I have been thinking a lot about one of the beliefs which I hold which is a source of great pain in my life. The belief is “people leave.” It is an unfortunate and crushing truth which can break your heart, even traumatize you depending on the circumstance, your personal constitution, and the frequency of occurrence.
I have experienced countless losses. I do not wish to lay them out here. What I do wish is to heal the underlying belief that I hold: “people leave.”
When I was two years old, my father left my mother. When I was 8, my step-father left. And it went on like that for a VERY long time.
I’ve experienced the death of a boyfriend, the death of best friends, the death of my father, the death of MANY family members and having worked in hospice, many many deaths. The deaths of love relationships I thought would last forever... And eight years ago, loss like I had never imagined possible.
I looked deep within myself to see where this may have begun. This leaving. And I realized, yes, my father left when I was two. But that was between my parents. They never loved each other. They were forced into a marriage not of their choosing. And my mother was a lesbian. So how could my father have possibly ever have been satisfied in the marriage?
I looked further. My father remarried. My step-mother was a seductress. She had been a model in Germany. But she was also an alcoholic and a drug-addict and would scream in fits only assuaged by pulling me in as a witness to her shooting up heroin when I was only four years of age. And then soon after, she would threaten to kill herself. My father would say nothing.
When my father’s visitation day would come and my mother insisted that I had to go and I protested, my mother never understood why. But when she kicked me out the door because she wouldn’t listen and I subsequently ran away, and my father couldn’t catch me, there was CLEARLY a reason I refused to go on those visits. There was A VERY GOOD reason.
By the time I was twelve, I had one of the worst visits with my father and his wife ever, and when I finally pulled away from her grip and ran out of their apartment, I yelled and screamed at my father relentlessly and insisted that I would never ever agree to see her again on any visits with him any longer. Those were my terms. I was only twelve. But those were my terms and I insisted on them. We fought about it constantly, but I never caved. Months went by when he wouldn’t agree to see me without her, but I didn’t care. I was trying to save my soul. It was a source of contention for years, but those were my terms.
When my father was dying, she remained cruel towards me. But I was no longer the child. I was 26. And I was there to help my father transition his way into the next world. When my father passed away. I began reaching out to her. She was in agony. And I recognized the crippled person she had been all along and all I felt was compassion for her. No resentment. No anger. Just sadness for the pain she had been in to have to hurt me in all the ways she had. I kept reaching out to her. And I became her lifeline. Until she killed herself. Three months after my father’s death.
I share all of this now to acknowledge my own part. I abandoned her when I was twelve years-old. For many years. Yes, there were occasions when we HAD to come together for an hour, five or six years later, here or there, but not because I agreed. It was a funeral or some sort of emergency.
I abandoned her when I was twelve and that set my life on a trajectory which I would never have imagined.
I can see it now. And what I need to heal is the belief that “people leave.”
I have looked into the depths of my most honest self, and other than that moment, I have only walked away two other times... but with skill and grace and consciousness and the help of therapists in two primary relationships (but the walking away was not abandonment or leaving). So I honor myself around those situations. I don’t beat myself up around them. It was the right thing to do in both situations.
Subsequently, I have experienced loss after loss after loss in ways which have chipped away at my spirit and it stems from the core belief that “people leave.”
Death is one thing. Painful and tragic and traumatic at times. But death affords you the gift of it being REAL and final. You get to have closure and find a way to move on.
But when people you love leave and are still walking the earth, the question remains, how do you find closure?
I don’t have the answer. The only thing I know how to do is to allow what is true love in my heart to pour out. Love them when it comes. Bless them when it comes. Pray for their well-being. Miss them when that is the truth. Always always be in the truth.
And if that twelve year-old girl created this, forgive her. She was only trying to save her own life.
Maybe there are no promises.
Maybe we’re just supposed to be grateful for every conversation. Every smile.
I had a friend once who used to end each phone call with “talk to you tomorrow!” and I would hang up with my shoulders to my ears, cringing and hearing my inner dialogue shouting, “god willing!”
I don’t want to cringe anymore. I want to shout from the rooftops from love. From a place of knowing. The way I grounded my father when he was dying and I was saying goodbye to him. From that place.
To come from that place.
It’s raw. But it’s truthful.
If we could only come to each other from that place. Well, I would. We needn’t be dying to be that honest.
My truth is that I hurt inside and I’m ready to release my dead.
Whatever it takes.
Forgive myself. Surrender in ways I still don’t know how.
But I’m ready to find out.
And bless the mystery.