Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Stones That We Lay

   It is hard to feel worthy of love when you feel your parents don't love you. If they didn't protect you or give you a good guide book to follow. I didn't feel lovable,  I felt unwanted. I dreamt of just disappearing. I couldn't understand why I was there. What was the point of all the pain? Had I done something to deserve all it? What was wrong with me? I tormented myself endlessly. It hurts my heart now, looking back at the broken child/woman I was. I poured myself even more into my children. They were my touchstones, my anchor to this world and I hung on to them for dear life.

   Our youngest daughter was born and I was in love, again.  How could I not be?  My depression only got worse, though. It was postpartum, I knew it. It was a familiar trespasser. I had experienced it with my oldest child. I was walking through wet cement everyday. I was tough and I was strong. I had been through worse than this. That's what I told myself. Over and over. My marriage was strained. Mostly money being tight and our brood being broad, but also there was a power struggle.  marriage was something to be endured. It isn't that bad, not really. We all trip over the stones that we lay.  I had chosen unwisely. I was so intent on spiting my mother, on making my own decisions. And I had proved I wasn't capable, that's how it felt. Failure. I turned my anger inward. I was filled with self loathing and doubt. All together miserable.

  We were reassigned to California and then to Washington again. We shuffled back and forth between states and rentals and emotions. My Husband wasn't bad. That was the cruelest part. He could be kind and loving. He played catch with the kids and brought me flowers. He was funny and handsome, and knew just what I needed to hear. That's what really made me see him as he was. The realization that he knew exactly what I craved. I needed praise and love. I was starved for it. He withheld it. He intentionally withheld what I needed most. Until I was nearly dead from a drought made of loneliness and despair. And then he would open the flood gates, fill me with his adoration. Giving me hope, Causing my heart to fly, only to bring it all crashing down again. It was a vicious cycle and it had to stop.

   He got out of the Navy and couldn't find a job. His skill set didn't carry over to the civilian world. He had to start on the bottom rung. He was frustrated and angry. He spent his time on the couch being rude and surely. A rabid dog on a weak chain. There was yet another argument. It doesn't matter what it was over, it could have been the color of the sky that set us spinning.  We were in the bedroom and I tried to walk out. He threw me on the bed and held me down. My mother used to sit on me, hold me down with the full heft of her weight. It was a trigger and he knew it. I told him to let me up, he refused. I begged, he was unmoved. I tried to reach the phone, knocking it off the cradle and onto the floor. I grabbed at anything, I came up with a pen. The one that sat on the nightstand next to a pad of paper.  It was exactly what I needed to get my message across. I stabbed him with it, in the shoulder as hard as I could. He howled and stood up. He was so shocked. I jumped off the bed expecting the worse. He laughed. He said he was sorry and he laughed.  He never put his hands on me again, didn't even get in my face. I was startled by my violence and afraid of my own anger. This had to change.

   The world gives you small gifts and it's up to you to make them into something more. A blinking light was mine. In the aftermath of that latest battle, I went looking for the handset and put it back in it's place. That's when I saw it. The small blinking light, that said I had a message. I was puzzled, there had been no missed calls. But I checked it anyway, and there was my ticket out. In my attempt to reach the phone, I had hit the answering machine. The entire fight was recorded. His threats and anger, my pleas of distress. I made a copy; the next day I played it for him. I told him he had to leave. If he didn't I would turn it over to the police. They had been out to our house before, back when they didn't automatically take someone away. He did not argue, I thought he would. He packed his things and was gone.

   I remember those first days of peace and freedom. We stayed up late and slept in. We ate when we wanted to, it was marvelous. I got a job at a very busy restaurant working nights. I signed up for school. Every weekday my Grandmother would watch my daughter. She lived just across the street. She would get her on the bus. My grandfather and she helped whenever they could.  I  packed up the two little ones and took them with me most times. There was daycare at the school. I would visit them on breaks and lunch. I was busy and focused and happy. I lived on caffeine. Getting four or five hours of sleep. I was investing in me, in my children, in our future.  We were going places.

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