Thank you to the Story Circle Network for accepting my story: Hoping to Be Missed.
I am excited to report that I won first place in the Reflections Personal Essay Contest 2018.
To read the story and find out more about the Story Circle Network, click here.
Jilted by a philandering husband and defrauded out of my share of the assets, I made a convincing victim.
“You are righteously angry,” a friend counselled.
Perhaps so, but something niggled at me.
“A man does not stray unless there is a reason,” someone said, and I felt as if she looked right through me, could see the flaws at my core. My mother’s repeated warnings came back to me: “No one will ever love you.”
What is wrong with me? my broken heart wailed.
Urgency drove me to find answers. I never wanted to go through this again. I had to know why my life had turned out this way.
I read. I read Daphne Rose Kingma’s Coming Apart, and Susan Anderson’s The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, and The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz: all offering glimpses of insight and understanding – something I could hold on to. So many books passed through my hands and desperate to learn more, I turned to a galley copy of a book I’d received as a bookstore owner. A commercial piece, now released, but that I’d never bothered with in the past, having stashed it beside many other soon-to-be published editions.
It was Relationship Rescue by Dr. Phil McGraw.
“Too Late for this, really,” I told myself but I decided to give it a chance.
Dr. Phil wrote the words I had suspected all along: good relationships begin with the self. His advice made sense, and more than that, I felt like I was finally onto something. I attacked the book as if reading a how-to manual, highlighter in hand and pencil at the ready.
Relationship Rescue delves into the different “bad spirits” that we bring to our relationships, and as I read along, I began to recognize bits of myself in the “scorekeeper”, the “fault-finder”, and the control freak, but when I reached the eighth category and began to read, I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach and wanted to throw up. I was the “bottomless pit”.
I told myself that I didn’t need anything so that I wouldn’t be a burden. What I was actually doing was sabotaging my partner’s chances of ever meeting my needs. “He should know without me telling him,” was another one of those false beliefs that I measured by husband against.
The spirit I brought to my marriage was ugly. I had so many expectations about what I wanted and didn’t want based on my parents failures that any partner was destined to fail.
With understanding comes change. It would not be easy, and I am still a work in progress, but Relationship Rescue gave me solid understanding so that I can be accountable and achieve a healthier relationship.
My challenge this week is to write about (or submit images of) a book that made you sit up and pay attention. What book(s) made a difference in your life?
A look back to two years ago. Sometimes we need the perspective of the rear-view image to put the present in better focus. How far we have come. (Photo from our earlier, healthier days.)
Preoccupation with my own woes blinded me to my husband’s suffering, which culminated in a heart attack on Saturday night. We are shell-shocked.
“That’s what happens to caregivers,” a callous nurse commented. Am I supposed to feel guilty?
Unable to either drive myself, or push my own wheelchair, I am reliant on the goodwill of others to get me to the hospital, although even then, my body’s limits scream: Halt!
I trust that my husband is in good hands, and getting the help he needs. Meanwhile, I am home, alone, processing a gamut of emotions and what if’s.
This is not his first heart attack. The first was silent, and according to the specialists, all but fatal. It caused sufficient damage to have us all on edge. Thank God I saw the signs and called 9-1-1 this time around. The hospital said they will not release him until either medications…
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An edited version of “The Spirit of Horses” has been posted on One Woman’s Day blog, a project of the Story Circle Network.
Thank you to Linda Hoye for accepting this piece.
Poetry, the words penned on this blog, have emerged as a gift from the darkness of a debilitating disease.
Three years ago, I was a special education teacher, loving my career, volunteering with the junior girls’ basketball team, and making plans with my husband for our next trip. I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2010, but a change in diet and weekly trips for acupuncture seemed to keep that at bay. True, I could no longer participate in the acting group I’d so loved, or play tennis quite as actively as before, but that was compensated for by the arrival of grandchildren in our lives.
Then, in the middle of summer, 2013, I came down with pneumonia, and although my lungs seemed to clear with the prescribed medication, I continued to have breathing problems, accelerated heart rate, and bouts of severe dizziness. I saw specialist after specialist, all with differing opinions, and then, thankfully, my respiratory doctor diagnosed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
“Myalgic Encephalomyelitis” is the formal term, my family doctor explained, although most recently she told me it’s been renamed Central Sensitivity Syndrome in an attempt to explain the varying complex symptoms.
By May of the next year, I could no longer drive without falling asleep at the wheel; had lost my ability to do math; was losing recognition of words; and could not climb a flight of stairs. Sitting and standing became incredibly taxing, and at my very worst, I could not tolerate food – ugly sores would break out in my mouth and face, and my stomach would swell painfully.
Social interaction was exhausting, and watching television overly stimulating. I spent hours on end lying in a darkened room in silence. Scents were enough to send my nervous system into overload, and sudden noises made me startle like a baby. I could not concentrate enough to read .
Words were my saviour. Ideas floated around in my consciousness, forming images that I would cling to until I was able to find the words to release them. Poems, like shining beacons of hope, emerged, and I felt brief interludes of accomplishment, as if my life still mattered, as if I still had purpose.
This past year, there has been improvement. I am able to be out of bed longer, and with the help of a homemaker, can even prepare a few meals, and best of all, get out of the house to visit with friends, or have a meal out.
I came across this Ted Talk this morning, posted on Facebook, in which the speaker reveals her journey with ME. An articulate speaker, Jen Brea has become an active voice in the crusade to bring this disease to the forefront of medical awareness.
I invite you to watch Jen Brea.
At the age of four, I moved with my family into a new house that my father had built, on the outskirts of town. The day of our move my mother disappeared, and left to my own devices, I defied my father’s rules about staying out of certain parts of the house and discovered secret places, the beginning of my awareness that all was not as it seemed. When my mother returned, she was carrying a new baby sister, and all was seemingly well, until one day she too discovered that the walls had secrets.
Four Voices tells the story of growing up in a family where secrets defined us; and examines the relationship between a daddy’s girl and her father, split between two worlds. All names have been changed for this story. Part I, starts at the end of seventeen-year-old Betty-Ann’s home life, and can be read here.
I have attempted to write this story for most of my life, however; I was always missing an essential piece – my father’s perspective. Now, armed with new understanding, I offer you a tale of tragic misunderstanding and hope for healing.
Feedback is deeply appreciated.