The other day I published a quote of my own. But in part, it was a lie. This was the quote:
“Sexual abuse in the young creates the neediest people, who will tell you we need nothing; we live that way too. We are taught by actions that there is no real love; there is no trust, that there is no safe place. We do not believe in love, when really questioned. And yet for the rest of our lives, we who do not believe real love exists, will spend nearly every energy molecule we have, sacrifice almost all that we are, trying to find something we don’t believe in. It is a horrible conundrum. It is a Sisyphisian activity of our hearts, which are not made to be pushed repeatedly uphill.” – Me
Because you see, I have had, and do have, real love in my life…which gives me hope. I had the love of a man whom I no longer have beside me. The first person perhaps, that truly loved me, for me. Who saw what was in me, when no one else had before and believed in me, although our life was marred and cut short, by ‘the mistress’ alcohol.
I also have the love of my daughters, something I marvel at every time it rears its head…mainly because I never knew love as a child. I had no idea how to be a loving mother. And how could I? What must a mother feel, when what has occurred in my life, was what she lived with? All of my life has been a competition in her mind; a burning anger, a misunderstanding, a confusion. I have had people compliment me on my duty to my mother. It is not something to be complimented, really. Empathy is not something to be complimented. It should be in all of us. I never faced what she faced. But because I have daughters so amazingly beautiful, I can put myself in her shoes. I can feel the betrayal, the desperation, the anger that could not be placed on the one that she loved first, but must be placed on… me. It doesn’t make her less culpable, it simply makes her a human being, lacking life skills; skills that women today take for granted, a woman that had to make a choice. I was sacrificial, when it came to her security, her love, her future. I would like to think I would make a different choice, if I faced what she did. When it came time to make a choice, I did choose differently, under much less severe circumstances. What my mother faced still rears its ugly head today, in every activity that we share in the now. She has actually said to me, “If I died, I know your stepfather would want to be with you.” Say whhhhaaat? How terrible must be that pain too, that she lives with. How shitty must that make a person feel? Did she owe me more? Yes – as a mother, I can say that with no hesitation. I also know that people do the best that they can at the time. My mother was raised in a time that ‘family secrets’ remained as such. She led a life driven by her husband. That was her identity. That was her future, what she banked on.
My father is an…I don’t know what. Extremely smart. Accountable to no one. A craver of the limelight. Two narcissistic parents, who never achieved the dreams they dreamed; dreams driven by cultivation – in my mother, by her mother. In my father, a drive from being given up out of three sons, sent away. A re-calibration of who he is perhaps. I look at them both through the lens of knowledge, and of maturity. Do I forgive? Yes, at a distance. For my father, there is no interaction. I have tried. He knows no boundaries, even today, forty-five years hence. It makes my skin crawl to be in his presence.
And to my brother, whom I love dearly, this presents an unsolvable dilemma. Be close to the only real father he knows or, support his sister. I lose in every round – mother, brother, father. It is why if DNA could be shat, I’d do it. I would divorce my family if I could. My brother recently tried to categorize the abuse I lived through and It has driven a wedge between us that did not exist before. I thought of a way to position it so that he would understand – but I could not bring myself to voice it. He has a son, the same age as I when the abuse began. Can I call him on the carpet, using his son as the example? No. Only if pressed, only if cornered, can I voice that to him. I love him. I do not want to shred the only familial connection that I have. But he too, struggles with so many issues. He too, feels vacant and hollow when it comes to love. He too, is an unbeliever. He hurts me again, with his words, with his justification, with his ‘Clintonization’ of things.
So what to do with the anger, with the blame that I bear? Swallow it. Weigh things in the totality of what is life. I am recovered for the most part. I have children who I am close to. I have my work. I accept. I accept that others are not able to process, to take apart, as I do. To deal with things, one must face the Abyss. I do not fear the Abyss. In fact, it is from there that I draw my own strength. It is by looking into the Abyss, or The Void, that I gain understanding and find a place from where I can forgive. I too, make mistakes. I too, have weaknesses and times that I am not the best me that I can be. Therefore, I can see that in others.
I could be angry. I could rail against unfairness, injustice, inequity. At what cost though? To become cynical, bitter, a perpetual victim? No thanks. I will accept the punishment of my fathers. I will see frailty in others, and move on.
To do otherwise would render me incomplete; it would mire me in what they are still mired in. In forgiving, not only do I set them free – I set me free, to be all that I can be. To be a better representation of the DNA I bear. In doing so, I also provide my children and my grandchildren a different path, a variation on the models that they have.
I will never be perfect – but I am learning to be perfectly me. Good, bad, decisive, indecisive. I accept my failures, examine them, learn from them. What more can one offer, but that? My three daughters, whom I love more than can be expressed – each felt close enough to me this week to reveal their own insecurities, their own frailties. I listened, I supported, I was there. I *can* be different, as it is a choice.
What can you take from this today, as a reader? Something Gandhi said a while back:
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
It is a life-affirming thing, when your children post on Tumblr that they love you. It is an amazing thing to receive an E-mail that starts “Thank you for telling me more about yourself and your life and opening up to me as an adult and not just your child. It makes me feel.. Good? That you tell me personal things now that you didn’t before. I feel like I’m getting to know a whole new you. 🙂 It is an amazing thing to have a child tell you, “You are the only person that I can turn to…” It proves to me, that by simple choice only, we can change things. We do not have to wear the previous examples. We can forge our own way – we can own what we do, where we go, and how we are remembered.
It is never too late, to be different, to be vulnerable, to be real. What is stopping YOU, today?
If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.
I wish you, enough. Strength. Confidence. Forgiveness. Whatever it takes, to make today different than yesterday. Rome was not built in a day, but they brought bricks daily, until it was monumental. Be monumental, in your sphere of life. Bring that first brick, I dare ya 🙂