My daughters asked me last night at dinner when I was going to have my meltdown before the wedding.
I don’t have meltdowns, I told them.
And my youngest daughter looked at me with that look of disbelief daughters do so well and asked, “Really mom? What about that night you landed in hospital?”
Children have such unforgiving memories of their parents sometimes.
The night in question was just after I had moved back to Calgary, after the man whose lies and manipulations that almost killed me had sent him to jail.
After a year and a bit in prison, The Parole Board had let me know of his release to a half-way house in Calgary. I was hyper conscious of my surroundings. Working with a security consultant I was, ‘target-hardening’ my home and my life so that we could be safe and live with peace of mind.
But, the fear existed. It lived on the periphery of my thinking, a constant niggling at my mind to ‘be aware’ of everything going on around me. One evening, I had gone to a friend’s for dinner and he had fed me his world famous peach martini’s. I had known this man for many years but on this night, he informed me of his long time affection for me.
I didn’t feel the same way about him and didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I said nothing. He took my silence as an invitation and tried to kiss me.
And that’s when my walls came tumbling down.
I did not want to be kissed. I did not want to be up close and personal with a man. I did not want a man. Period.
Fortunately, he got the message, backed off and walked me home.
Problem was, the dam had burst and I couldn’t get myself together. I cried and shivered and at one point sat on the grass and sobbed. It was as though, after two years of having to deal with not just the spectre of ‘the bad man’ somewhere on the horizon but also my daughters’ fear of his presence coming back into our lives, and my own work of healing the woundedness within me, I broke wide open and let go.
I let go of holding myself and all of it together.
I let go of being strong.
I let go of being the one with all the answers.
When my friend got me home I was a mess. Concerned for my well-being, he called 9-1-1. When my address came up in their database, they found my file flagged because of the ‘bad man’s’ release from prison. Respond immediately.When the ambulance and police arrived. I remember continually repeating, “I can’t keep my daughters safe. I can’t keep my daughters safe.”
When they checked their database further, they too grew concerned.
And therein lay the challenge. My fears were real. I wasn’t imagining them or making them up. They were real and I had been trying to pretend that while I knew they were real, I was handling it all.
In my desire to protect my daughters from my fears, I had been holding them in the container of, “I need to do everything I can to keep myself and the girls safe. I can’t predict or control what he will do. I can only take care of us”.
I had done everything to ‘target harden’ our lives. It was my heart that was the problem.
It was broken and I had been carrying the burden of its brokenness alone. I was tired.
When my friend tried to kiss me, my fear of letting down my guard, of letting myself feel again broke through.
It was shortly after that my beautiful friend NR went to Choices and invited me to go too. Thanks to her, the deep and lasting healing of my heart, and my family, began in earnest.
Daughters’ memories are long though. That evening doesn’t resonate in my memory. I only think of it when one of them mentions it — and usually they only speak of it in context to their fears of my falling apart.
Daughters count on the strength and courage of their mothers. They count on them to always be there. To be witness to their daughters’ tears and fears and pain and sorrows, and the good times too.
And we are, but what we don’t show our daughters is how much we carry their tears and fears and pains and sorrows. We don’t show them how our hearts break when theirs are broken. How are arms ache when theirs are left holding nothing but air after a love gone wrong or a dream shattered.
We show our daughters our strength and seldom our moments of weakness.
On that night long ago, I couldn’t hold it together any longer. I let it go. And in the letting go my healing began in earnest and the transformation of the pain into loving and forgiving myself began.
For my daughters, that night has not been transformed into the seminal moment where I saw clearly I had to let go. It remains in their memories as the night mom fell apart.
I am getting married on Saturday. My heart is bursting wide open with joy and love and feeling safe and feeling embraced by this man whom I trust and cherish and know loves and cherishes me.
I’m not planning a meltdown before Saturday. There’s no need because in marrying C.C., in stepping whole-heartedly into our life together, I have nothing to fear. My heart is strong and I am safe.