I’ve come to the begrudging realization that part of my being a priestess is putting my own personal experiences on the line, so that people who can find something in them can apply those lessons and perhaps gain some insight into their own lives. So, despite how intensely personal some of these experiences may be, I’ve decided to exercise Gebo and share my story.
Perhaps this process of sharing will be the death blow to the nice little wall I’ve built up before myself over the years.
You see, I tend to get really comfortable with living behind this intense wall of ice, behind which I hide most of my emotions. Worse than the wall itself, is the fact that I often pretend it’s not there. It’s like my own little Emerald City of negativity, except the walls are a sickening shade of gray and the luxury day spa is out of commission.
“The wizard’s not here, and you’re not comin’ in, no way, no how!”
Anyhow, I digress.
Part of my personal “therapy” has always been to use running as a type of moving meditation. Thanks to my trusty iPod, I also tend to find a song that has a deep emotional impact for me and loop it until the emotional punch I receive from the lyrics finally breaks a barrier. (I often find that in all my years of “walling” rather than expressing, I frequently have trouble finding the root of an issue rather than picking away small chunks from a rather vast foundation. Which, is not necessarily a bad thing, but somewhat frustrating at times.)
My recent lyrical boxing glove was “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna, which is this wonderfully nasty little song about all the ups and downs of an abusive relationship. It’s the chorus that really gets me, and surprisingly enough, it does not remind me of him.
”Just gonna stand there and watch me burn,
That’s all right because I like the way it hurts.
Just gonna stand there and see me cry,
That’s all right because I love the way you lie.
I love the way you lie…”
For anyone unaware, I spent four years in an abusive relationship before I finally gathered enough sense and courage to pack my things and leave. I’ve largely moved past the problems with my abuser as far as guilt, shame, fear, anger, and all the other lovely things that come as a side-effect from years of emotional and physical pain. Despite knowing that, I still find myself extremely raw when it comes to talking about that situation and the people involved, and that I stumble into that pitfall of freshly re-experiencing those feelings and emotions very vividly even three years after the fact.
It’s been a long, stumbling path, but I believe the reason I’ve been unable to move past this is that there were other people intimately involved in what happened during that relationship, and I’ve always felt very uncomfortable assigning to them the blame that was due.
Mainly, there was a woman in my life who was a wonderful person. I left my mother’s house when I was sixteen so I could graduate high school on time and ship myself off to college. This woman took me in, treated me like her own daughter, and I came to know her as the mother I’d always wanted but had never been able to have. (My mother was still around at the time, obviously, but our relationship had always been tenuous, at best.) Unfortunately, her son, a dear friend of mine who had invited me in, passed away a few years later, and I stood by her during that time – a difficult experience that made our connection that much stronger.
Especially now, I can’t help but think: She who had lost a son, and I who have lost a mother, how appropriate and wonderful that we might find one another.
Time went on, we dealt with our grief, and somewhere along that winding path, I met David. His inner struggles (or at least, the struggles as he portrayed them) reminded me so intimately of my own experiences in leaving my family to better myself that I couldn’t help but be compelled to help him. I was naïve and completely absorbed in the memory of how much I needed that woman and her son when they were the only two people on my side during that fight with my entire family. How could I possibly not be there for him in that? Who else would be his rock in the pit of despair? Unfortunately, I missed the cosmic memo that this particular falling body came armed with a sledge hammer and a pick axe. Dave ended up coming to live with us very soon into the relationship, and things degenerated rapidly.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully accept that my willingness to stay in this puts me well into blame for what happened. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but I don’t shirk that responsibility. What I can’t purge is the fact that she allowed that man to cross the threshold of her own house every night. She listed to him beat me emotionally and at times physically from two rooms away, and would then comment on the volume. She would laugh or encourage him when he made hurtful comments. This woman did all this, and would turn around and tell me she loved me and though of me as her daughter.
The breaking line for me, I think, was when I returned to visit her after all this, thinking I could let this go and smooth everything over. I wanted very badly to do that. But, at the end of explaining our breakup, I was stupid enough to defend his actions, and she agreed that he really wasn’t a bad guy.
Keep also in mind that my bank tellers commented on how our relationship was a “bad situation” and that his own parents recommended that I get a restraining order, so any confusion as to the severity of his nature is pretty well snuffed.
Despite all that, I’ve always felt that somehow harboring resentment for what she watched and heard happened in her home made my less of a person. Perhaps it’s just that old mentality that forgiveness is the greatest virtue, but I felt as though saying that she should have done something and holding her to that was somehow blaming her for what happened.
In a sense, she is partially responsible. There is a lot she could have and should have done, and while that time is past and I’ve moved on, nothing can change that. What’s worse is that, I know in my heart that nothing she could say or do could put that to rest.
I really wish she could.
But in months of journaling and writing letters, I’ve realized that there is no response that will satisfy my questions, and that the best thing I can do is let this go.
I can have that balance now: that I still love her, but I know trying to further that relationship is only toxic to us both.
We walked together in a different time, when we were different people. I still love you, sweetheart. But that time has passed.