Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning

I'm still caught in that surreal space where the ordinary meets the impossible. To those who read these words, events like playing a board game with one's grown son and daughter-in-law must sound quite mundane. In my world, it's a miracle. Let alone going to a free movie or going to a pumpkin patch together. It's a world I once dreamed of, but gave up to live out of Arkansas, out of the children's father's home, out of ordinary time. These reflections make make me quite maudlin, but then, I'm entitled to be.

I wish I could really capture the essence of what I'm feeling while I'm here. Cameron and I talked a long time last night, and we agreed that the words just hint at the edges of what I'm trying to convey.

I come from a damaged world. Tomorrow I visit it again. My mother is paranoid schizophrenic. My adopted father is codependent. While I was growing up, he was mostly a beneficent, if absent, presence. Growing up with an undiagnosed mentally ill mother creates a damaged world. I lacked the skills most people took for granted. I was isolated, told to never talk about my family the way families hide substance abuse, was emotionally abused. Before daddy married mother when I was five, I was physically abused, but I have few memories of that time. In later years I was sexually abused. I lacked friends. I lacked ordinary coping skills. I lacked the ability to trust, to love, to be a friend.

I left the boys to live with their father when they were 4 and 1. I saw them every weekend, went to college, remarried, divorced, moved. Repeat. Repeat. These last eight years I have lived in SC are the longest I've ever lived anywhere.This three years I've been on my current job is the longest length of employment anywhere. These eight years I've been with Cameron is my longest lasting commitment. Needless to say, I changed a lot over the years. I fought hard for the skills most people take for granted. It's made me an excellent therapist.

But this week has given added clarity to how right that decision was to leave the children with their father. His stability was the greatest gift he could have given them. I watch my son and think, if I do nothing else right in my life, I've done something remarkable in bringing him into this world. And I've no doubt I've been a tremendous influence in his life. But my leaving those twenty-three years ago terminated the legacy of damage from me and my side of the family. He does not bear the wounds and damage of my past or my mother's.

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