My Thanksgiving Day was lovely. How was yours?
Yesterday was a fairly lazy day. The office was closed, but I did one task for work, then partially trimmed the dogs, Today and tomorrow they will get a bath, and I'll touch up the trim afterward. I need to organize my truck sometime today or tomorrow, and, oh yeah, clean house. Exciting, huh? snicker!
So let's do something else.
I saw this this morning on FB. It put into words something I've wrestled with for a long, long time. My late husband was difficult to live with, to say the least. I loved him, but he was a thorn in my rose garden. He also had lots of good facets, spoiled me in many ways, although often it was to make amends for his behaviors on other days or to prove to himself or others how good he was.
The core issue was that he thrived on chaos. When things in the home were off kilter, he was at his best. When everyone else is spinning out of control, it is easy for him to step in, take control and be in charge of it all. He had some sayings that I heard many times through the years. Divide and conquer. That was a favorite. He meant that if he kept the enemy (rebelling forces, usually the kids) apart to avoid combined strength, they would eventually turn on one another. He would win. Later I realized he used that to separate me from the kids, too. He thrived on creating havoc, hours-long arguments into the wee hours of the morning, keeping tension in the air much of the time. If you keep the opposition angry, scared, and tired, it is easier to defeat them. Everyone walked on eggshells to avoid raising the ire of the dragon. The house was a war zone.
It was no wonder that I couldn't find peace in the home.
I knew all of this, but putting it into a manageable bundle of thoughts took me a long time. He kept me subdued with angry outbursts and self-esteem wearing verbiage. I began rebuilding the pieces of the carnage when I was packing to move shortly before and after his death, and again when I was unpacking and downsizing on this end of that move. I ran across several journals that I kept off and on over the years. Multiple times through the years I noted things that should have sent me scurrying, but I forgot about it from one event to the next. Why? Because that's how recipients of verbal and emotional abuse survive; they stuff it away where it can't be seen. Out of sight, out of mind. Or more correctly, out of sight, crammed into the back of the mind until it hurts. Reading the journals led me to connecting the dots, realizing that the joy I experienced through the years was all connected to the children, just a smidgen with him. Sad.
And it made me angry, of course. It took me three years after his death to forgive him .... and myself .... for that. But I did.
I've had some healing conversations with the kids. They
all get it. In fact, they got it before I did. As they moved out of the
house and were able to push it farther away from their present lives, some in therapist's offices, othesr had different ways of snuffing out the hurting memories. Over time they began to tell me
of things I was not privy to earlier on. How they, the kids themselves, covered
things that went on in my absence, because of the wrath they would
experience if they let on. He called it teaching "respect;" of course, it was
fear they learned from this.
In spite of this, we
have recognized he wasn't evil. He was sick. I believe he was bipolar.
It was not severe enough to debilitate him. He was together enough to be
charming, winning many over with his smile and charisma. But if he was around
people long, they began to see the holes in the persona. We had very
few friends. During my first marriage I had been the consummate hostess, the queen of fun, and now, I had only "outside" friends, the ones who
didn't have much insight into my personal life.
My mosaic is composed of a lot of teeny tiny pieces. But it is a beautiful picture now. The last seven years have been healing and strengthening. I'm still a work in progress, but it is progressing! Broken shards or not, I like my mosaic. It represents where I've been, not where I'm going.
I don't know if one ever truly heals from that sort of damage, but I can say I'm better with each day. I'm finding so many beautiful things to build into my foundation. It feels to me much like the foundation that I got from my parents' home, but it is clearly one of my own making. Life isn't without challenges, not at all. And it isn't without sad or bad times. But I'm generally happy. I like my circle of friends. If someone chooses to leave my circle, that's fine. There is probably a reason they won't fit in my new place. Those who stay near me like me. Best of all, I like me.