For almost 6 months now I have been single and have experienced everything from guilt, emotional pain, remorse, despair but yet I have slowly come to the realization that the overwhelming emotion I have been battling in my dreams, the strange ache in the pit of my stomach is not for the loss of a 26 year relationship, or a woman I once loved, but it is grief.
Grief and mourning for the children I will never get to hold, the little hands that wont reach up around my neck when they’re tired or afraid. Lately my sleep has been interspersed with mini movie reels of what I have always secretly yearned for but chose to not pursue for a myriad of reasons, not least that my ex didn’t want children, and in fact didn’t even like to be around little people.
It was not a decision I came to lightly. When we met I was 16 and never thought that I would be loved by anyone, never thought a same sex relationship would be tolerated in the tiny country village in which I live.
In my mind I always pictured an old fashioned brass weighing scale, where on one side there were kids, marriage, family life etc and on the other a same sex relationship with someone I loved, who loved me. Depending on my mood, the scales balance would shift daily.
It never occurred to me that I could have both, or that 10, 20 years later I could still have had both. The first few years of our relationship were spent hiding, trying to be safe and keep each other safe. Knowing that we had huge targets on our back, but it was the 2 of us against the world. We would be the ones to make it and show them all.
I’ve worked with and volunteered with children for as long as I can remember. A room full of little people at a Birthday party I delighted in. Folks telling me that I should be a Teacher or work with special needs kids as I seemed to have a talent or knack for it, while pleasing to hear, simply hurt. Each time it was mentioned I wanted to explain why these little kids were my pure joy, but I doubt anyone would have taken me seriously. I will never forget reading about Hans Christen Anderson, this amazing storyteller found his audience with children, quite by accident. He discovered they listened to him without judgement or mockery when he told his magical tales, and to them it didn’t matter that he suffering from a debilitating stammer. I can still recall the book in my hands, how the ink smelled, the picture of him sitting at a fountain with a gaggle of eager little people hanging on his every word, my tears fell silently onto the beautiful illustration, because in that instant it was as if they were writing about me.
It wasn’t because I had a talent with children, it was that they had patience for me. One goofy adult who would play their games, listen to their stories, answer their questions and never seen a frown or judgement when I stuttered or stumbled over a word or got too excited and couldn’t string 2 words together.
I used to daydream of a ‘normal’ life, the kind you would see in a 1950’s ad for the perfect home, white picket fence, you get the picture. Alas the reality was just the opposite, we had to live a life that was simply fraught with anxiety, stress and secrecy. Only now it has occurred to me that for almost all of our relationship the only safe place was inside our home, behind locked doors. The result of which was we were either so exhausted from the pretence that when we got home we collapsed and dozed in front of the tv or did ‘our’ own things or we forgot that it was safe to be close with each other, affectionate with each other.
Tonight I watched by new Great Niece coo and blow bubbles as my Sister held her. I adore this child, and love seeing her change daily and watch my Niece become the most amazing Mother, but it also causes me a little hurt, or pang of the ‘what ifs’.
I know that I could foster, volunteer in any number of ways, but for now I think I need to spend a little time working through this new found emotion that has manifested itself in dreams etc.
While I make peace with the choices I made, the decisions I felt were the correct ones at the time, I get to watch this new human being, grow, change and become everything she can be. My new start, new place to live will also be blessed with a ring side seat of being involved in this little ladies life and getting to watch her blossom.
I’ll also be able to tell her stories of her Mom growing up, how alike they are, and how at one of the lowest points in my life she taught me to revel in the little things. To enjoy the smiles, to blow bubbles and to sing silly songs because it makes us both happy.