This week I showed up to have a session about my abandonment issues with my therapist but she'd just received a call from her child’s school and had to cancel as soon as I got there. What do we do when our abandonment therapist abandons us? Really though, the truth is, I didn’t feel abandoned by her. And that's because she's not a man.
When I was little I felt like I always had to share my dad, that he was never mine alone. Even though I was an only child, special, adored, beloved, there were always new women in his life, women I was afraid would somehow replace me. My mother once said that when I grew up I'd have to tear my world apart before I could stitch it back together. She was right.
I have long since passed the point where I see my parents as demigods or angels, demons or monsters or saints. In fact, they did an amazing job raising me with what they had to work with, what their parents had handed down to them. For Mother's Day last weekend, my mother and stepfather, my father and stepmother, my husband and son and stepbrothers convened out in the country for a picnic. I forget now not to take it for granted how beautifully they all get along, true friends and companions 40 years post divorce., caring and cooking for each other like hearts were never broken, worlds never ripped apart. Their reunion might do more for my soul than I will ever know.
And still, the issues I was born into and raised with pulse through my DNA, are as much a part of me as my wild hair, the mole on my left cheek, my size 10 feet. Over the last couple of years I have become close friends with a man and now that he knows so much about me I’m absolutely convinced he’s going to vanish any moment, taking part of me with him. The other day I told a girlfriend about the twinge of grief I feel each time one of our cats goes through the cat door. Girl, you got it bad, she said. And I do.
When my husband and I had been married for three weeks I was convinced he left me at La Diff. We’d been there shopping with a $50 gift certificate we'd received as a wedding gift and when we got separated, combing all three floors in search of a piece of furniture that cost less than one billion dollars, I was certain he'd left me at last. After searching for him everywhere I finally went to the basement garage to look for his car and was shocked to find it was still there. My husband laughs about that to this day, 17 years later. Before we left we bought a folding chair from the discount room in the back because that’s all we could afford, but you know what? We still have that, too.
When I was 23, I dated a man who was 35, a man I dream about sometimes still. He asked me on a date a week after he filed for divorce. In fact, that may have even been his pick up line. He had two small children-- golden headed little cherubs that I dreamed were strapped into the back of the car along with his ex-wife the first time he came to pick me up. One night we were at his house watching the fun Holocaust movie Life is Beautiful when he told me the only thing about his divorce he truly regretted was leaving his children. I told him, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as they know they are loved.
A counselor once said to me I held myself as if I knew I were a gift to the world. And therein lies the greatest divide, the fault line of my interior country. Yes and no. I do and I don't. I am and I'm not. I’ve often wished I could tell that man I dated that I was wrong, that just being loved is not enough, but that’s no longer the kind of conversation he and I can have.