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The Fear of Moving Backward

Last week, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I bought a record player. It's not just any record player. It is a full on, take on the go, pale green retrogasm, and I love it.




The first night, I played my original 1980 soundtrack album to Xanadu. I mean, honestly, you can't go wrong with Olivia Newton-John and E.L.O. I hadn't played this album since probably 1983, and to hear that familiar crackle that you only get with a record along with music that I fell in love with as a teenager, I was instantly transported to my old bedroom (also a pale green, now that I think about it), where I used to sing and dance for hours. As I sat on the sofa in my pajamas, lights dimmed, dog snoring quietly next to me while I listened, I came to an unexpected realization. I am happy. Happy with my life just as it is.


Now, if you've read some of my other blogs, you'll know how monumental this is, and what I had to go through to get here. It is an unbelievably powerful feeling when you realize that your life is whole and complete, even if it wasn't the life you imagined in your youth. Not to mention the fact that there is nothing more formidable than a woman who can live her life to the fullest whether or not there is anyone else in it.


But here's the thing: it appears my sub-conscious did not get the memo on this epic, life changing moment. A few nights later, I had what has become a recurring dream over the last couple of years. Here's how this one went: I am back in time, the children are younger, and we've moved into a new house. One of my daughter's friends is sitting at the kitchen table and I'm asking her how she likes the new place, adding, "I hope we don't destroy this one." I move to some mirrors that I've hung on the wall, and suddenly my ex-husband is behind me. He wraps one arm around me just like he used to, and he says, "I love you." I respond with, "I love you too." In the next moment, I can feel that familiar anxiety descending upon me, and I'm thinking, why am I back here? I don't want to be here again. I want to go back to my apartment, my independence, it's all waiting for me. What happened?!


The next day, I wondered why I had this dream.....why do I keep having this dream? I've been to Hell and back more than once - depression, anxiety, two suicide attempts, PTSD - why would I do that to myself? What masochist would want to go through all that again?! It took me FOREVER to get here.


I think we all on some level have a fear of taking steps backwards. Whatever your trauma may be, there are certain regrets that we are unable to let go of. Amid the happy memories of a house that was the life of the party, the love that brought two amazing children into the world, the family camping trips in the fall, and happy holidays with friends and family, are the memories I'm left with - a dark, cluttered (almost hoarded) house that I stayed away from as much as I could, a husband who refused to even sleep in the same room with me, scraping by financially, and being embarrassed to have even a stranger in our house. And the knowledge that I left my children when they needed a mother most, which is the most painful regret of all. Yes, I was advised by healthcare professionals not to go back there because they felt I was being emotionally abused, but the memory of my daughter texting me assuming that I would be home by Christmas and me knowing that I wouldn't, is something I will never forgive myself for.


I guess there IS a part of me that would like to go back. A chance to do things differently - after all, it takes two people to make a marriage and two people to break it - to re-live those wonderful memories with our children when they were little, to get that time back that we lost. We can't though, can we? And we aren't meant to. We have to go forward and try to be better than we were before. After all, I have less time ahead of me than I do behind me.



Sure, it's great to listen to an old album that brings back memories of a happy childhood. That doesn't mean I want to go back to it. (Honestly, the 80's were kind of a tragic time for fashion. Let's not relive that.) After all these years, I have finally gotten to a point where I love my life, and I look forward to whatever my future brings, to making new memories with my now-grown children who, by the way, still love and accept me just as I am. To being a part of my granddaughters' lives and showing them what a confident, independent woman is capable of.

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