Due to tornadoes in other parts of the country, my flight has been delayed at least five hours. At best, I’ll be touching down around 2:00 a.m. I haven’t decided how to handle work tomorrow: go in on time, late or not at all. Much will depend on what happens tonight and if I can sleep on the plane.
While I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own cozy bed tonight (well, tomorrow), I hate leaving the mountains. Even through patches of rain and dreary gray drizzle, I feel at home in this climate. I thrive in cool crispness just as I completely wilt in oppressive humidity.
I’ve had quite a bit of time to think in this peaceful setting; my musings have run the gamut. In particular, I’ve thought a lot about words vs. actions. I tend to fall hard for the pretty words: the writer-wannabe in me responds favorably to a thrilling phrase, turning a blind eye to the truth before me.
Something post-divorce affair once wrote to me came tumbling back today as I visited my mother. To his credit, he eased my transition to singleness by giving me his shoulder and support whenever I began to fall apart. I’ll admit, because I was so fragile and overwhelmed then, I fell apart a lot. One of those times was when my mother would not help me with my house purchase. Though I was already steeled for the refusal, her reasons blindsided me: she would be doing me no favor if she helped me divorce, for no other man would ever want me. I was too old and plain and nothing special intellectually. I should do anything I could to hold onto The Ex. Then she hit me with the subsidized housing zinger.
I was sliced through with pain, feeling unloved, unworthy, pathetic, horribly insecure, rejected on multiple levels.
And that’s when post-divorce affair wrapped his loving words around me: I am going to take you to visit your mother, he wrote. We will face her together. She is going to see how much I love you, how wonderful you are in my eyes. She won’t be able to deny the power of our love, that someone finds you worthy and beautiful and special. She will feel it, she will respond to it positively.
I have not forgotten how those words (paraphrased poorly above, but written with great sincerity and eloquence in reality) made me feel, how they were balm to my wounds. Those words, and others like them, were a major reason why I stayed emotionally tied to him long after it was over.
It took more than a year, making a complete idiot of myself in the process, before I felt fully recovered, before I could separate his words from his actions.
I visited my mother again today. She seemed especially happy to see me. We sat on the couch in my uncle’s overly warm room and filtered through his sheet music together. My cousin entertained us with an impromptu piano concert; my uncle impressively recited Joyce Kilmer’s poem, The House With Nobody In It. We talked about the children; my mother asked again if there were any way The Ex and I could make a go of it.
I shook my head firmly. No, mom. I said. It will never happen. I’m sorry.
My mother actually changed the subject. My divorce was not broached again in the conversation.
As I rose to leave, she grabbed my hand, pulled me down to her on the couch. I kissed her cheek. “Good-bye, mom.”
Her eyes filled with tears as I straightened up. She clutched my wrist. “Thank you for coming,” she said. “I know you’re busy.”
“I love you.”
Now I sit in the airport, my head spinning. Which words, which actions do I believe? Is my mother the woman who told me no man would want me, who treats my siblings more favorably financially because of my divorce? Or is she one who clutches me, cries and says she loves me?
For now, I’ve chosen to fall for the pretty words, the ones I long to hear.
And so, my simple, but heartfelt, response to my mother:
“I love you, too.”