Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FORGIVENESS

Those of you that follow my blog (and, BTW, not enough has been made of how much I love and appreciate that, thank you), know that in the summer of 2007 I "left my kids" to go find myself. I was in frequent touch with them through the telephone and e-mails, and saw them a few times throughout my self-imposed seclusion, but none-the-less, I was not in their minute-to-minute lives like "good mothers" are.

Then I came home and wrote a memoir about that time, my midlife "crisis" book, my Erma Bombeck meets Elizabeth Gilbert self-discovery book. And then I tried to pitch that book to approx. a million agents, and was told everything from simply "not interested" to "love your book, love your writing, love your humor, love your honesty, but can't sell this book, now that Eat Pray Love made it big, there's a glut of this type of book on the market."

But for sure, the comment that hurt the worst, was from the agent that said, "Your readers won't be able to get over the fact that you left your children." And although I knew that comment was highly subjective, I feared she was right.

And then that same agent worked like crazy to find me a different agent, and I knew that even though I had offended her by my premise, I had hit a nerve - a universal nerve?

So I worked to get over the fact that others would judge me, whether or not they ever read the book.

And for the most part I was successful in getting good with my own decision, having told myself before, during and after the exile that what I was really doing, in the grand scheme of things, was not "leaving my children" but setting them free, particularly my teenage daughter. I wanted her to have her own life, to be unleashed from the invisible choke hold of my unfinished business. I knew what it was like to be fused to a mother that "hadn't done her work," and I didn't want that for my daughter. I wanted whatever "demons" she had in her life to be hers.

Not mine.

But the guilt remained. What if the voices on the outside were right, and the voice on my inside was wrong - just self serving and WRONG?

I decided to find out. This weekend I asked my kids. I started with Rojo, since he was the easiest, and I was a chicken.

"Rojo? Remember when I was gone for a long time?"

He looked puzzled, like no, he really couldn't remember that time, but I persisted.

"That summer when Daddy took care of you instead of me, when I was in Sisters?"

He nodded.

"Well, I'm really sorry about that time. I'm really sorry that I was gone, that I didn't take care of you all those days. I'm sorry if that hurt your feelings. I'm sorry if you missed me. I'm sorry."

He just looked at me, love visible from every pore of his skin, and said, "You don't have to be sorry. Now what time do you want to have our games today?"

Then I moved on to Woohoo and asked her virtually the same thing. She said in response, "Hurt me? You didn't hurt me. You helped me. You made me stronger. You taught me."

"I did? What did I teach you?" I asked, really wanting to know.

"You taught me that parents have lives they're not just here to serve kids."

Then we went on to have our best heart-to-heart talk we've every had, followed by the warmest hug of my life.

And although this does not mean I won't still feed the "Leather Fund" (time on a leather couch with a good therapist), perhaps it's time I feed myself a little something too.

Forgiveness.



(Just noticed the date on the artwork up top, 1994, the year Woohoo was born. No accidents. We had our family prayer time this morning, each kid drew a card from the "Enlightenment" deck, and both kids drew cards dealing with what? Forgiveness.)


* Photo from: http://rtmulcahy.files.wordpress.com

24 comments:

holly said...

And the winner is... everyone!

Nice work!

Marlies said...

Carrie,just beautiful.This is what i needed to get my Day going.Love,Love,Love you

Anonymous said...

Take Woohoo and go see Holidazed (play in Portland) you'll both bellyache laugh together.

pixiemama said...

Forgiveness is one of those very lovely words that we seldom seem to think WE deserve. I love that you asked the kids what they remembered, and that you were brave enough to apologize in words (as opposed to buying them things, which I am prone to doing...). You probably did help them in the long run. And those people who might judge you? Well, what's so RIGHT about being judgmental?

Jerri said...

Not an accident that an agent reflected your deepest fears.

Good for you for looking 'em right in the eye!

Angie Ledbetter said...

No accidents, hon. The two most important people (the kidlets) already told you what you needed to hear. Blot out the other voices...interior and exterior! Huggage (Lemme know if the book doesn't arrive today, so I can go have it out with FedEx.) :)

Robin said...

What a great post to read. Have I told you how much I love your honesty in your writing?

Amber said...

You know what I love about this? One, that they obviously know they are loved. Your leaving was not like MY mom leaving...They did not feel abandoned, because they were already frim in their foundation.
Two, that Woohoo will grow up knowing that it is okay for a woman to take care of herself, sometimes. And that when she does, it doesn't have to mean taking "from" someone she loves.

...I really need to remember this-- hell, LEARN it, myself. Because unlike WooHoo, I had no healthy example of how to do this. So thank you.

...I really doubt they will need much "leather time". ;)

;)

Wanda said...

Your 'springs are amazing. I am sure that you did help Woohoo. And Rojo gets it.

For what it's worth, not everyone thinks what you did was a "bad thing." My thought was, "Cool. Good for her. STM is TM!" Maybe it was the summer everyone grew up--or something like that.

And it really doesn't matter a rat's ass what I or anyone thinks. Your family is what matters. No one else really gets a vote. If they need to express their opinions...let 'em do it somewhere else. Fork 'em.

Lori said...

Fantastic post, and great insight. You have some mighty great kids, Carrie. And I think you've done remarkably to raise a daughter that wise and independent.

I'd buy the book. Elizabeth Gilbert's was great, but dammit, I want to read about a MOM who takes time off to find herself. Why not? We all want to, even if some won't admit it.

Go Mama said...

Love you Carrie!
Your book is finding its way to its rightful home now...

Kathryn said...

Well, how great do you feel now? I am speechless. You took care of yourself, Carrie and everybody won. What is the Enlightenment deck you are talking about?

So much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Kathryn,

Here's the link to the Enlightenment cards:
http://www.amazon.com/Enlightenment-Cards-Thoughts-Disappearance-Universe/dp/1401910270

love.
Carrie

deb said...

We women are hard on ourselves. I feel the same way about having placed Katie into a group home. I still guilty sometimes, even though I know she's thriving.

Rev. Christine said...

What a beautiful story Carrie. I hope you include that in your introduction to your book...which by the way, has been released from bondage by your willingness to face your fears. I expect you will see lots of movement on publishing your book now that you have been set free. Much to be thankful for.

Terry said...

Ditto Holly!

Deb said...

Your courage is inspirational. I'm so glad you were able to give yourself the gift of the truth your children have to offer you. Your inner voice is right one more time. Love you!

Lola said...

WOW!
REally!
W0W!

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

I can't tell you how much I wish my mom would have taken time away from me to find herself. She still hasn't and probably never will. Today, she called me a bitch. And would not apologize. To her, there is nothing wrong with that. To me, it hurts like hell. I had my car all packed up and ready to go but had to draw a line. Mom, it's not ok to talk to people like that. She just does not get it. I thank God that a person can have a horrible childhood and yet raise wonderful children. We can break free from the past, and for that there are no words, only a deep gratitude in my heart. My own dad left my mom when I was 1, and moved to OR to buy his own land and log cabin, because he knew he had to have something to give to us. He feared if he stayed in L.A. he would die inside and would have nothing to give. And to this day, the land he lives on and the life he taught us - voluntary simplicity and living from the land - is the ONLY part of my childhood (besides my friends) that has nourished me and saved my life. I didn't know about you leaving last summer, but you're very brave, and wise. When I left my husband, it was a similar sort of thing I think. I thought I would lose my mind if I stayed. I didn't like who I was becoming. I needed to break free. And I did, and I've grown in so many positive ways. I travel a lot away from my kids and think some people may think why do I do that. But they see I have my own life, and love my career, and their friends think it's cool what I do, and they are starting to also. :) You know, I believe if we're attuned to our inner wisdom and to God's voice within, He always steers us toward what we need to heal. And by healing ourselves, we can give greater love to our children and nurture them to become the people God intended them to be. :) Many blessings to you this Thanksgiving. Thanks for being you.

Nancy said...

Many women leave without leaving. Stay, but with bitter resentment. You did what was honest and brave and loving. I find apologizing to my kids is the most real way to face my own imperfections and they are always gracious. Happy Thanksgiving!

Michelle O'Neil said...

LOVE.

She said...

WOW! And just being willing to have that conversation with your kiddos is the mark of an AWESOME MOM!

Double Wow! Their responses!

kario said...

You never left your children. By now, they know that you of all people will go to the mat for them and they are always in your heart. Your children are such a reflection of the time and respect you've invested in them. Take a bow, please.

graceonline said...

Carrie, you're not the first woman to need time to reflect, renew and, perhaps, to heal. Many of us have taken such time. Not only is your book needed, but it will hit a nerve--the good kind--for many women. Don't give up. The right publisher is out there. (And if it's already published, I'm sorry I missed that.)