My Own Private Chuckle Patch

2.22.11
Today is the day that we all clean out our closets at For the Love of Blogs, so I’m sharing a post that I wrote back in August during my “dark” period. I pretty much let my flag fly last summer and publicly shared my lifelong battle with depression. This is just one of the posts that I wrote on the subject. I know, I know…it’s an older post, but it’s close to my heart. Thanks for reading.

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I once saw a movie called Sleeping with the Enemy. I can’t say that I loved it or the actors who were in it. The movie wasn’t even particularly good, but I was enthralled. Julia Roberts played the role of a woman stuck under the thumb of a physically abusive husband. Survival instincts cause her to remain entirely submissive to her sadistic, controlling husband and she does precisely what is expected of her or she faces serious beatings. Yet, we quietly learn that she is planning her escape by staging her own death. There’s a bit of suspense while you wonder if she can pull it off, but of course she does. She runs, lands in an idyllic little town, miraculously lands a job and rents a home. POOF! Happiness and freedom were hers.

I didn’t relate to the movie because I was ever physically abused, though I did witness physical abuse. I was sucked in because Julia successfully ran. She escaped her personal hell. She fled negativity, and as luck would have it, she found her own version of Utopia somewhere in Middle America where no one knew her. She wiped her slate clean and began anew. She was unfettered and anonymous. She could be whoever she wanted. This is what sucked me in because it was my fantasy.

I always wanted to run. Before I can even remember wanting to run, I ran. Somewhere around the age of four was the first time I tried to make a break for it. I don’t recall why, but I have heard the story told countless times. What I do remember is my mother and father calling my bluff as I packed my bag, dragged it out the front door, down the sidewalk and kept on going straight down Dixon Road. I remember looking back at some point and seeing the two of them on the front stoop laughing and waving as if I was a four year old idiot. That pissed me off so much that I walked with renewed purpose. Really, I do remember that part. My father, waving a smart ass wave and calling, “So long!” If I had known how to flip them the bird, I definitely I would have.

Eventually, my four year old freedom march carried me from their line of sight and someone was forced to retrieve me. I’ve often wondered how far I would have walked if I was left alone. Where did I think I going, Sesame Street? Did I think I could become a four year old vagabond hobo, squatting at The Magic Garden? Maybe I could have joined Carol and Paula swinging and singing as the Chuckle Patch giggled nearby. Sadly, this is likely exactly what was on my mind.

I spent a huge amount of my childhood in other worlds. I lived in books or alternatively, in my own head. At our farm there was a very old row of lilac bushes. They had been there for so long that tiny, child-sized paths wound their way through the gnarled branches; perfectly sized for a little girl. It was my own version of the Secret Garden. I wonder if I would notice it now if I passed as an adult…the perfectly arched opening dripping with fragrant purple lilacs. It beckoned to me each spring. I would stand at the entrance with my eyes squeezed shut, concentrating. I willed myself to make a successful movement into another world. Surely, magic would take over in the middle of the lilacs, transporting me. I’d exit at the other end into a world of magic and happiness, love and laughter. I would walk through those winding paths in the shady interior of the lilac bushes, believing to my core that when I reached the other side, I’d be transported. I’d be free. I believed so hard that each time I exited the lilacs, my heart broke to see that I hadn’t moved an inch.

When my parents divorced and I ran away, I lived with my father for a time. I realized that running got me nowhere closer to happiness. I couldn’t run backwards in time. One day I spent hours drawing another world onto an enormous sheet of paper. It was large enough to cover a wall in the bedroom where I was staying, so I made this world to scale. I carefully drew a path large enough to accommodate me as I stepped into my Utopia. As I hung the drawing on the wall I began “believing”. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed. I walked forward, fully believing that I would be able to step onto that paper world and into a new life. I walked forward, fully trusting my own magic and hit my face on the wall. Hard. I collapsed onto the floor and sobbed. I hated myself for not being magical enough to make it happen. I felt hopeless and trapped. I wanted to run but had nowhere to go. I was a complete failure.

My running took various forms after the day that I smooshed my face into the wall in attempt to escape. Books were about as close as I could get to residence in fantasy land. I remember getting on one of our horses bareback and running, feeling a powerful freedom as I recklessly held on to a newly broken horse. I remember discovering that actual running was a great temporary escape. I spent 6 months of high school smoking a lot of pot…a giggly escape. I could go and on…

Dave and I have talked about my “flighty” past behavior. As he says, “Where ever you go, there you are.” He’s right. I eventually figured that out and instead of running, I’m turning around and confronting my demons. Here I am. I’m standing still and putting down roots. I have nothing to run from anymore. I’ve found my place here with this incredible man and our three magical children. I’d love to plant some lilacs next spring.

Comments

  1. Slidecutter says:

    I particularly enjoyed this one, mostly because I started a "thoughts file" the other evening where I went into how I related to "Sleeping With the Enemy" for reasons you stated plus a few of my own. Lilacs and Dixon Road; another memory for me. My best friend lived on Dixon and had Lilacs growing by the side of his house; I couldn't wait for Spring and the wonderful blooms to come alive.
    My best friend died, his house was sold and the new owners cut back all the Lilacs. Keep promising myself to plant them but it wouldn't be the same…
    Thanks for a wonderful post!

  2. I too wanted to escape my existance at a very young age. I remember leaving the house with my round suitcase filled with my stuffed animals. My father waved goodbye as I left.
    I was the youngest of three. I thought for sure God had made a mistake. I escaped my unhappiness in my fantasy world. One day my real family would come to my rescue. They would be so happy to have finally found me. They would lavish me with kisses and hugs.
    I am now marrried to a wonderful man. we have three beautiful children. i finally ran away from home at the age of 39. I escaped with my family in tow. We moved from California to Virginia. The thing I most wanted to run away from was the hurt from my family. The hurt came along.
    I love your blog!

  3. So well written and revealing! Thank you so much for sharing. Your husband is so wise and I'm so happy that you've found home with your wonderful family. Lilacs sound lovely!

  4. Ah…for the longest time I believed that I was switched at birth! I'm the youngest of three as well and my sister and brother used to tease me that I was adopted. They thought they were upsetting me, but I was thrilled at the prospect.
    I think at some point, you need to stop running and face your demons. Otherwise they stay one step behind you and always seem to catch up.

  5. Tales of a Hockey Wife says:

    What a different, yet touching post. As I am new(ish) to your blog…I did not know this side of you. Sounds as though you have found a little chunk of that Utopia!

    Cheers!

  6. Tales of a Hockey Wife says:

    PS…have a little gift for you in my scrolling marquee on my blog!

    hope this makes you smile!

  7. Wow! What a post! I can really connect with you on this. I grew up with very similar issues in the sense that I spent a great deal of my childhood trying to escape and forget. I finally delt with it but for so many years there was so much pain. Great site! I'm now following you. I found you through FTLOB.

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