Can We Find Ourselves?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 was a day in recent history marked for me by sadness, guilt, and hope – all rolled into one little package. It was the day my youngest child – twelve years old – loaded up his prized possessions (with the help of his dad and a friend) into his dad’s truck and drove away to live a brand new life… A life without the everyday influence, participation and firm, loving hand of his mother.

I can’t begin to express the flood of emotions that ensued once my son drove away and headed for another state, to the land of what he saw as opportunity and life on easy street. I was ill-prepared for the countless negative thoughts that would whirl through my mind, out of control. “If only you’d done this…” “If you lived in a house, maybe he’d be happier…” “You’ve been such a bad mother…”

The reality, which I so seldom indulge in, is that life with me was not so bad.  As a matter of fact, it was pretty damn good.  How bad can life be in Los Angeles, California, surrounded by good friends, a fun community and endless opportunites?  And then, what about once we moved to Aspen, Colorado?  I’m sure the winters can grow tiresome, but walking out your door to hit the slopes is not all that bad. Riding your bike to school, because it’s safe enough here to do so.. well, that’s pretty special too.

It was the divorce that made things tough on my little dude.  He and his dad were always very close, and as such, his dad could do no wrong. Ever. From the time he was six or seven, and shortly after the divorce, my son asked if he might ever be given the choice to live with his dad.  At the time, I understood this to be his little heart crying out for his daddy, and I supported him.  I knew his dad would be very important in his life. I told him when he reached twelve or so, it would be possible.  I figured that was several years down the road, and would be plenty of time to raise him into the child he could be…   He never forgot.

Just before my son’s departure, I began to panic.  I didn’t know it, nor could anyone tell me, but I was trying to figure things out – and fast.  Why was my son really leaving?  Was there anything I needed to do to change things? Should I look within myself and make changes, or try to fix my external surroundings?

This thinking, and related behavior (tears, emotional roller-coaster rides) put tremendous strain on my relationship with my boyfriend – whom I live with, and with whom I’ve started to build a new life. I started to doubt every choice I’d made since the divorce. First, to move from Orange County to Los Angeles, then to move to Aspen.  Then to move in with my boyfriend, whom I’ve since claimed to be the love of my life. Had it been too much for my son? Had he finally reached his limit?  Was all this grossly unfair to expect a child to endure? And what was this whole business about Aspen?  What was I doing here after all?  Was this really what I wanted?  I’m a marketing and public relations maven!  What could Aspen possibly have to offer me?

I decided to take the time immediately following my son’s departure to travel back to Los Angeles. I needed a good dose of it too.  I needed to take it all in and decide if I could live in peace and happiness in Aspen.  Los Angeles is one city I love. I knew this would be a challenge.

My older son had remained in LA, so it was a perfect time to pay a visit and receive some much-needed acknowledgement as a good mother.  It was a good move. I realized that I’d never visited LA and spent time with my older son – just the two of us.  We needed that time.

I also realized it was ridiculous to pressure myself into deciding for or against a city.  There were a few things I knew for certain which remain true:  1) I love my boyfriend; 2) I want to continue to try to build a life with him; 3) I love Los Angeles, and all my friends and family there; 4) I’m definitely a city girl and need a good dose of the city regularly.  But whenever I tried to reach a decision about moving to Los Angeles, or staying in Aspen I felt like I was being shackled. Choked out. Smothered. I didn’t come to the conclusion that I wanted to leave Aspen, nor did I feel I was so in love with Los Angeles that I would foresake everything and move back. Why couldn’t I make a decision?  I’ve been hailed among friends as being a decisive, action-oriented person.  I’m the one who’s brave and willing to take risks.  What was I afraid of here?

I guess I realized that this whole great whirlwind of emotion was more about ME then it would ever be about any one place. I had lost my peace, and felt insecure.  I was living in fear and regret.  My peaceful, self assured way of being had been chewed up and spit out by the ebb and flow of life, and I’d sat by and watched it happen.

I also learned that it is impossible to fabricate security, and peace.   This I know.

I went to Los Angeles hoping to find a piece of myself still there: some hint or clue … I hoped I’d find that little piece lying on a curb near my regular haunts or on the counter at my favorite music store or something..  I didn’t find myself or any remnant thereof in Los Angeles (metaphorically, of course)..   It just didn’t happen.  I loved it.  I missed it.  I missed my friends and my son.  I missed the conveniences. But I just couldn’t bring myself to say I was ready to give up on Aspen and the man who is my love.

I remembered an important idiom I’ve quoted many times, only this time it had real meaning:  “Wherever you go, there you are.” That was it.  Wherever I go, There I am!  The key to this whole mess, the ups and downs emotionally, and my happiness and peace was ME.

I realized that you can’t find something you haven’t lost… DUH. I wasn’t lost.  I was just crazy and sad over something that is NORMAL to be crazy and sad over.

I’ve decided to sit with things as they are.  Cry when I need to cry. Laugh as much as possible.  Remember who I am, and stay true to that.

Wherever You Go There You Are

Photos, Website & Blog content copyright 2007, LISA J. DAVIS a.k.a. Ms. Cheevious