Friday was my youngest son’s 25th birthday, boy where has the time gone? His father drove up to meet and ride down with me to celebrate. It was good to have an extra day this month to spend with my son and his family.
After an enjoyable visit my ex (yes we are still good friends) and I had a little quiet time to talk before he headed home. He has been following my blog and asked me why I hadn’t talked about the pain I grew up with. I first told him I didn’t feel the subject fit with my blog. Then after sitting with the idea a while I realized it was very pertinent to how I live today.
I am not the only person to have been horribly abused as a child, sadly there are far too many of us walking around carrying the leftover remnants of those years. I was fortunate to have people who looked out and did something to change the course of my life. The result was that I ended up living my teen years with loving grandparents to show me life could be different.
That’s not to say I didn’t continue to carry the pain around with me. I spent a few years trying to run away. I believed if I moved as far as I could from my hometown I would be able to leave the pain behind. It never works, you still bring with you yourself and the memories.
When I gave up trying to move away from the pain I still hadn’t healed, I just tried to cover it up. I tried to put on the picture of a perfect life. One of the home, expensive belongings and pretty things. But I was still the same person inside and couldn’t find a way to add a coat of varnish to the memories and nightmares that continued to plague me. Still I thought if I showed the world that I was successful no one would continue to feel sorry for me.
I have had plenty of times when I felt it was wrong of me to have had my children because I had no real role model to show me how to be a mother. I learned through the experience of actually being a mother. I jokingly tell my boys they were one giant experiment in parenting. But I would never trade a day of my life with them for any thing. Maybe it’s because they knew I loved them no matter what state I was in or maybe it’s because of me but they turned out to be really great individuals in their own rights.
When my boys moved out to begin their adult lives I had already come to terms with most of the past and had even left the nightmares behind at some point. The memories became more like a movie about someone else than me. I can recall them, but they no longer hurt.
I learned trust through the process of living and slowly, ever slowly, came to realize that the material possessions I had accumulated weren’t making my life any better. I realized I didn’t need to put on a show for anyone, and could just be myself.
I realized at some point I actually liked the person I had become and didn’t want to hide it behind a facade any longer. I was also ready to let go of relationships that weren’t healthy and supportive. It wasn’t easy but it’s been a wonderful growing experience.
So it became out with the old and in with the new. Not just possessions, but everything that reminded me of those bad times. There wasn’t much left, one item in particular I had held on to because I told myself it reminded me of good times.
It was a spoon holder which I had bought for my first home with someone I loved deeply. He treated me with all the love I had longed for and I wanted to hold on to that one item. What I didn’t realize is that this item not only reminded me of love but also of loss. I will never forget him and don’t need a daily reminder. I passed that item along to some one else. And with that I finally left the past where it belongs, in the past.
I was now free to start over.
Since I had desired perfection for so long I now knew it didn’t exist, within me or the world. Material possessions couldn’t make me happy. But love, peace, and laughter could. I had known certain things about myself, such as my dislike for a huge home. I enjoyed small spaces, but it went so far against the grain. Finally after talking to my children and telling them what I wanted to do (and receiving only support from them) I was ready to make the biggest change of my life. Embracing me!
I may have been extreme in wanting the good things, or maybe I just had a different reason for wanting them. But I found I was annoyed with myself for falling for all the advertising telling me I had to have such and such to be happy. NO I DIDN’T!
I may have been slow to learn what happiness truly is, but I know it now. To continue to live in the past will take away the enjoyment of the present. To hide behind material possessions will not make life better, and by hiding behind a mask will not bring you the results you are seeking.
The only way to be happy is to embrace those things that make you happy and to the best of our abilities leave behind those things that don’t. What are those things? For me the answer became clear: family, good friendships, and time to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life, you know taking time to smell the roses. The answer for me was to embrace wanting a small home and living true to those values I held dear deep inside myself.
What makes you happy.