scars and bruises

Holding my child in the night, wondering how I would be able to care for her, how I would be able to provide for her, how I could do all I needed to do alone, as a single parent, crying the silent tears that threatened to bring me to the edge of despair – all those feelings came rushing back to me last weekend when I saw The Pursuit of Happyness.  The movie brought back all those overwhelmingly desperate feelings, those feelings of panic and fear and heartache I experienced after my husband left us and I was suddenly a single parent with a 2-year-old daughter that I was 100% responsible for, emotionally, physically, financially. I remembered trying to get medical coverage for her, and finding out that I made $11 too much per month to qualify for assistance. I remembered the times when I didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough food for both of us. I remembered buying big bags of potatoes and eating them night after night because they were cheap and went far. The calls from creditors for bills that my ex had incurred, telling me that California is a community property state, ma’am, and that I was responsible for his bills. No car; it had been repossessed a few weeks before he left. My daughter said that my pillow was "the crying pillow."
Watching the movie, all those feelings came rushing back, an assault to my present self, and I was enormously surprised at the strength with which I experienced them all over again so many years later. I thought they’d been buried, stuffed down, locked away forever. And yet, I found myself tracing the scars of my pain from back then, a bit startled to see the scars still there as I thoughtfully traced their outlines, feeling a bit dismayed that they hadn’t disappeared but remained as a reminder of where I’d been, what I’d endured. The bruises were still there, too, bruises that resulted from the beatings that my heart, my dreams and my certainty in life took. They were still tender. How could that be after all these years? How could those memories still hurt when I was so long past that time, when I’d made it through those dark times, and raised my child and gotten past all that hurt and have had a happy, successful life for decades since then? I was surprised when I found myself crying in the theater, watching the Chris Gardner character holding his child, crying his tears alone in the night. It was too, too familiar.
Of course, my situation wasn’t as desperate as his or as desperate as those of so many other single parents. But it was an experience that I thought wasn’t part of me any longer and so I was surprised at the emotions and memories that became so vividly alive for me again. It caught me off-guard. I had a similar experience when the movie Terms of Endearment came out. My mom and I went to see it shortly after I’d had surgery for cervical cancer. Bad timing. She and I sat there sobbing through the movie, relating so closely to the characters, knowing we’d had a close call. (The cancer came back a few months later; another surgery removed it.)
Maybe I’m not supposed to lock these memories away. Maybe this is a time when I’m supposed to remember, now that I’m at a safe distance from them. They are part of my story. They are part of my journey to who I am becoming. They are part of my tapestry, rich and varied, stronger where the torn pieces have been carefully and lovingly mended.
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3 Responses to scars and bruises

  1. Litespreader says:

    rose, i am proud of you, and i admire you.  in the midst of that kind of pain, and trying to protect your child from it, you were given the strength you needed.  you took it, and used it, and didn\’t pull the cover over you to hide.  pain is a great teacher.. a harsh teacher, but powerful.  pain softens the heart, somehow.  i guess you can\’t have a hard heart when it feels like it\’s in tiny pieces.  speaking for myself..  i have experienced intense pain in my life, but it would have been worse if i hadn\’t done all i could do to help my children.  just help them to have peace, and joy, and know without a doubt that they are loved.  necessity is the mother of invention, and pain is the mutha of invention, i guess…

  2. Lynn says:

    I am afraid of this movie-my scars are still too fresh, too close to the surface to bring to a movie theater to bare in front of others.  I watched some excerpts of the movie during Bravo\’s Moving Images Salute to Will Smith, and wept during a 3 minute clip.  I know I will fall apart when I see it in it\’s entirety.  I will wait and purchase it when it hits the shelves, maybe even my oldest girls will watch with me…
    I think there are some scars that never, ever heal completely.  Some memories that can not be buried or wiped away, that will always surprise us with their pain and tenderness at moments we don\’t expect.  Assaults of any kind on our children, upon the most vulnerable parts of ourselves especially, and finding ourselves unable to take care of our child\’s most basic physical needs is an assault-upon the security we should all be able to feel as parents, caregivers. 
    You have written beautifully and perfectly yet again, Rose, of part of the human condition that I understand well.  Thank you so much for your friendship, for every kind and encouraging word you give me, for every loving thought and prayer you send my way.  I feel you in my life, and I am so very grateful.
    Much love

  3. Thot says:

    There are times when the wound reopens..and our heart pumps the feelings that run thru our lives out until we can compress the wound and heal yet again.  As I read of your turmoil of spirit, I asked myself when, if ever, I had scared so deeply, and found myself in that brief moment feeling again the anxiety that seems to have stalked me at some close distance since those horrible days…Today the stressors are not the same, but the effects on my soul seem to be nearly decendants born to remind me. Whether a movie or a poignant recount of someone elses trials…serves to remind us that there will be no total peace in this life…gladly there is hope and the way we choose to see our heartache moments…either positivly or with great pain…I think its in that choice that we either befriend them and come to terms….or flee before them until we are confronted unexpectedly.  
    This blog was simply profound.   mostly because it brings those who feel deeply to a kind of catharsis in which we understand that we are not the only ones who suffer…and survive….even more…really LIVE…

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