“We must let go of the life we had planned to live the life that we have,” says a common inspirational quote. I kept repeating this to myself over and over as the life I planned slipped further and further into the distance and the life I had came into focus.
The life I’d planned was documented as part of a high school English assignment, we made booklets about ourselves, what our lives were like and where we hoped to be when we ‘grew up’. I still have mine…full of cats and ‘cool cats’ on jazz posters from a cigarette campaign at the time and a certain page about how I saw myself as an ‘adult.’
In hindsight – I was like the character on Rise this season putting all of my energy into making something a reality that was a lie: being heterosexual. I wrote at the time that I saw myself in a career in advertising with a “wife, kids and a dog” and house in the suburbs, and I think I went as far as to draw a picket fence for the illustration. Denial was my constant companion thru those days.
I didn’t know any better.
My Mom had even written a page for the booklet – still have that, too – and in it she describes a person I didn’t know. Some of it made sense, but I guess she was looking at me from her perspective, which I’ll probably never fully understand. She wrote about all the things she liked about me, and what my good qualities were. For the longest time I thought she was just making things up to sound good because the truth was too horrible to face: gay was bad.
Cut to a montage my life passing by: graduating with my art degree and going off to work in corporate America climbing the corporate ladder. Splattering against the lavender ceiling and reassembling myself in San Francisco, ready to do battle again. Seroconverting to being HIV positive and free falling into suicidal depression and daily crystal meth addiction. Having officers show up at my door…then realizing I was going to live because the HIV meds I was taking were finally working and I could go out in public…fighting for my freedom in front of a judge and prosecutor for years and years and eventually ending up in drug treatment and turning my life around.
AND, somewhere along in there my champion died: my Dad loved me unconditionally and was always on my side.
There were a lot of times that throwing myself in front of a muni train or over the railing of the bridge seemed like a the way to deal with it all.
So, here I am at 50. Single with a cat. Alive. Sober. Mom died some years ago, angry, very angry, god bless her. There are days when I still have this feeling that she’s out there in the spirit world still angry at me. Angry at me for how my life turned out and all the decisions I made that ended me up almost dead and in prison. Angry at me for the time I was so deep in my addiction that I didn’t send her a birthday card. Angry that I didn’t start taking the HIV meds earlier.
Angry that I couldn’t just be the person she wanted me to be.
So much anger that we hadn’t spoken in years until right before her death when she was in the hospital. “I love you, Mom.” Was about all I could get out of my mouth before she would cut me off on the phone with “I have to go.” In a voice that was so familiar to me by then: I hate everything, including you. Not even a good bye.
Most days I’m able to forgive her and have great compassion for her as person. Then there are the days when I am struck by the ‘angry spirit Mom’ – it gets confusing. Someone said that she must have loved me a great deal to be so angry with me. That’s a hard belief to wrap my head around. It logically makes sense, but undoing that in my heart hasn’t happened yet.
04242018 Blogger’s Update: Someone shared at a discussion group recently how when the parent they had a troubled relationship died that they were able to feel relief. I had never looked at it this way, nor allowed myself to be relieved. I had allowed my Mom to be free of her physical pain, but not to be free of her anger and resentment in the after-life, which was always the case. I don’t have to spend my days trying to make my angry Mom happy anymore. That is a relief. #RIP
I started writing this post intending to finally state how frustrated I can get about my “planned life” –- the one where Mom and Dad’s promises of an inheritance and final wishes were respected and I was treated like a person. That I had planned on that support to settle down, buy a home…the camera equipment that I could never afford on my own and have a nice little life. That was my “planned” life.
But, as I try to wrap this ramble up, I realize that the life I have is way better than that one would have ever been. I stood up. I looked at my own anger and saw it for what it was and am able to make different decisions in my life. I’m able to stop the cycle of “hurt people hurting people.”
But I still want my house and my camera. There. I said it.
The last phone conversation with my Dad went like this:
Dad: Are you going to be okay until we figure something out?
Me: Yeah, I’ll be okay.