January 18, 2016

Sitting in the Park and the Loss of Self

Sitting in the Park and the Loss of Self

I wasn't sure how I got here. I could tell you the things that lead up to it—fights, loss, and the struggle to understand my life, but it is a familiar story of a marriage gone bad. The heartbreak and pain that comes when it starts to sink in that things are not what they seem, but this was not the story I knew I needed to tell or felt convinced was where I wanted to go.

It was not that I did not indulge in the orgy that comes from taking apart your life and trying to find where you made that wrong turn. How another person could have hurt you so bad and why you never saw the things that seemed so glaringly obvious now. It is just that in my heart I knew that as fearful as things were I had been living in a suffocated world. My world had grown so small that it had almost killed me. A violence that threatened my very being.

It was a cold late afternoon when I was released from jail and started the long walk back towards the neighborhood I knew. Not sure where I was going really, but trying to appear as if I had some plan. Of course with no phone, money or car that was rather difficult. At my age, a woman should have a plan. She would know what she was doing and where she was going. Didn't I always have a plan—a way of dealing with what was going on in my life? It seemed a tragic joke as I thought how all those plans were falling apart and I had nowhere to go. The order of protection was going to keep me away from the place I had called home for so long. Here I was homeless with no plan in sight; sobbing in a park. Who was this woman I had become and how did she get here?

For years, I had made five-year plans. I had a calendar that recorded all the various events in my life as a wife. A woman who owned property—knew her neighbors and chatted up the mailman. I had paid taxes and raked leaves, thinking that this was how I would spend the rest of my life. Little did I know that I would be sitting in the park I had walked the dog in and sobbing with no place to go.

"Go home and be a wife," he shouted at me. I was in shock, tears streaming down my face as I contemplated his words. Home, wife and going there was not what seemed to be going on. Who was I and why was I not home now figuring out what was for dinner. Scrambling to get my brain to work and trying to convince the officer that it was not possible for me to go home. There was no longer a "home" for me to go to. My husband had me arrested and here I sat. Not sure where I was supposed to go and having no means to go there. The death of the life I thought I had and the letting go of what I thought my marriage was. This was not me and yet it was. Sitting there in the cold and wondering how I had gotten here allowed me to see that there had been a plan, but obviously not this one.

I was no longer the wife, neighbor or friend I had planned for. Somehow I had forgotten along the way who I really was and the coldness in my bones told me that things were going to change drastically. The thought of sleeping in the park was frightening and as I thought of these things a lady came by with her friendly dog to call me some help. It wasn't long before this officer was trying to figure out what was going on—I really didn't know. After all the plans I had made, I had nowhere to go. The thought of going home now seemed as remote as why I was in the park in the first place. My life shifted in two directions at the same time. The life I had collided with the one already forming in the park. It was all changing very rapidly and no sooner had one event began another was eclipsing it. Each part dying simultaneously as images and events raced through my mind.

A part of me knew things were dead and were dying slowly. The stagnant way I was living was getting harder and harder to bear. The self I had made growing weary under the demands of the wife I was supposed to be and not the person I wanted to be. The divide was growing larger every day until it seemed the burden became too much. I could no longer hide the grief and pain of conforming to a life that was no longer authentic. That no longer nourished my soul and made me happy.

I came to see that in some awful way not being allowed to return home had in fact been a way for me to leave. To know that I was in such violent danger of losing myself completely. That finding my way back home was actually what I needed to do. The home in my heart, the home of myself and the person who had slowly been pushed out. The way forward was not about others now, but about what I needed to do for myself. Going home was no longer an option as the home that I thought I had no was longer there.

The cold, gray park was actually the start of where I needed to look. The wind ripping through my thin jacket stirring up the ghosts of the past. The death of a story I knew and the hope of one that was to be written. Stumbling out of the park towards my new life and the hope that comes from knowing that things would be ok. That life has a way of sometimes forcing you to see things you can no longer ignore. Leading you from the darkness of one part to the light of another. This was the story that felt right. The chapter that saw the death of who I was for the woman I was to become and needed to be.

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