Why? Why is it necessary to go through it over, step by step? What good does it do?
It’s always been important to me to find out what’s true, what happened to us then. Because, it wasn’t physical events that followed a sequence like every other point of experience in a lifetime. I was on a course, going along and this knocked me off from who I was going to be and I ended up on a different life track altogether.
Antonio was gone for good, skipped bail and left the state. Maybe it was the baby, but no hole opened up and filled slowly the way it usually does when someone who has been a big part of your existence leaves it. But then for that time period the lack of emotional response wasn’t atypical. I stopped experiencing things close to me altogether. Everything was at a distance, like seen through a glass. The care of my child especially.
This was all involuntary. Do you ever see someone whose kinda spacey, who doesn’t seem to ‘deal’ all that well with the logical progression of being, who isn’t ‘all there’ so to speak?
That’s kinda how it was. When the pressures of maintaining the relationship went away, it was like opening a sealed package only to find that raccoons have slyly gotten away with the contents in the night. A big, huge piece was gone.
But I loved my little kid. I couldn’t really show it. There was immense physical exhaustion involved in connecting. I was afraid of that connection, afraid of the vulnerability, the possibility of loss she symbolized. Loving things takes a certain faith in the daily act of living that I didn’t find immediately accessible. I wasn’t able to be a real mom; so I chose to be a guardian. I chose to watch over and keep. I could find some strength in that direction.
And as years pass, things heal up. They do.
There’s no longer that confusion, like the victim of a body snatcher who finds theirself living a different life. I had to get really angry. And be really closed. And feel a certain scorn toward people who thought they were in love, or thought they understood how the world worked. Hard to get past that cynicism, “They don’t know.” I deplored in others my own naivete.
But that goes away, too.
About a year into her life a funny little situation arose: Sierra pooped in her bath water. This isn’t quite as gross as it sounds. They were cute little round poopies that bounced merrily in the water. I drained and cleaned and decided to take a shower with her because poop water residue just doesn’t seem very hygienic. I was still fairly robotic and the short shower was meant, as all motions were meant then, to serve a purpose. Cleanliness.
But as I held her gently against my chest, soaping her back under the warm spray, she laid her little head on my shoulder and relaxed, completely, in that way small children will snuggle into your arms and surrender. And though I was panicked by what rose up in my chest, and although it closed my throat a little, I held on, gently rocking the tiny person entrusted in my care. I was thinking that someday if she needed to escape somewhere she could come to right here, right to this moment where she was safe and warm and held. And maybe I could go there too.
Anyway, it’s what I had to give at the time, and it was just exactly enough. The decision to stay it out, to hold on tight. That stubborn old faith in the transformative powers of love.