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.

Velvet Validity

It felt like his innocence was gone. I saw that in him in glimpses before of his cruel apathy, but this time was different. And not just an age thing either, it was a sexual thing… I think any time you go back to someone you had before, it’s never the same. And it’s certainly never exactly the way you have formed the memories in your mind over the absent time. For me, it’s always a bit of a disappointment; it’s somehow just less than it was before…or maybe than it had been in your rose colored hindsight.

And yet, not exactly; not with him. No, my every moment with him, comical, serious, sexual, friendly is all blanketed with the velvet validity of everything I remember. All my time with him is though. He is my exception. My exception to every rule. I said to him, “I do want to be friends…and I get sad when I think we can’t be. I mean, I love you…I love you either way, you know?” He responded, “I know you do.” Yes, he does know.

I’m playing Rose Colored Glasses – the song that in my mind always defined my dad’s unconditional and enduring love for my mother. How strange that even as a child with no comprehension of my parents’ marriage or romantic love at all really, I always felt that song was my daddy’s song for my mother. Maybe it’s the conversation we had one day while riding in his red Bonneville with the pin striped velour seats I thought were so soft and pretty. I was maybe 10 or 11 and this song came on the radio and he turned it up and said in his deep joyously loud voice, “Oh baby, your daddy sure burned this one up!” I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked him what he meant by that and he laughed and said, “I used to play that one on the jukebox over and over and over again until people would tell me to knock it off!” Wise beyond my years even then about lost or unrequited love, Daddy didn’t even have to actually say the words, I knew he meant this happened during the worst of his heartbreak era after my mother left him.

I am undoubtedly my father’s daughter. My mother never suffered from silly nostalgic memories or wasted time wallowing in a broken heart from lost love. My sister surely doesn’t suffer that affliction either. Neither of them would ever be such ridiculously silly romantics. Just me. Just me…and my daddy. So maybe it’s my family legacy that I uphold with this unconditional and enduring love I have for D? Maybe this kind of everlasting depth of devotion just runs in my veins?

Perhaps the only love that could have forever kept me from accepting my love for D again is my daughter’s… Her beautiful heart was the only thing which gave me the strength to at least minimize the depth of emotion I have for this man and place it on that tiny back burner. …And as life’s cruel steel-fisted irony would have it, I now no longer have hers.

For the love of Pete, will my life ever cease to fully represent the sappiest of country songs? Having been born into a situation of unrequited maternal love, chronic loss, regular betrayal, a thick aura of unrequited love surrounds me as I live my silly old Lifetime Movie life. And I don’t fool myself anymore into believing my happy ending might come. I think this is just what my life was meant to be for some reason: a cautionary tale about love and loss – the kind where you cry at the end because your heart aches, not tears of joy that it all turned around and the heroine overcame at the end. Hell, maybe I’m not even the heroine? Maybe I’m just the sideline story going on in the background, as the good guy gets the girl and rides into the sunset hand in hand with the love of his life? Maybe my daddy was the star of the show and it ended bittersweet…or maybe it’s one of my daughters’ show? And the happy ending will come for her life?

Oh well, I just love him. And just as I feel some sense of resentment at that blasted stubborn truth I can’t seem to change no matter what I do(ugh!), I hear another song which perfectly identifies my daddy as well, Here For a Good Time.
Daddy enjoyed life to its fullest all the way to his very last second. He may have felt the acute sting of lost love just like I do, but he never let it stop him from laughing, loving, and living to the fullest for very long. He had hiccups from it and he kept right on going. Unlike him, I have full-on break downs.

So, in his honor, I’m not going to beat myself up today for loving this man the way I do. I’m just not. It isn’t going to change anything, so I may as well just embrace it. After all, the unconditional love of my daddy is gone now and my daughters don’t care either way anymore. And even brief moments with D give me the bittersweet glimpses of joy my daddy miraculously maintained with his rose-colored love for my mother till the very end of his life. Bittersweet was good enough for my daddy till his dying day, so it’s surely good enough for me to appreciate and not resent or fight.

After all, it really just is exactly what it is.

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.

Did John-Boy seem the vengeful type…or was it just me?

She was torn between desperately seeking the stability and love she’d never known and enjoying her relatively new freedom.  She was seeking her own identity, uncomfortable and unsure in her own skin and never quite sure why she warranted so much attention and certainly not at all sure how to handle such attention politely, without hurting anyone’s feelings.  It’s not that she had not been told she was beautiful by boys and men before or wanted by many, it was that she literally could not see that or comprehend the possibility.  She was a dry sponge full of holes, seeking all the love and attention she had never felt before.  She certainly wasn’t a slut in any sexually promiscuous sense, but perhaps she did fit the description of an attention whore. She couldn’t understand how anyone could love her or think her beautiful in any definition of the word. In spite of her need for freedom, she longed with every part of her being to feel loved and to believe she was beautiful in someone’s eyes…to feel accepted just as she was, flaws and holes and all…

Unfortunately, she felt the closest to beautiful and worthy when she was making other people feel good about themselves and this would eventually be her slow demise in satisfying her own deepest hopes, but that’s another story entirely.  There was a supply and demand in effect seemingly at all times.  Men longed for her attention and she longed to make people feel good.  She could spend hours talking to a stranger in a club about his job, his school, his relationships, his dreams, his broken heart, anything…and treat him as if he was the only person on the planet for the duration of that conversation…often to the annoyance of her friends and/or boyfriends.

By her early twenties, she had ended two significant relationships.  The relationships themselves weren’t bad per se, but she was a lost and meandering spirit.  It was almost as if once the relationship reached a mutually satisfying point, she felt her “work there was done” and her attention needed to go to the next soul seeking her heart, time, and attention.   So after ending two serious LTR’s, which did not go quietly, she finally conceded to her long-subdued need for freedom and her completely suppressed  wild at heart nature…  She dreaded the thought of committing to a relationship with a man because it seemed somehow to always eventually end with a hurt man and her feeling as though her effort to make someone feel loved and important always began with the best of intentions and resulted in their broken heart.  This was not at all what she wanted.

So after ending an engagement with a terrific man who loved her in the most beautifully endearing and devoted way and running straight into the arms of an abuser, she resolved to stay free.  In her partying and carousing with friends she only gave a few hours of dedication to anyone and moved on to someone else…until she inadvertently and unintentionally met John.  Strange that she’d caught him watching her quietly on many occasions and took note of him.  She found him truly handsome in the most adorable boy-next-door way, but he never approached except nonchalantly in passing.  After several of these incidents, they finally had an actual conversation.  He was so damned likeable and undeniably adorable.  She loved his eyes – the way they watched her quietly without attempting to connect with her or pick her up (ugh!) and she loved the way he innocently made her laugh without even trying.  She spent several platonic evenings with him, just partying and having fun.

Since this started innocently enough, she felt no warnings that trouble was brewing.  They were both having a blast and neither seemed intent upon choking the other’s freedom, but they enjoyed their time together so much each day would follow into the next.  She even discovered that he was a few years younger than she and it didn’t  matter at all to her. He wasn’t even jealous of her flirty personalityand he gave her total trust and freedom!!!!  She loved this.  Could it be he actually understood her?    It seemed natural that suddenly one day she realized that their affections had grown big and they were spending all of their free time together…and she didn’t even want to change that or run from it…were they falling in love?

Yes, it seemed so.  This realization hit when she received acceptance to the school she’d applied to upon her last release from a relationship.  She had applied in a moment of freedom and need to not be held back from her goals again…a brief respite between obligations.  But against her design and intention, he was now in love and she loved him in return as well. Uh-oh..scary, as this never ended well for her.  Always seemed to end in a flurry of anger, broken hearts and her immersion in guilt which provoked a need in her to run far, far away.

It was a difficult situation, but they were young, confident with one another, and happy…therefore this could still work.  Right?  No one had to get hurt this time.  Long distance relationships could work for truly happy couples.  Besides, she just wanted to go finish her education at the school of her choosing, not date around or get involved in any relationships.  This should be easy.

They missed each other terribly, though.  The connection was difficult to maintain from such a distance.  And she was immersed in the collegiate life while he was in the town he grew up in and working the job he intended to work forever.  She wasn’t dating anyone else, but she had a few study friends whom she enjoyed hanging out with as well.  They had little in common under these circumstances and their phone calls started feeling like a “duty” to her, not an enjoyment.  He planned a visit.

On this visit, he mentioned shopping for a promise ring to cement their relationship and their desire to progress into the next natural step for a happy couple.  Except, his visit, his presence, annoyed her.  She didn’t know why.  She still loved him.  She just couldn’t feel or find that connection to him anymore once she was removed from their little shared town, at least not enough to accept a promise ring or in good conscience, continue the relationship that was stunted for her and clearly still growing stronger for him. After a few days of his visit, she discussed this with him and ended the relationship.  She felt sick to do this, she adored him, but she felt it was the right thing to do in the midst of her confusion confounded and highlighted by his devoted certainty.  It was over.  He left.  She could tell he was very hurt and she hated that, but he didn’t seem angry and for that, she was so grateful that it almost sparked her feelings again…but not quite enough to change her choice in the matter.  She had to be fair to him.  He deserved at least that and her conscience refused to accept less for him.

Fast forward five or six years.

Back in their hometown for a few years now, she was a single mother, scared and still lost.  One night she runs into him at a bar.  They start talking and reconnecting.  Inside she is scared and far more damaged than she was years before.  In her loneliness and fear, he represents something good and safe to her.  She decides to go home with him.  After all, it’s John Boy.  The safest place she’d known at this point.  He’d never gotten angry at her for who she was.  On the contrary, he had always seemed to understand her when no one else could.  Ahhhhhh…safety and sincerity. 

When they woke up the next morning, she felt happy to be next to him.  No it wasn’t the answer to everything of course, but it was a safe and familiar place at last and she had always adored him anyway.

As he was driving her home, he said, “I don’t want you.  I just wanted to pay you back for breaking my heart all those years ago….  How does it feel?”  Her heart ripped as he laughed.

Well done John Boy…very cruel effective.

Why NOT play Kick-the-Carcass?

No consecutive hours of sleep for what seems like weeks, although I can easily remember not so long ago when it had been more like months, so I logically know I can pull through this “short stretch”.  However, when n the midst of the sleeplessness, it feels as though I’ll pass out, die, or just maybe snap into forgettable pieces.  I keep reminding myself that it’s been worse and try to be grateful for the little bits of sleep I do get blessed with.

Stressing the move, finances, the gossip and lies (of course, as usual), THE ex, the children, packing, moving across the entire country from everything I’ve ever known, living out of district for my kids’ school out west, my ex husband, and his motives and choices, and how they’re going to relate and affect our lives out there, so far from the only  home we’ve ever known.

With all of this, I’m struck hard with acute awareness of the severe alteration of my heart, my perspective,  my very essence…  Who I once was is gone, with all that’s happening now and all I am responsible to be and do, with all the fears that are hanging just over my head like a shark’s mouth ready to swallow me whole, I really just want to sit down and bawl myself sick.  Grief hangs all around me like buzzards and flies on a  carcass.  I know, I know…  This is nothing new…I’ve been a barely-breathing carcass for years now, my only traceable movement being the slight shakes and involuntary shuffles and slides  of a dead body that’s being kicked a few extra times for good measure.  Big thanks to Dave and friends for that lovely prompt..without it, the buzzards might literally begin to feast on my mourning flesh, not just the metaphorical feastings of Dave and friends on the leftover remnants of my heart, my soul, my reputation, my freaking character!  After all, at this point, the pickings are so slim and meager that I genuinely can’t understand the interest…surely there’s not enough there to satisfy even a starving soul?

Apparently so, as I can’t even plan my pathetic, late-as-hell “escape” without a kick every once in a while for good measure.  I’m struggling and fighting this damned sense of victimization which I hate so much it makes me sick even to write of these things any more.  Or maybe it’s that burning sense of injustice and flood of unkindness and continued crucification which keeps me from withering up and dying completely.  It’s almost cost me a great degree of my voice and I do not know what I could even be after he’s fully taken my voice and my ability to write.  It just might be my lingering indignance which is holding the shell of my existence together at all, keeping it from crumbling quietly into dust. Perhaps I should stop fighting this victimized-feeling and embrace it, allow it to strengthen me out of my hopeless feeling of being powerless, beaten, and small?   Hmm….

I have comprised a plan of revenge.  In my circumstances, I have no way in which to actually carry it through, but it’s a lovely fantasy nonetheless.  I imagine that many people love me and know the truth of these past five years…the whole down-n-dirty, humiliating truth and they are so outraged and angry they begin a letter-writing campaign on my behalf – no, on the behalf of all people who have gone through emotional and mental abuse.  Upon me leaving my home, he receives hundreds of letters from people who know the truth, faceless people who are not afraid to stand up against this man’s cruel persecution of my spirit.  Each day or week he receives lovely pieces of mail from people who know what he has done and refuse to buy into his lies and bullshit, as a regular reminder that he did not just “get away with it”.  And he, like me, has no chance, opportunity, or method by which to combat the attack.  He would just have to sit in it, regularly reminded of his cruelty, its effects, and his powerlessness!  Then he might have to spend some time in paranoia, looking at every stranger who meets his eye and wondering, does he know?  Does she?  Just as I still worry with every person I meet or pass, “Did he tell them I was crazy?  Did he tell that person I’m a psycho?  A slut?  A lying cheater?  Wonder what story  that person heard?”

For it seems, just when I’ve let the worries go and have convinced myself anyone who believes his garbage at this point is merely a victim of sorts themselves and is entitled to my sympathy, when I finally get to the “I don’t give a damn what he’s said to anyone”, another lovely twisted story of his finds its way to me…piling on top of the huge pile of garbage he’s dumped on me that I’m already trying to climb out from underneath.  And the exhaustion revives itself in me.  The sense of powerlessness and damned victimization I hate SO much, gathers al around my soul to begin feasting again.

I sent him a message asking him just to please SHUT UP.  Leave me alone.   Reminding him he has not a single reason at this point in his game to speak my name even, let alone tarnish it further.  He has won by yards and miles already. The damage done is irreversible even now.  I’m leaving and his story will always stand in my place of absence; not mine, not the truth, but his sick and twisted deviation of my person. I can’t imagine any greater victory for him?  So why continue beating this broken and beaten thing?  Does he really still get that much pleasure and self-satisfaction from it…even NOW?  Why not just SHUT UP?   No, go above and beyond to make everyone always, think the person you’ve victimized is psycho crazy, then you never have to worry about being held accountable for the cruelty you perpetually heaped upon her…  After all, she’s just “crazy”.  Nothing she says will ever account to anything after you’ve told that to enough people ad nauseum.

Why am I so surprised anyway?  Why wouldn’t anyone want to continue kicking and beating the person they’ve already slaughtered?  After all, she’s dead already…. It’s not like anyone will ever find out the truth now…or believe it coming from a crazy-psycho dead girl even if they did!                                 

Ohhh it would be Christmas every day to just imagine this letter-campaign of outraged people, addressing the truth to him which he feels he has sufficiently buried beneath his heavily placed offensive-tactic accusations and insults. He could just laugh away a few letters, but if hundreds came to him long after I’m gone, that would have to make him think maybe he wasn’t really fooling everyone after all.  His mailbox becoming the screaming, lingering Tell-Tale Heart of an Edgar Allen Poe story!  It’s a harmless, but juicy thought in my weak state of stress, fatigue, and hopeless indignation…

(insert evil cackle here)

“…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.