"Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!"
I like to choose the right words when I am writing. If the words are not the right ones, then the message that I want to communicate isn't clear or is inaccurate. In my previous post I said that I would write next about "moving on." As I thought about the words "moving on" and as I began attempting to write this post, I realized that I know more about detaching than I do about moving on. In fact as a parent I don't want to "move on."
I can't "move on" in the same sense that we move on from a spouse after a divorce or from a friend who has betrayed us. However, I can and have detached. I can and have "let go." Thus the theme of this post is about detaching and letting go. It is not about moving on.
I will always feel that I am the mother of my daughter and I will always feel that connection and miss the relationship that we once had but I do go on with my life, living it fully, having fun, enjoying myself, and feeling like the fine and dandy imperfect person that I believe myself to be. "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"
There are books that give advice on how to let go, how to detach. The twelve step group Al anon offers excellent advice on how to detach. I recommend both of those resources for advice and support. I have found them helpful as I've navigated these waters filled with grief, wrenching emotional pain, and heartache. I am not going to give you a synopsis here of what they have to offer. That's been done and it is available. I am going to do something different. I am going to tell you what has helped me the most to detach and let go and go on with my life "full speed ahead!" Chances are that you won't find it dramatic and exciting. What works for me might not work for you. If you haven't found it yet, you will need to find its equivalent.
What did I do? I joined a nonprofit group. I didn't join it in order to let go, detach, and go on. I joined it because I had put making art as a priority in my life. To back up a bit from that point, I had realized after losing a lot of money that I had put into a retirement fund that if I was going to lose money that I might as well lose it while doing something I enjoyed. I had put off putting more time into my art because I had told myself that I couldn't afford to do it. Then I lost all the money that I had put into a retirement fund and I said to myself, "Self! I could have been doing something I enjoy while losing that money and it is all gone. I didn't enjoy myself. I had told myself that I couldn't afford to do art and thought I had invested the money wisely. It is gone and what do I have to show for it? Nothing! If I did what I enjoyed doing, I still wouldn't have the money but, heck, I would have had fun and had my artwork too!" So the first thing I did after losing the money was to make art a priority and then I joined an art association which was a nonprofit.
Then, as so often happens when you join a nonprofit, I started noticing that they needed help in some areas and I started to get involved. I made suggestions and implemented some of them. In short order they asked me to be Vice President. Foolishly (but wisely) I (naively) said yes. In this way I found a new family, a family that had its imperfections, its dysfunctions, its irritating personalities, its idiosyncrasies, its odd characters, its charms, its wonderful incredible heartwarming people. I became busier than a hyperactive long tailed cat in a small room full of rocking rocking chairs. I felt as though I had two hundred and fifty children, not just the one who wouldn't talk to me! The more that I did for them, the more that I felt loved. I was tired and sometimes overwhelmed but I felt productive, appreciated, and it all felt very good.
Four years later I have just now become the Past President. The people there are still part of my life. I continue to be involved with the organization. I see others there and in other groups who have done similar things. They are as well loved as I feel. I love them too. Being involved like this, contributing like this has filled up that hole in my heart where I once had a daughter. I have so much going on in my life that I don't have the luxury of time to spend driving myself nuts about being estranged. I do take the time to write posts here. I do think about her regularly. But I have a life that keeps me engaged, that feels good, that is satisfying, and where I get to indulge every nurturing maternal impulse that ever crosses through my brain, and where the recipients of my need to nurture are very happy to have me do so. I have done so much of it that at this point I need to find the time to do some art again as the art took a back seat to the needs of the organization. So I need to find some balance and let the art association grow without quite that level of input from me that I've been giving it for four years. I am still there but not quite as much. My art awaits me! It is time again for art!
That is the short story of how I have gone on with my life. I find it worthwhile, satisfying, warm, and fun. It has had its downsides too. In my "Diary of an Ordinary Woman" I have described the surprising meltdown of a man during one of our board meetings. That was certainly unanticipated! Everything is not always wonderful. (By the way that man has rejoined recently.)
My involvement in this organization has taught me a lot over the last four years. Two of those years I have been the one in charge. The weight of that responsibility felt heavy at times but good most of the time. I know that I did a good job. In fact they agreed and gave me their highest award. I have felt appreciated. I am stronger, more resilient, smarter, better as a result of my involvement there. I know that there are other things in the world that are as important and more important than bearing children and having a relationship with them throughout our lives.
I know that there are others who have suffered far worse calamities than anything that I have ever experienced. I know that there is fun and joy in life even after having experienced tremendous tragedy and loss because I have seen people with far worse problems than any of mine go on and be happy productive loveable generous human beings. People do go on. People do detach. People do thrive despite devastating loss.
There is a mourning period but after you've gone through it, life does indeed go on and if someone doesn't want to share it with you, then you go on and find your passion and jump in and swim around and have a good time. The alternative to doing that is letting your tragedies overwhelm you and then wasting your life mourning that which can not be. You are better than that. You deserve better. So, when you are ready, go out and find your passion and nurture it until you can hardly stand to nurture any more!
DAMN THE TORPEDOS! FULL SPEED AHEAD!