Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Blog (10/20/11)
TITLE: Meredith's Secret Garden
By Deborah Rampona Oliver
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Meredith rolls over onto her side and waits for the fog of sleep to fade. “Does he really?” she wonders. “Can he really like what he sees? “ She finds herself holding her breath as she considers these questions. Somehow it’s hard to believe, to really feel total acceptance, even after all their years of marriage. Releasing her breath in one continuous whoosh, she acknowledges the thought and dismisses it.
In truth, Meredith looks pretty good for a forty year old woman with two children, but she never measures up to the invisible benchmark that was imposed upon her by the first of several stepmothers. Somehow, being ‘good enough’ was a standard that always slid out of reach just as she arrived at a goal. Gaining unconditional approval from a stepmother who’d had more surgeries than a desperate housewife was a lost cause. Even at adulthood, Meredith meets each day never quite feeling as though she is fully seated and balanced in her soul. She finds it hard to accept herself.
Meredith walks down the hall and opens a door. “Time to get up,” she whispers to her son. He bounces out of bed and stomps down the stairs so hard that she can feel a thump for each step he takes. Thankfully, he seems unaware that mom isn’t perfect. Meredith smiles to herself and whispers a prayer, “God, please help my kids to feel completely loved and fully accepted by me and more importantly by you.”
The Monday morning onslaught of tasks is a welcome diversion. Meredith has found if she can feel productive, she can temporarily escape the niggling details that burrow into her conscious and cause unease. Unlike many of her friends, Meredith wasn’t sure she wanted to be a mother. Early childhood experiences left her with the intense fear that if she had children of her own, she would unwittingly saddle them with emotional luggage she’d been handed as a child. Her own childhood heartbreak was so crushing there were days she thought there would never be any way to hold all of the pieces together.
Fortunately, children have brought something that Meredith never anticipated…a second chance. An opportunity to break the cycle of brokenness and to love her kids with a love that she wasn’t given. There was an undiscovered well in her heart that only became apparent the moment her first child was born. Now she spends her days at that well drawing up buckets of love to shower upon her children.
The disparity for Meredith is that she has a hard time accepting love and feeling worthwhile. She fears the day when her kids will see all of the weakness she works so hard to hide. Somehow, being imperfect isn’t acceptable. Allowing herself to feel is difficult, because letting feelings bloom can set off a cascade of emotions that can’t be regulated. Meredith knows that putting toothpaste back into the tube is impossible, so she prefers to keep a tight rein on emotion and deal mostly in logic. Thus, most of her acquaintances perceive her to be highly analytical, even ‘nerdy’ even though she’s deeply emotional.
After seeing her children safely onto the bus, Meredith sits down at the computer to check email and Facebook. Then she logs into her digital “Secret Garden.” While some people hide skeletons in their closets, Meredith’s hidden secret is that she keeps a blog. It is only in this place that Meredith can shed all constraints and let it all hang out. The anonymity of allowing people to see her soul without seeing her face gives her a freedom she hasn’t found elsewhere.
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