Today's post will be a little different. You will know me better after this....
Today I decided to unpack a few more boxes in the den. The den has become the catch-all room, where random things get thrown for temporary storage. Only in this case, temporary has become about 6 months. Even my bike ended up there after being pummeled by the thick dust that settles everywhere during Harmattan season. Anyway, I was unpacking a small box of stuff from the Austin house; mostly random birthday cards and candles and keychains, when I came across a poem I had written over 10 years ago. Ever have one of those moments where you stop dead in your tracks from memories flooding over you? Like that. I have not had one of those moments lately....not since I found one of my kids' first notes to the Tooth Fairy and I went back to that place in time when I remembered the smell of their hair, fresh from a bath, as I tucked a couple of quarters under their pillow. Today was more poignant than that.
Today's title will explain itself shortly. You see, you can change your life; you can move half way across the world, but you can never totally leave your past behind. In some unplanned way, when you least expect it, it will hit you like it happened yesterday. If your past contains some pain, and frankly whose doesn't, thankfully these moments will diminish as you get further away from the events. But today, no such luck for me. I found my poem, and it's typed on a piece of white paper. It has a title (underscored even) but the whole bottom of the page is torn off so there is literally only half a sheet of paper left. Torn paper seems to have significance here; like I saved the poem in a fit of madness, lacking the formality to even save the entire page. Since the poem is short; I'll add it here:
Shiny, glittering bands of silver. Some people never wear these reminders on their finger of the day they said "I do." They never felt the love and hope that a glance at these rings brought me. I always valued their sentiment and their purpose. I used to cherish these symbols of faithfulness, charity and respect.
Then pain and misery rained down on these cold, steel bands. About the 100th time after my husband said he didn't love me anymore, I finally understood the only wisdom the rings held for me. Without love and commitment, they were just pounded bits of metal. Given with promise, they held value beyond dreams. Tarnished with hate and regret, they lie idle and unforgiving.
As I read the words, I started crying. I felt all the hurt and pain from years of suffering through a really bad marriage. It was as thought the words on the page released the clarity of how painful it really was, when at the time I could not let that level of feeling in. I think we must have to mimimize some things in order to survive. But we can never really hide from our true feelings. Even all these years later, I can still feel the sting of how devestating it feels when your husband tells you he doesn't love you.
That being said, today I appreciate how far I've come. I didn't let the pain totally take control of my life. Somehow, I managed to raise our last child, get a Bachelors degree, survive (definately not thrive) financially, and finally get myself together enough to take a long shot at getting a job with the Foreign Service and actually accomlish that. I moved across the world by myself and I am really thriving here in Africa. I have become the person I was meant to be....even though I would not have chosen this bumpy path.
So it just goes to show....when you chose a career with a foreign post, watch out for hidden surprises like memories tucked away in innocent boxes....and plan to unpack with an eye to the past and your arms wide open to the future.
Make it good,