Laying Down the Shovel
I have always marveled at people who can skirt the truth of their past. When you ask a question, which is too painful for them to answer. They side step so gracefully. I do not have that particular gift. If asked about my parents, my husbands or my past, I do not know how to lie. Not to a direct inquiry. Even if I knew the person didn't wish to have an honest answer. I was no longer anyone’s keeper of secrets and I would not carry that burden , just so someone else could feel better. I can usually tell, when getting to know someone if they have a similar past. It is like a club that no one wants to be a member of. But we all acknowledge the other's pain and struggles with a nod and then we give them their distance. It is too hard. These things we guard. We hoarded the dark things like they were gold. As if our very life depended on it. I just could not do it. Not anymore. Denying the past, my time in the desert of my childhood. Where nothing good grew and my heart, my very soul was dried and cracked for want of love. It was something I was incapable of. I had to look the truth square on. Grapple with the pain and emotions so that I could one day master them. Not talking about them did not make them any less true. Nor did it banish them from my memory. It only isolated me and kept me depressed. I could not bury it all. There is no hole deep enough and no place remote enough that they would not find their way back to me. Clawing at the rumble in my mind. The problem was simple. The reason they returned to me. These ghosts of my childhood haunting my life. I knew. I knew everything and from that I could not hide. I simple stopped trying. I put down my shovel and I looked at each one. Holding them up to the sun. Recognizing their place in my life. How this or that had affected who I had become and the choices I made. I had to. If I wanted to get better, to get free, I had to give them their due.
I did not want to make the same mistakes again. I had tricked myself. I had always thought I needed to be free, of my parents, of one husband and then another. What I really needed was to stop constructing snares. I had caught myself out with my choices. I kept my Mother in my life hoping against hope that she would change. That she would see my worth and love me. I had to accept that whatever was broken in her was not about me and it was not mine to fix. I had to let her go. She would still call. To complain about her life and pass judgments on mine. I, more times then not, ignored her calls. They were too draining and speaking to her, pretending that she was a good mother, that we had a normal relationship was too heavy a load. I handed it back to her. It had never been mine to begin with. And I moved on. I had no resolution with my Father and I did not desire one. It was as if he was dead. All those years ago, he had blamed me. A small child of five, standing before him after my sisters and brother left. He said I had gotten away with murder. It was a foreshadowing of things to come. The one thing that has remained in the cemetery of my mind was my father. I had hoped he would have died in prison. I chided myself for that. I was not one to wish people dead. But in this case I made an exception. I needed to know he had been stopped. But he got out and I had to learn to accept that. He had a record; he was labeled a sex offender. It was all I could do. And until it happens again, it has to be enough. I have nothing unresolved with him. There is nothing to be gained or mended. He is laying under a slab of stone. Cool and heavy. And that is enough.
My first husband was easy. He remarried and I let the pain go. He came to me so long ago, after we were divorced. He was studying to be a counselor and he needed to make amends. He apologized for everything. He named them all, the wounds he had inflicted. I forgave. It doesn’t mean it did not hurt still, if I pushed on the scar. But it did not rule me. My second husband wrote me a letter. He had asked what I wanted for my birthday around the time we separated. I said a letter. I wanted him to write it all down, what he had done and to say he was sorry. I had not expected him to do it. But he did. I have it here still. It is a tale of caution. I only read it once. That was all I needed. To see those words, for him to admit to it, eased my mind.
I am not defined by these things, these stones from my past. But I could use them. I could build something with them. I gathered them all up and I stacked them. I made a foundation, a platform to create my future. They would anchor me and remind me. Lest I start creating traps again.