"And you. You must have had at least one parent who raged," said our new couples counselor. Her office is in a very Portland old house, around the corner from the house where Jonathan spent many of his worst, bitterest, most painful times as a child. In the very Portlandest of ways, it is full of odd yoga classes, acupuncturists, Pan-Asian cushions and wall hangings, many sorts of green teas. I am only jarred for a moment as Jonathan says, "no! Her parents are wonderful!"
No. It was, I realize in a reflective instant that shocks me back 10 years, him. My ex-boyfriend of nine years. The pain he caused me, the anger I nurtured, is still here, burbling in the pit of my stomach, spurting hotly from my throat, despite the genetic distance it is reflected in the eyes of these boys, this one, wise-beyond-years, blonde; this one, sweet-smoldering, brown-eyed, everyone's friend until; this one treasure-child, soul of my soul, onomatopoeic echo.
When I left him, it was for the children who would one day call my womb home, the love I already had for them, I had far more strength and courage and power for them than for myself. It has been these past months and this ear-splitting now that I have known that I did not leave him, not well enough. I have brought him with me.
His pain, his fury, his begrudging the world its ease, its happiness, its pretty light way. This has come with me though I rejected it always, fearfully at first and then with certainty, realization, conviction, love. That path was not for me.
Yet it has continued with me, dogging my heels, a path that winds through my life of its own volition: a volition that is his and mine and that of all those in all of our lives who have sought power, control through fear and volume and insults and rage. 10 years ago, I knew, but could not sever this tie, still under the thrall of a love that was always wrapped, twisted with indebtitude, mutual suffering that was not mutually suffered, social and relational and physical power to which I never should have yielded. But did.
Here, I tell myself, take back the power. Take it back with words and truth-telling, take it back with prayer and God-pleading and the strength you can find despite yourself, make this family anew. Find a new childhood for these children, still young enough to see the power of love and peace, still sweet enough to grasp my hand and walk with me to the places I want to take them, still wide-eyed enough to wake up on a morning and look out the window with me, see orange-touched clouds over apartment buildings and pine trees, sunrise coming and say "OH!" with light everywhere through them, to point in a voice that is clear-but-not-evident and say, "moon, mama! Moon!"
Because this is a day in the calendar which engenders such decisions, I feel that I can gather 17-and-then-some years of this too-slow comprehension, to tell the story: "Jeffrey was not, was never kind to me," that I can form in myself a purging, I can order that demon anger OUT!, that I can pick up the Lego bricks and calendula seeds and fabric bits and apple cores of love all around me, that when I open my eyes each morning I can see every raindrop filled with strength and peace and ability to love this family through the hardest and most wonderful times, that I can snap its photo and let the words pour out until you can see this trail aright: I will leave this pain behind.