Once upon a time, about 40 years ago, in a land not so far away, a young married woman, mother to one, became a mother of two, and eventually three. Then one sun-filled day she walked out the door, and just like that, she was gone.
I imagine she must have left me long before then.
On this day, one year ago, in a land very far away, I learned that she took her last breath.
In reality, I had let her go long before then.
The journey from my cradle to her grave was mired in hatred and grief.
Abandonment oozed from my cells, self-preservation the sole objective.
Engage in the world but hold it at bay.
Give your body but never your heart.
Safety is not in numbers.
Always have an escape plan.
Trust no one. And certainly never yourself.
What others named as independence was self-preservation.
What others saw as positivity was armor to keep the darkness from leaking out.
What others praised as high-achieving was the price to be paid for taking up space on this planet.
Navigation into the abyss with a heart of darkness as my compass
Empty, void, gaping hole, soul starting to crumble. Veneer starting to crack. Thus began my journey inward, a quest into the darkness. In search of refuge, of darker places to hide. And all that I found along the way, anything that allowed the light of day -I burned. All of it. Everything. Right to the ground. Just to be sure I could never walk back over those bridges.
When there was nothing left to burn, it became time to build.
Initially the drive to build was to simply have kindling for the next bonfire. Then the whole world shifted. The catalyst from destruction to resurrection began with a question.
“What was the gift in her leaving?”
Provoked, claws out, defensive posturing, enraged roars like a mother bear protecting her cub, I fought and railed against the question. How dare he ask me such a thing?
With time, the anger, grief and waves of shame subsided. And I was exhausted, all out of fight. So I began to soften my stance, lower my gaze, and still my voice. Thus began a slow, quiet quest through the ashes and rubble for the answer. On the journey to knowing, I found peace, and relief. And release.
In truth, there were many gifts. The blessing that has perhaps served me most well is my ability to see multiple perspectives simultaneously and to know I have the power to choose how I frame my world.
The circumstances of our lives matter less than how we see them – Rory Sutherland
Where I once saw a child abandoned by a cold woman, I now see that I am the legacy of a trailblazer who scorched a new path for truth and choice.
Where I was once filled with anger to be born of a woman who failed at being a woman, I am now grateful that my life is not a foregone conclusion because I am a woman. I am grateful that she widened the spectrum of understanding, possibility and choice for me.
Where I was once fearful of abandonment and protected myself against it, I now see that what I fear the most has already happened. And I am still standing.
More Insights from the Journey
- Love is the wound and the source of all healing.
- Not all gifts come from presence. Absence is a powerful teacher.
- Our strengths can be our liabilities. The reverse is also true.
- Your past doesn’t have the power to define your future. Unless you make it so.
- Multiple realities and truths exist simultaneously.
- Standing in the darkness or the light is a choice (as is love). And beauty and truth live in all those places.
- You become the stories that you tell yourself. And you can change the lens through which you see the world.
Whatever trail you are blazing, wherever you are on your journey, wherever your path may lead, know this – the road through hell can lead to peace, a broken heart bleeds out blessings, a question can change your life, and your world can expand if you dare to let it. Perspective is everything.