In the years between 12 and 14 everyone died. Or left. That’s what it felt like, anyway. My godfather died. My grandmother died. My friend Damon killed himself. My friend Josh died. My mom left her marriage and our family and moved to West Texas. When I was 16, my dad “emancipated” me, legally, through the court system. That’s how I was launched into the world. This is not to say that I had no one…I was still in touch with my family, despite being on my own. My step dad was building a new family, and I was a part of that even though I didn’t live with them. I had a boyfriend, whom I later married, procreated with and then divorced. I was not alone, but I am coming to realize that during that time I developed a psychic imprint that still affects me seriously today. It is basically this: If I love something, it will leave or die.
You can imagine that I developed a strong sense of independence. Particularly after my divorce during my single parent years. I believed I had to do everything myself, and that I could do everything myself. The day that I left home, my dad told me that I could ask for emotional support but not financial support. Somehow this translated in my brain to not asking for any kind of support at all. I was a single parent for 10 years. When I partnered with Allen, this independence became an issue. It was, and is, difficult to accept help, even from someone who is supposed to be helping me. I find it much easier to care for others than to be cared for by them.
I see this in myself and I see patterns in my life of my own making; patterns of intense care giving and then intense burnout. I’m trying to change this by asking for help and accepting help when it is offered. I also see that I offer service as a way of showing love to others. Sometimes love is not reciprocated in that way and it reinforces a subconscious feeling that not being helped means not being loved. Which is my perspective but not a whole truth. I also see that showing care for others in this way is safer for me than giving physical or verbal proof of my love. Because if I say it out loud, or if I demonstrate in a way that the world can see, than the wicked thing that takes what I love away from me will see, too. And somehow I will lose the things that mean the most to me.
I feel this with my children. If you have children then you know how there is just this consummate internal explosion when they are born. It’s like you weren’t really seeing or feeling or breathing until they came to be and all of a sudden you are living life on another level. It is the feeling of your heart being full to the point of pain, but it’s the sweetest pain you’ve ever felt. So somewhere inside of me I feel that the thing that takes things away can see that. Can see my heart so full and is just waiting for me to turn my head and make its move. It makes me less affectionate than my children and my husband deserve. It makes me less effusive than they deserve. That makes me sad.
For Valentine’s Day Allen gave me a really loving gift. In my effort to meet my own needs and ask for help I had been pretty expressive after the holidays about feeling really tapped out physically, mentally and emotionally. If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that I have spent exactly two non-consecutive nights away from home since the birth of Lucy Grace. That’s not really enough for any parent, and special needs parents will know how this is even amplified when you have the specific physical and emotional demands of caring for a child that has a disorder or disability. You sleep less, you worry more and you have greater challenges to your time management and financial resources. There is one word to describe the experience, and that is “exhausting”. There are lots of stories going around right now on the interwebs about why you should not pity special needs families (like this story), and I’m not after pity in this post, just so you know, but rather appreciation for the effort employed in being those families every day.
I digress…so Allen gives me the gift of two (still not consecutive) nights away at a secluded cabin on a mountain in the woods 3 hours from home with no cell or wireless service. Not even a TV. Not even my car, because they drive you up in an ATV and leave you there on the mountain. Just me and my thoughts. It made me cry it was such a thoughtful gift. He’s trying to give me respite and peace and he’s demonstrating his love for me by showing that he is listening and that he is willing to do my job and his so I can have some rejuvenation. I love my husband and I love this gift.
But the fear creeps in.
Eden’s first comment was that it sounded like the beginning of a horror movie. So, you know, that was a comfort. But I’m cool with seclusion. I am a person who has always required substantial quantities of introspective time alone. This is the perfect place. The name of which, by the way, is ACTUALLY the Quiet House.
No, the fear of seclusion is not what is creeping in. It is this: I will be far away. I will be unreachable. I will be unable to leave at any time of my choosing. Essentially, my head will be turned…and maybe the thing will come and take away what I love. Because I wasn’t there being vigilant. I wasn’t guarding the things I love, while not letting on how much I love them.
Somehow, in those years of my youth I learned that I had to sneak love past the watchful eye of the Universe. I had to snatch it away like a thief and not be seen loving, because love was not for me. The only thing for me is to be in the service of others. To work, to wife, to mother, to friend; to only do unto others. That’s where I find my allotment of love and prove my worthiness of it.
My conscious mind does not believe this, and knows the exact opposite is true. The Universe is only love and you have it whether you want it or not, believe it or not, feel it or not. I’ve spent a lot of time directing my attention to learning that. Still, old patterns persist. Like a stamp on the spirit. My ex-mother-in-law used to say that if you thought you were done dealing with something it was sure to bite you on the ass just to test you again.
It is clear to me I am being tested again. My friend Laura told me I have to go to the Quiet House, and I know she’s right. The only way for me to disrupt the pattern is to do what I fear the most and willingly look away. To basically trust that the thing that takes things away is not watching or waiting, and like the childhood monster in the closet, doesn’t even exist at all.