*As I have said in Part I, I do not blame anyone in my past nor wish them ill feelings that they could have said or done anything to change the outcome of my life. I acknowledge that I made bad choices. This blog is clearly my perception of my life at that time and seeing it with fresh eyes right now, because at the time my eyes were closed.
From Part I Examing My Life: In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave the speech which contained the line, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings….” Brene Brown talks about this speech in her book ‘Rising Strong’. She says that we don’t focus on when we are face down on the arena floor; society only wants to hear when you graze over the battle and talk about when you rose back up. We love the victorious stories the best. The face down on the arena floor is the part that I have not wanted to face. I didn’t want to focus when I was in my biggest despairs because it hurts to go back to it. But, why I need to do it this time is to release all the pain I buried there.
I can picture the room that my mother spent her last couple months in. I picture myself sitting back in there with her on the bed and I cry. I think at the time I felt numb. I felt like the elephant followed us to that room. There was so little said and so little closure. My mother showed me her anger. She showed her pain. I just ate it all. I can’t even recall if I told myself that it wasn’t true what she was saying. I know she had cancer and was on pain meds, but it was only me out of my whole family she took it out on. Honestly, it has haunted me all these years. It felt like our last memories together was her saying she was disappointed in me. I was no good. There was a better daughter out there and she ended up with me. My dad just passed it off as she doesn’t know what she is saying, but I think she did. I thought of it like her being drunk and saying what she really thought. Dismissing it never took away the pain of it. Trying to forgive someone who never said anything nice after those words could not change my heart.
On her last night, I showed up late in the night. We had been told often that she wasn’t going to make it and she kept hanging on. This time I had thought to call the room and dad said it didn’t look good. So, I headed to the hospital. It was the last time I would see her alive. She was lying there bloated and pale. Death was in the room. I’m not exactly sure what I thought, but by midnight I said I wanted to leave and my boyfriend took me home. My brothers and dad stayed. I went home and got a call a couple hours later to say she had passed. I never regretted not being there. In some ways after a long illness you’d think there would be relief. I think my mom had found some from her human body, but there was none of that for me.
Face down in the arena? I felt faced down for years. The first night after her death I drank and listened to sad songs. I cried. The next few days were a blur. I walked into the funeral home and sunk to the floor when I saw my mother lying in the casket. I remember my aunt forcing my hand to touch her dead body. The lady at the funeral taking pictures and who later at the lunch asked when my dad would be on the market again. In the end, everyone just wants you to move on. They don’t want to witness your raw pain. I went for drinks with my friends after to get away from it all. They asked me why I didn’t talk about how sick she was and I thought why didn’t you ask.
In the year that followed I would sum it up with self-destructive behaviour. I drank more than I ate. I hurt so many people. I struggle with how to blog about my choices that I made back then. I feel shame. I cannot relate to the 18 year old me at all. I feel I have shed so many of the lies, anger and sorrow since then but truthfully I think I just buried them inside and never properly released anything. As I look at them with 41 year old eyes I feel exhausted. I feel sad. I feel weak. I wish I could have snuck back into that body of mine and loved myself.
At the time of my mom’s death I was in college. I had a boyfriend. I lived in the city. I became a person that I honestly can’t explain. I was full of lies, alcohol and crazy behaviour. The classmates I had in school would have never known the real me. I had a double life. They didn’t know my boyfriend they thought I was dating one of my classmates. I was. The school boyfriend was a distraction in my school life. He was more aware of how crazy I was, but felt that if he loved me enough that I would wake up to him. I would come home to the other boyfriend who was a good guy and a distraction in my home life. I tried to break up but he stayed. I pushed him away and he stuck around. He became this stationary object in a tornado, which was harmful to both of us. He should have left sooner. I went out to the bar like I was single. I even went and stayed at my dad’s for four months. I came back and after two months he eventually left. Maybe he felt bad for me or thought when I woke up that I would come back as the girl he knew before. It never happened. My best friend was so ticked off at me for cheating on him. We stopped talking for a year.
I drank so heavily that I chose it over food because my budget was tight. I smoked cigarettes. My drinking is what lead to the cheating on the boyfriend. It created the numbness I felt that whole year. I can say that alcohol has made me forget periods of time. I recall going to mom’s grave and lying beside it and wishing I would sink right down with her. I never talked of suicide, but looking back I sure tried. I was so drunk I drove my vehicle. The thing is that I was at my friend’s house and had a place to sleep, but decided to go all the way home. It was an hour drive. I don’t recall much of the trip. I can recall flashes of memories driving that night. It was so foggy in my mind that I cringe to reveal this fact. I did start to see clearer mainly because the sun was coming up. On the one main highway there was police all lined up. I thought it is a checkstop. I deserved it. I needed it to happen. But, turned out it was a detour. There was an accident up ahead that closed the highway. The cops just waved me through. I drove to my place and was so shaky. Everyone that knew the story then was so mad at me. I wish I could say that it changed me right away, but it didn’t because life was still supposed to descend downward.
Then it happened, the boyfriend finally left and I stopped talking to my best friend right before my birthday. I spent it alone. I went into a depression. It wasn’t pretty. My father started dating a woman he would later marry. If you could have sunk a little lower on the arena floor then I really did during that time. My father was getting angry at me during this time. I had shown up at a church event with ripped jeans and had been drinking the night before. He turned to me and said I am so disappointed in you. I was hurt. He was right, but in my world it was just another person to say, “Get in line”. I was too self-centered to see myself other than the victim.
I had started to date my future husband but I was still up to no good. I was drinking with my friend at the bar. I drove us back to her house, but ended up rear ending a vehicle before we got there. We exchanged the info. They reported the accident. I didn’t. The cops were calling my dad’s house. No one knew how to find me. I was out with my boyfriend. This was the time before cell phones. If you didn’t want to be found you just didn’t show up. It did catch up with me the next day. I went to the police and was given a ticket for following too close and a lecture on reporting an accident. I said I didn’t know. I didn’t. But, I was trying to hide that I caused the accident because of alcohol. I had received another second chance.
Why did I get another chance to change? If I stand back up in the Eiffel tower of my life again there were many forks in the road. I chose badly, but those choices still kept on leading to choosing better. I didn’t. I chose to stay in pain and felt I deserved to stay there.
I remember the job I got after I finally completed school and that place became such a mirror for me. It was filled with regular people and here I was this vial of anger. I was poison. I had this job a year and a half after my mom’s death. I should have gotten fired numerous times. I was late for work. I talked like a trucker. I talked about stuff no one wanted to hear about. I was an awful person. But, for some reason I saw myself in these moments and started feeling ashamed of it. I should have quit. But, I kept showing up. I worked with this Egyptian gentleman. He took me under his wing. He himself was toxic on so many levels. He was to train me for large printing, but mostly he did the work and I just watched and listened to him talk about his horrible ex-wife. He did eventually have to train me because he was going back to Egypt to pick up a bride and I had to cover for him. He came back after his month long trip and then things changed. He was distracted with paperwork to bring his wife back to Canada. I can’t recall what happened, but I remember that I had gotten into a groove without him, so I had wanted to just do my work and talk after. He yelled at me. I think the gist was that I was an ungrateful, spoiled brat. He trained me and he was in charge. He wanted it to go back to how it had been. He yelled so loud that it caused the new manager on shift to come to my rescue. He ended up getting fired. He told me that he would pray to God that bad things would happen to me. I laughed and said bad things had already happened and God doesn’t work that way only people do. If anything that Egyptian did for me was that he did set me straight, but his time as my earth angel was over. I won’t forget his kindness to the poison I was when I first started working there. I think he saw himself in me. I just couldn’t go on like that and he still was toxic. I think work put me with him knowing that no one could work with him and hoping I would quit. It just didn’t end well for him.
I’ll tell you what I learned from that moment of her death. I have felt this whole time I wasn’t worth it. My own mother said I was a big disappointment. I could justify it now with her having cancer and being on morphine. Her last words echo on my soul with such severity that I feel it still. She took something away from me in 1994. I never saw myself as much before that time, but I saw myself as even less. I don’t think I have ever felt I belonged or knew my place in this world. She said I was a disappointment and after reading through my self-destruction I proved her right. In the year and beyond that I caused so much problems and pain in my life it comes down to one thing. I continually denied releasing the real pain that I felt. I didn’t talk about my mom or her death. I thought I was holding the silence but I was wailing and screaming out in every other way. I feel ashamed to write all of this. It is like ripping off a bandaid and you expect to see a little scrape but it’s a huge gaping wound. It hasn’t seen the sunshine nor felt the air to heal. I can no longer justify my bad stuff. I chose it. It wasn’t smart. It was scary. It was painful. I had terrible health issues. I felt I couldn’t take away the disappointment in the eyes of others. I feel like this stuff will haunt me. If I ever do a good thing then they can come back to this blog and fling it at me. See? See how terrible you are? I will forever be shamed. You can’t ever say don’t drink and drive because you are a hypocrite. You are a cheater. Once a cheater always a cheater. You are cold. You are an idiot for believing your mother really meant it. Why couldn’t you just cry and get over it?
Sigh. I had to get that out.
We fight a fierce war within. What is the point of fighting with others? – Rumi
I choose to love myself. I choose to love the young woman that did not fare well after her mother’s death. I love her because she used the tools she had at the time and when she knew better she did better. I didn’t have people around me that recognized my despair. I am thankful for the angelic support that kept saving me until I could finally save myself. It is time to let go of the 20 years of guilt I feel. I forgive myself. I forgive myself. I forgive myself.