If words were a weapon, I just got dropped the nuclear bomb, the big daddy, the one our government would never let us know about, certain it is for our own safety.
A childhood friend and I are trying to reconcile our distant relationship, for the sake of our kids. She has always been everything I am not, or ever been. She runs her home like a well oiled machine, never forgets appointments, runs late, cancels plans, or forgets to send out a warm Thank You note.
She is Anne Taylor but without a clearance rack, something I marvel at with amazement, my dollars land on the Goodwill counter, the thrill of my life is finding the girls a steal with tags.
She is the woman who had so many clothes for her child they all lined the closet as big as my room, hanging, the tags I touched in amazement, her baby could never wear them all, even if she changed him ten times a day.
She is neat, orderly, and cooks according to her little weight watchers booklet, the teeny book she holds as she counts points, remembering with perfect accuracy what she has to do to maintain her perfect health, my mind blank in trying to recount breakfast, if I had it, a book that tiny would have been lost in seconds in my possession.
Ever since I have known her, I have wanted to be her.
She is the example of what a good wife, hard worker, and ideal mother represent.
Her child was in school at two, has had swim lessons and been passed around more adoring hands than I have known to exist in one country, much less one room, and he is so lovable and adored, especially by Kat and Lola, but most by me.
The things that she said to me were all true, Divorcee and I on conference call, both wanting to fight for the relationships we believe matter, for nothing is more thrilling than knowing your kids have people in life who love them.
She said I was a bad mother, and it is true. They have never deserved to witness divorce, have never been given the things they deserve. I never know if I am doing things the right way, feel guilt over all they have missed in my own search for wholeness.
I sob thinking of how I promised Disneyworld, a trip I starve hoping to save for, a fact I am 90 pounds, which is not true, but I am too prideful to admit my weight loss is from overworking my body, her child has seen the ocean more than I have seen bank account draft fees, which is a lot.
She said that I am selfish, leave the children so that Divorcee can’t leave if he wanted to, something he assures me is not the case but I did have a boyfriend that smoked pot, have been up for days and manic, and no one more than me wishes I knew how to manage life without becoming depressed or afraid, my regrets are bigger than my self help book shelf, all wrapped in every truth she gave, pointed out in exasperation.
She has never in her life woke up and wondered if she had been loved, her Daddy is at more functions of my own family than my sorry excuse for DNA, her parents are in 30 ish years of marriage, regular attendees of weddings, bearing gifts and kindness wherever they land.
I hear of her shopping trips with them and cringe, wondering if I can ever make it up to my own babies, who literally have no one but the tight circle in which we hold on to, for dear life.
She met the man she is married to in college and I doubt she has even loved anyone else. I doubt she goes to bed alone ever, her times away from him shake her, and I only dream of having a relationship, divorce and abandonment have never shaped her thoughts, a life I could only dream.
She has never had the threads of life ripped from beneath her, and how I am glad, to date with such fear and tread such waters of loss and destruction make me sure she is right. I can not know what she has always had without question.
She said she knows plenty of single mothers who do it better.
She says she does not use anxiety as an excuse for poor choices.
I have darkness lurking wherever I turn, and no one I can fully trust, am imbalanced, forgetful, late, selfish, and at the best imperfect.
What I am not is my father, a claim she said several times, in addressing my sick impulsive behaviors, a point I did get props for is in pursuing counseling, no doubt I need.
My father did not work at Chilis and slave all night to buy her Coach bags at Christmas, Divorcee shaking his head, my heart only desiring to see her light up, her face a sunbeam when she is given a gift she loves, my purest joy.
I see now that in doing this, what I have asked for is love.
“Please love me,” I scream.
“Please accept me,” I fall on my face in my offerings, a place I want in my deepest cracks to believe she does, but maybe if not, a Coach bag is what she really wanted, with her favorite color lined.
I was too ashamed to tell her I could not afford 30 dollar shoes for her child when given Christmas gifts, so I worked harder, and maybe, just maybe, one day she will see the symbols of love, to forgive all the mistakes, and I was certain my latest success, a job that would lead to real independence would impress her.
I hoped, like a child wishing to be adopted does, waiting for the right family to love and see them.
I see now adoption papers come to those who are doing it better, and I wonder if she knows I don’t want to be this, that I know I am broken, she doesn’t have to point it out to me. Just in being her, I am aware of all that I am.
I don’t understand why her husband can leave for days to do work in the world, important work, and he is a hero. Divorcee is the stable nurturer at home, a man who loves his children and keeps them in perfect regulation, cooks and cleans, but to be me, it is not acceptable because I am their mother.
That is considered selfish, unloving and unnatural, when I am just the same as her husband, the flip side of the same coin, but to be a woman, it is selfish and wrong. He throws his child in the air and is admired.
I throw mine and Divorcee is felt sorry for, praised and marveled at, his work in doing the laundry and setting up play dates makes him appear selfless.
But the truth is, we are in the roles we belong, just without the fish bowl, eyes looking in and judging, the two of us want what everyone else wants.
She regularly attends church, and I do not, but I must say, if anyone knows they are lost, guilty, or broken, it is me.
I AM the woman who threw herself at Jesus’s feet, asking to be healed.
I AM the woman who would adorn him with my most expensive cologne, in hope to be healed.
I wish this so deeply my heart might just break in half, and to be the seeker I am, I ask God to show up, to tell me, to reveal himself and I will go. I just haven’t found him, or at least she does not see that I have. I realize today, in my sorrow and tears, my shame is the very thing she does not carry, but real love is not conditional, is given times 70, is not earned, is not deserved. Loving people is what I do, no matter how they behave, and I only live by falling on my face and asking for grace.
I wept like a child in my bed last night and prayed that angels be posted to the doors of my mind. A little girl woke up, a little redhead named Lola, her fingers ran down my back scratching, her little intuition must have seen and felt me grieving, her love so big, the ocean can not contain it.
I want to love like the ocean too, like the man named Jesus claimed, but mostly, I want to be loved not because I did anything to deserve it. I want to be loved simply because I am.
I will go to the ends of the world to give my children the things they deserve but the only gift I know to be priceless is to love with compassion and mercy, that every mistake they make is already forgiven, that love and worth are not ever proven or earned.
It is free.
Now if only I can find it for myself….
Everything that matters in life is.