The Beauty of a Checkered Past

Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com
Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com

There are times when I have a lot of regrets about the way I have lived my life. The entire decade of my twenties is pretty much a blur, my memories sacrificed to the volcano God of my addiction. There are things I am tired of thinking about, memories I DO have that I wish would fade, others I would give anything to have back. I couldn’t tell you a lot of entertaining stories about things my older daughter did or said as a toddler, for instance- I just don’t recall much. THAT breaks my heart.

When I think back on the way that we lived, that kid and I- lots of times, everything we owned was in my car and we slept on couches and in spare rooms for months at a stretch, with no place to call our own- I shake my head in horror. I could never even imagine raising my little one that way. I can’t imagine having her in that environment for a single day, let alone growing up that way. Even though, as I have said before, I have not been perfect in my abstinence, the change in me from who I was to who I am today has been so dramatic…it would be like comparing an earthquake to the rattle caused by a truck passing by, or a tsunami to a choppy sea on a windy day. Two different things entirely. Do I ever long to go back in time and fix what I did, or wallow in the bone deep sorrow of regret? Of course I do. I am human, I am a mother. That is my penance. I try not to beat myself up, I realize it is over and useless to cry about. But make no mistake, I think I should feel a little bit bad. I think it’s okay to be sorry for dragging an innocent human being through the fucked up wasteland of your own drug addiction. If you don’t agree, well, you either don’t understand, or you are sugar coating it to make yourself feel better. Don’t get stuck in it, by all means, move forward armed with enough knowledge to not do it again…but yes, you can feel a little shitty about it for as long as you need to. It’s okay.

Yet, at the risk of completely contradicting myself, I wouldn’t change it, either. Had I not been who I was, I could not be who I am today, nor where I am. There is a chance I would be somewhere better, SOMEONE better, I know. But were it not for my past, I would not have the two beautiful daughters I have today- the very reason I ever decided to try to get my shit together in the first place. For all I know, I would be far, far worse off. It was the birth of my little girl, nearly sixteen years ago, that ignited the spark of desire to change. That led me to question if perhaps the way I was living was not really so great. Yes, it took me a long, long time to actually take any steps to change things, but the important thing is that I did. It was not perfect, but neither am I, and it ended up being pretty great.

There are other things- because I spent my entire life, into my thirtieth year, relying totally on others, the sweetness of relying only on myself, finally, was beautiful. I will never, ever forget what it felt like, when Aisley was eight years old and I found us, on my own, a two bedroom apartment. It was kind of a dump on the outside. Okay, the inside wasn’t what you might call spectacular, either. But it was clean and roomy, and it was OURS. The best part was that Aisley had her own room, for the very first time in her entire life. For other people, normal people, this would maybe not have been a huge victory. For me, every day in that house was a gift, because I did it all myself.

Even now, looking at Aisley, who will be sixteen in September, and is, therefore, what you might call “slightly insane” and a “little” difficult to live with…I feel nothing but gratitude for her entitled manner, her wastefulness and the way she takes stuff for granted. You know why? Because that is the mark of a normal teenager. Do you know what a miracle that is, that my kid is as big of an ass as any other kid? I am mostly kidding, but you catch my drift, right? She made it through OKAY. Thank God.

When I wake up, as I did today, and sit out on my front porch with my coffee, contemplating the gray sky before me, listening to the roar of the surf behind the other sounds of the world waking up, and I smell the ocean, and I have that utter peace and contentment in my heart…well. Can I tell you that THAT feeling, a feeling some people have always had, maybe, or will never get to know- my circumstances, MY checkered past, gave that to me. I have seen, breathed, lived the other side and I would not trade what I have now for anything. Β All those years, I was chasing after something to make me feel good, and when I finally stopped running, I found it.

I am grateful for my past. Have a beautiful day.

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10 thoughts on “The Beauty of a Checkered Past

  1. Wow. Just wow. Your writing is who you are, and who you are feeds and inspires your writing. VERY good stuff. The line, “That is my penance.” is so well put, so well placed. You are truly amazing. But don’t listen to me. I’m only your mother. πŸ™‚

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  2. A lot of people beat themselves up about the past, but considering you can’t change it, it’s much healthier to realize that all the blessings you have in your life now — especially our kids — may not be there if it weren’t for the things we might consider mistakes.

    I’m glad to read that Aisley appears to have come through the difficult times so well, a testament to the love and strength and parenting instincts that must have been there in you even while you were struggling with so many other things. And I’m glad that you seem to have found peace and happiness now πŸ™‚

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    1. The thing about peace and happiness is they are here, and then gone, and then here again. I don’t expect to remain this way, or anyway, for long. That is what keeps everything so amazing. If I were always happy, how would I know to appreciate it? Life is good today. That is enough.

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  3. The past is kind of a school for the future. We all screw up in one way or another and somehow most of us manage to survive it. It makes us who we are, but we’re guaranteed that we will never finish screwing up and changing. That’s just part of the fun of being a human. And just so you know ~~~~ I never doubted that you would turn out to be the awesome woman that you are. XXXX Duffy

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