Oh my dear, I left you all alone.
When I changed my name to make a whole new identity for myself in the world, a place where I could feel whole, could feel true to the woman I wanted to become, I hadn’t realized that the little girl who had felt abandoned her whole life would be abandoned once more. When I think of it now it breaks my heart.
I was Marcia. She was the one who was sexually abused for her whole childhood. She married a lovely man and had 3 children she adored. She was an artist and a writer, who grew up on horses and saved kittens and puppies and hamsters and mice, wild birds and squirrels, and she was the one who never learned how to play. She was too afraid. She hated playing games as an adult because anything that she didn’t have control of terrified her.Marcia was the little girl who was adopted, and through her entire childhood never felt as though she fit in, always felt like the little girl with her nose pressed to the glass on the outside looking in, wanting desperately to be part of the happy family inside. She would never be part of that family, and when, at 26, with 2 babies of her own, she searched for and found her biological mother, believing, with her innocent heart, the heart that so deeply loved her own children that she would die for them without even thinking, it never occurred to her that the woman who gave birth to her wouldn’t want to know her, especially since she had gone about it very quietly, discreetly, never wanting to hurt anyone or cause any trouble. She found out these things —
She and her middle daughter looked like her biological mother.
She had 6 half brothers, the first of whom was born one year after she was given up for adoption.
She was a product of rape.
Her mother hated her and wished she had never had her. She told her so. She said that if she had been able to have an abortion in 1953 she would have.
That her biological mother would threaten to kill her, and be so graphic about the way that this would be done it sent her reeling in shock, and into years more therapy than she had already had.
How much more abandonment would there be?
I can tell you the rest of her story, but in this moment I only feel the deep, stabbing pain of remorse. In July of 2005, after my divorce, I went to the courthouse and changed my name, legally. It meant a lot to me. I wanted to wipe the slate clean, leave the abuse, the abandonment, the neglect, the terror, the pain, behind. I signed the papers. I became Maitri Libellule.
But what happened to Marcia?
I never really wondered until today. I have wondered why this bi polar madness that I live with has swelled all out of proportion and daily nips at my heels and seems to get worse with each passing week, and then, oh dear God, then it came to me. Perhaps it is not being bi polar as much as it is having buried alive a part of myself and she, Marcia, who was left for dead, has been clawing her way up out of the grave I buried her in.
Oh my God.
I hadn’t meant to erase her. She would always live inside of me. I simply wanted to embrace a beautiful name that held all of the spiritual teachings that mattered to me. The teachings of loving-kindness, of compassion. I wanted a name not tainted with a childhood filled with hidden darkness when she, the seemingly privileged child, to everyone who knew her, including family, lived through horrors no one would ever know. Shreds of dark fibers from the nightmares of those days would cling to her through marriage, and motherhood, and her young adulthood into middle age. How would it ever be possible to step out of the darkness into the light?
I thought I had the answer.
After a 6 year separation we finalized the divorce. Upon legally changing my name Marcia ceased to exist. You will not find her in any legal records. Maitri Libellule was born and Marcia slipped away, except… except of course she never really died. She has been living inside of me with a broken heart. How many times would she be cast aside, by birth, by chance, by circumstance? I left her, but she was still clinging to part of me.
Am I bi polar, or am I a woman who cut off half of herself and is being chased by her other half through nightmares and daydreams, in the pathways between the two poles of her brain? Will I only find peace, will I only ever be well if I go back and meet her face to face, embrace her, tell her that I love her, and bring her with me? The day that I signed the papers and became Maitri a black curtain dropped down on all that came before, inside of me that is. I still had my beloved children, and all of the outer trappings of life, but I had tried to kill my other half, not intentionally, but effectively had I done so, and not for the past 8 years have I understood what this gnawing, gut-wrenching pain was.
Next month I will be Maitri for 8 years. Is this why the last months have been so desperately difficult? Has Marcia been crying out, begging me to reach out to her, to bring her along so that my two halves could once again be whole?
Can Maitri love Marcia and still be Maitri? I think that is what I need to know.
Perhaps for me the bi polar journey is as much about reuniting both sides of myself as well as dealing with the biochemistry that rules my brain and must be reigned in like wild horses lest they go off in opposite directions and never come back to the middle again, or, perhaps, and I think this is far more likely, I need to reach out to Marcia, to embrace her, to hold her, to love her, and finally, acknowledge the she that is me. I need to weave the two halves of myself together. I think more than the pills I swallow every day this might be the most important answer of all.
Tonight I will warp my loom and begin to weave. I will weave together the two halves of myself before they are rent apart for good. I have been terrified by the struggle through each and every day as it became harder and harder. I did not want to be one more woman who went mad. I have too much to give. I want to live.
I am opening up my arms tonight and welcoming Marcia into my warm embrace. I love her. She is me. This is very hard work, but this is the summer that will transform my life from broken pieces into a whole. I will weave a tapestry where both of us will be woven fine. Big M will take care of Little M. It’s time someone does.
I have been desperately searching for an answer, and she has been inside of me all along…