I would see her through the curtain on the door to the den. She would sit in the highback chair with a cigarette in her hand and look out over the lake down below. Just staring out over the lake. I knew – even at a very, very young age – that she was sad. She would sit there for what seemed like days. I couldn’t see the look in her eyes, but I could see it in the way she sat there… just staring. While I was able to articulate the pain she was feeling… I was still too young to figure out that at night, after I went to sleep, she would come out. To me, she stayed in there for days. I was also so worried that she would be hungry and how would she eat. I was 3. She was my mom.
I would stay with my grandmother after school… on the weekends… whenever my parents needed to go somewhere. She lived across the street. My grandmother would sit at the kitchen table and scribble numbers on a pad of paper over and over again. She was always scribbling numbers and mumbling things in between making the most amazing pancakes. She’d been through the depression and she was always so worried about making the numbers just right… making them work so she had enough. She would never be without. At least, at my age, that was my understanding because that’s how my mom explained it. My grandmother was sad too. I knew that. I could see it in her eyes though.
Turns out my grandfather was a son-of-a-bitch. I apologize for my language, but that’s the most polite I can possibly be. He was a horrific man. The things he did to my mother I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around even at the age of 47. The fact that he took every cent from my grandmother so she couldn’t even put peanut butter sandwiches in front of my mother at night was unfathomable. My mother did the right thing when she told me it was the depression that made my grandmother act the way she did. No child should know those things.
Last Wednesday I sat in my therapist’s office and I talked about these events because now I do know and because now I can and now I should. I should talk about them in the safety of his office… not only because I need to, but because they never did. I could feel the sadness like it was happening to me – not them – just like when I was little and I was right there. Only this time I cried. I never saw a tear from either of those women. Such strength???
Really, what did these women have back in the 50’s, 60’s… hell, even up until the 80’s… to truly deal with such pain?
I struggle with my higher power everyday – no really, I fight with him/her daily always losing – but I always am thankful for one thing. I am thankful that I have the care that I need to make it from day to day with the things that I carry inside me. My mother’s baggage, my grandmother’s… I am bipolar and when you throw in a very serious side of borderline personality disorder I also deal with my own stuff. I need help. I have help and I am thankful for that.
I don’t have to sit on the back porch and stare out over the lake and wonder every day of my life why I was that little girl born to that horrible man or the woman scribbling numbers all over a pad of paper wondering how I was going to feed my daughter with nothing to my name. I still wonder every day about my own life – sometimes quite selfishly it seems… but I don’t do it alone.
Oh, but when I see how much you’re hurting
I wanna do anything to make it end.
it may take you
And it may break you
But you’ll wake up one day, and you will be fine.
It may haunt you, but it will stop soon
And you’ll wake up one day, and you will be fine.
— Kari Kimmel, One Day You Will Be Fine