Reopening the Wound

It’s been ages since I last wrote. There hasn’t been much to share because life has been just that. Life. It’s busy, chaotic, hectic, and beautiful. All these things rolled into one fast 24 hour span, seven days a week.

We’ve celebrated a first anniversary and a signing of a second lease. We’ve survived a new sport and second grade. We’ve lived through a tough year of trying to conceive without any success. Together, we’ve survived.

I come back to writing when I feel like my soul needs to get something free. To loosen the words floating about my mind and to clear my thoughts.

Today, I renewed my credential. Renewing this document has caused a rise sadness and anger of the likes I’ve never known. The resentment, the rage, and frustration all swirling together, making it hard to think or talk without stumbling on all those words tangling together. So tangled I felt the need to write about it. To work out the knots that have formed in between my synapses.

In 2005 I got my credential and taught for about 4-5 months. Then I discovered I was pregnant. In light of this discovery I turned down a job opportunity, packed up, and moved home. There I got back into teaching by way of subbing in my hometown. Little could I have known, or anyone else for that matter, that the job I turned down to raise my son would be the last job opportunity I would be offered. Each year I would apply to teach full time and each year I would sign back up as a substitute when no interviews or opportunities opened for me.

After so long I knew I needed more. I needed insurance for my son and consistency for both of us. I needed an income that was steady and a work schedule that never deviated. So I left. I turned my back on teaching and did what any parent needing to care for a child would do: I sacrificed.

It’s been seven years and much has changed in the classroom. New policies and laws have made their way into the schools. Now that my child is in school, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground and watching with a keen eye on the changing face of education. Larger class sizes and a new curriculum. And most recently, talk of ridding the state of teachers’ tenure, a ruling I’d happily stand up and clap for. No teacher has earned a lifetime job after only 2 years in a classroom and it makes it difficult to file against a teacher that isn’t pulling their weight and relying on their tenure to secure them a job each year.

With this news, it was suggested that I update my resume and make sure my credential was in order. And I balked.

“What resume?” I said. I hadn’t stepped foot in a class as a teacher in seven years! All of my references would be no good and I would have no letters to show off all my glowing achievements. Instead I would have empty hands but many years of loving my child. I don’t regret becoming his mother and I can’t regret stepping away from teaching. It was a decision that had to be made. But now, I’m nothing in the realm of education. I’m practically the same level as a student still finishing their student teaching semester.

Even so, I went along and updated my credential. My name has changed since and it was coming up for renewal anyway. I so did just that. I removed my maiden name and filed for renewal.

When I was done, I felt a warmth rising up my face and over my whole body. I wanted to cry. The dream of being a teacher, something I’d wanted since I was a little girl, had been shattered long ago. But renewing my credential almost feels like picking at a scab that had long since healed over only to discovered a festering wound still open beneath.

I’m still angry and frustrated at the hand that I was dealt. The bad luck that followed me down my path. As I waded through these hot angry tears surfacing through all my rage and angsts, I started to realize something else was bubbling to the surface. I am scared. I’m scared to leave my nest. I may be miserable here at times but I’m comfortable. I also carry the family on my insurance plan. I can’t just leave. I’m also afraid that I no longer will want to teach. It was easy to flow from school to the classroom. I had been teaching for years. But being away for so long has made me reconsider whether teaching is even a vocation I want to pursue.

This last thought, this realization that maybe teaching isn’t what I want to do anymore is devastating. Like a big eraser, this thought wipes away all the years of wanting to be a teacher. All the years of working for it and wanting it with every fiber of my body. The sudden idea that maybe this isn’t the dream I thought it would be breaks my heart.

Under the surface of all these warring feelings and thoughts, another realization is slowing rising like a patient balloon reaching for the sky. While I renewed my credential I also changed my name. I’m the same person but with a new name. Maybe this could be my fresh start?

For now, I wait for the notification that my renewal has been approved and that my credential is now legal for another 10 years. While I wait for this response, I will spend my time reflecting on the changing surface of my feelings. The anger and fear and hope and sadness. They swirl and swish together like an oil slick riding the sloppy waves along the coast. I’ll ride them out, address each one and allow them to each sink below until my mind and heart are clear.

 

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Dream Away

Dream away with me.
Tell me things that aren’t true,
and make me believe.
Sell me on cotton candy clouds
and silver castles
and moonbeams made of tears.

Dream away with me.
Make the velvet sky of night
wrap around my smiling face
and pretend that life is as bright
as the stars between my eyes and
that everything will be alright.

Take me away
and help me forget
that life is a series of
dull Facts and Details.
Make me promises that we’ll never keep
but that we’ll always be able to come back to
when the days are dreary and
Life gets too involved.

Let’s close our eyes and dream away the day
and make-believe that life is fuller and more
Magical
in our bed of sheets and blankets and pillows.
Let us dream away…

Worthy

When I was little, I never played Bride. I never dressed up and made believe I was a bride in a white gown walking down the aisle. Getting married was a step an adult made so it was tucked away as a distant option to consider one day.

As I developed and grew, it didn’t really cross my thoughts in a conscious way. Never at the front of my mind although I knew someday I’d have a partner and a family and maybe a house. Getting to that point in my life was never envisioned in any real way, just thoughts or ideas. That was it, nothing concrete.

Just a passing idea or a fleeting notion. Nothing in reality.

Then came a time when I saw numerous friends and family walk down the aisle. Lots of white dresses, big parties, and gifts upon gifts. It was then that reality set in. That a wedding followed by marriage was something many people did. And it was something I wanted to do, too.

From then on it was a thought that plagued me.

Would I meet the right guy? How would I know? Will I get married in a big wedding? When will it happen? Blah blah blah… Yes, like many women the world over, I was in my mid-twenties, done with college and ready to meet the person I would marry and I became obsessed with dating and weeding through many frogs to find that prince.

As progressive as I’d like to consider myself, in the end I had become like everyone other girl. I wanted the dream wedding, the perfect guy, the house with the fence and the dog followed soon by little feet pattering down the hallway. Never once did I actually think about the process of finding someone let alone the reality of the wedding and the work that went into said relationship.

No… All I could think about was how many of my friends had gone before me and how long would I have to wait.

Then a wrench went flying into my dreamy thought process and no longer was I pining for a man of my own to carry me across a threshold. No, it was at this point in my life I was having to consider another set of questions about my new role as a single mother.

How would I provide for my son? Would I be strong enough to be both mother and father? What will I say when he asks the tough questions about his upbringing? Will I be able to convince him that we are a family just like any other family, only smaller?

Suddenly the notion of meeting someone who would accept me and my son as their family and willingly take on the momentous task of marrying me seemed impossible. It was then I gave up.

I found myself lacking. I was not worthy.

As I watched countless friends become engaged and then wed while I picked out health insurance for my son and interviewed many day-cares to watch him while I worked 3 jobs, I slowly gave up on the dream of getting married.

No white dresses for me. No bouquet toss and no cake to cut and smudge all over my new husband’s face. I had deemed myself unlovable and broken.

No one told me this. No one labeled me negatively. I did it myself.

I saw myself as undesirable. Who would want a single mother with a handful for a son and shit ton of baggage?

Though I did date a small amount after my son turned 2, I don’t think I really really allowed myself to consider the possibility that I would be worthy of a proposal let alone a lifetime with someone I truly meshed with.

I did think I was fit to settle with someone that loved me but wasn’t honestly the right person. And I came close to sealing that deal with them until I found the strength to wish for more and walk away from a decent thing, even though it wasn’t the right thing.

Since then I’ve met that someone. Someone who looks at me and smiles because I’m just sitting there being myself. Someone who encourages me to push beyond my fears and to really be my best self. Someone who loves me completely. Unconditionally.

And, someone who loves my son as if he were his own.

It’s not been an easy path. He’s had to cut through all my red tape and obstacles I step up to reach me. It was as if I had booby trapped the way to my heart unknowingly. And yet, here he stands beside me, ready to take the next big step and get married.

He actually wants to marry me! Go figure!

And all he’s asked for in return is my unconditional love for him and for myself. He pushes me to really let go and love myself with no strings and no shadows. He only asks that I believe that I am worthy of love and compassion.

He tells me daily that I deserve all the good things life has to offer.

And I’m slowly starting to agree with him.

A Letter To My Child: Someday, With Love

Peanut,

You are not real. You are not even a physical being, just a thought, and yet here I sit writing you this letter.

The other day Jake, who will be your big brother someday, was asking about you. He wanted to know when you are coming and when will he get to be a big brother.

Sadly, I couldn’t answer with anything definite. I could only give him the understanding that someday, it will happen. That someday you will come into our lives and then he will be a big brother.

I explained to him that before he was born, I loved him. I didn’t know him or if he would be a boy or a girl but that it didn’t matter. I would love him no matter what. And that I looked forward to the day that he would be in my life.

Your big brother Jake then told me that until you were born, until you make your appearance in the world and bless our lives with your presence, he would love you in his heart.

He made me realize that he is already a great big brother.

2012-06-11081607

You may not be in our lives yet but we talk about you constantly. We wonder if you will be a girl or a boy. If you will have your dad’s nose or my mouth. If you will be a happy baby like your big brother or if you will be a quiet observer, taking it all in.

This made me realize we are ready for you. We are ready to be your mom and your dad. To be the team you need to grow up strong, confident and happy. We are ready for the sleepless nights and the nursing and dirty diapers at 3am.

Our love for you grows each day and we can’t wait to learn that you will be joining us soon. It’s with all of our hearts together that we wait and hope to share the news of your coming with the family. Not yet, but someday.

Until then, we wait. We share and talk and wonder.

And as for me, I am ready. I’m ready to hold you, kiss you and tell you stories like this one. Stories of the life we led before you and the dreams we all held in our hands until they held you. I can’t wait to hear you cry and watch you learn to smile. I can’t wait to listen for your first words and when you call your big brother for the first time.

It’s hard to explain, the love you have for those who don’t exist yet. But it’s there, deep and very real.

So we wait for you, to welcome you and love you in the flesh as we do now in our dreams.

Someday.

With love…

Mama

Don’t Turn Off The Lights!

The stairwell rings from the constant dip-dip of a leak somewhere within. The stained metal walls echo each bump and scrape as we shuffle down into the dark abyss. Rust paints the walls in drawn streak like vomit drying from giants standing overhead.We’ve stepped into a deep steel chamber of stairs leading down, down with no bottom in sight.

Creaking beneath our feet, the stairs stumble long, turning after every 10th step, taking us deeper and deeper. We pass a slit cut into the tainted steel walls every other floor and light shines in to illuminate the grimy rails that hug each turn.

My father is ahead of me, holding my small hand. I must be about seven years old based on how his warm, dry hand envelopes mine. Our footsteps sound dull and flat in this rusted tin-can  as we march steadily forward, down towards a funeral for a friend.

No one speaks and I feel as if I should try to comfort my father. His brown coat hangs limply on his worn figure as he marches on, leading me with his head hanging low. I try to speak but can’t find my voice, can’t drum up the vocals needed to make words.

I know why we are here, to mourn the death of a friend. But who the friend was or how we know them eludes me. The metallic clanging of the many feet trodding along the whisper thin, scrap metal stairs ring low in my head. A soft hum of mourning embraces my mind and heart.

As we reach the bottom of the stairwell, a stack of cardboard boxes await us, each filled with soda cans. Shiftily we search for any watching eyes as the people in line before us snatch up a box and duck beneath a low hanging doorway. Into another dim room with dust clouds floating through the thin sliver of light afforded by the slightly shuttered window behind us, each person in the funeral procession dips into the inky blackness and disappears.

I told tight to my father’s hand, uncertain of the dark room ahead but not necessarily afraid. Just grief stricken. I feel the feelings of loss tighten around my heart, squeezing inside my chest. Panic rises as I feel like I can’t breath, like all my happiness is being pressed from my soul and I begin to weep.

My father turns and I see nothing but aching sadness in his eyes. He slowly presses his long, pale finger against this lip and motions for me to be quiet. Then, as silently as a ghost walking through the memories of their living days, my father lets go of my hand and stoops to pick up his box of dusty, old soda cans.

My tears roll in silence as I watch his stooped back slip into the well of darkness ahead. Shuffling feet against the metal and the soft banging of hands using the railing for support circle around me as my tears fall, in sync with the leaking stream from above.

I reach forward, my sobs bubbling from my small body, and grab an old, dilapidated box of cans. They bounce against each other, tiny and thin, making small clacking noses as I step forward.

Looking up, my tears blurring my eyes and a stinging inside my nose burns as I try to hold back my sadness, I realize the inky well ahead of me is grief. The physical manifestation of sadness.

This room, these stairs, this place is what sorrow would be if it took form.

And I can’t get out.

Without Grace

I am like a chicken with my head cut off.

It’s only 3 months into 2012, a year I thought I had every handled when it all changed.

It totally felt like it was going to be my year, the year in which I got back all I lost. It was going to be the year in which I found myself, in which I knew what I wanted and how I was going to achieve those dreams.

I had it! My hand was firmly grasped around those strings tethered to the balloons of all the pretty wishes and thoughts I had. In vibrant colors of blue and purple and red and yellow.

I’ve lost them now. An unexpected shot to the heart sent my hands to my chest for cover and let my dreams drift off into the air.

Letting go was a necessity for that moment. I needed to protect myself, to guard my heart a little. But now that the danger has passed, I’m reaching and grasping at the disappearing ends of all I felt was important. Of all the dreams I held dear.

I’m tripping and crashing as I chase after all these things I worked so hard for. Bumping along, falling down and scraping my knees, I find myself stumbling as if blind.

Without grace I fumble to once again feel the tug of my dreams in my hand as the winds sweep by. I should never had let go. I’ll never do it again. So I stagger along, reaching and jumping to grip onto the ends of my dreams, to latch on and hold tight, never to let go again.

I have hope. Hope that I’ll hold them again.

Dreaming Away

Each night it’s something new. Marriage. Lust. Jealousy. Flying.

Dreams.

Playing pool in a dingy, seedy bar.

Running and running but never getting far enough away to feel safe.

His face over and over again.

I wake sometimes with a headache, feeling lethargic and drained. Other times I wake suddenly, a film of sweat covering my limbs and clinging to the back of my neck, my hair curling from the moisture.

I’ve yet to wake up feeling completely and utterly peaceful, happy with the visions roaming my mind as I close my eyes to rest. Instead I toss and turn, fighting with some inner conflict that isn’t being resolved during my waking hours.

My heart is at war with my mind and my sleep is suffering from it.

Maybe my heart is working through what my mind already understands. Maybe my mind is trying to convince my heart of what is best. Or maybe the bonds and love built between two people can pierce through those sleeping minds, showing them what they had and what they really want.

I need clarity and peace.

I need a night of rest without anymore dreams.

I need sleep.