No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Unpacking the Worst Parts of Our Past
At the age of 26 I ran away from the man I'd had a baby with. He and I had lived together for several years, the last of which I was almost entirely scared of him. He'd physically hurt me twice, but more than that it was how tense he was all the time that made it seem like anytime he could snap. There are only a few things I have anymore from that time in my life. It's the journals written the few years after that are painful to look back at again. Painful in the sense that I feel a lot of compassion towards my previous self, not in the sense that I feel the pain so fully anymore. There is a journal that I just unpacked written a year and a half after I left him where on the first page I talk of my struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. It's strange to reconcile the way I remember that time with what the journals tell me. Mostly the two are reconcilable. It's just a stark reminder of how challenging the several years after were for me to get through the fear of myself, the fear of being hurt again, the fear that I'd fail so horribly again (getting myself in such a bad situation), or that I'd fail at the life I'd transformed mine into, and the fear that the man I'd run away from would some how reappear again. It's been a little more than 8 years now since I got us--the now nine-year old and me--out of that situation. I only got over my resulting claustrophobia two years ago, only stopped thinking I saw him around town when I was stressed out about a year and a half ago, and only stopped waking up screaming in the night afraid someone was in the house about a year ago. Thinking of living through such a crazy process--getting from living with someone I thought might kill me to successfully raising a kid on my own while writing a dissertation and teaching full time--interestingly points out to me why I'm such a damned Aristotelian, not to mention Camusian, not to mention whole heartedly determined to love myself, and speak the truth too (in as much as I can understand it). Getting out of such a hard situation, then dealing with the aftermath of it, and now feeling more like I get to determine my own life now (even while the choices I've made are demanding in themselves) just makes ultra vivid how thoroughly we can sometimes shape our own lives even if it may be so very difficult, and take a long time. If we're patient and keep at it, our life really can turn out to be our own.