Just when I thought it was safe to go to Dallas! Ha! Life is funny that way. Thursday would have been my 34th wedding anniversary. Yeah, I know. How did I get that old? I don't think about him much in relation to me - when he comes to mind, it's mostly about him being Pebbles' father. My part in that Lifetime Movie generally goes unobserved. At all costs. Shut that door. Lock it. Seal it with cling wrap. Wear two layers of protective clothing. Whatever. Divert. Distract. Avoid feelings at all costs.
Except Pebbles is broody right now and wants to talk about all of it. The meeting. The marriage. The pregnancy. The early days. The divorce. She called me up early Monday morning (last), said she had the day off and wanted me to take a vacay day and come over. My schedule was flexible enough to accommodate, so off I went.
Longtime readers know my propensity to purge items, to get rid of, to donate, to control.my.space, leave nothing with emotional power around to disturb the cling wrap. Well, Pebbles drug out these photo albums and scrap books and there it all was. Stuff I'd forgotten. People I'd forgotten. Disasters I'd forgotten. I have no idea how or where she'd been saving it, but she had and there it was. FEELINGS with a capital FUCK.
It was emotional for me to see pictures of me at that time. To answer questions. I mean she knows the broad strokes, the major players, but she was asking more meaningful questions about her past. In many ways, I had a NOT.WITHOUT.MY.DAUGHTER view of our life. Like I had her, he left, so I picked her up and she and I trudged over the mountains to another life. Another world. And because he essentially dropped out of the picture, I didn't have to synthesize my past and my present. I just avoided. And kept trudging. I realized that I feel/felt a lot of shame about my younger self, about my decisions, and his. About bringing the Baggage Handler to this Crazy Train. That I should have known more, done more. Been more. At the time, I blamed him completely. Then at some point, I accepted responsibility for all of it and harnessed myself with a yoke of regret/shame/labels that I've carried for a long, long time.
Then yesterday, I read something somewhere about "your larger self giving your smaller self a big squeeze". And I was reminded again - that 20 year old was doing the best she could. She didn't have any skills. She didn't know any better. She couldn't predict the future. She didn't have the ability. So now, I'm going back to get her. To walk with her. To bring her to join us in the present. To just feel and process all the feelings, without shame, without blame. Accepting my part, and only my part, in it and letting the rest go. I've learned the lessons but this isn't the time to go all "look how far we've come", to put a flowing cape on it and to forget it. No, now's the time to come to real terms with all of it. We could use a little mercy now.