Family Pictures: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

brothers and sistersWhen my ex-husband and I separated in 2012, one of the worse things to happen to me was I was unable to get Chef to give me most of my personal belongings. Along with jewelry, furniture, and clothing, which he either gave to his then-girlfriend, destroyed, or simply hid from me, were a lot of my mother’s things. He was severely addicted to drugs, and in his state, irrational and vindictive.

For quite a long time, I had a hard time forgiving him for that part of our break-up. I had never considered myself materialistic at all, but I had to re-evaluate when I found myself wrathful over my mother’s hope chest, my great-grandmother’s apple dishes, and so many of my family’s pictures. When it became clear to me I wasn’t going to get any of these things back, I had no choice but to let it all go. Over time, I had to deal with quite a bit of guilt for losing things that didn’t belong exclusively to me, but to my brothers and sisters as well. It sucked, but I eventually came to terms with it.

Then, about a month or so ago, Chef contacted me out of the blue. He and his newest girlfriend had broken up, and he was moving back to Tulsa. Long story short, he found a house fairly close to mine, and moved into it. In the almost 3 years of separation, this was the very first time Chef wasn’t living with a woman.

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My daughter Caitlyn

Chef had told me years ago that he had lost all of our things when he couldn’t pay for a storage unit. When he told me that, I remember actually feeling sick to my stomach. Everything was gone, now in the hands of strangers who would never know any of the stories behind each precious item.

When Chef was moving into his new house, and in an effort to extend an olive branch, he told me that he had not lost everything in a storage unit. He had been carting around a lot of the things I had been grieving for. For 3 years, he had carried my mother’s things, most of the apple dishes, and a ton of pictures that were of my side of the family. He showed me the neatly packed, marked boxes of things that belonged to me, and to tell you the truth, I was both pissed off and relieved at once. I didn’t grab them and run, as one would assume I would have. When he showed them to me, him thinking I’d be ecstatic and grateful, I was so angry, I turned around and walked out of his house and drove home, without saying one word to him. How could he do that to me for so long?

Mom
Mom

For a week, he badgered me to come get my things out of his house. I don’t know why I didn’t just do it immediately. I guess I felt like dealing with getting some of it back might reopen a wound it took me a really long time to heal from. Having just a little of my things returned to me might remind me of the lion’s share of stuff I would never recover again. But finally, I bit the bullet, grabbed the hope chest and my six boxes, all that was left of 20 years of my life.

The day after I took my things, Chef’s house was robbed, and the vandals wrecked almost everything he owned. Had I left my things one more day, my stuff would have been ruined as well. Crazy!!

The stuff has been sitting in boxes in my room for a couple of weeks now. I haven’t felt in the mood to deal with my past with so many other things going on; but this morning, I grabbed the first box, and began to take inventory of what I had been given back.

Wouldn’t you know it? I found so much joy in the small things I feel the Lord had given back to me, and no sorrow whatsoever about the stuff that is gone forever. In fact, the memories of what all the stuff was, and why I had been sad to lose it, has faded so much, I simply don’t miss most of it anymore — I don’t even remember what most of it was.

I’m putting a bunch of my mother’s pictures on here, Facebook, and in the cloud, lest I ever find myself in the position again of not having access to them.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us back so much!

~ Bird

My dad, Gary Mallicoat and my son, William aka DJ
My dad, Gary Mallicoat and my son, William aka DJ
Rebekkah and our dog Suzie
Rebekkah and our dog Suzie
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Toni Lee Meyn (Mom)
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Shawn, Richard, Elisabeth, and Dude the Dog
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My brother, Richard Aaron
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Ione Marie Antoinette Providensia Matranga Meyn aka Nonie. The dog is named Lisa. Every time one Lisa would pass away, she was replaced by a puppy who was also named Lisa. I thought for the longest time that it was the same Lisa, which at some point was beginning to creep me out. Nonie recycled the name Lisa over and over again…. Lisa?!?
My niece Brytni
My niece Brytni
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My niece, Chloe
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Uncle Michael, Aunt Beverly, Michael Jr, and Lana
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The Matranga/Meyn Line
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Rebekkah, my firstborn
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My nephew Titus
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Me, Michael, and Shawn. Elisabeth flat out hated Santa Clauses guts, and would scream bloody murder if he tried to touch her hence, she is never in any of these pictures.
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Michael and Shawn
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Shawn, Michael, Elisabeth
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Elisabeth and Shawn
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Rebekkah
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Shawn. She always dressed up like a princess. I believe this is her outfit for the first day of school.
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Shawn, Richard, Elisabeth, and Dude
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Michael Cheshire
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Elisabeth and our mom, Toni
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Michael and Shawn
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Michael, when he was a fireman.
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My niece Erin
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Shawn, Elisabeth and Richards grandmother, Neenee, holding Erin

 

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Elisabeth and Shawn
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me and Michael
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My brother Richard
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Shawn and her prom date.
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Me
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Silas, my nephew
Mom
Mom in the USMC – Holding the flag
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Toni Lee Meyn
My kids 1
Caitlyn, William, Rebekkah
Titus
My nephew, Titus
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Proof that mom gave Michael and I the mad writing skills. 🙂

 

Memories: Being Killed By Friendly Fire

Again...

Lately, I have been thinking about where I was this time last year. I had briefly let Chef move into the spare room of my house, and it was going about how you would expect…beyond horribly. Within a few weeks, I would get in my car and drive away for good. I left everything I owned except a few clothes and some trinkets of a rickety new life I’d tried to start that same year. I remember feeling different this time, though. I knew I wasn’t ever going to be coming back. Nothing on the surface had really changed for me, but somehow, my soul understood. This time was different. I had a tiny sliver of strength growing deep inside, because I had begun to find some relief from the most devastating part of this whole mess…my own mind.

Long-term marriages have infinitely more potential to completely destroy the people in them when they fall apart than any other kind of break up, no matter how Shakespearean. Decades of identities interwoven, children raised and gone, hardships overcome together, finances indistinct and no longerBandido Chef clearly claimed by either spouse, and the sheer numbers of memories, all weave together in a way guaranteed to let no one walk away unwounded or unchanged. The ripping of two souls once bonded together will always leave scars on both sides.

For me, the true hell was the memories.It was like being bombed repeatedly by your own country. I was being wounded by friendly fire.

What does one do with the billions of memories you’ve collected all those years together? In my case, each sparkly memory of happy times with the man I loved tormented me incessantly for a whole year after I left him. Day or night, awake or asleep, they would be right there to haunt me.

Memories that had once faded into rather shadowy collections of a life of happiness and contentment had suddenly become sharply in focus, so unexpectedly dangerous, and razor sharp in the realization that they would never mean what they once did to me ever again. Even the simplest of those sweet memories had instantly become a shard of broken glass, and my own mind cut my heart into ribbons for what had seemed an eternity.

Memories that had been stored and quite literally forgotten about for years would leap out at the most unexpected of moments, disfigured by his

Get it? Bird and Chef!!!
Get it? Bird and Chef!!!

betrayal, mocking in their insincerity, and more powerful than any knife or gun in their ability to wound me. It was a horrible place to be in my life. Memories of moments we had shared, deeply intimate and once supremely treasured, would instantly cruelly shift, and my mind would see Chef sharing that same moment with this new woman he was in love with now. I often feared I’d eventually lose my mind.

I had no refuge from all those supposedly benign, happy memories. There simply were too many, and I was tormented by their existence and Initial Set Up 12-8-2011 9-16-48 PMtheir ability to cast any other woman in my place without any interruption at all in Chef’s life. I hated each one of those cursed memories of loving my husband, but they were a part of me, connected to my children, part of my understandings about this life, and I often cried myself to sleep, begging God to make them stop. And even as I wept those prayers, the understanding of why He would never take them away from me despite the pain, would often bring me to the brink of pure despair.

I have often pondered about the role that time plays in the healing of wounds that cut so deep in the souls of people. What was it that time was able to work in my broken, sad heart that made those memories stop slicing me open? Why was time able to help me to stop crying for the beloved past? How did time change those angry, accusing memories back into soft clouds of a past now gone? And was it time that stopped allowing me cast Chef’s latest conquest into the scenes from my life?

Is time magical? I don’t think so. I think it is more of an ingredient. Time is necessary to create new memories. Time is needed to adjust to a new perspective. You simply must have time in order to have new conversations with new people. After the forest of memories burned down, time allowed new hopes to spring up, and time rained on some of my hopes, and they grew healthy and strong into trees of goals and accomplishments. Time allowed me to find faith in myself again, and to get to know who I was after all of this had changed me.

burning the bridgeLife takes time.

I realize now, over the last few years, I’ve made new memories. The kids and I can fondly recall our ghetto apartment, our crazy experience

Everyone Has A Story...
Everyone Has A Story…

renting a room in someone’s house, and other memories unique to our lives as they are now, separated from Chef’s life.

My life quietly gathered into it, new people, new conversations, new boundaries, new memories. I have new hopes growing where others died the day my marriage died. I have different expectations from my life, and I understand myself and others a little better having experienced this. There is a sense of durability that only time could have tested to me now, and the resilience can no longer be questioned. Time has proven I can survive, even when I don’t really want to.

My memories have stopped haunting me, mainly because my mind has so many new ones to focus on now. The trauma isn’t fresh anymore, and increasingly, I find there is nothing more to be gleaned from revisiting that sad wreckage of a marriage that was no greater or lesser than any others, and died in a sadly common way as well. Time has doggedly marched on, and with it, so have I.

Lately, I’ve been able to gently allow those once dangerous memories of love lost to gently take focus in my mind, not instantly slamming doors on them like I’ve been doing these last two years. Like the gentle exploration of a healing cut, I am quick to pull away from anything too painful. Yet, I find lately that some of the most devastating of memories now hold none of the destructive power they did a mere year ago. They’ve all begun to recede from the reality of my life now, no longer magically able to convince me of a life of perfection, but also no longer able to cut me to the quick with their existence.

for fire-blushTime has allowed my life to return to a balanced state. Hope is powerful to those who have known disappointment as well. Love is better for those who have experienced hate. Kindness means more to those who have experienced disregard. Trust has a new value to me, having seen it balanced against betrayal of the most intimate kind.  Life is about striking a balance, and time is an ingredient necessary.

I have had a few things happen lately that I eventually plan to write about, but I’m still trying to sort through what I really feel about them. I believe I am about to lay the last of my history with Chef aside, severing the last real ties I have with that relationship and the life I had with him forever. I have found it surprisingly hard to let this last vestige go, but I feel the time has finally come. No one can live peacefully with one foot planted firmly in the past. It is time to let it all go.

~ Bird