Fall from Grace

Lament for Icarus

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In between the November sunshine, I’ve been practicing, against my will at times, and at others, willingly,  Sitting in Discomfort.

What keeps surfacing is my conviction that I don’t deserve this. The first thirty years of my life were wretched; there is no other way to describe them. My poor mother was mentally ill, and I lived alone with her. For some of you, no further explanation is needed to clarify how dysfunctional these situations can be and how traumatic for young children who grow up in them. I can add that in addition to her illness, she drank and had a temper. Now perhaps all my readers have a clear picture of the type of traumatic chaos in which I lived the first eighteen years of my life.

Next, an early marriage to this man I keep writing about, and becoming a mother ten days past my twenty first birthday. I left this man and fled to Vermont. Another man found me, worse than the first one, and we moved to Oregon and had two sons. Most of my twenties were spent with this man, who, alas, was another alcoholic. He was controlling, and like my mother, had a temper.

I moved back to Vermont in 1998 without the boys’ father, determined to build myself a wholesome and prosperous life. At this I have been successful. I have been a star. Working my way up through student loans, finishing one degree and then another, taking excellent care of my children, being supermom.

I’ve got a great job, bought a nice big house at a budget price before the property values skyrocketed in town a few years ago. I’ve got great friends. I cannot complain about my life. It felt like I was going up and up, and the reunion with my first husband was the frosting on the cake.

He and I had so much fun together in the past two and a half years. Like kids, roaming the streets of his hometown, hand in hand, rediscovering each other. We had it all.

Falling  from this state of grace is hard. One day, mid October, we were standing in a wooded seaside park where we’ve spent countless hours in our lives, both alone and together. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother carrying a plate of onion rings from the concession stand carefully down the stairs to the beach, while I played near the town’s iconic dragon painted on the rock.  This park is for both of us, a dwelling of our child and adult spirits. Five weeks ago, in the October sunshine, I said to him, “If we ever get married again, dear, let’s have the ceremony here.”

“That would be lovely,” he responded, squeezing my hand, the sun glinting on the water, and he photographed a black bare tree against the sparkling glinty sea.

From this height to the low of last Monday, in Planned Parenthood for an HIV test. “Why are you coming in for a test today?” They asked “Because I found out my lover’s been sleeping with someone else for eighteen months.”

From the sunshine in the park to the HIV test in the clinic, a space of four weeks. A very long and hard fall, my face landing smack onto concrete.

I keep repeating to myself, “I don’t deserve this. The hard times of my life were over. This was my happy ever ending. I believed in this. It can’t be taken away from me like this. He (or who I thought he was) cannot be ripped from my heart. I do not accept this. There must be some kind of mistake. Recheck the records. You see, there, I’m the girl who survived her mother, I’m the girl who survived Oregon, I’ve already had my fair share of trauma and misery. This must have been for someone else. I’m not accepting it, I’m sending it back.”



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