There’ve been so many problems in my life that could have been solved by walking. So many cases where it was the right thing to do. And certainly more situations than I care to admit to about which at times since I’ve wished I’d done it sooner. But it was always a hard decision to be faced with, and never the easiest option available.
Mother walked. Her response to learning her oldest daughter was being raped and her son was being beaten was to abandon all three of her children in the care of the monster doing it. But — as should be obvious to any respectable human capable of rational thought — finding a crime is being perpetrated under your own roof, and choosing not to participate in said crime by removing yourself from the scene, doesn’t actually stop the crime from happening, but in fact perpetuates it. So I hadn’t grown up with the greatest impressions surrounding the aftermath of what is left behind by walking.
I was 3 years old.
...which is an impressionable stage of development for any interminable injury... Young enough to acutely ingrain patterns that would impact my life for the majority, if not the remainder of it, but too young to properly understand, accurately interpret, or effectively process what was actually happening. Somehow, the residual imprint left in the back of my unchanneled subconscious transformed into the amorphous sense that, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love.”
So I learned not to.
It would be decades — and far too many additional wounds later — before I came to include myself in the list of people I love who shouldn’t be abandoned. I lost at least 15 years of my life in doomed relationships hanging onto the misguided notion that, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love,” meant I had to nobly, doggedly, selflessly remain at the behest of any irreparably impaired loved one’s beck and call, regardless of how one-sided that love was, or how that loved one’s actions affected me. Even at great personal cost to my own well-being.
Apparently, for the first portion of my adult life, the rudimentary repeating theme, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love,” somehow stunted my sense of self-preservation. After all, the bastards I stuck by like Tammy Wynette to her man were only pathetically self-loathing, narcissistic, emotionally abusive, manipulating alcoholic gaslighters. It seemed I just couldn’t get enough of them. My Daddy, though, was a violent drunk, a slob, a hoarder, a thief, a pet killer, a racist, a criminal, and a pedophile.
But Mother shouldn’t have left him.
Naturally, I didn’t conceptualize my circumstances that way on any sort of cognizant level. The intellectual acumen of my adult brain could fiercely grasp that, in fact, abandoning an abusive alcoholic rapist — assuming doing so includes taking along the victimized children and any others in the household at risk — is exactly the first step of the correct response to Mother’s discovery... The remainder of the appropriate response steps being: 2. Call the police and have his ass thrown in jail. 3. Get immediate and ongoing help for your traumatized children. 4. Contribute to his prosecution to ensure he gets a proper sentence that would prevent him from ever preying on any others in the future.
But consciousness and intelligence aren’t always the only driving forces behind the way we grow as people. Many of our emergent characteristic traits are developed based on deeply imbedded hidden habits from our formative foundation. In time, I would come to realize, the things we do to save ourselves from harm can be a deterrent to undoing damage done, and, more importantly... love isn’t always enough.
It was a long strange trip getting to that place, though. It took me far too many hard-headed missteps to earn the skills and experience required to be fully able to consciously comprehend how that primitive, backward, half-baked, unevolved, germinal subroutine of my basal, abecedarian emotional narrative maintained at a subliminal level had been driving my relational behaviors well into adulthood. Or, how its latent, vestigial power of immolation remained at the cruxt of their dysfunction. But somehow, I figured it out.
And then, I grew up.
“Good people don’t abandon the ones they love,” is just as undeniable for me today as it ever was, perhaps even more so, now that I have so much more riding on it. This truth remains a fundamental guiding principle of my life; an inherent certainty that cannot be expunged. But now I can better distinguish, expelling toxicity is not equivalent to abandonment. And running away isn’t the same as walking out.
I can’t easily say in a few words how it finally happened, but I can encapsulate a habitually duplicated pattern of personal history by summarizing, like a howling dog on a nail, eventually I stayed too long, and it finally hurt enough. In some respects, I was fortunate to have escaped. Not everyone is so lucky. But I never question or protest why anyone can’t or doesn’t do it sooner, because I have walked a mile in those shoes, and I understand what it means to have so many varying degrees of factors contributing to that struggle, with some roadblocks heavier than others, and some obstacles impossible to overcome. I can just be there to support anyone who finds their way out, and makes it to a safer space.
Yes, I made mistakes, and not a few of them. I don’t know if there was any way I was ever going to be able to avoid them. Sure, I’ve been hurt. I’ve probably hurt others, too. I never intended to be the villain in anyone’s story, but really, who does?
I protected myself too much. I didn’t protect myself enough. I didn’t love enough. I loved too much. I kept too much too close to the vest. I gave too much away.
Somewhere along the way, I lost myself.
But I found myself, too.
And I also found the love of my life. Mostly because I wasn’t looking for him. I was able to experience unconditional love for the first time when I became able to love myself the same way. I realized then that everything else I’d known up until that point had only been just a mere shadow of what was possible.
And, though I didn’t know it then, I was ready. Maybe for the first time. And when I was, he’d found me.
I’ve spent a lifetime figuring out who I am. And I do like me. But for most of my life, I’ve liked myself most when I’m alone. I related entirely too personally to the warning I’ve often shared, “It’s better to be alone than to wish you were.” I was stronger on my own. The “loves” I would never abandon had always chipped away at that strength. They were a cancer that had consumed it. Until I finally learned to be able to resist letting anyone else take that strength from me again.
Minion didn’t want to minimize any aspect of who I am, though. He just wanted to be part of it. Not to overtake me, challenge me, or compete with me. But just to share in my life. And as I came to respect and appreciate who he is, I knew I wanted to be a part of his life, too. Now, we’ve made a life together.
I’ve never really had a debilitating problem with self-esteem. Some occasional nagging self-doubt, maybe, as we all do. But I’ve never had a disparaging sense that I’m not good enough to be worthy of love or happiness. I’ve always believed I’m deserving of a great life.
So I’m working on building it. It’s been a long and winding road, getting from there to here. But for the first time in decades, I’m in the right company, and finally on the right track. And though it took a little while longer for me than it does for most, any different steps along the path would have taken me in a different direction, and I would have ended up in a different place.
I know where I’m going. I know where I’ve been.
It’s time to enjoy the journey.
There’ve been so many problems in my life that could have been solved by walking. But I owe the life I have to being the kind of person who didn’t. And I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 6 - Topic: SOLVITUR AMBULANDO
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