Day 150 “Daily Loss”

I was just twenty-two when I met my children’s father.  With one failed marriage behind me, I was grateful for this man that considered me worthy of sharing a house and raising his family,  so when he took me home for the first time, as a new wife and mother, I wanted to make a good impression.

Stewart’s mother had passed away the year before we met, and his father had been to visit prior to us making our vows, but his siblings were a mystery.  We arrived unannounced, having flown eight hours with our four-month-old daughter.  His father greeted us with open arms, thrilled that we made the trip.  We had barely settled in when his first sister and husband arrived.  I waited, out of sight, giving Stewart a chance to say hello.

Squeals of delight accompanied the greetings, and I gathered that the couple had just returned from a vacation in a sunny locale.  In response to a question about their trip, Stewart’s sister responded:  “It was lovely, except for those bloody northerners.”

I felt my face begin to flush.  My father’s family came from the north of England.  I had no time to compose myself before they were ushered into the kitchen to make my acquaintance.  Thrusting out my hand, I declared:  “Hi, I’m your new sister-in-law – one of those bloody northerners.”  It was not a good start.

The day progressed in much the same way.  When my husband’s older brother arrived, I noticed that his loafers were missing one of their tassels.  Trying to inject some humour into an uncomfortably stuffy situation, I blurted:  “Nice tassel.”  All eyes were immediately upon me. 

“Pardon me?” the tone was incredulous.

“You are missing a tassel.  I was just trying to be funny.”

My new brother-in-law looked at me with a glint in his eye.  “Do you know what the word ‘tassel’ means to us?” 

I didn’t know, but I was certain it wasn’t good.

“It means penis”  his wife chirped in.  “You’ve just admired his personals.”

If I hadn’t felt so close to tears, I might have found it funny.

Stewart’s youngest sister just came right out and said what she was thinking.  “We don’t honestly know what to think of you – we never thought Stewart would marry, and now here you are and with a baby as well.”

After a night’s sleep, I was ready to try anew.  Having settled the baby, I busied myself in the kitchen, making a hearty breakfast for the others.   The smell of bacon and sausages lured them in with murmurs of appreciation.  Freshly brewed tea was sipped in anticipation of the feast to follow.   I heaped the food onto plates, added fresh toast, and watched as my new family happily consumed my offerings.  Brushing aside yesterday’s disappointment, I felt renewed hope.  When the food was all gone, and everyone was sated, Stewart’s youngest sister offered to clean up.  I went to retrieve the now waking baby.

“You’ve ruined a perfectly good pan,’  my sister-in-law confronted me when I returned.  “What kind of an idiot are you that you would use a steel spatula on a non-stick pan?”

I didn’t know, was what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t risk responding – the tears were threatening.  I had never used a non-stick pan before.  At home, we had cast iron.  “Sorry”  was all I could blurt out.

“I should think so!”

I knew in that moment that I would never be good enough for this family, and I felt and all the guilt and shame that had shadowed me all my life, as the daughter of dysfunctional parents.

* * *

“You must look back and forgive that young woman,”  my therapist advises.  “See it from a new perspective.”

Let go of some of your clutter, Derek Lin writes in today’s reflection.  Let go of something everyday. 

The clutter I need to clear out is emotional and psychological.  Every time I cook eggs, I am reminded of that day and how I was such a disappointment to that family.  We are divorced now, and they are no longer a part of my life, but the guilt and shame obviously live on.

Today, I will let go of the guilt that serves no purpose.  I will recognize that making mistakes does not make me a bad person, and let go of the shame. 

Today, I will let go of those emotions that stop me from enjoying life, and make room for self-acceptance instead.


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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