i survived childhood committed to a philosophy of never treating my own children as i had been treated. fear is not a teaching tool i care for.
i survived a twenty year marriage to a thoughtless man, Voldemort, who saw me as someone who, in his words, "would always take it. i thought i had you trained." i'd tried to run once when my children were babies but he tracked me through a credit card receipt. he came for us, for my son. he had my son in his arms and said, "you can have her and go. he's mine." he had my son. there is no terror greater than what those four words can do to a mother. he had my son. i made a decision that moment to endure the life he made me have. i could not run again. he watched too closely. "where's the change from the cash?" and if i had a check, like an inheritance check from my father's estate, $35,000 that i had wanted put into two savings accounts for my two children, it went missing. "i took it. you don't know how to handle money." before you scold me about his taking my inheritance check know that i did ask questions. i did investigate. what happened because i dared to is not a story to relate casually or quickly so i will cut to the end of the story. i never saw the money again.
but i survived the marriage by waiting. i got my divorce when my children were old enough to stand up to him, to have learned how to handle him. i do not have to live with him anymore. no more pinches. no more fingernails digging into my upper arm guiding me to a more private place. he can't lecture me or berate me anymore for failing his daily expectations. i had gone around a corner and caught a glimpse of the sun. and in that sunlit sky was a dragon of a man living and breathing so beautifully. and the Dragon saw me.
this Dragon was stronger, meaner, and tougher than Voldemort had ever fancied himself as. the Dragon was very capable and ready of following through on his promises if Voldemort did anything to hurt my children or me. but this Dragon was also kind and loving, generous and crazy in love with living every moment of his life. so brave, so blessed are those who can do that. blessed for some reason, the Dragon became my Dragon and he loved me. he wanted to be with me and live his life with me beside him. but he'd have to teach me some things.
he was in the middle of teaching me that i didn't have to ask permission to speak. i didn't have to start each sentence with, "i'm sorry." he was teaching me that i didn't have to listen to the weight and speed of every footstep. i didn't have to watch the tells of anger in face and hands, in shoulders or legs. no one was going to come after me again. we got the children off safe to their own new, grown up lives. we were just getting started on a new life together where i had love and encouragement, pride in my creative attempts, and, all i can do is go back to that one word because it frees us for every other thing possible, love. my Dragon loved me.
eight years. only eight years out of fifty-one to try to get myself out of the suitcase i had put myself in to protect myself for so long. to hide myself from my mother. to protect myself from Voldemort. eight years to break five decades of Stockholm syndrome. it is harder than it seems, to accept freedom.
eight years with my Dragon before he died. sometimes, in my darker moments, it feels like it he was a gift that was taken back. as if God said, "here he is. this is your dream. see him? he's a dragon with honor and courage. do you love him? you do? good, because he's worth it. okay, well, now you know what you can aspire to. i'm taking him home. you are to do this alone. buck up. he loves you. have a little faith."
i still cry everyday. sometimes a little. sometimes a lot. being so very much alone is hard. i can't call a friend to go out to a movie, or to come sit with me. no one has me over for gatherings or simply to keep me from being alone so much. i don't own a car so i stay here in the apartment and work. i love sewing but the monotony of waking knowing i cannot get into a car to take myself out for a short drive does make me feel bad sometimes. i do let my thoughts stray to why i could not connect with the widow's group. i waffle from feeling selfish for wanting to tell my own story to feeling like i shouldn't have to tolerate the things that happened to me from some of them. i try to be fair and realize i don't have a history here and trying to build one with women who are themselves grieving is asking too much of them. they don't know me. maybe they don't really like my personality. not everyone has to like everyone they meet and a widow's group just happens. survivors stray over to the closest group of people who might understand. but they don't have to understand or like you just because they are on the same journey.
so i am living and accepting my grief over the death of my Dragon alone. i write here and get wonderful feedback. i've "met" some wonderful people who i believe would miss me if i failed to ever appear again, if my photo behind my blog description never changed again. i have been gifted with the chance to go to Camp Widow 2010 in August to meet some of these people. i am humbly grateful.
i am living with my grief and i have not traveled far even though in three days it will be eleven months since he died. but i think i have found an equilibrium. by definition, equilibrium is being at a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces. the opposing forces are my deep sorrow and devastation over his death pulling me face down in the dirt against the power of his love for me trying to keep me moving. well, i'm moving a little bit. his love will always win. he is that powerful of a man. his love is that incredible. but i metaphorically lie down a lot, but i lie down face up so i can see the sky. the moon and the stars, the sun in the daytime are so beautiful. so when i am tired from grieving the loss of him, i lie down, but not in the dirt. in some nice grass that is warm and soft and sweet smelling. and i do cry, but i am looking up so the tears run down the sides of my face and water the grass. then i get up and move a bit further. mostly by crawling, but any momentum is a good thing. then i lie down face up again to watch the clouds float by, or watch the phases of the moon.
i've read so many books on grief. i've read so many quotes. i've finally settled on one that fits me right now.
George Eliot: But she lost energy at last even for her loud-whispered cries and moans: she subsided into helpless sobs, and on the cold floor she sobbed herself to sleep. In the chill hours of the morning twilight, when all was dim around her, she awoke--not with any amazed wondering where she was or what had happened, but with the clearest consciousness that she was looking into the eyes of sorrow. She rose and wrapped warm things around her, and seated herself in a great chair where she had often watched before. She was vigorous enough to have borne that hard night without feeling ill in body, beyond some aching and fatigue, but she had waked to a new condition: she felt as if her soul had been liberated from its terrible conflict; she was no longer wrestling with her grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer on her thoughts.