As I sit down to start writing, it’s Mother’s Day 2016 at around 9 am. My youngest is still sleeping, the house is quiet except for the water flowing from the turtle aquarium and fish aquarium. My little buddies, Spooky and Mia are wandering around just doing what cats do, and here I sit with my thoughts. I have no idea what direction this post will take me but let’s see what happens.
As is often the case on holidays, it’s very hard to realize what your life is like as a single dad. I don’t really know if Mother’s Day is considered a holiday or not, but it feels like it to me. I totally dread holidays in general. They remind me of how happy so many people are, how countless families get together all across the country to celebrate and enjoy the company of one another. When I see happy couples, families, or moms out with their kids, it makes me a little sad inside.
Is it jealousy? Sure, some of it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there are men and women who have a happy life, have found their significant other, and are living their dreams as best they can. That’s the honest truth! What stinks is, I had that twice, or so I thought, and it’s gone. It makes me question everything about myself. Where did I go wrong, what did I do to deserve being a single guy in my 40’s? This is supposed to be the prime of your life now, why not me too?
I hope this isn’t coming across as a pity party for myself, that’s not my intention.
This is the time where you’re done with school, you’ve gotten married, you have kids, you have a good job and a spouse that loves you. Maybe you have the house with a white picket fence, the 2 kids, dog, and cat. Maybe you have a place on the beach, where you can smell the ocean breeze every morning, a cabin in the woods, or a big old farm house in the country side. Whatever it is, you are enjoying this part of your life now and looking forward to what’s next because you have a family by your side that supports you no matter what.
Yes, I know, not everything is as it seems. I get it.
For so many of us, days like today are a stark reminder of what’s gone wrong in our lives and how far off the plan we’ve gone and now find ourselves. Remember that year book picture from high school or college, where you wrote down what you wanted to do and where you wanted to be in life? Yeah, that whole thing has taken a complete 180 degree turn, went around in circles, then backwards, sideways, and only occasionally does it seem like you’re moving in a positive direction.
Not everything works out exactly as we planned it, and finding ourselves in less than ideal situations tests our will and desire to keep moving forward. It tests our ability to not get caught up in self-pity, to not see the good things in our lives, and to not focus on how far we’ve come. My God, it’s so much easier to see how bad everything is. It’s comforting because it’s familiar. I’m a pro at that, trust me!
Do I have things to be thankful for? Sure! I have 3 amazing kids that I love more than anything. I have a job, I can pay my bills, I have 2 cats that are my little buddies, and I have a handful of friends that appreciate me for me. I’m so proud of my dad for his service in the US Navy on submarines and surface ships. I’m thankful for a few family members that I feel somewhat close too and can confide in a bit.
I’m also so thankful for the amazing survivor community who has reached out and embraced me as one of their own, no questions asked.
While I do have some good things in my life, yes, I also have so many bad memories that can so easily take over. The sexual abuse at the hands of the teenager up the street, when I was a kid. The two divorces, the lack of ability to get close to people, the total lack of self-esteem and confidence in myself, problems with my mother, and just an overall feeling of being the black sheep in my family. Whether or not that last one is self-imposed makes no difference, it’s how I feel.
The anxiety is real, the depression can take over and you can find yourself falling quickly.
It’s a daily struggle to fight off the past demons, and on “special” days like today, it seems like a losing battle more often than not. So that’s why I write, to cope with my thoughts, to get them out, to validate myself and others, and to gain perspective on life.
This is how my mind works, it rambles and goes from one thought to another endlessly.
On days like today where we are supposed to celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends, just remember there are those that are hurting. Many, many people have bad memories of their mother (or father) due to abuse, neglect or some other type of betrayal, or they just never had a mother to grow up with. This day is especially hard for them too, because they can’t or have no desire to celebrate. I am one of “them”.
For what it’s worth, I was initially thinking this post would focus more on my problems with my own mother, but as it turns out, my mind went in a bit of a different direction. Imagine that.