“On the First Night”


I have prayed away the dark, walked in the dark, thrown up its sickness, lived in its madness, and what I have discovered, is the only way to live in the light is to expose the dark, to look at it, and reveal its secret shame, therefore releasing its power. I have read that women who are molested are not damaged by the act, but the secret, the shame, the power you give it by making it your fault, a grooming process that makes victims believe they are damaged goods. Perhaps this is why asking forgiveness in AA is a step, and confession in Catholicism, perhaps it is healing for those who have tremendous guilt over secret wrongs. Marianne Williamson says that when we do something we believe is wrong or bad, we must find a way to unconsciously punish ourselves.
That is absolutely the truth.
I suppose it is time to write about 28, just looking at the number alone makes me want to barf.
After deep prayer and asking over what it is I have hidden from myself, my beautiful friend and soul sister, Harper, I shall call her, a literature nerd and lover of all things bizarre to me, such as Dragoncon, marriage, Tolkien and Twilight, make her a personal favorite of mine, different and so very endearing. She is a teacher and outspoken on all her beliefs, passionate and beautiful, with deep brown eyes that never hide her anger, love, sadness, or joy. She gave me a book to read, and I realized she had underlined grammatical errors, which made me laugh out loud, thinking of her excited to catch a error in a published book. I told her she made me nervous reading my blog, hardly ever even proofread, and she said, her brown eyes large and serious, “I read your blog for content, not grammatical corrections.”
She gave me a great gift, in telling me of her recent depression, in her desire to have a baby, her fears that it wont come true, something clearly unfounded, but present just the same. Aren’t we all afraid to have it all? Do we really deserve it? She told me she was struggling with abortion, with mothers who didn’t even want their own children, leaving to go out drinking, when she and so many other women, wanted with all their hearts to nurture, love, and hold their own baby, and “How can that be fair?” she asks.
Ouch. I knew it was God, reminding me, knocking on my shame, asking me to bring it to the light, to forgive it.
How could I?
It is always the things we feel we cannot do, we must.
For me, after years of having mentally and spiritually left my marriage, the only part of me still there was my physical self, a punishment I believed I deserved. It wasn’t Kat’s fault that her dad and I had made these vows and I was determined to sacrifice anything to make it up to her, a path so many women take, one I would never judge.
I was on pills for depression and anxiety, bone thin from living a lie and escaping my life on a treadmill, desperate that if I could not leave my marriage, I would at least leave my body, in any way possible. The last thing on earth I ever imagined was that I would be pregnant with Lola, in a place I found myself with a stick in my hand, on the bathroom floor, moaning and crying in agony and shame, this little baby coming snapped open my own darkness, making me aware for the first time to myself, that I would rather die then live one more day in this lie I called life.
I hid the results, looked at all my pills for anxiety and depression, knew they might not be okay for pregnancy, but forced them down my throat just the same.
I was not walking now but running from the fuel of self hatred, a disconnect from anything that had to do with this alien creature inside of me, and soon after, we found the devastating news that my oldest brother had a tumor over his heart, perhaps cancer, only open heart surgery would tell. It takes courage to live, not to die, and that is a lesson life has lit me on fire with, its truth a blazing light upon my path. And so, I put on my mask, that mask I had just began to peel off, back on full force, believing I needed it to survive. One week later, Divorcee lost his job, by his own doing, and even worse, he was home and I had to look at his face, and his mine, every day. Looking back, I see clearly this is the magnitude of what it had to take for me to be humbled, to admit defeat, and it is baffling, at what it took for one person to be broken. And on top of it all, my mother, and only saving grace, was moving to Virginia at the exact time a child very dear to my heart died, his mother a close friend grieving the unimaginable, while this heartbeat began to grow inside of me. None of these events were ever imaginable, not in my wildest nightmare, not at once, and I began to go crazy with the dark thoughts, the vein of sick dark unforgivable hate running through me, pumping toxicity at levels I was unable to run from.
It was the ending of me.
It was the beginning of me.
And so, back to Harper, in her innocent desire to be made aware of what she could not understand, is asking me how a mother could not want her unborn child, something she would treasure all the days of her life?
It is a good question.
How did I have the right to have felt this? I would see little baby clothes, those at which I just stared through, with numb blank eyes, feeling nothing but empty lifeless energy, a feeling I wrapped up in like the cover of a blanket, disappearing into the cold black hole of my lies. Even now, I am watching my cursor blink, asking for its answer. I ask myself again, wait, and this is all I have to give her.
I believe Harper, that life doesn’t happen to us, but for us.
Sometimes we are given the impossible to find out what is possible.
At the time, if you had told me Lola was the answer, that she came for me, to help me discover freedom and forgiveness from self hatred, victimization, powerlessness, and escape, I would have laid back in bed, hopeless, certain life was the punishment, and I was the crime.
I can not tell of another woman, or any mother’s story, but I can only give my own.
When Lola was put in my arms, I will never forget it. She knew me already, had forgiven me without me even asking. The body I had before Lola was just a shell, the Spirit inside of me had long ago died. So when she came into the world, so did I, with a new set of eyes, my hunger to know who I was became as alive as the little fingers learning to wrap around my own, the love inside of her was inside of me too, had never left, but I had been lost, and she came to love me back home.
I will never forget the moment, the chills running up and down my arms, that I realized Lola had sent me a message, a radical and beautiful moment of power, a message even Divorcee, in his logic and sensibility, could not deny. I had in the library one time, picked up a poetry book while Kat was a teeny thing, opened it to the middle, the very first line caught me, and I photocopied it, Kat having a two year old meltdown, but for some reason, I made her wait. I took the poem home, put it on my fridge, and it was odd, and not particularly a poem I would ever put on my fridge, but I just liked it. When Lola came, was walking around, saying her first words, I read the door I opened and shut a thousand times, but this one time I really read it, my own gasp came from myself.
The poem talked about her red hair, the nicknames I had for her, the way I always described her, the way I thought she had been first, our love for the moon and songs made for it, and my eyes began to fill, the tears flowing down my face.
I sat on the kitchen tile with her, put her little chubby cheeks to mine, crying and thanking her, asking her if she had known and sent this to me, a message, the sign she been the hope I must not lose. She looked at me with the same look, no different than the day she was put in my arms, when I whispered into her little ear, in humility and shame, hoping she could forgive me, let me learn how to love again. I said exactly, “We are going to do this together, okay?” on our first night home.
And we did, my little lion. We did.

……………….The Poem, “On the First Night,” by Erica Jong

On the First Night

On the first night
of the full moon,
the primeval sack of ocean
broke,
I gave birth to you
little woman,
little carrot top,
little turned-up nose,
pushing you out of myself
as my mother
pushed
me out of herself,
as her mother did,
her mother’s mother before her,
all of us born
of woman.

I am the second daughter
of a second daughter
of a second daughter,
but you shall be the first.
You shall see the phrase
“second sex”
only in puzzlement,
wondering how anyone,
except a madman,
could call you “second”
when you are so splendidly
first,
conferring even on your mother
firstness, vastness, fullness
as the moon at its fullest
lights up the sky.

Now the moon is full again
you are four weeks old.
Little lion, lioness,
yowling for my breasts,
growling at the moon,
how I love your lustiness,
your red face demanding,
your hungry mouth howling,
your screams, your cries
which all spell life
in large letters
the color of blood.

You are born a woman
for the sheer glory of it,
little redhead, beautiful screamer.
You are no second sex,
but the first of the first;
when the moon’s phases
fill out the cycle
of your life,
you will crow
for the joy
of being a woman,
telling the pallid moon
to go drown herself
in the blue ocean,
glorying, glorying, glorying
in the rosy wonder
of your sunshining wondrous
self.

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