We all have that place inside of us where a part of us is left behind. I find it funny how important it is. I mean think of it, we live for an average of about eighty years or more if we are lucky, and such a small portion of that life is being a child. But it is our foundation from which we have come from and we all need to reckon with it during certain times in our life. Some people even block out huge chunks of time from their memories, others dismiss it as unimportant. But no matter where you are in your life, someday you will have to go back and consider the places you left a part of you and gather it up and move on. Everyone’s level of tolerance is relative. Even the best of childhoods in the most storybook settings have cause and effect. You could have been raised as the middle child in the most amazing of family’s without an issue or you may have been raised as the middle child in the most amazing of family’s and have profound issues. As I said, it is all relative.
I never really understood how much I was affected by the first years of my life. I was a child raised in the sixties in an upper middleclass family by two parents who loved each other from what I saw, and rarely if ever, witnessed a cross word between them, let alone a fight. My dad was an executive in some pretty high profile companies and the first big company he worked for was Mattel Toys. I was a tester child. Poor me. He would bring home toys not yet out on the market and I would get to play with them and I guess he would report back how I responded. It was not a hard knock life by any stretch of the imagination.
However, we all have those dirty little secrets that no one talks about. In my family, ours was alcohol. Not so much the falling down drunk, kind of alcoholic but the worried about him getting home from a dinner meeting or dining and wining the clients, type of constant worry. In the sixties you could still drive to the lake with a bottle of beer between your legs or drink on the beach. Seatbelts were optional and they would pile us kids in the back seat on top of a crib mattress to go to the drive in, kid’s car seats just hooked over the back of your seats as more of a convenience and I remember actually riding in the middle of the front seat. Imagine if there had ever been a quick stop! Yes, life was definitely a lot more laid back. I don’t even think they had NO SMOKING sections yet.
But DUIs still landed you in jail and at a very young age, I learned that my dad, my hero, my everything, had gotten a few. The first time it happened, my mom woke me up to tell me she had to go get my dad out of jail. I am still angry about that. I was nine years old. I was old enough to read. She could have written me a note. I probably never would have woken up and she could have spared me the stupid complicated place I find myself in today. My perfect world was suddenly out of control.
It didn’t happen again until about two years later. We had moved and once again at eleven years old, my mom wakes me up and that was the beginning of years and years of hearing about the crazy things my dad did on the freeway or her asking me to talk him out of going somewhere once he had, had too much to drink, at a Company Picnic or whatever. And then it would be okay for a while. Life would be fine. But then they would go to a cocktail party or there would be a Christmas party and I would plead with God to bring my parents home safely. I would check the phone to make sure it was working if they were late. I was pretty much crazy with worry, every single night until I heard my dad walk through that door.
I don’t blame my mom. She didn’t think “I am going to tell my little girl all the things that I am worried about to mess her up later in life.” She just did the best she could do in a bad situation. Like I said, I was a pretty privileged kid and life was wonderful for most of my life, I would come home often to the smell of fresh baked cookies and a mom who was usually home and tried to make our world safe and happy, she took us to Sunday School alone because my dad wouldn’t go and she gave me some wonderful memories growing up. But I always felt a little out of control, as if the other shoe was going to drop. And that it was just a matter of time before it would.
In my lifetime I have experienced a lot. The one thing that I feared the most happened when I was twenty six. My dad died of a heart attack. And in a way I felt as if I had predicted it. The worst thing happened. The other shoe had finally fallen. Today I realize that I have needed control for so long and being able to back track and kind of trace the steps that have led me to today make me understand the need to continue this journey that I am on.
Recently I have been on a path of epiphanies and for the last year everything has been out of control for me. I have found myself in situations that I never could have ever imagined I would be in. I have totally been out of control quite literally. And yet, I feel I have needed to let go and be true to myself.
I am not sure where I am going. I am not sure how long it will take to correct the wrongs and repair the parts of me I have ignored for so long. But I feel a kind of kinship with that child inside me, a responsibility to her that she deserves. I want her to be able to trust life, to realize all the shoes that have fallen in this life of ours… have made us stronger and that we have survived them all. I want to be able to finally grow up and not always be waiting for the other shoe to fall. I think that I am going to start to go barefoot!