“May there be peace in your letting go and courage in your moving on.” Unknown
A word of caution if you are thinking of putting something together while in the midst of a wonderful unplanned mini get-away mind vacation, via dissociation…DON”T! – just wait till one has returned and you’ve claimed your luggage.
Yesterday found me engaged in putting together two Adirondack chairs that Mary & I had purchased for the yard…I went to work with anticipation of putting them together and spending some relaxing quiet time in the yard, marveling at our flowers, shrubs and the beautiful trees that surround our home. Aahhh…but my mind was elsewhere…it had been a very stressful few days with many trips down ‘memory lane’ of some painful experiences as a young boy and teenager…so my mind was still somewhere else, unbeknownst to me.
I went to work with great diligence and fortitude to finish these up so that we may enjoy them and I could tackle the other yard chores I wanted to do. It seemed easy, all the instructions were clear with some nice drawings to help guide me, and I had all of the appropriate tools I needed to finish the job. The only thing missing was me…and I did not know it, though I was aware of a lot of discomfort and sadness whirling about me.
The day before, Mary and I attended her daughter’s graduation ceremony, it was great and the four student speakers were wonderful, one of them had the whole audience in stitches…I do expect to see this young man someday on Saturday Night Live…a gifted writer and oh-so-funny! A lot of talent and skills were displayed at this event and it was pretty neat to hear the chorus sing the class song, “CHANGES” from David Bowie and a James Taylor tune. Good music lives on…the musicians who were part of my generation live on amongst these young folks, simply amazing.
Part of me was happy to hear and see what was taking place out on the field…scanning the class of a few hundred students all I saw was smiling faces…though one could see the few who were elsewhere in spirit, I wondered if they were fellow survivors of trauma and abuse…there is a ‘vacant’ stare one can discern, even from a distance and it is quite noticeable when in the middle of a sea of shining smiles and laughter. I was transported back in time to my high school graduation, one in which I graduated by the seat of my pants.
My senior year was a world of turmoil, my girlfriend was pregnant for several months, soon she lost the baby, a little boy…that rocked my world to no end. At 17, we both were looking forward to raising this child and getting away from the horrors and dysfunction of our respective lives and homes. We did not know any better, but there was love between us…and back then, that was a good thing. Though we were only 17, we were old in years due to our life’s experiences.
I was in what was called the College Course back then, all I needed to pass was English to graduate, I had already accumulated all of the credits I needed from my prior years in high school. And guess what I was flunking? I was out of school so much for that senior year for several reasons; the nightmare of my home-life and the violence had escalated, constant confrontations and physical fights between my father and I and my deep fears of him raping me again…I had stopped my mother’s sexual abuse as I was now stronger, but battling with my father was still an ongoing concern. And his threatening words of “I’m going to get you”, still brings a chill to my body. So most of the time I did not go home, I slept in my car, in the woods, or fell asleep on the couch in my girlfriend’s home or at other friend’s homes. I was not sleeping that much. Rest was in short supply back then…I also skipped school too many times with friends for fun times at the beach or just as an excuse to go drinking…or I was off to a gig with the band and I felt I didn’t need to go to school that day as I was working, though the gigs were at night. I also skipped school to work at various jobs to save money for my girlfriend and the baby – we planned to marry and I wanted so desperately to be able to provide for them.
Basically, life was so darn confusing back then, I didn’t know if I was coming or going….the high school principle, the assistant principle and my English teacher knew that my life was chaotic, someone had mentioned calling the police regarding my home life, I told them no. And though they were supportive of why I skipped school to go to work to provide for my girlfriend and our expected baby, their hands were tied, because I was still a juvenile back then and my ‘dear’ father would not sign the papers to allow me to work while in school. I explained to him why I needed the papers signed so I could work and still get credit in school to graduate – his response to my girlfriend’s pregnancy and my trying to do the right thing – “You dug the fucking hole, now dig yourself out of it”…yeah, good old dad, so darn supportive and understanding.
The principle and my English teacher came up with a solution to allow me to graduate, I needed to write a report, I cannot remember the subject matter, but it was to be of substance and if I did a good job on it, they would pass me so I could graduate. I was grateful for this opportunity and I did graduate with my class of 72. My life unraveled after that, I turned 18 in April, thrown out of the house, the loss of the baby threw me into a tailspin, I drank too much, too many fights and became too darn promiscuous with too many partners, destroying the relationship I had with my girlfriend. I loved her, but something inside of me snapped and all I could do was run and keep running from closeness in any way shape or form. To this day, I am sorry for hurting her that way, but I have learned to forgive myself as I was a young man in a world of hurt.
So these were some of the many memories and feelings swirling about in my head as I attempted to put together the Adirondack chairs, I was close to finishing one and thankfully, Mary came home and asked what was going on – the chair had been put together noticeably wrong…and I could not even see it. I was upset and then laughed and said it’s time for a break and sang to myself the tune from Annie, “There’s Always Tomorrow”. And yes, they were assembled properly the next day….and as we sat in our new chairs, we had a few chuckles over the events of the day before and my new design for Adirondack chairs.
Healing does happen… I was able to laugh at this experience and not beat myself up for it and to not think of myself as stupid and worthless…I just needed a break, that’s all.
“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.” Brené Brown
How have you gauged the healing in your own life? Please feel free to let me know, thanks!!
Sincerely, Michael Skinner
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi