or youthful curiosity! She longed for love and acceptance..ached for it actually from her earliest memory on…  Thus, she never questioned or argued, never pushed back against any type of authority…no matter how uncomfortable or wrong it felt.  She didn’t suffer from a lack of identity, inner strength, or sense of righteous indignation, she simply never was permitted to develop any from the beginning.  She was always a chameleon, learning to quickly change colors and quietly blend in with whatever color seemed safest in any given circumstance or moment.  Somewhere buried inside her was envy of those people and children who had no trouble speaking their minds or pushing back against an authority figure if they did something which seemed wrong.  She envied them the security that came from knowing if they just did the right thing for themselves, someone bigger and more powerful would be there to support and protect them.

Ironically, the catch-22  started hitting her early.   She was so hungry for love and affection, any type of acceptance would be welcomed. This must have been obvious and she was often treated cruelly by her peers or friends.  She early on became the common door mat for many to wipe their frustrations and insecurities.  When she was hurt and tried to  discuss this with her mother, desperate for some consolation, compassion and perhaps even just a little sense of support,  mother would yell at her for letting people treat her badly.  This was always so confusing! She wasn’t supposed to expect better, much less demand anything better, right?  Be quiet and content with what you have, or else…it will only get worse.  All she knew for certain is she wanted to feel loved and had to be quietly unassuming and accepting so it  would not get even worse.  

After she left mother’s home and had her very first official boyfriend, she soon realized she had attracted a violent man.  A Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type man who worshipped and adored her more than she’d ever experienced before, but also would get very angry if she upset him intentionally or otherwise.  This was especially hard for her to handle with any self-respect.  There was the back-bone issue of course, mixed with the open affection and love that flowed freely in moments when her boyfriend wasn’t angry with her.  She knew she wanted more of that, in fact she felt a bottomless pit of need for this love.  How could she walk away from the first person who loved her enough to defend her to others, even if he did physically attack her himself?  At least he didn’t allow anyone else treat her badly.  He loved her most of the time and at least this way the cruelty only came from one person, instead of several.  This was better than anything she had ever known before!

After a few years of his random and violent beatings she realized she must escape soon when he started openly threatening her life if she tried to leave.  She turned to her mother for help… scared and begging for a place of refuge.  Mother said, “You’ve let him treat you like this for years now…so you deserve what he dishes out. You must like it to have stayed so long.  Give it a few years and then if I can believe that you’re really not going to go back to him again, maybe I will help you at that point.” 

Give it a few years?   He had recently forced her into his car and kidnapped her for an afternoon and another time recently had threatened her with a gun.  She never once called the police on him (not wanting to get him in any trouble), and when concerned neighbors would hear and called the police, they never helped.  In spite of her obvious busted lips and bloody noses, they would always say something like, “You two need to separate for a while and work this out on your own.” 

Dad would take one look at her black and swollen eyes and say, “Honey, what did you do?  You know how sassy you can be…you must have said or done something to really set him off this time.  You have to learn to watch your mouth, girl.”

Give it a few years?  The violence was escalating amazingly fast.  She had no where safe to run and she didn’t believe she would last another few years.

In this desperation, she did what she had to do to get free and after a few years of counseling later in life, she realized that mother hadn’t allowed her to have a backbone or to develop any self-respect and then punished and criticized her further for being “weak”.   No one was ever going to stand up for her and she didn’t have the strength or self-confidence to ever stand up for herself, she wanted to be loved too much to ever take that chance.  It was a no-win situation.  She was the world’s punching bag, literally and figuratively… and she could never lose the fear that if she didn’t learn to accept this, it could always get worse.

With this innate sense of constant fear and drastic lack of self-respect or entitlement, she set out in life, mostly hoping not to be noticed much and praying someone safe someday would.

Confession…

I was unfaithful.  I cheated myself, my children, my heart, my faith, my hope, my spirit, my character.  Not only that, but I cheated Dave and worse yet, I cheated all of these things from him as well.  I cheated every one of everything that was right and good in our lives.

As with anything and everything, there is certainly more to the story and sometimes in fleeting moments of denial, I can comfort myself with those factual, but sad and pathetic extenuating circumstances, but for the most part, I cannot.

Is it wrong to have thoughts at times which say, “Surely there was something he did wrong before the infidelity…”  I would actually attempt to distort something (anything) he once did or maybe once said even just one single time that was slightly unkind or perhaps alluded to some kind of future abuse or psychosis….

Nothing.

And many have said to me there must have been something?  There had to have been.  You couldn’t have been truly happy or it wouldn’t (couldn’t!) have happened. 

Nope.  Clear as a miserable bell, I know I was very happy.  I knew it then (can’t blame this on hindsight either).  I know it now.

Too happy?  So happy it didn’t seem possible to realistically maintain?   Yeah…frighteningly happy?  Like when you go to a horror movie and the happy music is playing and there’s sunshine, laughter, security abounding and you wait on the edge of your seat, heart beating, pulse racing, and your logic silently screaming, “It’s coming!”   You know any second something horribly tragic is going to explode on the screen.  It must.  You don’t want it to come but something in you knows you really do want it because that’s what you’ve ultimately come to the cinema to see, right?  After all, you’ve specifically asked for this tragedy with the price of your ticket. 

That  kind of happiness.  Scary happy.  Waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop-happy.

Only it never did.  And it surely had to… Right?

So, it seems I forced it to drop.  Was the anticipation too much?  Did the happy part go on and on so long that my heart couldn’t take the wait anymore?  Was logic screaming so loudly at me that I couldn’t relax in that kind of happy?  Had life taught me too well already that this was only possible in fairy tales? My life certainly had never been anything near fairy tale quality.  I was no long-lost beloved princess finally saved from all the evils of the world by my fair prince who had been looking for me all his life.  There was no way this existed on any plane of reality possible for me…

There were no signs of impending doom.  There was no cruel undertone in something he even once casually said in a quiet or controlling voice. There were no sarcastic words; no subtle insults to my character, my appearance, or my intelligence, phrased as a “joke” so as to make it acceptable to keep me in my place or put me down sub-consciously.  …except in my logic.  In my brain and my experiential wisdom there was always this little nudge.  Nudge, nudge – another day full of kindness has passed… another day of sincerely spoken compliments, loving gestures, and sweet-nothings has passed… the music of my logic is getting scarier and scarier… Da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum…playing faster and faster.  The bad guy is coming.  The moment of tragedy is hanging in limbo directly over your head.  It’s just hanging there waiting around till you feel so safe and comfortable that it’s definitely not coming…for full, tragic effect, you know…

I might even be able to convince myself that this is only the hind-sight story of a romantic hopeful, the rose-colored version of falling in love where nostalgia and regret fade the facts and amplify the colors of happiness to such a vibrant shade that the bad stuff disappears into oblivion.  Except, I was so overly aware of this unrealistic happiness that I spoke regularly of it to my dad, whom I knew would understand that this wasn’t logically possible.  Whom I expected to point out the tiny ugly realities I HAD to be missing throughout this experience.  And even he couldn’t.  My wise and all-too logical father could only continually remind and reassure me that I deserved this happiness and offer advice to me to accept it or else by looking so hard for the ugly, I would eventually make something ugly happen. 

What?  Make it happen??  That’s not possible!  I’m gloriously happy.  No person desperate for happiness, like me, would ever create the very unhappiness they fear and dread from a gift so pure and beautiful it must be directly from God.  That’s just some psychological mumbo-jumbo!  No one in their right mind, finally experiencing happy without a single sign of impending doom on the horizon would sabotage such beauty, such intoxicating joy of life, such a sense of security and love.  NO….don‘t be silly!

Hindsight does, though, strongly indicate to me that there was another sneaky element going on through this.  One I could never have anticipated or braced myself to handle.  The sneakiest of subtle sabotage tactics, so very tricky that it just hung out in the corner recesses of my mind, innocently playing all alone and not mingling ever with the other thoughts and fears which were obvious enough for me to ask advice from those wiser than I. Quietly gaining power and strength…

I am not worthy…

This sneaky element of sub-conscious sabotage actually came out in the light only once.

Right around maybe the sixth month marker, we had gone for a few drinks away from the crowd of friends, romantically alone, and were laughing and enjoying ourselves.  Having a nice traditional date in out-of-the-way places where we could adore each other uninterrupted by the “Ahh you two lovebirds make the rest of us sick!” And I was loving every minute of this until it dawned upon me.  Maybe this was even the first moment I ever had seen my happiness so very clearly and felt it to the core of my being, minus the what-if’s and can’t-be’s.  And I said to him, “What is this?  I’ve never known anything like this.  It can’t be real, can it?  And if it is, there’s no way I deserve this much.  Here is why….” And I commenced to tell him why I didn’t deserve this…deserve him, deserve genuine love…

And then he said one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard anyone say in my life that wasn’t written in a song, a book, or a movie…

…He said, “Every single horrible thing that has happened to you or me, every single bad choice or mistake we might have made in our pasts, every single thing right wrong, good or bad, has brought us right here right now.  And we have to just be grateful for it ALL and know that this was why it ALL happened exactly as it did.  If not for that exactly, whatever it may have been, we would not be here with each other right now in this exact moment, having this.”

I choked up. A huge lump in my throat developed, my eyes stung and threatened to cry as every horror-movie moment of my past flashed across my mind and I saw every path of it leading me, sometimes even forcing me to this moment with him.  He was so wise and so right.  He could see more broadly than I.  My devotion, my respect, my gratitude, my understanding quadrupled in that moment, with those stunning words of amazingly insightful wisdom.  And suddenly everything made sense.  Everything.  Every pain and every struggle from my earliest memory I could instantly and directly connect to the events (forced or otherwise) which led me to RIGHT HERE, directly to HIM. A million individually ugly tiny puzzle pieces of time dropped at once, snapped into place, and created a gorgeous sunrise shimmering with love and happiness.  And I could think of each one and actually FEEL each and every one of them as reasons to be grateful for it all.

I loved his simplicity…adored it even, amidst my confounding and irritating contradictions.  And it was in this moment that I realized his “simplicity” wasn’t so simple after all.  I saw him in an entirely new light of love and blessings. And it was also then that I began to fully realize that this might indeed be real…that perhaps the other shoe was not ever going to kick me in the face after all.  A most beautiful moment…  Or the beginning of the end?

Less than a year later and ironically while singing his praises, my blessings, and this very theory of deserved, “everything happens for a reason” happiness, I cheated. 

Yes………. I cheated.

Tweet-tweet memories

Early morning,  birds chirping….so many memories…

She was a junior in college, working the swing shift at a casino in Mississippi…driving home with Jennifer at 4 am, laughing,  feeling so brave, fresh, young, self-confident, and maybe just a teensy bit cocky!  Arriving home at daybreak and lulled to sleep by tiny spirited chirps.  Birds chirping sweetly mean freedom and independence and they whisper softly to you in your dreams that life is just beginning…

Later, she was married…waiting and worrying through sleepless nights for him to arrive home safely.  Sitting up with exhaustion night after night as she heard the birds sweetly start chirping, like an alarm clock confirming another full night of his absence…wondering why…  Wondering what…  Remembering his stories of frighteningly excessive cocaine use and bird chirping confessions regarding his first wife.  Realizing that this alarm clock no longer brought happy thoughts of freedom and a life unwritten, full of opportunities to create future happy memories.  Now this charming sound indicated it was long past time to lock the door.  Yes.  Lock the door.  Birds chirping sweetly mean your husband is still using drugs and your marriage might be a terrible mistake.

Some years and a nasty divorce later, she often stayed at his house.  Him….the only him for her.  The one who brought joy to her simplest thoughts and hope from her worst fears.  The one who showed her how  to smile while sleeping and taught her to wake with excitement and promise…the only one. She loved that he would wake early and go fishing…  Birds chirping sweetly as nature’s background music as he made love to her.  He hated leaving her alone in his bed and simply had to have her in the wee early mornings when watching her sleep made him want her more than anything else in the world… Sometimes it seemed more like a dream and the gentle chirping reassured her this was no dream….he was real and he loved her.  Kissing her softly on her still sleepy mouth before he left, she would linger in the land between dreams and reality waiting for sleep to return….knowing that when she next awoke it would be to his adoring smile and passionate, I-missed-you-so-much-before-the-sun-came-up this morning wake-up kisses.  Birds chirping sweetly mean that you are the luckiest, most loved and adored woman on earth and bring millions of kisses….kisses that taste like falling deeply in love  and smell like the fresh ocean breeze.