Chapter 2: Journey
*The following are directly from my mother's writing in her journal.
Growing up, I loved stories. I loved immersing myself in a story and the world within those stories. There was something so special about escaping to a faraway land, with people I will never meet going on adventures that I will never have. But at the same time, it was more than just an escape. I saw myself in these stories and I related to these characters and the journeys they went on. I wanted to be a part of these stories so badly that sometimes I wished my life was exactly like a novel, where I was the main character. And I’m sure no one blames me for that. Everybody does it. People enjoy stories because they can put themselves into the shoes of these characters and go on these journeys with them. It is an escape from reality that so many crave, an escape from the boring or the drab or even the depressing that couldn’t even come close to a good story. Or so I thought.
What I didn’t realize is that my life was a story. A story with twists and turns, romance, deception, love, joy, anger. Every ingredient was shared with all the stories I had read as a kid. I may not have been fighting dragons and monsters, or exploring distant planets, but my own, humbler, life story was playing out in real time.
It started like most other stories. I was born to a loving family, with a comfortable home.
I went to a decent school and made some friends. I went to amusement parks, I watched movies, I read books, I played sports. All of it made up a relatively happy childhood. Though there was a missing piece, something I couldn’t fully comprehend at the time. Dad had told me what he could about Mom, but he spared me all of the details. Arguably the most important ones. I don't blame him though, I was too young to truly understand at the time.
As I got older, I wasn’t as easily fooled. Life wasn’t happy and fun all of the time. Kids became meaner, friends pulled away. School was getting harder. More homework, more studying. More practice. I dropped out of sports and stopped reading stories. I had my first kiss, but it wasn’t like I imagined it would be. No fairy tale here. I learned how to drive, but eventually ended up crashing the car. I had to get my first job to pay for that. At a pizza place no less. So pizza was ruined for me too. And I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I became too smart for my own good. I saw through the veil that had surrounded me, and saw what life was really like. A place of chaos. And I wasn’t sure I liked it.
My feelings and thoughts seemed to center around Mom, and how much I started to notice her absence from my life. I always noticed when another kid’s mom would come pick them up from school, or when I would go over to their house and I would meet their parents, plural. Even back then having only one parent confused me. Now the realization of why that is gnaws on me, almost never leaving my thoughts. And for good reason too.
When I became a teenager, and learned exactly what the phrase “died in childbirth” meant, and my life changed in an instant. I found what Dad had hidden from me for my entire life. All in a neatly written letter, left where it shouldn’t have been, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. In that letter from Dad, addressed to me, I found out exactly what had happened to Mom, and what I had done. Done to her, and done to him. After that, I stopped trying to make friends. I didn’t care about school anymore. Going to my job meant nothing to me. It was even a huge chore to get out of bed most days let alone live my life. I felt like any happy moment I had was undeserved and unnecessary considering the guilt I started to carry.
And Dad. If he was still hurting, he never let me see it. He had made my childhood as fun and exciting as it could be, and I genuinely felt real love from him. He is a caring and kind man, and always has been. And I loved him back with all my heart, but I couldn’t just continue like nothing was wrong. I never blamed him for keeping the truth from me, I know he didn't do it to hurt me. But the one person who I felt truly understood me, who always had my back, I now couldn’t spend time with without feeling guilty. Without feeling like all of his love was undeserved. I started pulling away from him too. Isolation seemed like my only solution. From everyone and everything.
My life was most definitely a story. It just didn’t seem like one heading towards a happy ending.
*Several of the earlier chapters in this journal are admittedly difficult to understand when they were written. From my understanding and guess, this chapter and the next were written before the Dream, or at least partially written from before the Dream. It seemed my Mother used this journal to really explore her own feelings and psyche.