Sometimes the best road to take is a little dirt path in the forest or a solitary stretch of sand on the beach. There we can disconnect from the all of the noisy, external influences that often prevent us from connecting with ourselves, until one day we wake up and ask, “How’d I get here?” The serenity of nature takes us to the private, inner sanctum that is in each and every one of us. It’s the place where we can ask all questions, big or small, and honor them with the greatest answer of all: to thine own self be true.
Two weeks after my only child was born, my then-husband of ten years packed up, walked out and never returned. Our marriage had been struggling, but I believed we were strong enough to weather the storms, so I was caught off guard by the finality of his decision. It’s true what they say – you never really know what someone is capable of.
We had recently moved across country to pursue careers and I landed my dream job as a writer. But as I gazed down at my newborn son, I knew I faced the biggest decision of my life. Day care and dream job or find another way. A fork in the road. I knew my son would grow to feel the pain of being a boy without a father, but to have an absentee career mom and be raised by a day care on top of it? There would be other men, other jobs and maybe other children down the road, but this child, this little soul, was a one-time deal and I couldn’t risk blowing it. He deserved better than that from me.
So I packed up, moved home and decided come what may, I would not only find a way to raise my child, but to be present and available every day of his life. I had no plan and no inkling as to how we would make do, but I had my prayers and held tight to my faith that in purity of heart, I would find a way. It is now fifteen years later. My son is in high school and I have been a stay home Mom his whole life. And although we have traveled this road alone without family and with few friends, we’ve taken it together and that’s what matters. In retrospect, the ways in which my prayers were answered weren’t always easy and weren’t always what I would have wished for, but I see the rightness in the those ways and I am grateful.
His father has never been in his life and that pain was a challenge for my son in his early years when hurt and anger could have taken root and set him on the wrong path. But he too, has come to understand that his father’s absence was most likely a blessing and that his father’s choices have nothing to do with the kind of man he chooses to be.
This week my son was awarded a certificate at an assembly for being the kindest and most respectful student in school. It was an honor bestowed on him by his teachers, as well as his peers, and is much-deserved recognition that up until now, he had never received. To say I’m a proud parent doesn’t convey the depth of what’s in my heart. I would have to say that the best road I’ve ever traveled began with the birth of my son.
One of, it not the most stunning, scenic roads in the world. At least in my world. Nat Geo worthy and the place I call home — Washington State. My 4-Runner knows this road by heart and my heart will always be there — no matter where I go.
“The darkness is almost over,” is what my psychic told me. When I first heard those words, I felt relieved and encouraged with hopeful expectation of a new beginning. Now approaching middle-age, I needed life to be a bit more like bread and wine, as opposed to crumbs and water. It’s not that I had been poor and without food or drink, it’s that I had been parched from what she aptly described as a life of, “all withdrawals and no deposits.”
Having neatly summed up my life in four little words, she helped me see what it had become. And when the veil lifted and light made its way into my world, a different kind of sorrow set itself upon my heart – one that revealed the countless acts of deception and betrayal I endured from people who said they loved me and the numerous ways I remained loyal in the blind belief that they did. I wanted to belong, but like a lamb in a kangaroo’s pouch, I did not belong. And over the years, I accepted situations and people that were wrong for me as if on autopilot. Now, the light cast it’s glow on the ways I had deceived and betrayed myself and I realized that if I were standing in a crowd of a hundred people, all of the takers would gravitate to me.
There are givers and God knows, the world needs them. By nature, I’m a giver and there’s no shame in that. The shame lies with those who trained me to give way beyond my capacity and at the expense of my identity. Now comes the task of learning how to care for the person who is most deserving – me. As the days of feeling worthless from casting pearls before pork chops fade away, I can see that my psychic was right. The darkness is over. Perhaps I was undervalued by those whose love I desperately needed, but now I know I’ve underestimated myself. It’s not too late to gather those pearls and string them into a necklace; each shiny bead a reminder of what is my right to reclaim. Undoing the damage of living in the shadows for decades is a monumental challenge, but it’s one that I have set my will to, if for no other reason than to die whole and not broken.