I went looking for old photos today, to find a me with a smile. A me that said there were days of laughter and light. And there were photos like that, birthday parties and patent leather shoes, days at Central Park with my little brothers and gag gifts at Christmas. Unfortunately though, that fades quickly and what remains is the soot of a childhood that wasn’t. The soot that you sweep and sweep into this or that corner, but a faint residue always remains.
I’m in the mouth of the Hamburgler, in jail. We didn’t go to mass or have a get together with family, although my cousin was with us and I remember being jealous of her outfit. It was Easter and that meant getting dressed up and going to McDonald’s. I don’t quite understand the connection to the Resurrection and a Happy Meal, except that they are both good.
After my last post, I didn’t think I would be able to write again for a while. I found that the experience of writing it, of testing my darkest boundaries, wasn’t nearly as painful as the internal debate to share it.
The sanitation of my memory as I edited, to keep it from being so jarring and graphic, was met with palpable anxiety. How do you scale back your truth? What angle do you choose for the close up? How do you move away from the memory and get to the present again, where everything is ok and life is good?
If I allowed it, every hiccup in the present could put me in a frame of mind that has nothing to do with what is actually happening in the present. I have to remain, and work at being conscious that current situations aren’t ripples of my past come back to scare me into submission. I’m not perfect, and sometimes I slip. I defend myself when I don’t need to, forgetting that my husband is on my side. Those are the scars of abuse, but I refuse to be defined by them.
I didn’t learn this in a therapist’s chair. It was a coping mechanism that I used to push forward. It’s an innate understanding that nothing lasts forever, not pain, sadness, or even joy (for you Devil’s Advocate’s out there). What perseveres is the soul; battered, bruised and resilient. The soul that remembers the love of her Creator.
That’s not to say that we may all become what we’ve lived, our experiences or personal truths, but to let that shape and mold every waking moment, every subtle shift in the good relationships we have? It’s in those times of only and always seeing through the lens of our hurt, that we fail our personal redemption.