I turned my head for just a moment and you were gone. A panic washed over me as I frantically called your name. Pushing garments of ladies apparel aside, rack by rack, I could hear a faint giggle. You were only 2 and you loved to play games like that. Unbeknownst to you, the fear that arose in my chest, as you would grow accustomed to saying, “I got this mom”, and you always have. Somehow that would be your way of assuring me you would always be okay, no matter what.
I feel so lost without you now. You got this, right? Yet that all too familiar panic has risen up and taken residence in my heart. This time I blinked and tried again, but I don’t hear the giggling in the air. I can’t see your face. I can’t find you anywhere.
Before you could form sentences or even threw your binky away, I could tell there was a mystery about you. Over time it was the little things that made you cry, often inconsolably and I couldn’t figure out why, but you knew.
Years would pass. You were growing up, trying to find the place where you belong. Never feeling liked by the kids on the school ground, not knowing how much you actually were. Was it your hyper activity that kept you moving? Sports became an outlet, baseball, soccer, dirt bikes, skateboards, bikes and scooters. Anything that would occupy your energy and free your spirit, but still, you sought after anything that would grant you acceptance. You tried basketball, even wrestling and joined the school band on drums. Then one day you asked for a bass guitar. Please mom. Happy birthday sweetie. You joined brothers, forming a band, the 3 of you, so young and talented, you were more than good, you were amazing.
Sports and all “that” began to fall away. You’d found this passion deep inside playing bass. Self taught, you wouldn’t allow me to “waste money on lessons when you could teach yourself” and you did. Yet all those years I’d watch you on stage, self conscious and insecure, as if you were still searching for that place of belonging, because you were.
Your pain continued to haunt you. I couldn’t read it, put my finger on it, then he left and you were devastated. The dad you tried so hard to please, to be like and feel included by. This was a whole new level of despair while I was desperately working to be all I could for you 3, but somehow I saw it in your heart, for you this grief of loss was affecting you in some other way. It was different and deeper.
That same 2 year old resides within, still inconsolable, try as I may. “I love you” are all the words I have, with everything I know. Life was harder back then, but we were gaining everyday as we made our way through, just us 4.
We got this, right? Wrong… “We” crumbled. My turn. You’re gone. Here I sit. Motionless. Breathless. Helpless. Guilt. Hands in the air. Heart splitting in 2. Inconsolable. I’m still searching for that place of belonging, just for you.
He had cast a spell over me some time ago. I loved him when he was hurting me. I trusted him not to do it again. I believed him when he said he loved me. I questioned him in my mind and answered it to my heart.
It was he who disappointed me. It was he who lied with every word falling from his lips. It was he who deceived me. It was he who took pleasure while I suffered. It was he who tore it all apart.
I can see clearly now that the physical and daily mental pain has gone astray, the kind you inflicted upon me.
I feel clarity washing over me, the kind that allows me to see clearly.
I taste a little freedom now and then since making real choices as decisions are declared over my life by me now.
I smell the fragrance of life since I’ve been unshackled from being devoured whole and fed nonsense by you.
Today I can pause, it’s a must, to pay attention to my breath for this is all I can trust.
Because of you I walked away from all that I knew, believed in, held tight to, counted on and grew.
Thank you for the release from ties that kept me bound, for had you not I wouldn’t have the courage to stand firmly on this ground.
Time under tension increases strength and power, so is it no wonder I’ve come back to my One and only strong tower.
How grateful to you I have a new found peace and revel in the quiet moments to worship, glorify and to hear, the gentle whispers of my God who is always near.
Uncluttered is my heart, open it to receive, let my mind become sharper, it is honestly in You I deeply believe.
She remembers standing in the kitchen so many nights, making dinner as she paid attention to every last detail. Striving for the perfection that would go unnoticed yet was required. She smiled to herself feeling proud as she scooped out the portions and served them at the table.
She graciously walked into the office beaming at her finished product and announcing supper was on the table. Without looking up from his computer he replied, be right there girl. Feeling dismissed, she quietly resumed what she was doing as she waited patiently for his arrival to join her. Once he finally made his way to the table, he motioned to her to begin. Uttering not a word he took his first bite, then his second and a third. She sat there in silence as the tv blared some random show he’d chosen. She glanced over at him for a sign of validation, a small grunt of acknowledgement, but nothing came from his lips.
She sunk lower in her seat, taking small bites of the meal she worked hard to prepare just for him. She felt the gloom all around her while the emptiness welled up inside of her and she felt alone once again.
This had become her daily ritual. The girl who once chose her invisibility long before he chose her, now desperately wanted him to see her, but he didn’t. Loneliness crept in her heart day after day. She didn’t know how to speak to him, to explain this feeling, so she remained in her state of existing.
What should she do she wondered. He’ll never understand nor would he care. She kept her secret to herself because to her, any expression of a need would bring such grief from him, silence was a better choice. She continued internalizing her sadness for as long as she could.
The day came when she could no longer suppress the pain she felt for being ignored, with high expectations placed upon her, especially the one to be quiet and keep those undesirable feelings locked up tight. Don’t burden him with her heavy heart so filled with loneliness otherwise he will show her what that feels like again. She couldn’t bear another dismissal, but another did come.
Time passed on and she felt this new strength rising within her and for the first time she opened her mouth. Though barely above a whisper, she heard the words leave her lips and he looked at her in disbelief. She couldn’t stop the flow.
Her voice was polite and firm. His response back was disapproving and then it came, his punishment. The silent treatment, far worse than she imagined, but nothing she hadn’t experienced before with him. It lingered on until she couldn’t bear it any longer. She sweetly said to him, “I love you”. He broke his silence with a gruff, “I know”.
There she was sitting beside him in the car on the ride home when she realized, he is a very cruel and mean man. He really doesn’t love her. Her heart broke once more and the loneliness she’d felt all along had brought her to this place called reality. It was in that moment she felt a wave of panic and calm wash over her at the same time. Something was coming, but she didn’t know what. She was prepared and scared at the same time.
((Close your eyes little one, everything is about to change. You will forever be different and feel more loved than you ever knew possible. Trust in Me and you shall see I will I set you free))
If this is the only day I have, this 24 hours to make choices, to live and to breathe, I think I better choose wisely because tomorrow I may be in a different place.
Today is my day to do what pleases just me. No one to answer to, no one to selflessly serve, no one to have expectations strictly placed on me. What a freedom to breathe, to feel and be still.
On the 3am hour I awoke, just opened an eye to see the clock. Lying there in the dark, I smelled the fresh air drifting in my open window. I heard the rustling of a critter in the crispy leaves below. There was an occasional car passing by the road down the drive. It made me wonder where they were off to, but only for a moment. Suddenly the hoot owl began talking to me too. I drew my attention back to the stillness, to the quiet, peaceful little haven I call mine. Inhaling easily, I relaxed into my freshly fluffed pillow. With the next exhalation I chose to rise and have coffee in my semi dark room and embrace this alone time.
My thinking was remaining in slow gear. This day belongs to me. I asked myself, how do I want to spend it? With another sip of my delicious hot cup of creamy caffeine, I began to think about my life, as I often do. I picked up my phone for a few minutes and scrolled mindlessly through social media for all of 2 minutes. What am I doing? This is never how I want to start my day and I was reminded of my recent, former life. It startled me going down that memory lane. I was reminded of the disconnect between us. His addiction to devices, that essentially was an accessory to the death of our relationship, or at least that was how the demise initially began.
As I allowed my thoughts to wander down that road, I could feel them in my whole body, the discomfort was ruffling while the anxiety tried to bubble up in my throat. Choices, I have them, use them wisely I told my inner being. I took those thoughts captive. I pushed them aside and proceeded to venture my mind down another path, remembering instantly where I was, right here and now, safe, in the presence of my own company, relaxed and breathing.
Taking my last sip I felt sleepy instead of awake. I think I’ll start my day over again. What a concept and, if want to, I can do this all day long. I’m only as happy as I make up my mind to be. (Abraham Lincoln) And with that, I shimmied down beneath my covers, feeling the cool air upon my face, I rolled over and closed my eyes. My mind floating off to a softness of memories. I hear my own voice talking to God, “it’s been awhile since I prayed about him. Won’t you please take the anger in my heart and make it more gentle? It’s only harming me.” Out loud in my noiseless room, I still hear the faint “who, who” from my feathered friend and I ask again why he hurt me, but no words came back to me, not even a small sense of relief, only more questions. This is not how I wish for my day to go. I began to write again while I took notice of my breath and I drifted off to sleep.
It’s a peculiar thing, the brain, how it can reach far back into the cave of darkness and still find the unwanted mess amongst the wet walls, dead lightbulbs and cobwebs. Who stores these things up so tightly and why? What purpose do they keep serving? I’ve convinced myself I need to remember so I won’t forget the wreckage that caused the defeating pain. Isn’t that how I learn my lessons? I’m beginning to doubt, yet here I am, keep on keeping on.
It’s in all the thinking, the clambering of thoughts wrestling around in my head that stirs up emotions from unresolved, unanswered questions, and so, I continue to ask and I continue to wait, maybe even hope for resolutions. Now the coffee kicks in as I stretch beneath my warm covers. A thought forms, the next part of my day emerges as a visual prop, get to the gym girl. Perhaps something revealing will shine down on me there. At least my focus will change with every rep and round…
There’s this thing I do when I feel afraid or alone and I can’t or won’t cope with what’s happening all around. I disappear. Not in the physical sense of the word, but into a place of secret hiding where I feel safe. It’s simplistic and calm, but especially it’s quiet. So quiet that I really can hear myself think and there isn’t anyone else there to rearrange those thoughts or disregard them. It’s just me and me.
I guess I started visiting this magical place when I was a young girl. I could walk along the cement pathway Grampa poured to connect my front door to theirs, walk through the front door and make myself at home. This became the space where I could just be. Where everything was in its place and everything had a place. You know, that sense of belonging? I was always welcome anytime I wanted. I knew I didn’t have to ask, but I did just to be polite. Once inside the only rule was, if Mama said no, just ask Gramma.
Their home was always a comfort of warmth, like a big cozy blanket I could cuddle up with. There were cookies in the Oreo cookie jar, usually sugar ones, but sometimes actual Oreos. The gum was double mint and waited for me on the second shelf of the pantry cupboard. Then my favorite and always just for me, was vanilla ice cream in the kitchen freezer with a backup in the deep freeze, with my own can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup waiting for me in the fridge. I’d grab my lap tray from behind the back porch door where it lived and settled in next to Grampa’s chair in the living room to watch whatever it was he had on tv. It didn’t matter to me, so long as I was next to him.
Some nights Gramma and I had our own special “shows” we liked to watch together and we’d spend time on the back porch laughing and having a snack together. Me with my ice cream and her with some popcorn and a pop. I cherished these times and often dreaded having to walk back across that long, cement pathway to the other house, but I got to keep this ritual until I was about 10 years old.
Midway through 5th grade, I was uprooted and moved clear to the other side of town. It may have well been in another state. Grampa couldn’t pour a path that big. My heart was crushed. My safe haven was out of my reach. This is when I learned to retreat inside of my own world where nothing bad could reach me or touch me. It became my new escape. My fantasy world.
I became a different girl when I’d visit there. That girl was fearless. She said what she wanted to say and sang at the top of her lungs. She was bold. She spoke words no one had heard leave her lips and she was loud enough to be heard. She was courageous. She tried things that frightened her out there, but in here, she conquered it all. She was confident. She walked with her head up high and carried herself tall and proud. She was fierce. She was strong. Then one day, she just slipped away. She didn’t know where she had gone or how to get back and she was alone.
Her safety net was shredded. Her life was unstable. She felt uncertain for the first time in this life and she stumbled and fell, forgetting how to get back up, she stayed down. Her light had begun to dim. Her tenacity had slipped through her fingertips. She was becoming invisible and slowly, she disappeared. Where had she gone? This bright light, exuberant young lady, with sparks in her eyes and fire in her soul, what happened to her she had asked, but she had no answer. She had become a shell of herself, the kind that’s kept upon a shelf.
Years passed by and she grew weaker in her heart that once was explosive with desire and hunger for love and for life. She evolved into some version of someone else to keep peace and harmony for others. She realized that the world told her she couldn’t, so she didn’t. She believed them when they struck her down, leveling her to their limitations of her. They put her in a box that they designed and there she would remain, unable to grow and be that little girl who once had everything in her possession.
Gramma and Grampa never knew of her disappearance or maybe they would’ve come looking for her. Rescuing her and brought her back to where she first knew of her capabilities, her worth and her sense of belonging. How she longed for the safety of her home with them. The smells of comfort of joy of connection of acceptance of love and that familiar sense of knowing where she belongs.
She caught her breath, every time he spoke to her. Like a predator after his prey, he’d hover around for a few moments, closer he’d move near where she was before he made his way to exit the door. This became his dance he perfected over time. Toss a hook out and see if she’d bite. He set the stage and she was his clueless, leading actress. Innocent and demure, she wasn’t used to this sort of attention, not really. She deflected it at first. Falling back into her old style of safety, she tried to be invisible. Why was he paying any mind to her? She’s long since downplayed her outer beauty to match her painful insides. What could he want with her now, ordinary self she was portraying? She told her friend she wished he’d look at her, give her those enticing words, those stolen glances, that masculine energy that seemed to be pulling her into his vortex. Jokingly she said to her friend once again, come on… but instead she wanted to believe his words and so began what would be her misery of life.
She was so raw and vulnerable from her existence that was always in session and recently turned upside down, that some of the nuances were refreshing and pulling her in. It was as if he was attuned to her inner most thoughts, could smell her fear, was feeding off her sadness and was going to fix her. Like a lion ready to pounce, he set it up perfectly, calculating his every move. She never saw it coming.
But he was clever. He knew exactly when to throw her a bone and say the right things to make her trust and believe that he was interested in her, even cared about her well being. He gave her glimmers of hope. He showed her a man she had never known before. He quickly learned how to maneuver around her feelings and navigate the ways around her heart. He’d spout out promises and things to make her light up just to keep her on a leash. He was very smart when it came to manipulation, control and getting what he wanted, no matter the cost. Once he had her in his clutches, his plan to devour her whole was put into motion. The confusion invaded her so precisely as he anticipated it would, that she was oblivious to what was happening. It was so insidious and her life as she knew it was forever changing.
Her heart still races as she desperately tries to drift off to sleep, but instead her mind wants to retrace all her steps that she had walked into every trap. How blind she must’ve been to trust him as he dangled a piece of sweet nectar just slightly out reach, but low enough to keep her grasping for it over and over again. His savage, beastly desires drove him to those torturous, mind fuck games that only he had the rule book for.
He silently laughed as he watched her squirm for relief while she begged for an ounce of affection or a morsel of love. She tosses and turns as the nights turn into months. She feverishly works to reconcile in her own twisted mind, how such a human could exist and worse, keep her under his spell for so many years.
She writes another sad story of her victim role. The one of lies and deception where she was the star attraction and he, the daemonic villain. At last, exhaustion overtakes her and she passes out long enough to wake up and start the cruel cycle over again.
Determined to uncover the answers to questions she’ll never have, but that haunt her still. She searches for more clues, educating herself further, depriving herself of her basic needs. She has become a detective in her own murder case. The one where she is the missing person and the key suspect is at large, living as if, all the while, searching out his next unsuspecting victim for his endless need of fuel supply.
One day she’ll come out of the dense fog and will rise above it all. One day she’ll find the forgiveness to unshackle herself from her own death sentence. One day the sweet taste of freedom will replace the bitterness that swells up her throat. One day the obsession will dissipate and her breath will resume to its normal rhythm. One day this nightmare will come to an end and she will awaken to find herself returned safely to the ground where her feet have been replanted and there is beauty all around…
It’s absolutely the stages of grief and they will repeat in no specific order. This is a loss of greater magnitude than anyone can ever imagine. For me it still comes in waves because the dismissal or discarding was so abrupt and it suddenly came out of the oblivious that it was as traumatizing as the day I got the call my mom was in a fatal car accident. There were no answers to all my questions, no preparation to brace my heart and absolutely no closure to be had yet leaving so much unfinished business and so many loose ends. It just hurts, but the healing will come with the processing and doing the work. It’s a daily practice for me.
I get it. I hear every hurt, frustration and disbelief. How could a person not feel betrayed and angry? How do we get to the final step of freedom called acceptance? It’s a slow, sometimes agonizing process, but only in the sense that we were so wronged, though we wouldn’t want to miss a valuable lesson along the road to healing. Anger keeps us safe, but only momentarily. It’s a very necessary piece. I know I couldn’t have gotten through many days without it as my driving force. I have less days like that, but it does bubble up here and there. I used to think I was being defeated, but really I’m dipping a toe into the pool of surrendering to acceptance. Be well, you are blessed and doing great, you are strengthened. Stop being in such a rush to complete the stages like an assignment. Feel everything as you walk through to the other side and remember, you will revisit all the emotions over again. Let that be ok girl…