Monday, October 22, 2012

Watch Me


My therapist asked me a question the other day that sent me down a rabbit hole of introspection. She asked me how I maintained hope from the age of 5, after my mom died and my extremely troubled alcoholic father raised me.

My brain went blank. I could only get a fuzzy image of me just numbly soldiering my way through my childhood. I told her I didn't know, that maybe it was just blind determination or the stubborn desire to survive just built into me. But later that day, I finally realized what got me through those years of pain, fear, and loneliness.

I was waiting to feel the way I did when Dave was in my life. I was waiting to find him. No, I didn't know that then. I just knew that the way out of my situation was to find a family of my own choosing, since mine didn't work out so well. I had a vague notion that my chance for happiness and security was out there.

It turned out Dave was the person who could give me that. When I lost him, I lost my family. My only true family. The only person who made me feel as though I'd found my home. Within the circle of safety and love we created, I felt more secure and able to tackle whatever came my way. My grades in college improved, my sleep improved, I felt more brave and focused.

Worse things have happened to better people than me, but holy hell have I lost a lot. I simply can't figure out why this is my path, why I don't get to have a mom, a dad, a husband, a family of my own.

I suppose the why doesn't matter. It just is and it's what I have.  People everywhere go through terrible things. They also experience beautiful things. And so do I.

My test, my challenge, my reason for living, now, is to give myself what Dave used to give me - that stable base from which to function. The security of the knowledge that I matter just because I do. Not because there's someone waiting for me at home. Not because I have someone who wants to be with me above all others. Not because I have a mom who calls to check in or a dad who worries about me and takes care of me, now that Dave can't. Not because I have kids who need me and love me. Just because I exist. Just because I'm me.

Maybe I can accomplish that alone. Maybe I need to feel the belonging of having a "most important person" again in order to fully heal. I'm not sure. I just know that what life has offered me is this. This time in my life when it's just me. Life has forced me to learn how to do this.

It's almost as though life has thrown out this challenge, has said "bet you can't accomplish THIS one!" sounding a lot like the bullies I remember from childhood.

To that I say "WATCH ME, mo fo! Challenge accepted."


  1. I live what you describe...I might use different words (I would say that I love myself the way I think God would want me to, in a way honoring myself as an amazing creation that He formed) but to the same end.

    My dearly beloved spent most of our marriage not valuing me as much as he did in the last few years before his death. I am blessed that he did eventually begin to treasure me, but he didnt start until we ahd been marriad about 20+ years... I wasnt much valued by him and I wasnt much valued by my parents (alcoholic mom) and my sons suffer from serious depression and wanting my daughter to make up for everyone elses failings isnt fair... I do live a good life respecting myself with a realisitc humility but enjoying my company the way my husband matured into agreeing with and God always did. I almost caught myself not breathing when you described your early life because I shared (in different ways) a similar dynammic...if someone were to ask me why I was not all that bothered when people treated me like I was worthless, I would say "I did not believe them".

  2. "Worse things have happened to better people than me, but holy hell have I lost a lot" - YES. Love how you put that. Through having an early life that was (of course) both similar and different, I can relate to much of this. The life's challenge of figuring out how to value yourself *for yourself, by yourself* - such is mine too.

  3. I have often felt like I matter less since my husband died, no "most important person" to be there for me anymore. I remember the loneliness before I met him, drifting along in life, no purpose. I'm right back there again, I don't like it anymore than I did. I know that I do matter, but this has taken me down more than any other event in my life. I've dealt with breast cancer, infertility, death of dear friends and parent, this tops them all.

    Never would have thought it would be this much of a challenge to get back into living, but it choice but to accept the same challenge.

  4. Yes.
    I lost my mother, sister, brother and now husband all to cancer.
    Holly Hell is right. In the middle of Dante's inferno.

    I too remind myself there are people who have had worse things happen to them. I just have to watch the news and I know that.
    But - It still is the most painful thing I have ever lived with.

    Thank you for the reminder we must give ourselves what we need. We must love ourselves enough to survive this terrible loss.

    Yes - I will survive. Just WATCH ME!
    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. You sure have traveled through the fire. Damn.
      Sounds like you're more than tough enough to rise above, though. You're awesome.

  5. Wow - yes, you have definitely dealt with your fair share of heartache and loss. But I think you are right - when you manage to stop focusing on what you don't have and start looking towards the future you can build with and for yourself, it will be the foundation of something great. You might also be interested in Susannah Conway's book Unraveling. She dealt with rebuilding her life for herself and herself alone after the death of her significant other. It was an easy, great read: one to curl up with in bed with a cup of coffee or wine. I highly recommend it.

    1. Ooh! Lovely. Thank you, Kathleen. I just finished a good book and needed a new one. I'll check it out.

  6. Holy hell....funny we didn't realize that we were searching for a safe place until we found it, and then lost it.
    I,too, am struggling to be the stable influence in my life.
    My therapist says I am amazing.
    Maybe I am....

    1. Ha! It's funny how I can believe so much that people say but when they tell me something like that, I suddenly doubt them! ;)
      Glad you're considering that your therapist might be right!