Thursday, May 25, 2017

The best is yet to come

Mother's Day 2017 and I find myself perched in my attic. I have this relentless desire to unburden myself and make myself weightless, able to fly away at a moment's notice. All that I've collected through the years suddenly feels so heavy. I want so badly to unburden myself.

Part of me wants to dump each and every box that's filled, right in the trash, without a second look. But the part of me that pulls me back from doing that is the reason I am here in the darkness reading the anniversary cards and birthday cards signed with words like, "love always, mom", "love, your dad", "forever yours", "all my love" and "the best is yet to come."

The best never came.

45 years old and life has taught me more about what love is not, rather than what love is.

I pulled out an old yearbook and one of my report cards slipped out. My eyes were drawn immediately to the glaring failing marking period where it all went down.

Why hadn't anyone noticed? 

The truth is, you can't think about the square root of pi when you're trying to think of how you will force yourself to get out of bed in the morning.

It's hard to memorize the periodic table when your mind has instead memorized every detail of the bathroom you were trapped in.

Shall I calculate the seconds it took my drunken mind to understand what was actually happening to me?

Shall I participate in the class discussion on inertia? The inertia that plays in my mind over and over and over again? The inertia of a one hundred and ten pound teenage girl trapped in the bathroom with a 40 something 250 plus pound man?

God damn it do something. Fucking DO something. Anything. Scream. Run. Do something.

Because once was not enough, shall we discuss the science of waking up in the darkness to this larger than life monster groping me yet again? Or the boy beating him as he cowardly ran out of the room in his white undershirt with his arms over his head as I sat rocking and shaking on the bed? It's ugly, isn't it? You don't want to think about this, do you?

Neither did I.

...........I sat on the end of my mom's couch sobbing, with my legs pulled tightly up to my chest and my arms wrapped around them. I was trying to make myself as small as possible, hoping if I could make myself small enough, I might actually disappear and all of this would just go away. 

"Why were you there? You were drinking? You aren't allowed to go to parties. You aren't allowed to drink. You aren't old enough....." 

Her questions felt like bullets coming at me, accusations that would eventually become my guilty verdict and a life sentence of shame. 

"Listen to what she is telling you. Do you hear her?" the priest said to my mom. 

"Did he rape you?" she finally asked. "If he raped you we go to the police. If not we never talk about this again." 

The words just wouldn't come out of my mouth. And so began the weight of decades of silence.

Who knew silence could be so heavy? 

"Happy Mother's Day, Mom," I thought to myself, and I finally I whispered the words, "Yes Mom. He raped me, Mom." 

It's taken me many years and running thousands of miles to put the lid on that box. The good news?  I was a survivor and I did what I needed to do to survive. The bad news? I learned it wasn't safe to say no, and so in many ways I raped myself over and over and over again after that. 27 years as Darcey Corkins, people pleaser extraordinaire to 18 years as Darcey Elias, people pleaser extraordinaire.

As a grown woman now, I really have forgiven my mom. I know she did the best she could. I'm fairly sure she was a survivor of sexual abuse herself. She couldn't give what she didn't have. And yet just the same, here I am, an adult woman in her attic crying on Mother's Day. Sometimes even when your brain gets it, your heart still hurts.

Moving from box to box, in no particular order, I started asking myself why I had saved all of these things? I have notes from second grade friends. I have notes from childhood visitations where my mom had tracked the number of times I waited with my suitcase for my dad, who never showed up. I have reports from Child Protective Services where I am talked about as if I am a prize to be won or a pawn to be bartered. I have so many mementos of times I'd rather forget.

Why did I bring this stuff? Why am I holding onto this stuff? 

Yep. I've carried it all with me all these years. I wonder what my life may have been like if I hadn't brought it with me? What if I had let go of it a long time ago?

No. I made sure to bring it all.

Several years ago, after moving to a new city and still strapped to our old hometown house that never sold, we spent 4 years apartment dwelling. Finally, it was coming to an end. We rented our first home to a tenant, and in doing so had established it as an income property for the required number of years. The bank had set us free to buy a second home. My only prayer the past 4 years had been to get the girls back in a home of our own before my oldest daughter went into high school. We closed on the new house the same day as her freshman orientation.

I remember we had left moving the stuff from the apartment attic for last. We didn't think we had much and decided we could move it ourselves without any help.

"How long do you think it will take?" I asked.

"We can have it all packed to move in an hour probably." he replied.

Hours later, as was so often the case with us, we realized in hindsight that we had grossly underestimated the amount of time and work this would require.

The truth was, we had accumulated and carried a lot of baggage; so much baggage.

We spent hours upon hours, just the two of us, carrying box after box, tote after tote of memories, down the attic stairs. There were boxes neither of us had even looked in, in years; me especially. I had spent most of my life in his boxes, trying to help him unpack them, to no avail. I'm guessing that's why I'm having a difficult time now, finally learning to sift through my own.

The enclosed steps to the attic were steep, with a pitch more like a ladder than a staircase. After that flight, there was another outdoor flight to navigate, steep but not ladder-like steep, before hitting the final 6 or 7 steps to the ground. I vividly remember the carrying of the boxes was agony. My legs were on fire and my arms ached from the countless trips up and down.

If only I had realized back then that I didn't need to bring all that stuff. 

But back then letting go just wasn't an option. I didn't know how to let go. I held on tight to what was familiar regardless of if it was good for me or not.

Letting go has been a slow steady process the past few years.
It feels uncomfortable at times.
It feels freeing at times.
It feels torturous at times.
It feels embarrassing and shameful at times.
It feels lonely at times.
Sometimes I feel like a failure.
And sometimes I feel like my life is finally just beginning.

Most of my life has been spent holding on so tightly. I believed strength meant holding on, but sitting here throwing away so much pain, I'm finding a very different kind of strength in letting go.

Wishing. Hoping. Dreaming.

The best is yet to come.