Bittersweet

November 20, 2019

This picture was taken with my older son, Liam and I in Glenwood Springs on a  visit earlier this year in January. At the time, he was living with his girlfriend, Annie in an apartment below a beautiful mountain house. A glimpse of Mount Sopris is in the background.

That evening, shortly after our arrival to their apartment, Annie held a book out for me called, Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Clarrisa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian analyst, and doctor in ethno-clinical psychology.

She then handed the paperback book to me proudly, as though it was a newly found treasure. Annie recommended that I pick any page in the book to read aloud. Some people open to a page in the Bible and believe that the words are perfect just for them. I suppose that was the same idea with her suggestion.

I shut my eyes and felt the pages fan through my fingers for a little bit and opened to one somewhere in the middle. I glanced back up at Liam and Annie. Their wide eyes were fixed upon me like two school children waiting for me to read to them.

There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life – and that is, whether to be bitter or not. Women often come to this in their late thirties or early forties. They are at the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they’ve “had it” and “the last straw has broken the camel’s back” and they’re “pissed off and pooped out.”

I stopped reading and looked up at my son. “Wow,” I said. “This is intense.” I took a big breath in and my son told me to just finish reading. So, I looked back down at the page and carried on where I had last left off.

“Their dreams of their twenties may be lying in a crumple. There may be broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises.” 

There was a long silence. “Maybe there’s truth for all of us in those words,” I said.

“But, I’m not a woman,” my son told me dead pan.

“You know what I mean,” I said smiling.

“I think I chose not to remain bitter.”

“Me too,” He told me.

***********

That night, I lay awake in bed. The branches of a big tree poked at the window, scratching it, making an eerie sound. Snow flakes began to blanket the window.

I could not help thinking about the time when my husband and I had separated. A court ordered restraining order kept me physically away from their father, while we formally moved into seperation, but he could still get to me emotionally through our children since he had them half the time.

It was’t long before I realized our kids weren’t any happier once the came back to me. In fact, they were incensed with anger to the umph degree. They were newly teens by then, bigger, still scrawny, but lashed out powerful verbal whippings to me particularly after a dad visit.

” You just want dad’s money”

“You made it all up.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“You’re just a liar.”

“I hate you.”

All of this felt like a weird dream, or withot sounding too melodramatic, my living nightmare. He was filling my sons minds with lies.

Surely this all happened to someone else. Not me. I was a stay-at-home mom. My life, or at least part of it was researching special schools, diets, the best combination of nutrients to produce the most viable outcome which was for my children to have better behavior at home and have more concentration at school. When I found out my younger son had developmental issues, I was the one who took him to those appointments for sensory integration at a Denver center, researched and tried every alternative therapy you could imagine, vision therapy, Brain Gym, etc.  I left the sports, scouts and planning of wilderness trips up to their father.

Children tend to act out more with the parent they feel safest with and align with the parent who needs more support. I forgot where I read this, but it certainly was true in my case. Even so, it hurt just the same.

When a relationship breaks up, and kids are involved, the natural mother or father instinct should be to keep the shitty details to themselves. My ex-husband told my children way too much information about that night that led to our break up. It was really damaging for them. They were put in a really bad position between their parents whom they loved because of parental manipulation.

If my kids believed me, then that means that their father was the orchestrator of some pretty horrific events for their mum to experience. And, if they were to believe me, the one whom brought them into the world and took care of them as both mum and dad all those years he was working, then, herein lies the dilemma.

All these years later, I realize that everyone got damaged that night. And, felt bitter at times through the years after. It wasn’t just me. But in the end, bitterness is not something I want carry with me. That would not be a good example for my kids. It’s hard to be at peace and wind your way back to feeling somewhat normal. But, it is even harder for me remain sour when my spirit is guiding me to a creative outlet that feels lighter and fulfilling.