Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Legend of Moi: Chapter I

Some folks have expressed an interest in how I got to where I am. It was definitely not in a straight line. The same issues keep cropping up no matter how many times I think I've put them to rest... but I'm happy to say a few I figured out early on and have not had to deal with them more than once (or twice.)

I was born in the winter of 1945, a full month ahead of my mother's due date of January 12th. I arrived at four pounds, three and a half ounces and had to be left in the hospital for a month... just the first of many disappointments my mother would suffer at my hands. All this is the legend, of course, the story that was told to me about me from my birth.

it took over fifty years for me to outgrow the legend, to rethink it, reshape it and remold myself into the person God actually called me to be. An art therapist articulated it with a somewhat glib expression: "all that was had to be, so all that is could be." That may be one of those universal truths, but it didn't make the trip any easier.

I've made a lot of stops on the journey, traversing external landscapes and the dark places within. Trails were sometimes rocky, steep— but the few glimpses of glory always worth the climb.

I was born into a Navy family. We moved a lot and my dad was gone a lot. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, as many women were at that time. When I was six my dad left my mother to marry someone else... someone else who just happened to have a daughter my age. The call came in the middle of the night and I awoke to my mother sobbing into the phone. I stayed quiet until she crawled into the little bed we shared in my grandmother's middle bedroom. "Mommy, doesn't Daddy love us anymore?" She was at a loss, but she assured me that no—I was certainly loved—and always would be. Of course that was the first of many lies she would tell over the years, so that he became a mythical figure, along with that woman who had the power to destroy our lives.

I think she believed it. Maybe she had to. I remember her telling me (years later) that they had argued a lot, but that both believed they would somehow stay together because of their love for me. Neither could imagine ever giving me up. Obviously he was able to overcome that hurdle. It left lasting scars.

It was fourteen years later that I located him by joining the Navy myself, three years more before I saw him in person. All those years of searching, wondering, believing in a fantasy figure left me with no way to cope with the man I met. What a jerk. He showed me wedding pictures from his wife's daughter's ceremony. He had walked her down the aisle, not me. He could barely look me in the eye, while his wife, the supposed wicked witch of the west, was gracious and welcoming. I thought I had learned a valuable lesson that day about the flimsiness of preconceived assumptions. I cried all the way from San Mateo to San Francisco, an hour and a half of bitter tears for seventeen years of false hopes. I found out many times later that I hadn't exactly learned the lesson.


kpjara said...

"all that was had to be, so all that is could be."

I love this...and it does help make more sense of the senseless.

I love hearing the stories of people's lives! Thank you for the "in the beginning" part today.

HeyJules said...

I can't WAIT to see what comes next!

Pilot Mom said...

I was born on Jan 12th. :)

Like Jules, I'm waiting with baited breath for the next post! Thanks for sharing, CJ.

Addie said...

this is absolutely fascinating... thanks for sharing

Praying for your Prodigal said...

While the details of my story are just a little different from yours--I, too, have been chasing a fantasy father my entire life. As a matter of fact, I learned just four years ago (at the age of 48) that the alcoholic, ragefilled man I believed to be my father--was in fact, NOT. My siblings are my 1/2 siblings, and my mother's memory does not recall the name of my biological father. It was at that moment that I went to my Cretor and He became my (Heavenly) Father. While I may never know who my earthly father is--I rest in the very capable hands of the One who has known me from the "inner most parts of my mother's womb" (Psalm 139: 13-19).

God Bless you for sharing your story-I hope to read more of your journey.


Natty said...

"Some folks have expressed an interest in how I got to where I am. It was definitely not in a straight line."

I have a Sister-friend who always says she "took the scenic route to the convent." I love that!

Thanks for personal sharing you've been putting out here lately. As well as satisfying my personal curiosity about Sr. Claire Joy the person, I think you're doing a lot of good in demystifying the reality of religious life and the many ways it can be approached, lived, thought of, ... can't find exactly the right word there, but thanks, CJ. *hug*