Sunday, July 5, 2009

Looking With Eyes Closed

I write a lot about how evolved we are as a blended family. And we are. But there are moments that catch me when I'm not looking. Or maybe it's the opposite. Maybe I'm looking in places I don't need to.

This morning I was importing images into my new MacBook. (The iPhoto is so great - this is my first mac in 10 years, and wow I love it.) I slipped in a disc titled: "Jake Year One." He was a beautiful baby. Curly hair. Chubby cheeks. Always on the go.

I flipped to a folder titled New Mexico. We had taken a trip with my best friends. Rented a house just outside of Santa Fe in the mountains. A hot tub. Kids. My first marriage was just unraveling then. There are pictures of the three of us as a family and we're not even standing next to each other. We have this baby between us and there couldn't be more space. Air and space.

Then there were pictures of me. My hair was too long. My body not in shape. My skin looking a little pale. My smile, not genuine - just sort of flat. I was in distress, of course. But God, to see myself so unraveled. So unkempt.

Just as I imported the pictures, I quickly deleted them. Just too hard to look at still. There I was crying after four years. Even now with a beautiful baby. A beautiful marriage. A beautiful five-year-old boy. And my relationship with my ex -- healthy and okay. Still, those pictures, evidence of a marriage that was just about to fall apart. Two months after that trip, it did.

Maybe one day I'll look. Maybe one day I'll look and say, that was me. I had to experience there to get here.

I know someone might suggest getting rid of those pictures, but I keep them for Jake. I do want him to see his parents together. I always loved looking at pictures of my mother and father - if nothing else, for proof of their marriage and a love for each other that once was.

Does everything from my first marriage have to be so connected to my world now? Does my past life have to be completely folded into this one? No. Maybe the answer is this: keep the photos for Jake, but take a break from looking at them. As blended as we are, my life and who I am with my son has changed drastically from those pictures in New Mexico. And as my lover in another life Eddie Vedder wrote: I've tasted a life wasted, and I'm never going back again.

I'm the first to admit I've still got some boundary issues. Maybe this is a photo boundary issue. You there, photo. Stay in the closet. You there, photo. Stay on a disc.

We'll let you know when it's time to come out.

***I want to make an addendum. The Eddie Vedder quote was not to say I wasted my life in my first marriage. There was nothing wasted in that time I spent with my first husband. I had my child in that marriage. I wouldn't be who I am without that first marriage. But now I've learned what it takes for me to be happy. How important it is to be happy. And healthy. It's why it's important for me to have a good relationship with my ex -- because I'm never going back that other way again. (Of course, we run into a few hiccups. Aren't there always hiccups?)

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