A Look Into Me (Part II)

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye and see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~Frank Herbert~

There are two categories of fear: 1. The fear we conquer, and 2. The fear that stays with us throughout our lives. There are two ways to conquer our fears: 1. Face it head-on and overcome – for example; I had a fear of heights, so I rode roller coasters and learned how to climb rock walls which eventually turned into mountains, or 2. Find a way around it, like I have done in starting this blog in regards to my glossophobia. Of course there are set-backs and the initial stage of “I don’t want to” but eventually, if you want it bad enough, you will get there.

The fear I face now is a little more difficult to do anything about. The fear of disappointing, well…anyone. In the past, it has held me back from finishing writing projects, it has led me to holding my tongue when I knew I should have spoken, as well as a dozen other instances. So, now I am facing it head-on, the best way that I can. Step one – acknowledgement: check.

For those of you who know me, know that my sister and I were raised by our paternal grandparents. I lived in fear of disappointing them, for surely they had lived through enough disappointments already in their lifetime…right? But then, as I got older, I realized to err is human, and disappointing someone is to err. So, like any growing person, I erred quietly. I remember one time, I had just gotten my driving license, and my parents had banned me from driving on the interstate. Well, that presented a problem, because I had to go pick up one of my friends from Richmond to attend a concert down in Norfolk (I lived somewhere in the middle of those two cities and there was no way around getting on the interstate). So I stressed about it, I ho-hummed about it…then I got into my car, and I did it. My punishment? Horrible traffic and annoyed calls from said parents in which I had my friend answer and give bogus excuses as to why I couldn’t answer my own cell phone, but we made the concert, and it was awesome for being my first ever to attend.

After that, my erring in quiet started escalating. There were parties attended, vacationing unchaperoned, nights of staying out and drinking with friends. I thought I was getting away with all these things, but really, my parents aren’t stupid…they knew, but they still let me go out and live “out loud” as they called it.

There was one subject in the household, however, that was ‘taboo’ and we did not speak about it: Our biological mother, Michelle. I remember bringing it up once while I was helping my mom teach her preschool class…it didn’t go well in my favor, so, I just never brought it up again. But the memory of me sitting in the judges quarters when I was three years old, was always with me when I closed my eyes. I remember the feeling that something huge was happening that would impact our (my sister and I’s) lives forever. And it did – from that day forward, we were under the guardianship of our paternal grandparents and were banned from trying to reach out and contact our biological mother. Well, until the ruling didn’t have any weight in our lives any longer at age 18, when we go off and live our own lives.

Here’s another tidbit about me: I am the kind of person who HAS to hear both sides of the story before I make my mind up about something. Yes, it is slower, but so much more effective. So the final few years were somewhat chafing because I knew she was out there, the other half of the truth just at my fingertips somewhere in the USA. In fact, I remember wondering so many times while we were in that state or this state (each summer, we vacationed in a different state…I’ve been to all but 3 states in the good old USA), that I wondered ‘Is she here, somewhere?’

Then came the time of every little girls life she wants to share with her mother – her wedding day. I remember asking my dad what he thought about pulling some resources and finding my mother so she could come and watch me get married. I remember he gave me that doting daddy look, and said, “I will do what I can, but do you really want her here? Your mother will not come to your wedding if she is here, who do you want to attend more?” You would think that the answer was an easy one to make…the woman who had raised me and watched me grow, but I still tried to figure out a way for Michelle to be there. However, in the end, it turned out to be unimportant, because I ended up calling the wedding off a couple weeks before it was to take place.

Now I bring you up to present time, and I can say that I have found the woman with the other half of the truth. Though, I am afraid to ask or even refer to it – what if just a little bit of it is true? My mom could hold one hell of a grudge, and with grudges come the astounding ability to think of extraordinary lies. Another tidbit: This is why I cannot hold grudges. I saw what they do, and what they can do to a person and I cannot willingly do that to my son or myself.

So, last year, I actually got to meet her when I was down in Albuquerque – for the first time in 27 years – and she got to meet her grandson for the first time. We had actually been talking online since the year I moved down to Georgia, in 2009…through Facebook actually (which was how she found me). I’m not going to lie, I was apprehensive and, well…scared. But it all turned out alright in the end. I got to meet her hubby, LaRue, who said the moment he stepped through the doors, he knew who I was…there was no doubt I was Michelle’s daughter. It was a good visit, good to ease the soul, and the mind. And to this day, we keep in contact everyday. We text back and forth…she is my biggest follower on my blogs, and my greatest encourager in my writing. The computer I am typing this on was actually a gift from her and LaRue to help with my writing process.

She missed out in so much while we were growing up, it gives me the greatest pleasure to be able to let her be a part of my son’s life as he is growing up. And with the connection we have now, I have learned so much about my other half of family. Like, health problems and risks I run…but also the fun stuff, like that side of my family was related to Martha Washington, my great aunt (I believe it was) had been good friends with Audrey Hepburn, horseback riding truly runs in the blood, and not only do I have Irish ancestry but also Scottish, Czech, and Norse.

So, taboo or not, I am immensely glad that the opportunity presented itself that I could get in contact with Michelle, and finally start to lay some questions to rest. And even though I am afraid to ask the others, one day, I know I will ‘bite the bit’ and ask, because without that piece of the puzzle, I cannot fully understand what had happened those many years ago.

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A Look Into Me

“Any change, any loss, doesn’t make us victims. Others can shake you, surprise you, disappoint you, but they can’t prevent you from acting, from taking the situation you’re presented with and moving on. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your situation, you can always do something. You always have a choice, and the choice could be power.” ~Blaire Lee~

As the thunder creeps closer, I sit and reflect. I love storms and the rain they bring. After the rain, everything looks new and clean. But with this storm, I find my reflections take a deeper, darker turn than usual. Which is confirmed by the quote that pushed to the forefront of my mind as I sat to write this blog. I can recite it from memory, it has been with me so long. You say: “They are just words…” but to me, they are so much more. At many points in my life they were my life-line. You say: “Gee, that’s just a bit over-dramatic don’t you think?” I say: “No…let me show you a little of what I am talking about.”

I don’t know when I found them first, but I know they were with me back in the 7th grade, when I lost my best friend – my soul sister, Cassandra, to suicide. During that time of loss, I was also dealing with daily trips to the heart hospital in Norfolk, to see my dad, who was waiting for a ‘new’ heart. They were with me when my dad got his ‘new’ heart, but then suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed on the right side; however, they were still with me when we got the news that his paralysis had disappeared over night. Seeing the power of these words, I started incorporating them into my everyday life – and I started looking at my past in a different light, and I realized that no fault could be laid at my feet any longer for the wrongs that had been done to me. I had found my power, my drive, my way in coping. Those few words spoken by a diplomat in the early 1900s.

Later on, I found that even though I had found my drive, it would forever be tested. The tests started again at the end of my senior year, when I lost a wonderful friend, Stephen, during a horrific car accident. Then continued on during nursing school, when I was pulled into the Dean’s office and accused of cheating because of my grades. I wanted to sing those words to the Dean when she handed my diploma to me when I graduated with honors with my one and only classmate standing next to me – from a class that had started with 28 people. Then shortly after my graduation, I lost another wonderful friend, Daniel, to suicide. After the loss of Daniel, I hit a lull…a blissful lull, in which I still had the power of those words with me, but they had burrowed deep into the back of my mind, just waiting for the day I would need them again.

That day came when I was pregnant with my son. After a day of monitoring at the hospital 3 weeks before he was due, I was informed that to keep both of us safe, they would have to induce labor first thing the following morning. Nine and a half hours after I was induced, while holding my son for the first time, those words were still with me. Even today, when I wake up and find myself restless because of the monotony of my daily routine, those words are with me – but now I have my son, and a new drive. The drive to watch him grow up, the drive to raise him in a way I can be proud of him when he’s grown and off conquering his own demons. To know that I gave him the tools to not shrink from change, loss, and disappointment.

So in closing, I wonder…what gives you the power, the drive to continue my fellow bloggers? Is it a someone, something, or a phrase, a quote? What makes you set your feet and dig in deep so you can hang on?

The storm is over now, and as I look over my shoulder, I see a beautiful rainbow. My little corner of the world is shiny, green, and clean again…and I can’t help but to feel a little better on the inside also.