How I lost my lifelong membership to this club….
It occurs somewhere around mid-to-early-January, the drug stores aisles turn to a sea of red hearts, teddy bears and ageless chocolates, buttering us up for the next major holiday, Valentine’s Day. This day that will always undoubtedly prove the currency of my self-worth by the amount of Made-in-China crap purchased for me on this glorious rose-filled day. And oh! I need to make room for all the roses! I have personally always been a huge fan of this mid-winter test of my self-esteem.
*ahem* Noooooooooo, no I have not.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an awesome Valentine’s Day, in fact the only giggle-inducing-memory I have of this day was a first date with a boy in Mill Valley, California and we were at a pizza joynt that was slinging heart-shaped pizzas for the night. When the waiter finally came around to take our order, I began to ask questions and make special requests, à la Meg Ryan from “When Harry Met Sally“. The waiter was not having this on this very busy night and leaned over to be eye-to-eye with me, pointed his finger in my face and said rather sternly, “YOU SAID YOU WERE READY.” I turned beet red and ordered the veggie pizza. I kept my mouth shut… for a little while. The boy and I laughed about that for many months and I still use that line on occasion.
Although I never have been fired in this month — and I have been fired A LOT, February is the month that my divorce became final several years ago (February 15) and the month my mom passed away (February 13, two years ago). These hits to my heart turned out to be the hits that have helped me to grow up, wake up and move towards becoming the person I always hoped to be. It has been awful, lonely and tremendously sad, but in hindsight, the gift of crawling on my hands-and-knees through my emotional thunderstorms and muck has helped to shape me in the most profound and prolific ways.
I haven’t always been strong enough to weather my emotional storms; as a young woman I chose to drown my sorrows in a torrential downpour of booze and pills, and it truly is not easy for me to admit that on not one but two different occasions, I attempted to end my life with pills because the pain was unbearable — or so it felt. I was begging God to take me and found a way to get there, or perhaps I knew it was just enough to be a seriously loud cry for help. Looking back, both of these experiences seem like two very different yet terrifying out-of-body experiences. Even though I survived these attempts to snub out my life prematurely, I recall being terribly embarrassed that I was still here, oh my, I felt bad that I was still here. After the first time, I spent a few months in a hospital and I honestly loved my time there — my eyes were open for the first time in my life and it was incredible. The second time, my dad had me arrested and I spent time in a jail in Phoenix. Not long, but long enough to make a huge impression.
I think back to the Meagan I was and I can literally cry out loud for her, I was so lost and unclear about everything in my life. Heartbreaking, in a word, for me to think about these parts of my past, but also inspires me to never take a moment for granted. I now literally kiss the ground on occasion because I am so grateful to be here and to be given these opportunities to live life at the top of my lungs. I am still here. This is not lost on me at all.
Throughout my entire life, I have always thought there was something wrong with me. I was constantly searching for answers and seeking solutions to help me feel better and to feel right in my head. Even with ten years of sobriety, I struggled to feel at peace with myself, although I practiced and studied a number of healing modalities and therapies that for me, never really made much of a dent to lower the noise and restlessness I had in my head. I was always running, always searching, always asking, always researching for something to make me feel better. Nothing worked.
I eventually gave up and settled on living on the fringes once again, when I moved back to Chicago after the divorce. Meh, I didn’t care anymore, I was going to coast this thing out. I had been hiding out my entire life and now it seems that would be my lot in life…. to hide in the shadows and hopefully not be seen.
Two years ago, my mom became drastically sick. Well, she had been sick for years, but did her best to ignore all of it. But now she needed help, it was much larger than her. Everyone was gone, it was just she and I. My mom didn’t really like me to be around; we never did do well in the same room together, and it was not uncommon to go several months without seeing each other, even though we were neighbors. We spoke often and cared for each other deeply, we just knew our limits, mostly. These avoidance tactics went out the window when she got sick and I essentially walked away from my Chicago life when the call came in.
I will never forget the words my mom said to me, even though I brushed them aside at first. Sitting on the edge of her hospital bed, gripping the railings in an attempt to ease her excruciating pain, she turned back slightly to look at me and said, “I was wrong about you, Meag. I’m really sorry I was not nicer to you. I wish I was nicer to you. (lonnnnnnnng pause) I’m sorry Meag.”
Once I recovered from the funeral and whatnot, I awoke to discover that my mom’s words literally words melted a steel cage that had always lived around my heart and my life has since changed in every way possible since her deathbed apology. Well, actually I thought I was having a heart attack and ran to see my doctor, who told me I was trapped in a panic attack. Teh doctor prescribed xanax — noooooooooooo I wanted nothing to do with pills and rejected them. I went to see a naturopathic doctor and set myself off on a very green path that included lots of kale and magnesium to help my cortisol levels. I slept. I wrote. I walked. I did yoga. I cried. I left Chicago for good. I moved into my mom’s empty condo. I woke up.
I feel like a completely different person than I was a two years ago and I am extremely grateful for this completely unexpected gift my mom gave me. It was her love, her broken heart, her choice to unburden her heart, that has forever lightened my heart and turned my life around in the most profound way. I no longer believe there is something wrong with me. I have stopped searching for answers and I literally stopped harassing myself.
I am nice to me. I am nice to others. I like being nice. I can’t believe how good it feels to be nice.
I have met many women whose mothers have also passed away, who never had an opportunity to make peace with their mom before she left this earth. My heart goes out to these women for the pain I see in their eyes, but then again, I see the pain in many women’s eyes when it comes to their mother’s, alive or not. One universal truth, I have come to discover, is that our always-complicated and deeply profound relationship with our mothers affects every single area of our lives. I am not denying that men aren’t affected by their mothers as well, but I have not walked in their shoes, only my own, and I tend to gravitate towards women who wear their mother on their heart sleeves.
I am very proud to be Jule Francis McGovern Foster and Loren Pries Foster’s daughter, may they both rest in peace. I am no longer in the Broken Hearts Club because of the strength and love I learned from these two hearty souls — and it was no walk in the park with either of them. I now meet the challenges of my life with a full heart and eager curiosity. I take care of my heart, I value it and wow it’s a bit amazing what my happy heart says to me! The noise has been reduced, and I finally hear the wisdom within, wow wow wow wow wow.
I’ve been able to make amends for the mistakes I made in my marriage and I wasn’t sure if I would every have this opportunity. Reed is a huge part of my life once again and what an amazing gift this has been to make peace with him, Texas and Mexico. I no longer have hate in my heart, wow wow wow what a trip.
There is still so much to learn and experience and I am super-excited for this thing called my life.
I am tremendously grateful for all the heartache I have survived in my life, and I can’t believe it’s been two years since my mom flew away. I miss her so xx