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Someone asked me where Day 1 was of the Blog of Missing. I started with Day 20, which is kind of a let-down, right? Where’s the beginning? There should be a Day 1. A way to find the genesis of the heartache.
And there should be words for every day of the missingness. We’ve got all the feels every day, and by we, I mean everyone who misses Jake. A post a day keeps the insanity at bay (except there ain’t no sanity clause….)
I don’t know exactly when Day 1 is. I know the first day he left.
I know the last day someone thought they saw him.
I know the first day, approximately, that I started worrying about him before he disappeared.
I know the first day he stopped talking to me three years ago.
I know the day he started talking to me again. And the day he said he forgave me and that he had been mad for dumb things.
I know the day I dropped him off at Denny’s.
I know the last day he called his dead friend’s phone.
I know many significant days.
Which one is the first?
Today marks 118 days since I knew he was safe, had shelter, and he was talking to me. Now I have hope that he is not dead. I don’t know about shelter, I don’t know his mindset, and I don’t know that he’s safe, but it’s comforting to feel mostly sure that he’s not dead.
This summer two people approached me to ask if I’d been checking Jake’s Facebook. When I said no, they told me that their messages to him in Facebook had been read by someone. I myself have seen that twice. I dismissed it because I believed (and still do) that Jake had sold his laptop. I figured someone had access to his Facebook messages.
I have reason to believe he is at least alive and has access to his Facebook account because I used to be able to see his friends list, and now cannot. A person with access to his account would be indifferent regarding privacy, I think.
You know as much as I do.
I can extrapolate a lot from this info, but I’ve learned I’m usually wrong about stuff when I do that. Too many assumptions.
This. It’s where my head’s at.
I’ve found a website that offers help to those who have been reported missing:
THE MISSING BLOG: HELPING YOU SEND A MESSAGE HOME
Here’s what the page says:
You might not be ready, want or be able to return home at this time, but still want family or loved ones to know you’re okay. You could be scared of how they might react or be worried about a difficult situation you left behind.
It can be very hard to make that first contact or find the words you want to say to someone, for a range of personal and individual reasons. That is why we have developed our Message Home service.
Remember, we won’t disclose your location if you don’t want us to.
Simply talk to us and provide us with information that will help prove your identity to the person we are passing the message on to, such as your date of birth or any memorable information. We will then get in touch with your family and ask if they’re willing to receive a message from you.
After, they will also be given the opportunity to pass a message back to you and we will check with you first to make sure you are willing to receive the message.
We will never pass on abusive, harmful , threatening or upsetting messages between family members or messages regarding legal or financial matters.
Want to talk? We are free, confidential and available 24/7.
Call or text 116 000
You can text us even if you have no credit left on your mobile phone.
Here is more general information for someone who is missing: http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/how-we-can-help/missing-adults.html
If you are reading this, know that there’s help available, and it’s okay if you don’t want to pass on a message. I love you.
I got married last year after being in a ten-year long-distance relationship. People regularly express wonder at the length of our time living apart, and everyone asks the same question: how?
For the last 9 months I’ve been shrugging off the question because, you know, we just DID it. It was just the way things worked out for that time frame, and we dealt with it. But today I was asked again, and it finally dawned on me (because I’m quick like that) that people really want to know what it is about our relationship that made it last through ten years of being about 3,000 miles apart.
Some reasons we have lasted:
- Trust. That seems obvious, perhaps. You HAVE to trust that you’re not one of a long line of people on booty-call speed dial, right? But how do you trust that when you can’t see what the other person’s up to except when you visit once a year? Well, I have to ask why anyone would be in a relationship where this is even a question. If you can’t trust the person you want to be with, look at yourself. Are you trustworthy? Are you asking that question because you know you’re out cattin’ around? Of course, there’s insecurity. I’m human, and I’m pudgy. I worried that he saw a tall, beautiful, slender blonde woman in town who would suit him far better than I did. There were times when I was convinced that I wasn’t beautiful enough, and I realized after a long time that this was my issue, and only mine, but I arrived at there because of …next point:
- Grace. A crap-ton of it. And for a while, much of it was one-sided. Not me! Tom. I am awed by how much I have learned about what love is from this man. I can be a horrid, grudge-holding woman over dumb things. Heck, we had an 8-month break-up because of my stubbornness. He wrote me a letter during the break-up that I did not answer, and when I finally, miraculously, relented and wrote him, he answered immediately. (All of which makes you wonder, uh, why does he love her? Answer: When I’m not being horrid, I’m awesome.) But grace: it is undeserved. Forgiving. Sometimes baffling. And it usually ends in…next point:
- Humor. Not a day passes that we don’t laugh. There’ve probably been days of arguing over the years that we couldn’t laugh, but they’re outnumbered by the laughing days. And the secret here is that we’re able to laugh at ourselves. We both know we can be childish and unreasonable, and we’re safe with each other so we can say, “Oh, wow. I suck, and I’m sorry.” Tom says part of my awesomeness is that I own it when I’m wrong, even if it’s not right away.
- We believe the best of each other. If Tom says something that hurts my feelings, I’ve learned to step back and consider his words in the light of his love for me. I had to wear bracelets for a while to remind myself of this, but the lesson did take.
I get it now.
- Refusal to give up. Tom says I’m relentless. I say I’m determined. Whatever. We’re both thankful. And really, he’s one to talk. It’s he who showed me how to love when it was hard. It’s he who taught me that I was loveable by doing everything he could to make me laugh so I would get over my self-consciousness about my loud laugh. It’s he who called me every day, even when I was mad at him.
- Communication. We talked almost every night. I think we probably talked more than most couples did who lived together. In fact, I’d bet we know each other far better than most people who’ve been married longer. We learned to listen to tones in each other’s voices. And we have a rule: no hang-ups. Hanging up in the middle of a fight is the worst kind of storming off. So we’d have these long pauses when we could not speak because we were so mad and had nothing friendly to say, but we couldn’t hang up so we were forced to work it through till we reached some kind of resolution.
- Commitment to the relationship. We both wanted it to work. This means you have to dump pride to the side, and you have to be able to give and receive grace.
- And now: God. We recognize that God was there all along, but we weren’t paying attention to that at first.
3,000 miles can exist within the same house between two people. Physical distance doesn’t break a relationship; emotional chasms do. Tom and I learned to bridge them while we lived so far apart, and now we are discovering how much we enjoy being together in the same house with no chasms to cross. It’s pretty amazing.
The appearance of things change according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves. ~Kahlil Gibran
Be ugly, see ugliness.
Be merciful, see mercy.
Be deceitful, see deceit.
Be joyful, see joy.
Whatever we see out there is true within us.
My husband taught me something about love today.
We had a heated argument yesterday in which we showed all our dark colors.
You always! You never!
This morning, upon awakening, he mumbled, “Prayer works.”
I thought he was referring to the fact that I had relented and cuddled up to him in the middle of the night, but that wasn’t it.
He said, “I prayed that something would happen to make me let go of my anger because I knew I was the problem.”
Note: He was not the problem. We both were.
What surprised me was that he had not prayed for God to move my heart, or to change my perspective. He hadn’t prayed that I would relent.
He’d only prayed about his own attitude.
That little act was a mirror: I could see my own culpability, my own inflexibility, my own pride.
I don’t know how all this relates, precisely.
My goal is that the humility and mercy that reside in him will be evident in me when he looks at me.
Sometimes I only have a scent. Ivory Soap. Pine sap. Old Spice. It’s faint, like an afterimage, as Atwood writes in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Other times, I catch a memory when I noodle about something peripheral, like the weather of my childhood.
And other times, I am knocked into a pit by something that happens, like my son telling me he will not be seeing me again. As of this writing, I am 18 hours and 40 minutes from that revelation, and all I can think is, ‘if I’d known it was the last time I’d see him, I’d’ve lingered over dinner. I’d’ve drawn out the conversation, which would have been easy because our conversations have always been interesting. I’d’ve found some way not to be the mother who drives him crazy.’ Okay, nix that last one. I actually don’t know how to do that.
(He is not suicidal.) (And he doesn’t read my blog.)
There’s more to it. There always is. But that is not what this post is about. This post is about how present events harken back to old wounds.
I often identify old hurts by rooting around in the new ones (when I have the clarity to do so.) Today, in this fresh hell, I can identify the pain of many old things, but I will name only two:
1) giving my son up for adoption almost three decades ago, and
2) my mother washing her hands of me when I was 11, and again when I was 19.
So my next question for myself is, which pain am I feeling?
Here’s the thing: I have seen enough of life to understand its cycles. The grownup in me knows that nothing stays the same. So the enormous pain I feel is not just about my son walking away.
So what does this mean? How does the current issue illuminate the past hurt?
I see that by linking them I am telling myself the old story of abandonment, and that’s a story I’m done with. Being abandoned means I have no power. I’m not an abandoned waif, I’m a grownup, and I will not be undone by grief. I do leave my arms open for him should he return. But I also accept that it could be years, even decades, before that happens, if at all. My mother was dead ten years before I understood some things in our relationship, things about her.
I’m writing this because I am devastated and I have to work through this or go crazy. I have to be back at work on Monday and I can’t be dissolving every time something reminds me of my son. I have to see some meaning.
Still working on that.
What I do know is that I can model the grace I now recognize for myself. I can be thankful that he has new-found faith and that he is seeking his own right path. And I can trust that everything will be okay. Mostly. Still working on that, too.
“According to Jungian Jolande Jacobi, in psychic inner reality the archetypal Shadow is a symbol for an aspect of the self (1959). When we cannot find a way to work with our shadow through our dreams or in other ways, it becomes a symptom in our outer world. ” From http://www.eupsychia.com/perspectives/defs/shadow.html
In the compilation of shadow essays called Meeting the Shadow, M. Scott Peck writes,
“If evil people cannot be defined by the illegality of their deeds or the magnitude of their sins, then how are we to define them? The answer is by the consistency of their sins. While usually subtle, their destructiveness is remarkably consistent….
A predominant characteristic, however, of the behavior of those I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection….
Scapegoating works through a mechanism psychiatrists call projection…. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad….
Strangely enough, [they] are often destructive because they are attempting to destroy evil. The problem is that they misplace the locus of the evil…” (178-79). (see here for more info on the book)
I think that when we cannot accept a certain aspect of our selves, we are then on hyper-alert for that aspect in others. This is why politicians and other public figures should shut up. I’ve lost count of how many prominent figures have loudly decried sexual misconduct and then have been found guilty of that same “sin.”
We are loudest about what we hate in ourselves.
And the only way to combat this effectively is to accept those parts in our selves which cause us to be ashamed.
But we can’t if we don’t have a safe space to be vulnerable.
So not only is the accusing person hiding secret shame, he is in an environment which fosters such deceptiveness.
Where is grace?
Why is grace so difficult to give?
I’m noodling on grace because my mother was unable to receive it.
And because of that, she couldn’t give it.
I wonder if that is true across the board. If you haven’t ever received unconditional acceptance of who you are, right to your marrow, can you give that to anyone? If so, how?
I am also still formulating what my definition of grace is.
I experience it on a daily basis from my husband. I make mistakes. I get psycho/neurotic/depressed–and there he is, accepting that I am in a particular space, but I am still the beautiful girl he adores. This means, usually, that he walks with me through that valley all the way through to the other side.
Humility. That’s the key to grace.
And you can’t be truly humble if you don’t accept all parts of yourself, and you can’t accept them if you can’t see them, blinded by pride as you are.
This week I’m reflecting on all the ways I experience grace, and I’m looking for it in Mama’s life, too.