Life is so funny. Three years ago mine was well-ordered--it wouldn't dream of being otherwise. Any negative thought or emotion was buried in a flurry of busy-ness. I was happy. There was no doubt in my mind that I was happy.
As I look back at the roller coaster I've been riding since then, I sometimes wonder how I have continued. I was sifting through memories and emotions decades old. They'd been sitting for a long time, waiting for me to find them. They were fairly potent when I buried them. Time simply made them stronger.
I have mentioned before that somehow I went into this believing I'd make everything better. I don't know how I expected that to happen. "Better" to me, at that time, meant that maybe what I thought I remembered really didn't happen. "Better" meant that I was wrong about my mom--surely she had always loved me and I was the one who simply did not recognize it. "Better" meant that my nightmares were simply figments of my imagination, not flashbacks to a past that was intolerable. I was wrong on every account.
I think one of the hardest things for me to cope with was watching my hope of "better" die in what was real. For years I had been burying the reality of what had happened with my cousin under words which masked the agony I felt when I looked at it. I couldn't say I was raped. I couldn't say he was a pedophile. I couldn't say that I would have given anything just to be held by someone when I shook with pain and confusion when I was left alone. When I finally said those things, when I actually looked at what happened, I was terrified.
For my entire life I had been jockeying for a position among my siblings in my mother's heart. I believed it was there--I simply had to find it. There had been abuses, but I was not a perfect child. I did not agree with the treatment I had received, but I was ready to forgive everything just for her to tell me she was glad I was her daughter. She told me she had come to love me. She told me I was a beautiful child. She told me she knew I had always tried to build a loving relationship between us. Then she admitted that she had no desire for a mother/daughter tie. She was satisfied with our "friendship." She thought she was helping us both come to terms with our less than ideal past. She had no idea that she killed the hope of the little girl inside me, still waiting to be held and loved by her mom. She did not know that in this last act she hurt me more than any abuse she had given in my past. She didn't know. Maybe that's why it took so long for me to accept her offer of friendship, and let go of the hope I had clung to throughout my life.
So I spent months wondering what to do next. Nothing was better. Every bad thing had been confirmed. I had a choice to make. I had to decide how to proceed, given the parameters of reality. I could no longer control all aspects of my life. I couldn't pretend a past that didn't exist, and I was unsure if I could live with the one that was real.
About twelve weeks ago I began looking at who I really am. I am stubborn. I don't give in or give up. I am gifted in many areas. I have greater than average intelligence and the guts to flaunt it (as evinced by my membership in MENSA--the super secret national/international society of nerds--thousands of people are members, and they're too embarrassed to tell people about it--really, we need a tattoo or something). I have feelings I hate which overwhelm and frighten me. I have a wonderful marriage. I have kids who make me laugh everyday. I live in a beautiful, wonderful world. I started believing once again, that I don't need anyone. I am enough.
Unfortunately, I didn't know what to do about all those people who have been in my life for the past three years. The ones who talked to me till four in the morning because I was too afraid to sleep. The ones who visited me and stayed up all night so we wouldn't miss one moment of time together. The ones who hugged me. The ones who held and watched over me so I could sleep, because I was too tired to live. The ones who called me, emailed me, left messages on my blog. I didn't know what to do with them because I had fallen in love with each one--and what can you do when that happens?
So I tried to put my life back in order based on relying solely upon me. But those pesky loved ones kept coming back. And my stupid heart was really happy when that happened, which was completely aggravating and confusing and stressful. So I quit trying to put my life back in order, sat back and let things simply take their course.
The irony of all this is that as I did so, many of those loved ones have found that they are pretty busy with their own lives, and mine has become much less interesting--which is as it should be. I'm finding myself with more alone time than I've had in a couple of years. In fact, I'm finding that my life is circling back. I'm not involved with the youth of the church anymore. My contact with online friends is waning. I'm spending more time running outside, working my jobs, and playing with my kids. I don't go to lunch with friends anymore (that was an assignment when I first began counseling--I did it faithfully for two years--this year is mine). I read more books and do more research about topics I find fascinating. I have no more desire to defend my sexual orientation, marriage choice, or religious beliefs--mostly because I just plain don't care what anyone thinks. If the entire world found out tomorrow that Samantha Stevens was gay, married, and a mom, I'd probably just shrug and go mop my kitchen floor, because it really needs it.
I made the mistake of bonding with a friend in such a way that I put that person in the role of my parent. Given the things we've been through together, the things we've discussed, and the personal contact we've had, possibly the emotional tie was inevitable. It was an unfortunate side-effect, but I believe in time, I'll grow beyond that and in the meantime, it's rare for me to ask anything of anyone, so I don't think that friend will even notice. At this point our time together is fairly limited, so I believe there will be no opportunity for that association to do anything but dissipate.
I find myself once again defining the things I hold dear, and hiding them away from the world. But this time it's not because I'm keeping part of me away, but because these are things I wish to protect and cherish. No one else can understand their importance--and that's okay. This is not defensive. This is me, remembering joy and saving it for later.