My therapist asked me a question the other day that sent me down a rabbit hole of introspection. She asked me how I maintained hope from the age of 5, after my mom died and my extremely troubled alcoholic father raised me.
My brain went blank. I could only get a fuzzy image of me just numbly soldiering my way through my childhood. I told her I didn't know, that maybe it was just blind determination or the stubborn desire to survive just built into me. But later that day, I finally realized what got me through those years of pain, fear, and loneliness.
I was waiting to feel the way I did when Dave was in my life. I was waiting to find him. No, I didn't know that then. I just knew that the way out of my situation was to find a family of my own choosing, since mine didn't work out so well. I had a vague notion that my chance for happiness and security was out there.
It turned out Dave was the person who could give me that. When I lost him, I lost my family. My only true family. The only person who made me feel as though I'd found my home. Within the circle of safety and love we created, I felt more secure and able to tackle whatever came my way. My grades in college improved, my sleep improved, I felt more brave and focused.
Worse things have happened to better people than me, but holy hell have I lost a lot. I simply can't figure out why this is my path, why I don't get to have a mom, a dad, a husband, a family of my own.
I suppose the why doesn't matter. It just is and it's what I have. People everywhere go through terrible things. They also experience beautiful things. And so do I.
My test, my challenge, my reason for living, now, is to give myself what Dave used to give me - that stable base from which to function. The security of the knowledge that I matter just because I do. Not because there's someone waiting for me at home. Not because I have someone who wants to be with me above all others. Not because I have a mom who calls to check in or a dad who worries about me and takes care of me, now that Dave can't. Not because I have kids who need me and love me. Just because I exist. Just because I'm me.
Maybe I can accomplish that alone. Maybe I need to feel the belonging of having a "most important person" again in order to fully heal. I'm not sure. I just know that what life has offered me is this. This time in my life when it's just me. Life has forced me to learn how to do this.
It's almost as though life has thrown out this challenge, has said "bet you can't accomplish THIS one!" sounding a lot like the bullies I remember from childhood.
To that I say "WATCH ME, mo fo! Challenge accepted."