I had an AMAZING birthday. All I wanted was to sit on the beach and watch the sunset.
My kids, Bean, his two boys and I met up at the beach. We had a picnic for dinner and then played in the surf and sand for hours, tossing around a frisbee and football.
A few minutes ago, I was falling into sleep when a flashback assaulted me. The visceral screaming of my mother. I am a teenager. Im at her bedroom door. This was a pain I was naive to until this moment. Whatever it was, I was certain there was no coming back. My mother would never be the same. I’m very familiar with the scene.
What followed was the echo of my own wailing. A flash of a vision of myself crumbled to the floor. Desperation flooding my senses as I shield the life in my belly from the fury of fists.
Then, a scene of myself clinging to my knees and Im rocking …crying…wailing while my own small children wonder about their mothers prognosis. Twenty something, three children and devastated by a failed marriage.
Yet another scene flashes. A few months back…my husband and I are discussing with my son and father how we are going to move forward as co-parents as we “work on ourselves” and “take a break”. I lash out at my husband, my father lashes out a me. I feel the abandonment is imminent. I try to flee. My Dad physically restrains me. Husband walks out while Im at my father’s hands. My daughter pulls him off of me. I walk outside. I watch my husband leave. I watch my son climb into the car with my Dad. They both leave as well. I return inside and crumble. That visceral cry rises. Again.
I hate myself for allowing my children to be witnesses to this suffering. How do I forgive myself for scarring them for life?
I was broken … so convinced I was over.
Yet here I am.
Sitting on the cold pavement on my patio trying to ground myself in this present time and place. Im demanding my brain be convicted by logic and leave the past there.
It’s not happening. Not now. Not again.
It’s just a dream, Stephanie.
You are not alone.
Go back to bed.
As Pickle is nearing the end of his senior year of high school, prom is in the air. Pickle won’t be attending as he attended the Heart of Rock and Roll prom this last fall, but he is going to After Prom at Cedar Point the following day.
All of this got me thinking about my own prom.
Even though it will be 20 years ago come next summer, 20 YEARS, I remember it like it was yesterday …
Before I even started getting ready, my date had a dozen, long stem roses delivered to my house. I was still in my pajamas but I felt like a queen. I went to a salon for the first time that day. Got to be waited on by two incredibly gorgeous, well put-together ladies. One working my hair, while the other worked on my nails and make up. This would be a fantasy I would not ever again reach, even on my wedding day.
Then I went home and put on that gown. Classic Hollywood black, with Audrey Hepburn gloves to match and for good measure in attempting to leave my little girl ways behind, a low cut and high slit, paired with velvet pumps. I don’t remember what he said when he saw me that evening for the first time, but the look on his face, I’ll never forget.
I remember trying to be very sophisticated as we made our promenade into dinner. All eyes smiling on the two of us together, wanting to make him proud. I also remember the highlights of the actual dance. Getting our pictures taken. Rocking out with my girlfriends but taking every opportunity to slow dance with him.
But my favorite memories came after we left. Just the two of us in the backseat of a stretch limo while taking in the sights and city lights of Washington D.C. after dark. All the memorials being lit up. The busyness of Georgetown on a weekend night. It all felt like a dream and I didn’t want the magic of it to ever end.
There’s something very magical about being young, in love and sharing a night like that. Something that can never be replicated. While a part of that girl still lives in me, wanting that kind of magic to grace my days again and no matter what happened in that relationship with that boy in the days and years that were to follow, I will always hold those memories close to my heart and be so appreciative of that night … and that magic.
Because of that night, I will always believe in magic.
Today I had my epidural spinal injection. They were at the same hospital where I delivered my kids. In fact, the recovery room was the room I actually delivered Jedi in. I’ve written about what a strange experience it is before. Just like I’ve written about watching the episode of ‘Friends’, the one where Rachel tells Ross she’s pregnant and they have the sonogram and how it sent all these memories flooding back.
Today, I found myself watching that episode again and coupled with being in the same room I delivered my son, I was struck with such emotional pain that it took me back a little.
Back to a place I don’t like to be. I found myself back in the place where I question everything that happened in my previous marriage. Questioning how I ever let myself be in a situation like that. Examining every other moment we shared. Being disgusted at the way they have all been tainted. Wondering if I’m ever going to be able to look back on these memories that I should cherish with anything more than bittersweet melancholy. It makes me resentful and that’s a place I never want to stay. It makes me wonder too. Not that it would matter anyways but, I can’t help but wonder how he lives with the memories or if he ever thinks of us, or me, at all.
This morning I was accosted by a song.
I recognized the melody immediately. Tim McGraw.
When all our tears have reached the sea
Part of you will live in me
Way down deep inside my heart
I knew every word as it came, even as I tried to block the weight of it out. A song that takes me back to a time of bittersweet. I guess a time when I still believed the lines meant something. Something I wish I still believed.
Just like the waves down by the shore
We’re gonna keep on comin’ back for more
‘Cause we don’t ever want to stop
But we could and we did and I want to forget. I want to forget that I ever believed that I was something more than small that could be cast aside. I want to forget that revelation.
Late at night when you’re not sleeping
And moonlight falls across your floor
And I can’t hurt you anymore
I wish that were true. No, I could not even pretend, as I may like to, that was true. Even now. It hurts. I don’t want things to be like this.
Please remember me
No. I’d like to forget you as I know you now. I’d like to live with the nostalgic notion of you. Somebody that I used to know.
Via elephant journal
Everything that has happened along the way—forget it.
Forget about the first love that broke your heart.
And forget about the last break too.
Forget the time a friend you thought was best pushed a knife in your back.
Forget the words and the spite that resound in your head.
Forget the trauma that injured your flesh or your bones.
Forget the rejection you felt when someone failed to recognise your value.
Forget the tears that cleansed your soul.
Forget the mistakes that everyone makes.
Forget what you gave, without return.
Forget the mistrust, the resentment and the jealousy.
Forget about lies, betrayal and deceit.
Forget about the ones that got away—they were not meant.
Forget the time someone tripped you and caused a fall.
Forget the times you gambled but forgot you could lose.
Forget about whispers and gossips and stories—it is all an illusion, the truth only lives in one self.
Forget about rules and regulations—make new.
Forget about thinking—let the mind sit still.
Forget about time—let your heartbeat decide.
Forget about fear, it will paralyse—it is useless.
Forget about perfection, it is unobtainable—imperfection is true beauty.
And forget about forgetting—allow the release to happen. Naturally.
Then try as you can, to remember this…
Everything is already a part of you, the lessons have been learned, the memories etched and the effects have sunk in.
There is no need to hold on—it all already exists, so allow it. Let it just be. Without grasping.
Without pressing repeat.
It all had a purpose, once, long ago. Even if it was yesterday, or a minute ago—it has now passed. Past.
So just breathe…and breathe again. Deeply.
Right here, right now.
You are alive. You survived. In this very moment, this one… here…
You can choose. Choose to live.
Run. Fly. Wildly.
And begin to feel alive.
Everything and nothing and all in between—feel it all. Flushing through your veins—let it in, let it sit and then let it go.
Slowly, but very surely, replace all of the forgotten with all of the new.
Add to it, mix to it, blend whoever you were, who you are now with who you are about to become.
Alchemy—turn it to gold. Turn you. It is easy. Try. All of you. Every part.
Stir the storms with the rainbows, the pleasure with the pain. Create.
Forget the old. Sprinkle in new.
Stardust. Magic. Wanderlust. Mystery. Moonlit skies. Forests. Deserts. Sparkle. Dance. Have faith. Go. Find. Don’t look far. It is there. It always was, always has been. Right there, right here. Right now.
And each time you are overwhelmed, or hurt, or angry or in pain—go back to the top, read once more, unlearn, forget and begin again.
I don’t remember the first time we met, whether it was at the hospital or at home, but I do remember the first time I held you like it was yesterday. I can clearly recall looking down at your little perfect face. You were a magical wonder to me. I had no idea how you came to be. I just knew you were growing in Mom’s belly and then you were there in my arms and I was your big sister. I remember trying to help you not to be scared at night in our shared room. Telling you stories and singing you songs, like Lionel Ritchie’s “Ballerina Girl“, after we were tucked into our bunk beds. Decorating the underside of the top bunk like the night sky with puffy paint so that it didn’t look like spiderwebs anymore. Fighting every fiber of fear in my body to get up and throw the creepy clowns in the closet so they didn’t scare you. Teaching you to tell time on the wall size wristwatch that hung on our pepto bismol pink bedroom wall to distract you from things I didn’t want you to hear. Taking the blame so you didn’t in get in trouble for your experiments and inventions. Growing up fast so that I could protect your innocence when heavier things surrounded us. Looking over my shoulder to make sure you didn’t follow my own path.
I know you had some trouble as you forged your way into adulthood, attempting to navigate life and love. It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. There’s been hurt and bitterness. You’ve learned some lessons the hard way. But I hope today as you leave life alone to join together with your husband, that you can look back and see that EVERYTHING that has happened, good and bad, has led you right to this point in your life and made you the woman that he fell in love with.
When you love someone, you can see all the things that make them wonderful very clearly. I know that you see your husband-to-be in that light. But I think you struggle to realize that all the things that are wonderful about him, that you love with all your heart, that you are willing to sacrifice for, willing to give everything you’ve got without thinking twice … finds it’s equal in you.
You are just as wonderful. You are just as magical. You are just as real. You are just as worthy.
As I sit here, with tears of complete joy for you streaming down my face and words failing me, I just want you to know this:
Sister, you are a beautiful, one of a kind, fully deserving of every happiness. Today’s the day. The day you are marrying the love of your life. Please allow yourself to be completely vulnerable. Let everything that has come before go and move ahead and risk it all. Because you have to in order to fully experience the complete joy and love that is waiting for you. Know that love is the answer to most questions in life. You are ready and he is “the one”.
Go ahead and jump into the great unknown, holding his hand, with your beautiful smile and laughter.
I’ll be right here … always.
(I’m not sure what will come from this exercise but here it goes)
Stop listening to this sad music. Listen to the good stuff. How about some Lionel Ritchie? Remember that song Ballerina Girl? Dad used to play that song for us. Remember when he brought home the pudgy, stuffed, cabbage patch ballerina that hung by the pretty ribbon? You focus to much on the pudgy. That’s your own hang up. No one else thinks you’re fat. Yeah the mean boy at school said it but you see the way he looks at you when his buddy isn’t around.
That gym teacher in middle school who called you ugly. That guy was stupid. I don’t remember what he looked like but his heart was ugly. He is probably just a miserable human. Let it go.
That’s why you like that song so much. Because you have a hard time letting go. It’s become a prayer for you. You’ll figure it out. You’re almost there now. You have to work on forgetting. You’re worried about forgetting but you shouldn’t be. Just remember the good stuff though. Clear out more space for that stuff.
Remember bowling and having Happy Birthday sung by the waiters at Denny’s, the way Amy laughed when she embarrassed you. The day Julie moved away and you sung ‘That’s what Friends are for’ all day while staring at the big tree branches through the bedroom window. Melodramatic, but you loved her. Exploring the woods and crawling across the fallen tree over the creek. You could’ve walked. It wasn’t that deep but the adventure was cool. Oh, flashlight tag! Even the high school kids would play. Remember the time that neighbor kid shot Julie in the butt with the BB gun? The open classrooms at Kerrydale? I wonder if they’re still like that, don’t you? Probably, since the high school was too. Seems like a stupid idea. Very distracting. Remember when that dentist came to visit? You still think about fluoride being instant throw up when you go to the dentist, don’t you? Did you ever try eating chalk instead of Tums? I wonder if that was really true.
Do me a favor and stop worrying so much. You’re not dying. You’re going to be an old woman with children and grandchildren who love you so much. You will have a legacy of love. You’re a great Mom. You’re kids know you love them. You’re allowed to be grumpy. You’re better than your Mom and Dad. That’s what bothers you so much about Jer. You think he’s not paying attention and will give the kids bad memories, but he’s more fun than Dad. You just need to tell him you need more fun. He’ll understand that. Tell him about the piggy back ride and why it’s important. There will be piggy back rides and you’re going to figure out cartwheels. Dance more. You love to dance and you’re really good at. Just do it.AND spin. And lay in the grass. Roll down a hill. Even without the kids. Do it for you. Just for fun. There is still fun to have and you will.
I love you just the way you are. You’re awesome. Go to sleep. No bad dreams tonight. It’s happy in here.
(This writing was done with my non-dominant hand. Turned out pretty interesting. I hadn’t thought of many of these things in years and had no idea where each thought was coming from or going to. I would challenge you to try it out yourself. I double dog dare you.)