I was blessed to spend yesterday with an amazing conversationalist. Someone who shares my perspective on some things and has wonderful open dialogue on others. An extraordinary listener who brings respect and sincerity to the table. We discussed past experiences and the burdens we carry because of the actions of others. The conversations we share are always insightful, meaningful and at times quite memorable. They can provoke thought and self-reflection and encourage growth. While I have a few very close friends that can offer a similar didactic, I so value this level of colloquy. It is a gift for which I have an immeasurable amount of gratitude.
Discussing how we carry the burdens of others actions was very through provoking. Causing me to reflect, which I often do, on the things that have in a sense molded me into the person I am. While as a teen and into my early twenties, I tried to cast off the impact of my upbringing, I have come to discover that it was what had given me the strength to endure with an emotional fortitude which I was not aware I carried. I was taught two very essential qualities that I see with less frequency than I would like in today’s world, a very hard work ethic and the ability to sacrifice when having to choose between what is right and what is a personal desire. Those allowed me financial viability in a situation where others may not have been able to persevere as well as the ability to know my actions were always ethical which can minimize the burden of guilt. I have been graced with the insight on the importance of forgiveness which has released some of my burden as well but I still struggle.
That struggle is rooted deep within me. I am unsure I can forgive myself as a parent but it is somewhat of a no win situation. I love being a mother no matter how exhausting is can be. The first time I held the little person I grew was beyond words, with each one. I feel a guilt which I am unsure I can lay down for I raised children in a home filled with dysfunction, lacking the model of a loving respectful relationship. The majority of the extreme incidents occurred many hours after sunset so they saw little of that level of hostility but they did know of the tension, the lack of respect with which I was treated, and a portion of the reality of living with someone who was more concerned with his personal agenda then the family goals.
While I worked to maintain a sense of normalcy which I know is relative, will my daughter grow to accept the same treatment she observed? Will she fall in love with someone who has so little regard for her that she learns to minimize herself to avoid the next struggle? Will she settle for someone who does not value her, nevertheless love and cherish her for the unique individual she has grown into? Will my sons know that is appropriate to treat women with such little respect? Will they learn to manipulate and devalue their partner? Will they truly understand how to love another selflessly without motive? I suppose I will carry those questions throughout my life along with the guilt.
This is a true situation where hindsight creates a different perspective. I was so very young and extremely naive when my first was conceived; the marriage bouncing between what I was trying to idealize and what I was trying to mend. While there had been some very intense situations, it was not until I was well along in the pregnancy did I first experience true fear. Looking back on my early life, I had already encountered many of the red flags of a relationship filled with domestic abuse. I remember consistently questioning “How do we give up hope?”, “How do we give up helping the one we love?”, always thinking with time and love the ptsd would improve only to realize it was a crutch for his behavioral choices. Retrospectively I can see where I diminished my self-worth, releasing my control, giving pieces of myself away and hiding others; the shaming and belittling in the most intimate of ways can cause a burden that too is difficult to discard.
I still face a grief that I know will continue lessen over time. While I am fortunate to have three wonderful children, I will never know the joy of raising a child in a home filled with love. Of sharing those joys with the other loving parent. I may never know the journey of parenthood with the person I love. I suppose that twinge of grief will become smaller as life progresses for it has lightened through the years. I work hard to stay focused on the many gifts I do have for I have been indescribably endowed. I work hard to remind my children to navigate the world with respect while teaching them how to love, compassionately, selflessly, and fully with hopes they do not fall into the same crevasse in which I found myself.
“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh