To live is so startling sometimes it leaves little time for anything else.
Have you a moment in your life you can look back on and say ‘ah ha. that is where it began.’ I have read about them in books; people making a life choice, whether conscious or unconscious, and being able to look back after years or decades and see that that decision is where life changed for them. Where their personality-way of facing the world-began for them. I’ve thought it happened only in the fiction novels. Now I can see that nonfiction holds these moments as well.
The summer before my eighth grade year we moved from Northern California to a suburb of Denver. I welcomed the change, being an adventurer at heart in this small way. The change brought opportunity and I was thrilled by the unknown of a whole unexplored region-protected still by the fold of my family 🙂
My dad was fully established in his new job when the rest of us arrived in June-he had moved ahead so that my oldest brother could graduate from high school with his classmates. My mother was set to begin a new job come fall, but for that summer time she delved into decorating the house so that it would become a home both she and my father would want to open the door on each evening.
This decorating included my bedroom. I have always had a thing for yellow. Color plays a vital part in my life; a ‘duh’ I can see now, but then it was just a sense of something that dramatically contributed to my emotional, spiritual and physical well being. I think I could live in a world with color, words and music and be blissfully unaware of anything missing from my days….
I chose a bright yellow for the walls of my west facing, rocky mountain range view room. It was a cheery color; bold in its brightness, youthfully daring and almost neon in this sunset filled space. I felt bold, daring and neon in the choosing of it and lying in its glow each night.
My mom didn’t much like it though. She called in a designer and my yellow walls were covered over with earthtoned scallop patterned wallpaper, the twin beds with structured worn brick colored bedspreads and the lovely bedside table with a neutral cloth and coordinating fabric table scarf. I distinctly recall sitting on the bed with the designer and my mother and saying yes to their obvious delight in the choices they were making for my room. I said yes to avoid the look of distaste that was evident at my yellow walls. I said yes to avoid confrontation. I said yes to keep a neutral countenance and appear agreeable. I said yes to preserve balance.
Unbeknownst to my 14 year old self I gave up balance, personal identity, my sense of self worth and personal power to believe in my instincts in this moment of resignation. I think this day of saying ‘yes’ when I wanted to say ‘no way’ was the day I took the final big swallow of my personal sense of self, locked it tight away and became a follower. I let life happen to me instead of making my life happen. For twenty five more years I let life happen to me rather than make my life happen. I lived with this self locked away, straining at the hinges, pushing against the closed lid-every once in a while bits and shreds of it seaping through the cracks. I did not know any more how to begin to say no to things and face the conflict this would bring than I knew how to pick the lock on this hidden away box and release the beautiful soul within.
Amazing things happen when you have children. You see their lives evolve and grow and identify parallels to your own. My oldest son is 19 1/2 years old. The youngest is nearly 14. I know that I’ve done wrong for them. I know what I’ve done wrong for them. It wasn’t the divorce and the strife this brought to their days. No, this was a blessing that allowed their selves to emerge more quickly than mine. My mistake was in how I lived my days. In bowing to what came along for me instead of testing, trying, evaluating and ultimately being able to say no to things that crossed my path. My mistake was in living this way and letting them see it as an option for their lives as well. I modeled complacency.
As my boys grow towards adulthood and I see the tendency to just let life happen in their lives, I cringe and must cry some sorrowful tears to realize that the harm and damage in their lives is some of my doing. I want to take credit for only the good of their beings, but in reality, I created the part of them that allows for not questioning, just accepting, life as it comes. I created a world where accepting the covering over of desired, bright, vibrant yellow walls is acceptable. I beg their forgiveness for my part in this. But just as I’ve come to realize the importance of grabbing hold of my own life, throwing the lid back on the locked away spirit and shouting a resounding NO when my soul is screaming it from within, I expect them to grab hold of the same spirit in themselves. Take the reigns of each day and say YES or NO with a strong, sure voice that is responding to their inner senses.
I have been startlingly struck dumb this week: Coming to these realizations about myself and my world. With strength of character, personal worth, fortitude and peace I move forward in my choices: Making them not taking them. Healing happens and life begins anew. Sometimes every day over again and again. For myself, thank God, but my boys as well I pray. To help them get to the place I’ve come to for myself at 43 much more quickly in their own lives-perhaps at 19 1/2, 18, 16 and nearly 14….
in love. trish.