Easier to say, pt 3

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.


9 thoughts on “Easier to say, pt 3

  1. sierra. she makes me miss having a baby on my chest, resting her big head right there where it fits.

    It’s been a journey, indeed. Beautifully written. I can’t imagine you putting it to bed for good. And I don’t mean that in any way but a positive one.

  2. you write well – with feeling but not gushing.

    Rejection is the hardest thing to deal with. I guess there’s no getting away from the implacable truth: we can be alone and in control, or involved with someone and vulnerable. I find it sad that there are so many people – and it seeems to me women especially – who go for long periods, even of their best years, without feeling able to be close to someone, because of the trauma of having been hurt previously.

    I’ve spent probably half my adult life in and half out of one or other long-term relationship. Now, I regret very much a lot of the time I was alone – because I feel that I missed opportunities to grow as a person.

    I hope you find a way to come through the hurt and mistrust to a place where you are able to take risks and have adventures again

  3. I’ve been thinking for a while about what to say, if anything. What does an internet acquaintance say in response to such a revelation?

    Well, you’ve read my ramblings enough to realize that when I say I hate it when a fellow human goes through something so terrible, I mean it. Violence towards women is among the worst of that for me. Maybe that is a throwback to a “defend the cave” mentality that matches my sloped forehead, but there it is.

    I know that posting this account is more about a therapeutic purging than it is hearing what interwebians think about it, but I still feel like I need to point out that I read it, I felt it, and I sincerely hope that the telling has eased it. If that is possible.

    Consider yourself the recipient of positive thoughts beamed through the series of tubes that comprise the internet for you and your little angel, courtesy of Slothboy.

  4. The value of telling these kinds of stories is, perhaps, centered more in community than in your own healing. As I’m sure you know, not everyone has the gift of narrative, and not everyone has the capacity to look at his or her own life arc and show it to a stranger. When you are able to show it to someone who is having a similar experience but who is still mute — that is a great gift you have given . . . one of the most profound, really. The honor of memoir, even when it is terrible to write, is the way in which you speak for those who cannot raise their voices.

  5. You should really write a book. You have a beautiful way of telling a very difficult story. It’s personal, but you make it sound like a book. Like fiction. I hope you will find the safe warm place. And I wish you and your daughter all the warmth and strenght in the world.

  6. ybonesy- Thank you. Really. That part made me kinda miss having a little one in my arms, too. Weird how a person can miss things that seemed so hard to cope with at the time.

    94 stranger- yeah, for some time it just wasn’t worth being involved. But there’s been some adventures… I think it’s weird that when you don’t have a certain thing, like a marriage or one steady person through your twenties, after awhile you don’t necessarily want it anymore. My relationships have not succeeded in the long run, but my friendships have rarely failed. So I value friendship more than the idea of being with someone permanently, (though right now there’s somebody in my life who makes me grin like dopey. We’ll see how it goes.) Thanks for visiting. I like your poems.

    Slothboy- I know! I woke up, checked blog and thought, ‘what were you thinking, posting that.’ But I really wanted to write it down yesterday, and this is kinda where I’ve come to write more personal things. I can see it would be hard to respond to. I really appreciate your response;
    Sloth-beams… oy! potent stuff.

    davidrochester- you comment so elegantly. I would like to think writing it all down had value to someone out there. that would be ideal, if the record of the experience helped someone, maybe in a way i don’t understand. It’s good to see you here.

    Celia- what very kind words. S. is 9 now, and after a rough start we’ve had … I can’t remember the french term for it, but we’ve really had a sweet life, by in large. I see your name is linked! I’m glad, people will find your blog more easily. You write incredibly well for 18.

  7. Like Slothboy, I’m not quite sure what to say but I agree with Dave… I think it’s about community. I have found a small community within the blogosphere that has become dear to me and for those who have become part of my community I look forward to their postings, comments and replies.

    I don’t know quite how to reply to this but to say that you have touched me with your story. It made me tear up a little as I remembered sitting in the tub with my little girl 13 years ago when she was a baby… i could actually “feel” the memory as I read about how Sierra “relaxed completely”. Little Fawn (that’s my daughter’s nickname) did the same as we sat in the warm water.

    I’m honored that you would list me as an esteemed peer and like others am sending much energy and light and love your way. *hugs*

  8. I am lucky enough not to have been (knowingly) near the sort of situation you lived through. Minor versions perhaps but nothing quite like that and it makes me angry that such things happen. And after reading you for some time, especially angry, make that especially sad that it happened to you (not that anyone should have that happen to them).

    You’ve been able to express it, you have the words that a lot of people who have been through that don’t have. And though I’m sure you have a strength that you otherwise might not have, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that no “silver lining” will make up for that horror.

    I know that this is not a gender free issue but my own single fatherhood is so much easier knowing that my daughter’s mother loves her and that her stepfather on that side is a good man.

    If there is anything to karma, you’ve smooth sailing from now on. And, as I am sure some of these other commenters feel, these words are an inadequate response to your experience.

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