My Karmic Retribution (what did I ever do to you, karma?)

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When I was 15 I left my mother. Packed a couple of my things and left.

Now my 13 year old daughter is doing the same thing to me.

I suppose it is the most basic and direct form of karma the world has ever seen.

In hind sight, my mother was not BAD to me. She was not abusive or negligent. She was a tired, over worked single parent and she leaned on me for a lot because I was all she had. My older brother was in the Marines and then working in New York City. She was trying to keep a house hold and two young daughters afloat with very little help and even less sleep.

But I was selfish, as young girls are. I was thinking of myself. How my social life was suffering because I had to come home directly from school and baby sit for my little sister as my mother went from her first job to her second. I felt alone because she worked so much and no one else was really around to tell me otherwise. And I was angry because I saw my friends with regular, fully staffed house holds who were allowed to go to the mall and to the movies and didn’t have to check to make sure they weren’t on little sister duty that night.

So, in looking back, she was actually a super mom. A mother who still found time to make dinner (sometimes four at a time) and stick them in the refrigerator so I could warm them up for myself and my little sister Sam. On the days when she had off, although I’m sure she was beat from her 70 hour work week, she brought us to do things so we could still have family time. She made us cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and hearts for holidays, she made sure I had hand sewn Halloween outfits and that we always had everything we needed, even though money was tight and time was even tighter.

But I left her anyways, in pursuit of more freedom and less responsibility. Funny thing is, I ended up crashing at my boyfriends house, becoming pregnant, and found myself with LESS freedom and MORE responsibility.

So now, fast forward almost 14 years later, and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off. The many years of moving myself and my daughter from apartment to apartment, job to job, searching for the right place and time, we have arrived. I’m married, have a good job and we just bought our dream house. I was able to rest easy for once knowing that I was going to move Nev into this house and it would be her HOME from then on. Even when she went to college, she would always have her room to come back to in that house. And when she got married and had kids of her own, she would bring them to that house and they would walk around the same floors she walked around when she was a kid.

As I was breathing easy, she had plans of her own. Plans of maybe going to live with her father, because living with us has become a stressful place to live, and she isn’t happy.

This obviously hit me like a blow to my stomach. All the years that I had worked two jobs while going to school and still doing the best I could for her just so I could one day give her the life she deserved. The youth that I had sacrificed so I could be the kind of mother she deserved. How could all of that not mean anything to her at all? How was she so ready to turn her back on me when I had spent the better part of my life NOT turning my back on her.

So we fought. I took my hurt and frustration out on her with my words; biting, cruel words.

I don’t think that her logic is right or good or that it makes any sense at all, but it is her logic. My reasoning for leaving my mother when she had done so much for me was not sturdy. But when I left I wasn’t thinking about what she’d done for me, I was thinking of what she wasn’t doing for me. I was thinking of my friends who had mothers that seemed to constantly be around, interested in what they were doing in school, waving from the side lines at the soccer game. I was too young to grasp that she wasn’t at the soccer game because she was at work so we could have food that week.

And I almost have to laugh through my tears now. Your mother always tells you, “just wait till you have kids, I hope they give it back to you as good as you gave to me”, almost like a curse.

I’m getting it almost exactly as I gave it. And it hurts. Imagining that little baby girl who I held in my arms when she was born, knowing I would never be able to do anything less than give her the world. This is the type of hurt that I can imagine will never go away. The kind you have to get medicated for in order to not have it creep into your brain while you’re falling asleep.

Maybe I should let her go… I just always figured it was the two of us. No matter who came and went, it was us. We had been the original two, living together and creating our own routines and dynamics. Like a modern day Gilmore Girls, we did our own thing and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about it. I guess I felt that even if the dynamics changed, she would still have my back, she would still stand beside me, she would know the ways that I had sacrificed and loved her since the moment she was born.

So… maybe I should let her go. This is my current problem. Finding a way to let go of person who has always been my motivation and drive for everything I do. If she feels like she needs to be somewhere else, for her own best interests, how can I argue with that. Lock her up, throw away the key… sure. I’m thinking of it.

But, maybe I just need to let her go.

There Is Comfort In The Vicious Cycle

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I sat in the middle of our bed. Of our marriage bed. But I was alone. So completely and utterly alone, even though I knew he was downstairs in the garage taking his frustration at me out on his car.

My legs were crossed, my nose was running and the tears were falling. I wiped my nose on the baggy purple shirt I liked to wear when I was lounging around, and something about the runny nose and the indian style seating choice made me feel like a little girl again, not the 31 year old confident and strong woman that I had become.

I had just told my husband I wanted a divorce. No. SHRIEKED at my husband that I wanted a divorce, and since when had I become a woman who shrieked about anything. Since when had I become that needy, nagging woman who SHRIEKS out a series of profanities and accusations which essentially surmounted to the plea of “see me, I’m here”.

And now, sitting in the middle of the bed, feeling like a preschooler waiting for story time, I waited for what I knew would come next.

See, the realization had just hit me that this relationship was bad for me. Whether it was my fault, or his fault, the path we were on was the wrong path for ME. And when you have that kind of clarity, placing blame becomes less important than you ever though it would be. Because, this man whose life you tied to yours not only willingly, but happily, this man is never going to change. Even though he wants to make you happy, and he knows that in order to make you happy he has to be different. Even though he tries to be different, but who can blame him that he just doesn’t know how to be your way when he’s been his way for thirty years.

And how can I blame myself that when I fell in love with him, he was a different person. He was a more easy going person, he was a more attentive person, he was a nicer person. HE was the person I walked down the aisle to on that Fall afternoon. HE was the person who I spent nights wrapped up in; late nights and early mornings running my hands over the length of his back, feeling the raised spots where he was tattooed, tracing those raised spots as if they were a map to my ultimate happiness, to my very existence.

Because although we feel old, we are very young, and very naive. Although we feel like we’ve been through a lot together, it is the tip of the ice berg. We have a son together. A beautiful, curly haired cherub who represents the best of us both. Seeing his face reminds me of the two very distinct individuals we were when we came together and meshed together, at times peacefully and at times kicking and screaming.

For a small moment in time it was just the two of us, and that was when we were at our best. Discovering each other, feeling that every touch was exciting and new, but laced with a familiarity you only encounter when you begin to see a real future with another person. Not a fantasy future with beach houses and European travels, but the kind of future that consists of cooking dinner together, bickering over what color to paint the kitchen, celebrating holidays together, growing old together…

And now, fast forward five years. A million smiles and kind words turned into a million dirty looks and well aimed insults. Staring into each others eyes transformed into staring at our respective smart phones. The weight of being responsible not only for ourselves and sustaining our romance, but for the actual well being of other human beings resting firmly on our shoulders. Instead of making the load easier for each other, we argue about who has it worse. I think he’s distant and cold, he thinks I’m crazy and irresponsible. And we turn to each other for nothing.

Still cross legged on the bed, still crying, still waiting for the inevitable footsteps to ascend the stairs which signify he has had enough time to think and ponder on what a life apart from each other really means, as I am doing the same. Separately, instead of together.

And then he will come into the room, settle himself next to me, look me straight in the eye and say “I’m sorry”, and try to pull me into his arms. I’ll resist, my heart still broken, my eyes still burning with tears. We will talk about how “sorry” is an empty sentiment coming from him now, preceded by so many other apologies and promises to “do better”. I will tell him that a temporary change is not enough, a week of good behavior does not forgive the months of bad behavior that came before and will most certainly come after.

But he will be persistent and focused, one of the things I absolutely loved about him when we first met. I’m not sure when his focus shifted from me to everything else but me. I’m not sure when his OCD and ADD became an ongoing frustration for me instead of something cute I taunted him about. All I know is that now, with his arms circling around me, his familiar scent surrounding me, and his comforting words washing over me, I want so badly to believe that THIS TIME things will change. That when I say “this is what I need”, he will give it to me. I’ve never asked him for anything that he wasn’t capable of giving. I’ve never asked to be the center of his universe, only a part of it.

And although this cycle, vicious and disappointing as it is, is comforting. Because on the most basic and emotional level, I don’t want to be without this man. I want to spend every night for the rest of my life running my hands over his back as his hair turns from brown to gray.

There is that wicked hope that snakes through your resolve that if we engage in this dance enough times, we will begin to change our steps.

I want to change our steps.

Photo credit: Stephanie Vindigni