November 20, 2014
Prompt: My Many Lives
Where I Was
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who wrote Women who Run with the Wolves, tells a fable about the stork. Sometimes the stork, so excited to be carrying a girl-child, accidentally drops her too soon or a little too late, and as a result, she grows up feeling as if she doesn’t really belong to this family. Estes calls this the “misplaced zygote theory.” I used to be a misplaced little girl.
This must have been the wrong family, wrong mother who very quickly couldn’t stand me, who made me wear my hair very short like a boy, who hurt me in so many ways. Surely, I was not supposed to have this father, who took away my innocence, and who forced me to learn to “go away”/dissociate to survive my childhood.
It was a long, hard trip through the early years. The only place where I could be myself was in school. Yes, I am bright, but I was also a good little girl, a teacher’s dream. I could get some of the calmness of school days when I read at home, especially in the summer, or when I sat with Grandma on her porch, listened to her, and learned to crochet.
Through all these many years, I went from place to place, trying desperately to find a “home.” I didn’t know that you cannot erase the beginning, start over, re-form your parents, become a lovely, self-assured young woman…. without a great deal of pain and perseverance. I did persevere, except for the periods of despair, which were crippling. Even after I married – to the wrong man, quell surprise! – I knew it was the wrong bus stop, and I had dropped into the wrong house with the wrong spouse.
And through the marriage and the long divorce, I kept looking for rescue, which never came. One day, dazed with depression, confused about where to turn, wanting to give up – I had a turning point. I finally realized that I must search inside myself to find myself, to be my true self. I never knew until then that I had a right to be happy.
Where I Am Now
Now, I am much older, and I still wonder why I am where I am. Well, of course, my vision is a challenge, and I cannot drive. For five years after I moved here, I could not write. My daughter lives nearby, and the time with the grandchildren is precious, but I am on the edge of that family unit. When the boys come and have a sleepover it is wonderful, but my daughter still remembers the painful times when we were with her father and her siblings. It is a mixture of sadness and joy.
I am blessed with several wonderful “girl friends” and we are so close, even though many miles separate us. My writing career has been successful, but there is so much more I have to say. I have stories to tell, but unless I find someone who wants to hear them, I fear they will be lost. I realize that many 30-somethings ignore the parental input, but time goes by too quickly to count on some distance tomorrow to fill in the blanks.
I am pretty content; I love my work, though I feel alone and still deal with “the depression.” Of course, I go to book club, knitting, some churchy events, go for coffee at Starbucks. I have the challenging gift of empathy, so I feel very deeply, and have to take care not to be swallowed up in someone else’s drama.
Who I Am Becoming
For tomorrow, its plan to become more contemplative, spend more time in the outdoors, watching the changing of seasons, always wondering how many more winters I have, or how many more birthdays.
I fear that I will never again have a spouse, a partner to love and who loves me truly. I yearn for that, have had that kind of love before, but the prospects don’t look promising. Moreover, I surely do not want to be rejected one more time.
I am very much afraid of dying, especially of dying a painful death. My daughter will not take care of me if I become frail. So I hope I can learn how to live each day as fully as possible and, when the time comes to “move on,” the passing will be bittersweet. I hope that at least one person who cares will be there. I hope that my chronic pain will not prevent me from spending my time with people I love and who care about me, that I will be able to travel a bit, and keep teaching as long as I can stand/see/talk, and writing as long as my mind is strong.
As a prelude, I’ve started playing the piano again, and sketching. I love the wind and the sunset and the blooming of my rose of Sharon tree. I will buy more wind chimes, too.