There are events in your life that change you. There are moments that you can look back on and say "Yup, that was a doozie. That shit rocked my world, and I was never the same." This is one of those moments.
The Phone Call
We sat and watched TV like we had done a thousand other times. I couldn't tell you where my younger siblings were, and I certainly couldn't tell you what we were watching. I do remember it being early evening and I remember it being after dinner. Those things stick out in my head. The phone rang.
An innocent sound, one we had heard many many times before. Mom was in the kitchen, doing God knows what, and Dad was who knows where... those pieces of my memory are fuzzy or non-existent.
The phone rang a second time and a third time, with each ring sounding angrier and angrier. Finally it stopped. I didn't realize Dad answered the phone in the room; Dad didn't realize Mom picked up the phone in the kitchen.
Those words would forever change my existence. They would forever change the make-up of my family and that of my siblings. We didn't know there was another woman, and we probably wouldn't have if Mom had said "Hello" first. The other woman would have hung up. Perhaps if Dad had said "Hello" first, Mom might have hung up realizing the phone call was taken care. She might have gone about whatever it was she was doing in the kitchen. But they didn't. The other woman said "Hello" first and the cataclysmic chain of events was set in motion.
You can imagine where it went from here. There was the arguing about the nature of the hello. There was the fight that ensued about the way the remainder of the conversation evolved. I don't need to write those details because they aren't mine to recall. Do I remember? Somewhat, but truth is that I don't know if I remember because they are my memories or just snip-its of conversations I overheard. So I will leave that part out. There was the fallout of the "Hello", and that was real and those memories are mine.
All I know is what I did. The decisions I made as a result of this "Hello". The ways in which my life was forever altered. The ways in which this situation shaped my life, too many to count and list, but here are the highlights.
I survived it, divorce #2.
I survived the move back to a mother who was estranged and our relationship dysfunctional.
I survived the unsupervised and WILD years which followed.
I survived the back-biting and manipulation which took place in the wake of the divorce.
I survived the overwhelming typhoon of emotions that threatened my sanity and pushed me to the edge.
I survived my own divorce, and the inability to understand what I was searching for in life.
I survived depression and feelings of inadequacy, betrayal and abandonment, but most of all trust.
I survived years of failed relationships and the near failure of my second marriage.
But what I did best was to thrive in this chaos. I learned to make the best out of things you have no control over; to make the most of shitty situations.
I am not blaming anyone and it's not why I share this story. I really don't know why I even thought of this all these years later, and I mean 20 years later. It's not a 'fresh wound' by any stretch. But I think having Mom2 and Dad here, and just being together just made me think of how far I have come from all the chaos that was my childhood.
I got to thinking how different my life would have been. Better? Worse? Who knows? Certainly a different path than the one I took.
I probably wouldn't have married as young as I did, and I wouldn't have had my Princess. Not so good...
I would not have had the experiences I had as a result of running wild for many years. They weren't all good experiences, but damn if they didn't make me a better person and a better parent.
I wouldn't have made all the life-long friends I have.
I wouldn't have met my husband, my love.
I wouldn't have had my Bear.
I wouldn't have traveled as extensively, and made some many friends all over the world.
I wouldn't have been the person I am today.
That's not to say I wouldn't have turned out ok... who knows. But I like myself most days, and I am grateful for all the wonderful and terrible experiences that have taken place in the last 20 years.
All the pieces of me are like a jigsaw puzzle; some are smooth edged pieces, while others are jagged and contorted, and hard to fit together. Regardless of their look, whether smooth or oddly shaped, they come together to create one vision, one image: me.
We all haven't finished putting the pieces together. Some of us are still working on figuring out how bring it all together. We will. We have to if we want to move forward with life, living it to the fullest.
Despite a "Hello" that rattled my cage.... I'm ok.
I'm more than ok. I am stable, happy, and loving my life.
That's all we can ask for.