Here is a theory, in fact, I believe it to be a truth: the absent parent is the one who holds the power. I’ve heard it time and time again, from many a client, indirectly from my own children, and thought it many times regarding myself. No matter what kind of person they were, or how heinous the crimes they may have committed, the parent who leaves is the parent who reigns. Children hate divorce. Regardless of the reason for a parent’s absence, they will be deified, glorified and vehemently, if need be, defended. It may not be fair, it may not even be logical, but missing people leave holes. Closure is a myth; we absorb the pain of loss and it becomes a part of us. Scars tell us not only that we ourselves are real, but that what we have been through is real. It’s proof that we have lived – are living, still – when all else says otherwise. People leave. They disappear. There one minute, and gone the next, whether through death, divorce, or some other reason known only to themselves and God. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the middle of an afternoon, they are suddenly gone, taking hopes and dreams and all of their empty promises with them. We deal with their absence the way we deal with most of our unresolved and unhealed trauma – by revisiting the scene of the crime; if not literally, then figuratively, over and over again, in vain and often subconscious attempts to get a different outcome. We sit in graveyards or parking lots, therapy rooms and waiting rooms. Waiting.
… always waiting ...
For what, we don’t know and often can’t put into words. We speak to people who are no longer there. We dream about them, and have imaginary conversations in our minds with those who have long ago up and left us or shut us out, leaving only ghosts, shadows and tears in their wake.
And a whole lot of pain.
How we deal with the pain is another matter entirely. I personally prefer pain to be private, at least the deep pain that distorts the body and the face until we’re unrecognizable, even to those who love and care for us. No, that kind of pain is for deep corners and dark closets. Therapy rooms, if we’re lucky enough to find someone who is both safe and compassionate, but for most of us, we have to find our own way. I write my blog in lieu of therapy; the pastoral counselor who made such sincere and heartfelt promises having long since shut and barred her door in a fit of anger; over what, I still don’t know.
I saw a photo of myself yesterday, and was struck by how bad I look and how much weight I’ve gained since That Horrible Day. I don’t even recognize the woman in the photo; she looks sad and tired. It’s embarrassing and discouraging. In my head, I have felt that I’ve moved on and am doing okay, but seeing that picture made me realize that I’m stuck. I’m carrying a lot around with me, and I’m reasonably sure that everyone can see it, at least on the outside. My friends don’t say anything or even seem to have noticed, but comments and little ‘jokes’ from family sting. I don’t like photos of myself, and never have. It’s why you’ll never see a profile picture of me that is actually me, not a flower, or a joke, or a pretty picture of something. In my lifelong quest to be invisible, this blog is the only thing I have that is really me. That, and the hundreds of books and other miscellaneous objects I cart around with me from house to house.
I had a recent health scare, and while the biopsies came back negative, it did make me think Good Lord, I need to do something about all of this. Looking at that photo made me realize that I’m not as in control of my life as I’d like to think I am. I feel as hopeless and helpless over this area as many of the people (clients) who have sat in front of me do. I owe it to them to figure it out. I have no idea how I’m going to do this, but I have to at least try. I have a lot to lose.
Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
– Emily Dickenson