The letter about the rent increase for my storage unit prompted me to do something that so many had told me to do before, clean it out. My father had said, as well as many others that if it had been there for all those years, I didn’t need it. I made excuses and kept paying the monthly charge; after all there was furniture there and things, my things, things from my step daughters, ex-husband and my mother. The last time I’d been there before now was two years ago. With me longing to leave Chicago and move to LA it was time to get rid of the excess baggage. Everyone said it wouldn’t be that bad, after all how much stuff could there be? I knew how much stuff there was. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. The first trip I attempted, I cancelled as the weather wouldn’t cooperate. We had tornado warnings the night before and flooding. Now, looking back obviously the universe was conspiring for me to bring someone on this journey. I had a friend, who was like a spiritual mother, who kept pushing for me to take her. I kept refusing saying, I’d be fine and others would voice their concern. I being the stubborn one kept repeating my mantra that I’d be fine; once again divine intervention had its way. My back flared up, which is when I finally conceded that I should have someone with me. On that first trip, my spiritual mom and I drove five hours south to a small town in southern Indiana. A town that shall remain nameless but none the less held the Tomb to my past. My friend and I talked a lot and we talked about my parents and the way a lot of the things I do I learned from them. I wouldn’t realize until my second trip there how correct that statement was. I drove and talked as my dear friend analyzed, my this is your life saga. I was honest about the way I’d lived my life. She asked if I could rid myself of things what it would be. I said, “I didn’t want to be angry any more. I didn’t want to be angry at my mom or my dad. I didn’t want to scream at my ex. I just wanted to find peace and know who I truly was. I wanted to let the light that I had buried inside of me out and rid myself of all of the sadness I felt.”
After we arrived at the unit I made an excuse about getting lunch before we started. I then took my friend to the place where my mother died and where I used to live when I was married. Looking back, I guess it was anything to avoid facing the Tomb of memories. I know inside held things but those things held memories, some visual, some written, some with happiness but most held great pain. Opening this door was like pulling off the scab of a wound which had never healed. It was a wound I’d left fester for almost ten years. When I made the choice to change my life, my then husband and I had placed everything in this tomb. Except, like with most things he didn’t follow through and I was left with the responsibility.
I was ready for this moment I told myself. It would be no problem. I knew what I had to do, like finding the few things I wanted and get rid of everything else. My friend, the angel that she is, watched me with motherly concern as I pulled box upon box out. She would send me to Goodwill when she knew it was getting to be too much for me. However, I don’t know if either she or I were prepared when I found a note that I long thought I had gotten rid of. The note in question was written in my mother’s hand and detailed how she wanted things to be handled after her death. I know that may not seem like too big of a deal, but this letter was written before her final attempt of taking her own precious life. I picked up the note and read it with venom and anger. When I got to the point where she’d written that she loved us and always would, I felt sadness and betrayal. How could she say she loved us when she left us? She is the one that took my step-father’s gun and put it to her temple and pulled the trigger in no way was this an act of love. It would be one thing, if she would’ve died of a long term illness or some kind of tragic accident but what she did was check out on her daughter and her mother and do something completely selfish. I sobbed and my friend knew I needed to release this without any one helping me or holding me. She knew that if I needed her, I’d go to her. I finished the letter then ripped it to shreds and threw it away and cursed my mother. I cursed her for all the pain she caused me and my grandmother. My friend told me to break something and I couldn’t until, I found a ceramic B and I shattered it. I worked on auto pilot for the rest of the day, but I knew I had released something which had been buried long ago but there was still more to come.
A week would pass and I’d have to make another trip back to the Tomb this time with a different friend. We were going to get rid of that all-important furniture; I’d been hanging on to. This time there was no dilly dallying around. We drove the five hours got the U-haul and went to the Tomb. Loading up the furniture, searching boxes all was going well until I found the truth of what my friend had said the week before. I had learned my behavior from my mother. I opened up a box; my friend was outside the unit so she had no idea what I was doing. In this box I found some cards my mother kept, which is kind of nice that my mom thought of me enough to keep them. What I found in those cards however, was a gift of insight about the little girl, who was inside of me and had all the anger and hurt, the one that had buried everything so deep she didn’t know it wasn’t hers.
There were birthday cards the little girl signed Love Dawn, but then there were cards which showed the real sadness and hurt she already had at an early age. She had it before she married, she had it before high school and now at the age of thirty five, I was realizing it wasn’t mine at all. I read the mother’s day card that was signed ‘Thanks for putting up with me.’ Then there was the Birthday card I gave her on her thirty fifth, birthday that was signed; “I’m sorry I’m not everything that you want in a daughter, but I’m surely trying hard. Happy thirty fifth, and may you live a lot more.” My mother died at the age of forty one and I guess I already knew this was coming then. I looked at that card and balled my eyes out. How, when I was sixteen years old was I not good enough for her, I wasn’t drinking, doing drugs or screwing around. How was I not good enough? What because I wasn’t her ideal of what a perfect daughter should be? Because I wasn’t dating the jock, or wasn’t queen of my prom even then I’m not sure that would have made her happy.
My good friend comforted me and then we finished what needed to be done. I packed those cards away with me. Why keep them you may wonder, because it reminds me that whatever made me write those words was not really me. I wrote those words for someone who made me feel like that. I learned and owned her problems, and when I look at that card, I remember it wasn’t my fault and I’m still a good person.
The drive home that night was a one of reflection and I truly felt some part of me had healed. It felt as if the little girl had found the grown woman as Annie Lennox sang the words; “Take the power to set you free, kick down the door and throw away the key.” My heart had a feeling of indescribable love and peace it was if the wall that separated the little girl and woman had been shattered and they had become one. The over whelming power and healing I felt in my heart was impossible to describe as I was having feelings that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
The next morning, I spoke with my dad; he was one of the few people who had been around when she was raising me. He said one of the reasons their marriage didn’t last was because she manipulated people and he said she used to do it to me all of the time. I said to him maybe this explained why it was so important to know if he was proud of me, when I had been home for Christmas. The next words that he offered, I never expected; “You have gone a long way and now maybe it is time you started believing in yourself. You have come so far and you will go even further when you move.” I could sit here and still be mad at all of the things which had happened in the past. The truth is I know what I’ve learned and in many ways these things have made me who I am. The path of healing will not be easy, but I know I have to go forward and heal my heart, soul and mind and rediscover who I truly I am. Once I learn to embrace the peace in my heart, I can truly live my life as me and not trapped in my mother’s fears.
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