Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Safety, Security and Self Esteem

My mother in law came to visit yesterday. Well, not to visit, but to pick up James and take him to see his cousin. I think I've said it before but they are the same age and he has been really good for my son. I am having a difficult time with my mother in law because she focuses on the past (she left my father in law and the boys when my husband was only 12) and hasn't moved forward. She will tell you she has but then bring it up again at any chance. I don't want my son to bear the burden of that (he wasn't even born then) any more than I wanted my husband to. The guilt she could put on his shoulders was incredible. This is not a rant on my mother in law. I do love her, I just wish she could see these things and deal with them. Of course, it is always easier for us to see the shortcomings of others without focusing on our own. I'm trying to remember this.
The reason I bring this up is because, at one point, she asked if I needed anything. I said," Since you can't bring him back for me there is nothing I need." To which she responded,"You know he was MY son..." Of course he was, but I don't want to compete on who loss is worse. Not when all I want to do is give up and go be with him. (note to self, stare hard at children this afternoon, when they come home)
He was my husband, he was my best friend. He was my every day. My morning, my evening and my weekends. My thoughts. My Safety. My Security. and My Self Esteem. and the words that follow will explain why...

When I was 19, I broke up with Leonard and met the biological father of our daughter (from here on out to be known as "the sperm donor", for that is all he ever was). I am not going to go too much into the details but he (the sperm donor) was physically and emotionally abusive to me. I was a virgin when I met him and intended to stay that way until marriage (oh why did this good little girl go looking for a "bad boy"?). He had other plans and so, one night, he raped me. This was before date rape became a part of the national vocabulary and there was nothing I could do. I said nothing. Told no one. And ended up pregnant. 19, with a man that frightened me, and pregnant. Something I could never tell my parents. So the sperm donor did it for me. I will never forget the pain on my father's face. I will never forgive my mother for not believing me in the years that followed about how it (the pregnancy) came about. Stupidly, I stayed with the sperm donor for 2 months after. I left him 3 days before our wedding (good girls get married when they get into trouble...or so I was told) in a flurry of fear. I moved back home with my parents.

The next 6 months were hell. Neither one of my parents could look at me. My dad, because his heart was breaking, my mom...well because I don't think she ever could look at me. I was wounded, mentally, physically and spiritually. I jumped at loud noises, couldn't stand to be touched (which is a horrible thing when one is pregnant and had never before been to an OB/Gyn) and began a rapid spiral down, spending weeks in my room, seeing no one, afraid to leave the house because the sperm donor began stalking me. Again this is before stalking laws became a national occurrence. My daughter was born, and I was afraid to touch her. I told my father that, if I did not have any feeling for her within 3 months, that the right thing to do would be to put her up for adoption. I left the hospital by the back door because the sperm donor was at the entrance. And so began my life as a single mom.
Over the next few days and weeks I fell in love with my daughter. I grew up right alongside her, lived for her smile and was able to cobble together an existence...even somewhat peaceful for us. When she turned two, things were looking up. She and I, me and her. A team. She was the only one I could touch and be touched by. She, alone, the only one who made me feel like a person. My father was worried, he missed hugs and talks and told me he thought I should see someone. And so I did...sort of.

I remember the night like it was just last Friday. It was the Friday after my 22nd birthday, June 13th (the reason why I've always considered Friday the 13th to be lucky) when I got a phone call. It was from an old friend that I hadn't seen since I was dating Leonard. They were having a party at his girlfriend's (also one of my dearest friends) and wanted me to come. I said thanks, but no thanks and hung up. My father was irritated with me, telling me that I never went out, never had fun, he would baby sit and the time was now for me to get on with my life. That I couldn't be Super Mom forever. So, I called back, and I drove over.

Knocking on the door, butterflies in my stomach...almost turning back to run to the car. And then I hear footsteps or, more correctly, bootsteps. "Is that Leonard? That has to be Leonard...", I thought to myself. The butterflies became giant Luna moths because so many times over the past few years I had thought of him (like every day) and wondered where he had gone. The door opened and it was him. Looking exactly like I remembered him. And me. My heart and my stomach did something that they did forever after whenever I laid eyes on him. My heart dropped and my stomach leaped up and they met together and bounced for 3 or 4 beats before calming down. That is the best way I can explain the feeling I got whenever I saw him for 15 years. I never was without him (with the exception of a trip he took to Arizona) for a weekend after that...for four years, until the day we married.
That night, he sat and looked at pictures of Nicole. We sat on the porch and talked about our lives a little. He asked if he could see me the next night, and I froze...but I said yes. He picked me up (and I didn't even complain this time about him being early, which is what I used to do so many times on our first go round) and took me out to dinner at a place called the Olde Town Tavern. And it was wonderful. We sat there for 5 hours (I'm sure the waitress loved us) and I spilled out everything. I don't know why and I said so that night to him. Something about him just made me want to put it all out there. I told him that I was lonely, scared, and insecure. That I didn't think I could handle a physical (kissing, hugging, touching etc) relationship but that I yearned for companionship...someone to talk to. He did an amazing thing then. He said he understood and that it would be a welcome change for him...this not rushing. This just being there. And he kept that promise to me for 6 months.
We had wonderful times. Going to movies, pubs and restaurants. Walking in the parks as fall fell. Enjoying the leaves. Walking with him was always so peaceful. He knew so much about nature. When you talked to him, you had his full attention, his devastating beautiful eyes fixed on you, his dimple popping up and then fading with the quirky grin that he had. When he talked his beautiful mouth and quiet voice molded the words so precise...he always worried about saying something wrong. He never realized his own intelligence. And... I found myself falling in love. I found myself wanting him to hug me, to hold me, to kiss me. But he was keeping a promise he made to me.
My best girlfriend was getting married in December and had asked me to stand up for her. I asked Leonard if he would be my date and he agreed. I didn't see him until at the reception as I had driven with another girl and he was going to meet me there and take me home. In a suit, my husband was about as drop dead handsome as you can get. I had never seen a man as handsome, as sexy and as boyishly good looking all in one person. We had a great time. We danced to Love Me Tender and he sang in my ear. I was letting him hold me! And it didn't hurt. and I didn't flinch. He saw my parents again for the first time in 3 years...and they were so happy to see him. I treasure the memories of that evening. It was that rush of first love, mixed in with feeling like you've known someone for ever.
He took me home that evening and we stood on the porch. I let him kiss me, and then he hugged me and held me for the longest time. And I held him back. And kissed him back. And then he said in the shakiest of voices,"God, I love you so much..." (it hurts so bad to type that today...when I know I'll never hear it again) and then he pulled back and said, "I'm sorry...did I say that out loud?" and I said, "It's okay because I love you too..." and that night, our love was born out of security and safety and his helping me to assemble a feeling of worthiness about myself.
This is the stuff that my mother in law will never understand about us. I needed him and he needed me. He knew me better than I knew myself...I knew him better than he knew himself. The Friday night before he died he told me that he was sorry for not always putting me first. That I was the only person that had ever completely trusted him, believed in him and loved him without thought. And I told him that we would have to die on the same day because I couldn't bear the thought of living without him.
And then I lost him on August 26th, and I lost my safety, my security, and my self esteem...and the years have turned back to the girl I was at 22...only I know there will never be him behind that door to save me.
I wish you all could have known him. I sometimes think that maybe I worried so much about him dying when he was alive because it always seemed to me that he was just too good for this world, that he was too good for me.
My stomach and heart haven't flippity-ed in over a month...and it's killing me.
I must remember to look really, really hard at my children when they come home from school today.


Laurie said...

Hi Laura,

Your post really spoke to my heart today in a deep way and I am praying for you and your children today big-time. You are such a special lady because of who you are and the love you and Leonard shared. I will be emailing you this afternoon with a few things on my heart for you. And praying your children have a day of just being who they are, no more.

Blessings to you today girl,
Laurie in Ca.

rachd said...

My heart is super achy for you today. I'm crying as I type this--your pain is so very palpable

If I've learned one thing over these past two months it's that there is no comparing grief. Who is grieving more should never be a competition and I'm sorry your m-i-l seems to be making it such. So sorry.

I'm praying you will be with your children this afternoon and enjoy them. Think of how wonderful and delightful they are and know they need you.

Big fat HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My heart is breaking with you.

Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

Sending you love.

Sharon said...

Thank you for sharing that amazing story. It sounds like a fairytale.

I'm hoping that one day you will be able to push past some of the pain and just feel the love that surrounded you.

Some people go their entire lives and never have the opportunity to experience such a deep connection. For that, you are very lucky.

I am so profoundly sorry for your loss.

Shari said...

I was so moved and got emotional reading your post. Your heartfelt words are contagious. How many people share a love like that? It's rare. I always believe that writing is therapeutic, healing. Maybe you could write a book. :)

Along with you, I will, too, look hard at my kids when they come home. It's too easy to take things for granted. Everyday things just get in the way and make you put off the things that are really important.

Thank you for sharing.

raptor_rider from DU said...

Laura, your words just break my heart. There is so much love you are pouring out in your words. I have been following this since your Leonard passed. You have my up most prayers and wishes for you and your family.

Marsha said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It is lovely that you had such a profound love for one another, but I imagine that makes the loss that much more profound. I wish there was something I could do, I can't bring him back. I will keep stopping by and sending good thoughts.

Sharpie said...

I am so very sorry that you have lost the love of your life. I feel every word you say as a little zap that I need to always focus and remember your words when I am quick to be upset with my lovely husband. Thank you for reminding me of what I have right

Much Love.

Gina said...

I am so sorry that your main support system was taken away from you. That must be harder than we can imagine.


Kathy said...

I am so sorry.

Michele said...

You are so raw and unabashed in your recounting of all of this. It is painfully beautiful how you love him. I cant imagine the pain, but I can see how you are surviving, even though it probably doesnt feel like it.
Big hugs.

C said...

I came here from Sundry's website. I am so very sorry for your loss. This entry made me cry, the love the 2 of you shared was...well, there's no words to describe it really. I just came out of an abusive relationship (well, it's been 1.5 years but it still feels like "just") and I feel exactly how you described yourself at 22. I've been wondering lately if I'm ever going to "want" to be hugged, kissed, etc.., ever again, and this entry has given me hope that it is possible, that there just might be someone amazing out there that will bring me out of the darkness someday. Also, I just wanted to say with regards to your post on Sundry's website, I honestly think that there ARE certain people who "stick around" after they pass on because of unfinished business, etc.., but there are some that God wants immediately in His presence. Your husband was one of those people, God just could not wait to have him there with Him.