Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Power To Be Wrong

Can I tell you just how wrong I am, or have been, for most of my life? Will that make everyone that has been a part of my life feel better if I make this admission? Perhaps. The question is, can they themselves do the same? Or is that wrong of me to ask?

My entire life, seemingly since I emerged from the womb, I have been deemed to be a ‘chosen one’. Opportunities granted to me by the mere happenstance of my birth. I’ve been declared by some to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Are these things true? I suppose by the standards of some, sure. I am no trust-fund baby, nor was I able to take off and backpack across Europe on my parents’ dime when I was younger. However, I have been comfortable for most of my life. However, as some of you may know, having the term ‘chosen one’ applied to oneself can lead to a serious case of high expectations and low aspirations. I’ve found this to be true in varying degrees and cycles throughout my life. And frequently, this moniker also gives one some heady sentiments about being wrong.

Being wrong is failure. Or so I used to believe.

Sharing the fear of many women, and recoiling at the thought of behaving exactly like my mother, I decided about a decade ago that I should start looking at my personality, and admitting when I was wrong (my mother is completely lacking in the "I made a mistake department", but she is of course allowed to be who she is as much as I am). This proved to be much easier said than done. It didn’t help that a few years after this decision was made, I went through a horribly traumatic divorce and decided that the only way I could face my reality was to seriously self-medicate into a state of complete desolation and simulated death of the life I had known up until that point. I entered a state of reality where my every action was completely wrong to my very core, or so it seemed at the time. If I was living in this state perpetually, how could I admit I was wrong all of the time without feeling like a piece of shit every second of every day? Do you know what that can lead to? Unadulterated fear and loathing. Which I did not need any more of at that time. My boyfriend during this phase of my life loved to tell me that I could never admit fault, and that in not being able to admit fault, or denying that I wasn't wrong about whatever we may have been discussing at the time, that I was always wrong by default. How's that for circular argument? I assured him that I just liked to keep the lines of debate open, but he wasn't buying it. Truthfully, I think he was projecting his own insecurity with being wrong onto me, but hey, I could be wrong about that too.

Did I mention that as time has gone on, it has gotten easier, this absolving of guilt and shame in being wrong, and that the freedom I find in being wrong, or at least admitting that I could be, has changed my life completely?

I have discovered that being wrong isn’t failure at all. Fear is failure. So if I am a chosen one, I choose to have no fear of anything any longer. Especially of labels and demands made on me by anyone or anything, including my own Ego.

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Old House

I walk across these floors, which span what was once our home together. The doorway in the kitchen is notched with pencil markings of varying heights, marking each year of our beautiful daughter’s growth. In the dining room hangs a chandelier from my childhood home. I look up and see the scars where it broke during a move, and you surprised me by having it welded back together so that I would have this piece of my childhood with me always, only the shop you went to made a mistake and welded it on the outside instead of the inside. You were upset, but I didn’t care. It was just another part of our story woven into the tapestry which was us, in this house. I carried our child up these stairs, and your laundry, breakfasts in bed, up and down, day after day. That was our life. That was our love. Or so I thought.

On the way into the bedroom, I see the first signs of the reality of what we really were. The lock on the door is broken, the wood is cracked and chipped away around it. I remember that night well. Me, locked in the bedroom, frantically calling the police. You, on the other side of the door, banging and screaming at me, right next to the room where our daughter lay sleeping. I ran to the bathroom to retreat from you even further, this door too is broken and scarred forever.

This house has stood for 75 years, these doors, never once marred, broken or damaged, this sanctuary showed no visible signs of the rage that you had towards me that night, for the first time in our story. And once it began, night after night, week after week, it was always the same. My home, my sanctuary, became the stage for your childhood trauma to unfold in our lives, set on replay over and over again. You said you would never be like your father, you said you would never hit a woman, you said you would never cheat and lie to the people you loved. This old house heard all of those lies come out of your mouth, just as I did. This old house now too has the scars that prove that one of our biggest problems was you not knowing how to love yourself enough to begin to comprehend how to love the people in your life that believed in you.

The doors will get fixed in time, one day, just as I will be completely healed, in time, one day. The doorway to you and I, however, is forever sealed with pain, and I don’t see that being fixed anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blending Against Your Will

Let me make an obvious statement: divorce sucks. It is a life-changing, soul-wrenching process, and when it involves children, the pain and suffering increases exponentially. At times, it feels as though the decision to leave my husband was a million times easier than the process of actually doing so. Most days, now that the majority of the storm has passed, I feel confident in my decision. It was a beautiful marriage on the outside, with a diseased core that could never be healed. And once it started to crumble, it collapsed around every single person in all of our lives like a civilization on the brink of extinction. It affected so many people, which was amazing to watch, actually, considering that the collapse began based on one single lie.

Now that time has passed, and that lie no longer affects my daily existence, I am faced with a new, difficult challenge. The blended family. My ex-husband had a baby two months after out divorce was finalized, and he got re-married on my birthday. I feel nothing but pity for his new wife (she, alas, has not found out about the one lie that led to our divorce), yet she lives with my 8-year old daughter quite a bit of the time, and this has brought up feelings in my daughter and I myself that I am as of yet unequipped to handle. It is hard to see my daughter with her father and step-mother, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have my daughter love this other woman.

Make no mistake, I am happy that this woman has accepted my daughter into her life, and gives her unconditional love, as I would. I am usually not a jealous person by nature for any length of time, nor am I one that believes that I have the best love, or the only love that my daughter should ever cherish. I do believe it takes a village to raise a child, and the more love and support they have, the better off they are. Yet I get a visceral reaction when I see my daughter hug her step-mother, or tell her that she loves her on the phone when my daughter is with me. It makes me feel inadequate, it makes me feel as though somewhere along the path I failed at something that I can't quite put my finger on. The worst part about it is that my daughter seems to sense it. From both sides. If she's holding hands with me and we see her stepmother at school, she drops my hand immediately. And if she's with her step-mother and sees me at school, she runs up to me with hugs and kisses while sneaking furative glances of guilt back at her step-mother. I know my daughter wishes her father and I were still together, despite all of the brutality she witnessed in our home; she's made this clear to me on more than one occasion. How confusing it must be for a child to feel love towards someone you don't necessarily even want in your life!

No answers have come to me on how to navigate through these feelings; I acknowledge them, and move on with my day. Perhaps in a moment of quiet observation when they begin to wash over me once again, the path will become clear, and I will feel this way no longer.