Today I had a conversation with my mother that I'm writing down so I don't forget it.
It's Mardi Gras Day. After yoga at noon, my mom and I went to World Market and bought some lamps. Then we picked up salads and went home to eat them. It's a dark and drizzly day, and neither of us could get warm as we sat around the kitchen table and cleared away the beads they collected this weekend to make way for our food.
She asked me carefully how I'm doing, noting that this week marks a tough anniversary. I said I was fine and chewed on my lettuce. She said it was this week last year when one day life was one way and then the next day it was not. When one day S. was there and then the next day he was gone. I nodded and speared a cucumber. She kept probing gently until she asked if she could say some things, and I said sure.
She said that she never wants me to doubt my own judgment, and that when S. and I were together, he was everything that I wanted in a mate and a life partner. He was human and therefore not perfect by any means, but he was kind and smart and gentle and funny and wise and thoughtful and that she and my dad could have asked for nothing more for me, and that he treated me like a queen, and that never once did I ever complain about the way he treated me or express any doubts about the way our relationship was going.
She said that it's easy now of course for me to say things like, "Well, he's just crazy and clearly an asshole," but that to say things like that implies that somehow I saw him wrong, or that I was wrong, and that I wasn't. She said, "I know you, I know you better than you think I do, and I know that you could never fall in love with and build a life with someone who wasn't all that we all thought that he was. I saw you with him and how you were every day, and I don't want you to ever think that you were wrong to love him. The S. you loved was a very good boy. He showed that to you and to us every day in all that he was and all he did to make your lives special."
Then her waterworks started while I just sat staring at some beads. She said that seeing me when it first happened was the hardest thing she has ever had to watch, and that she's had some thoughts over the months that she has wanted to share with me. She said that she thinks that when we were together, he was the best that he could be (which is the same theory Shelley voiced to me recently), and that her theory is that the thought of maintaining that top level of his goodness was too much pressure and responsibility for him, and that something inside of him, from his genes or his childhood or his family or his past relationships, made him not be able to live up to the kind of man he knew I expected and deserved him to be. And that's why he left, and that's probably why he ended up marrying the 21-year-old, because he knew with her he didn't have to be his best or live up to the highest of standards he had set for himself while with me, and that it would just be so much easier on him in the end. And that he is weak and emotionally damaged, but that does not mean that I was wrong to love him, or that when he was with me, he was not strong and good. And she does not want me to doubt my judgment as far as future relationships go, because I had every reason to believe in him and in us, and that I was not blind to anything. And she said that the time with him changed me and taught me and made me better, and that I carry with me both big and small parts of myself that were shaped by knowing him and loving him and having a life with him, and those are parts of me that will never go away.
I just sat there silently, but I think the point she was trying to make is that even though what he did in the end was heinous, to write him off as simply a crazy bastard is to be dishonest and to shortchange myself and my judgment, and she does not ever want me to doubt my judgment or second guess myself and how I saw our life and our relationship, because I am one of the most emotionally attuned people she knows, and that I am like Brigitta who notices everything, and I could never love someone who wasn't interesting and kind and challenging and good and who loved me, and that the fact that he left does not mean he was not those things, otherwise I would not have loved him and trusted him so completely and otherwise my parents would have never trusted him so implicitly or given us their wholehearted blessing.
She also said that we weren't "sacramentally or legally" married, but for all intents and purposes, we were "one," and that we were in essence married, and that we created a "soul-tie" (my mom, she kills me sometimes), and that she knows that I'm "not like those girls on Sex and the City" (HA!) and that I "became one with him in body and spirit believing" that I "would be spending a lifetime with him." (It took me a moment to realize that she was talking about having sex.) I just blinked in surprise while she cried and cried and apologized for crying. She said that breaking a soul-tie isn't as simple as not seeing that person anymore or pretending he is dead (as I said I sometimes try to do), and for it to be broken, you have to really ask the universe (or God, as she of course would say) to help you do it. It was kind of weird, admittedly, but sweet.
I think she cried the hardest, while always asking me if it was okay for her to continue, when she said, "It's kind of like that song in Camelot," (showing that I am indeed her daughter) and went on, "It's like, once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, when you and he were truly happy and had something truly beautiful, and you will always remember that, and so will he, even if you can't imagine now that he does."
And when I finally spoke, I said that I can't believe that it's been a year, and that the immediate aftermath was so horrific that I genuinely wondered if I would die, and that obviously time has helped it all to be better. She credited my animals as being a big part of what helped me to get up every day. I said I kind of feel like that was my one shot to be that deeply in love and that happy, and that I might as well just find someone decent now if I don't want to end up all alone, and she basically burst out laughing and said that there is no way I will settle like that and that I would much prefer to live with my dogs and cats and TiVo and books than with someone I don't truly love. She said she does believe such a person is out there and that one day I will look back on this conversation and admit that my mother was right.
I don't know. I guess it's the most in depth conversation we've had about it, and it was certainly the most she has ever said in one sitting about it. Notwithstanding the fact that sometimes she can say some random and goofy shit, my mother is fundamentally a listener and not an adviser because she believes that listening is the kindest support and that hearing ourselves say how we're feeling and what we're thinking is how we find our own wisdom, not through hearing someone else's impressions. And I don't know if I can ever properly thank her for not forcing her opinion or judgment on me and for not trying to make me talk, then or now. She is so careful with her words, and I wish I could be more like her.
It is nice to know that even though I feel sometimes I have disappointed her by not giving her grandbabies or living in sin or not having the wedding or not going to church or believing what she does and how she does, she's still proud of me and believes that I'm a good person. She still believes in me.
© Copyright 2004 elb