Getting close to the end of my fifty-second year, I finally can be honest with the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. After a half century of wondering why I cannot walk or talk without feeling the crunch of eggshells, I have to admit that my own inner needs feel as though they are going to spill out like hot water left in a tea kettle that is singing when done. I did not realize that the cravings within my soul are natural and not succumbing to them is what causes my despair. They are not like those of a mad person like the killer in, for instance, Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the “Telltale Heart” who is compelled to purposely and consciously make a plan to murder an innocent, old man whose blurry eye bothers him to desperation! My cravings are much more simple than that. In fact, it is the unfinished destiny within my own life that causes intense anxiety within me. The key is to recognize it, risk it, and mostly trust it. Nothing stays the same. Change doesn’t have to be sad. Life is about learning and the consequences that come with our choices. This needs to be my new attitude or I’ll explode at pretending to be whom I am just to keep from possibly hurting or causing pain to others.
Where are all these thoughts and sensations coming from? It’s pretty simple. I just witnessed, with tears of pride streaming down my cheeks, my youngest child graduate from high school. His plan of becoming a fireman is underway and his new idea of dinner is Taco Bell with a bunch of friends and hanging out at the local 7-11. I just participated in a “bar crawl” where I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to have a celebratory drink with my eldest daughter, suddenly a college graduate ready to be among the wildflowers. I cried the entire graduation. The story of our lives continues. She has already secured a position with a fabulous organization; the problem is it’s three thousand miles away from me. My baby is truly flying from home. My middle daughter is suddenly a young businesswoman interning in the city, among grown-ups with a firm and distinct mind of her own. I am living in the moment where my position in life is changing. My heart is heavy, unsure of my place in the shifting lives of my now adult children.
As I recall my own beginnings and first breath of life, I have had to sleep with “one eye open” as the world around me was not welcoming. It was as if my “Scarlet Letter” was an “F” for FEAR. Each step and event seemed like a test of survival. It’s as though I seemed to stand on broken branches about to fall; I had to balance myself to stay alive. Moreover, as I look back on my life, I wonder if my destiny was to experience this horrific anxiety and lost childhood to prove I am worthy of what is yet to come. Is this why I had to suffer? As I now believe in a G/d that somehow puts us here, I have to believe that I do have a purpose, and the plan for me is not over as I feel the vicissitudes within my changing place in life. I am faced with the greatest challenge of learning to let go of my babies and allow them fly.
The future can be controlled only to a point, as who I am inside will dictate how I face the challenges. This is a guarantee.
As my mother and father as well as the others who entered my life with or without my consent, I have made little progress until now in realizing how the connections were not in sync with who G/d created. It is I who instinctively knew it, but was not ready to face, or better yet, fight it. Somehow, at the turn of my fifty years, and the changing lives of my children, voices began to speak to me more softly within my mind. In fact, I had visions of my own mother, who was begging me to change from the model she set of secrets and lies and the burdens that destroy the soul.
At first, I thought it was my imagination; however, almost like a robot, I began to make phone calls, read about activities, attend lectures, and even seek religion as I stood frozen with desperation for answers. And now I’m standing here, just staring at the image in the mirror. I recognize I am no longer needed to care for my babies as before or use them as a buffer to what may be really unfulfilling in my life. I continue to stare deeply into my own eyes, just wondering what is next in life for me.