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Sunday, June 16, 2013

I spoke with a friend last night. We talked far too long and went to bed in the wee hours of morning. As I lay in my bed, trying to put off sleep with its accompanying nightmares, I realized how terribly ugly my life is. Jagged trauma scars rip through what I wish was beautiful, interrupting the peaceful landscape I would create. I don't seek out the disruptions. Drama and discord are not appealing to me. They find me anyway.

I want so much for my friend to have a life filled with predictable joys, seamed by tiny challenges which seem insurmountable in the moment, but which mend themselves with time and disappear beneath the larger picture of daily life drifting into nights of dreamless sleep. No doubt there will be difficulties which mar the picture, but I desperately hope her life will not ever approach the hideous darkness of mine.

We spoke of the challenges of raising small children, yearning to spend moments with them as they quickly grow, while wanting so much to have a separate self-fulfillment. We talked of the fear that someone might harm those children due to non-vigilance or misplaced trust. We discussed the reality of anxiety and depression and the subsequent difficulties due to those.

At one point, probably because I was tired and it was long past midnight, I broke my code of silence. I disclosed details of my past. I talked about my not-quite-twelve self, sitting on the floor of the bathroom, cleaning up my own blood and someone else's semen, not understanding what had just happened and reeling with the pain--physical and emotional--of my deeply scarred world. I told her of the loneliness I felt as I wrapped myself in a towel and rocked myself, wishing someone safe would hold me while knowing no one would come.

I told her about the fatigue, years later, of watching my daughter trying to end her life and the desire to be released from my living nightmare even if it ultimately meant my daughter's death. I recounted a night in the hospital emergency room, when I climbed into my daughter's bed with her, held her close, and whispered how very much I loved her, told her she was the most beautiful person I knew, and said I was honored to be her mom. And I meant it. I didn't know why she was so sad. I had no idea why she was harming herself--why she wished to die--but I could never be ashamed of her. She was a bright spot in my life even during the most exquisitely painful moments. Today my daughter doesn't remember that night. She was too overwrought and distressed. But I remember it. I will never forget.

I talked of being molested by strangers who followed me into church bathrooms, seeing I was unattended and taking their moment to harm me. And suddenly I realized how inappropriate it was to share the ugliness of my life with her--with anyone. So I changed the subject and shortly thereafter, went to bed.

I want to be the woman who fights with her mother and feels overwhelmed with children and sometimes is frustrated with the husband who might not always be supportive. I want to complain about work and the weather and the cruise I can't attend because of the family reunion taking place at the same time. I want to have car troubles and worry about what we'll have for dinner. I want to feel upset because my house isn't as clean as it should be or because a neighbor offended me. I want to be a regular person.

Instead, I live in labyrinthine ugliness. My life is repulsive, unimaginable, horrifying. As I try identify with and understand the problems spoken of by others, I feel a desperate desire to have those problems, to live a similar life, to rid myself of the unbelievable horror of my own.

I feel tremendous shame when a friend talks to me of problems that feel real and overwhelming in his or her life, then stops, takes a step back, and reminds me that my problems--my past--are much worse than the current topic of conversation. I feel frustrated. I didn't choose the things I've lived. I would have prevented them, had I the ability to do so. And even though my life is monstrous, I still wish to converse, to talk about everyday challenges, to pretend, just for a moment, that I'm like everyone else.

I once read that to open your heart to someone means exposing the scars of the past. I think whoever said that has not met a person like me. I try to open my heart--then I run in as quickly as possible to protect whomever might see the spectacle of my lifescars. I try to explain that while my life is scary, I am not. I say things are okay and they are safe from me. Then I retreat and in my alone time I wish for something different. I wish for a time when I will not feel I have to protect people from knowing who I am and what I have experienced. I wish for someone to look long and hard at my jaggedly scarred life and tell me I'm okay--and they're strong enough to touch the parts that cause me to ache, and such an experience will not harm them.

Probably that can't happen, and tomorrow I won't care as deeply. Tomorrow is always better.

It seems I am feeling sorry for myself today. I think I will allow myself a few more moments of self-pity, and then I will take a shower, do my physical therapy, and take a walk outside to see how many blue flowers I can find. My life, however ugly, cannot mar the fact that our world is incredibly beautiful. And maybe later I'll call another friend and we won't talk about me at all.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think you need to try to protect your friends from the bad things that have happened to you. For my part, when you or anyone I care about shares something terrible that has happened in their life, I am sad that something awful has happened to them, I want to comfort them, and I am touched that they trust me enough to share their pain. It's not an easy thing to share, and I always appreciate the friends who provide me a safe place where I can deal with unhappiness. My guess is that in the long run, it would be helpful to you to have a comfortable place to share your sadness. Your pain is not ugly or dangerous, and it's okay to share it. Nor does it define you. You are a wonderful, kind, delightful person. I will like you neither more nor less if someday, the biggest concern in your life is the scheduling of a cruise. But I will be very happy for you. : )