Loving. Leaving. Thanking God.
A STORY BY ALICE CABLAYAN
he room was dark as I awoke suddenly and sat straight up in a strange bed. It was between one and two in the morning, and I could see the beams of light from the street lamps streaming into the room. I looked straight ahead of me at the blinds that covered the windows facing the parking lot. “The parking lot,” I silently whispered to myself as I shook my head in regret. I was thinking about the beautiful hillside view from my second floor bedroom windows and the large, magenta colored bougainvillea that I planted three years ago which grew to grace the terrace of the back patio - its blossoms would reach out to me at my bedroom window and twinkle as if they were flower fairies wanting to capture my attention. I had traded my hillside view for a view of parked cars and street lamps in a crowded condominium parking lot. I reached out to touch the outline of the day bed’s bedframe that lay smothered against the wall. It was cold, impersonal, and unwelcoming, so different from the warm, cherry wood headboard I was accustomed to admiring and polishing on my own bed. The mattress was uncomfortable - thin, lumpy, worn and faded - it was a far cry from the plush king sized bed I’d slept in just twenty four hours ago. As I moved around, the wires beneath the mattress squeaked like a bed in a run-down motel from a ghetto drug scene A “Thank God I” story by Alice Cablayan
in a movie. I shuddered at the thought of who slept here before me and what might have taken place. I pulled my knees up to my chest as the strange silence of the night began to cruelly mock me with the dark emptiness I felt all around me. “Oh God…what have I done?!. I whispered to myself. I buried my face in my hands as tears began to form and roll down from my eyes. “Oh no…Oh no..” I quietly said to myself as the realization of my decision began to settle in. My breathing began to heave and jerk and I had to hold my breath to control the convulsions that wanted to be released. My heart began to break and shatter into tiny, sharp, crystal-clear chards as the feeling of a hot steely sword cut into the depths of my soul. “WHAT HAVE I DONE???” I shouted in whispers to myself as I heared the cry of my soul begin to weep from the depths of my being. My throat began to involuntarily moan like the ghost of a wandering banshee. My chest began to heave with sudden jerks as I struggled to hold back the tears and control my lungs from gasping for air. I began to rock myself back and forth as I clutched my knees to my chest to relieve the grief that my body and emotions wanted to release. I felt afraid to cry, for I knew that my cry would be no ordinary cry. 2.
I knew that deep, down inside of me, my primordial self was in deep, deep pain – angry at the circumstances that caused me to cut away the bonds of mother and child before its time. No, this would be no ordinary cry and I did not know if I was ready to meet the destroyer part of myself, known as Kali in India, for her cry would be the wail of an angry and haunting banshee. I was afraid of her because I gave away the love of her life and the fruit of her womb – her two young children. Feelings of guilt began to invade my inner world like warriors on horseback racing down a hill to attack their enemies. I hugged my knees to my chest to comfort the achy feeling I was experiencing deep in my gut. “They’re crying now - wondering where I’m at, looking for me in the dark of my bedroom and seeing that all of my stuff is gone,” I quietly whispered to myself. I closed my eyes and felt a hard, sharp and cold pain cut through my solar plexus like the self-inflicted pain of hara-kiri, the ancient Japanese ritual of suicide. My heart felt like it was bleeding. Inwardly, I knew I woke up in the middle of the night because I could intuitively feel my children crying out for me. I could feel the screams of their distress and, in my mind’s eye, I could see them weeping with a A “Thank God I” story by Alice Cablayan
look of shock and bewilderment that their mother was suddenly gone from their home. I could see my daughterâ€™s eyes filled with tears that ran down her small, brown cheeks and I could see my son holding and comforting her, telling her that everything will be ok even though he too could not make sense of the feelings of confusion that he was experiencing. I could see in my mind their father, in his own hurt and anger of my having left them, trying to comfort them as he tried to bring order to this hysteria occurring in his house. The vision was too much for me to bear. I shut my eyes and willed myself to block any more psychic impressions from coming in to my inner sight and inner world of feelings. The darkness of my room was a comfort from the light of truth. Thoughts of self-judgment and accusations of being a bad mother began to play in my mind like a broken record. â€œHow could I forgive myself?. I thought. â€œHow selfish was I. How could I leave them and just think of myself like this?. Feeling bewildered, I wondered if I had done the right thing. I knew in my heart that I imposed a trauma on them that they would have to live with and work out for the rest of their lives. Thoughts of negative future fantasies began to swirl in my mind of my children as young adults having personality issues and problems - of being overly needy in 4.
relationships or worse, numbing their pain through substance abuse or other forms of addiction. “No…no!. I firmly told myself as if scolding a child for doing something it wasn’t supposed to. “No…don’t you think like that!” I continued admonishing myself. I had to remember – to think back why I did this in the first place . Why I left a beautiful suburban home and left my role as a wife and full-time mother who didn’t have to work. Why I left a garden I cultivated and two small dogs I loved dearly as my animal guardians. In this place of darkness, I had to remember the light of my self-loving and remind myself of the reasons why I chose to give the rightful care of my children to their father. I wondered why I had the belief that I couldn’t take care of them myself. I felt like my comfortable world of home-making and suburbia crumbled before me like the ruins of Pompeii. My bed squeeked as I adjusted my weight from hugging my knees. My eye caught a small ray of light that reflected off of a small silver plated picture frame that contained a picture of my children. I reached over to the nightstand, grabbed the picture and looked at the soft eyes of my children through the cold and impersonal glass that protected their image. A “Thank God I” story by Alice Cablayan
“I’m sorry,” I said aloud to their smiling faces through the glass. “Mommy’s sorry she had to leave you,” I continued. My nosed sniffed as tears began to well up in my eyes. “But you’ll be ok - I promise,” I said - hoping that my promise to them would hold true over the years. I continued to speak to them lovingly and I held the picture of them in my hand as if I were holding their tender faces for the last time. I took a deep breath in and held it for a few seconds as I gathered the courage inside of me to explain why I did not say good-bye to them in person. “Mommy had to leave. I wanted to say good-bye to you and explain to both of you why I had to leave so suddently, but your daddy wouldn’t let me.” I continued. “I know you don’t understand right now and I know this hurts a lot. But I want you to know that even though I am not with you at home, I am with you in your heart.” My voice began to tremble as I bit my lower lip and did everything I could to hold my tears back. “Mommy will do the best she can to find a job so that we can have our own house and live together again. But for now, mommy has to leave you with your daddy, because I don’t have the money to take 6.
care of all of us and I don’t have a home for all of us right now and I want you to be happy and have a nice home to live in.” “I want you to be in the best schools, and in nice neighborhoods with all of your friends around you. I want you to know what it’s like to grow up with love and support and your daddy’s family is good at that. You’ll have everything that I didn’t have as a kid growing up, and even though it will hurt and you’ll be sad for a while when we’re apart, I’ll do what I can to stay close by.” “I know that you know your daddy and I fought all the time and I didn’t want you to think this was how it is supposed to be with mommies and daddies... “ “You see, mommy felt like she was dying inside and in order for me to still be around and be your mommy, I had to leave the fighting. I know this is hard to understand right now. It will be lonely for a while but at least there will be no more horrible fighting. Mommy has to go away to take care of herself so that she can take care of you.” “I know one day, when you are big and have your own kids, you’ll understand all of this. For now, just know in your hearts that mommy will always, always love you.” A “Thank God I” story by Alice Cablayan
And with that, I closed my eyes and said a small prayer for myself for the long journey that lay ahead of me. I bowed my head and gave thanks to God that even though I didnâ€™t know what my next step was, I knew that my kids would be taken care of. Somehow I would be all right.