The Field

by Jennifer on January 27, 2009

For so long, I’ve dragged my old stories behind me, like a horse pulling a plow. I needed to try to sort it all out, to know the shape of these things that happened. Writing here has helped with that. But sometimes, it feels endless, and for what? To let the blade of the past cleave a new furrow through the soil behind me, to turn over some clue, some explanation for what happened?

This last week I came to accept a truth that should have been clear a long time ago, and it was easier than I expected. I realize now that there are no more questions to ask, and no answers or rationalizations that can change how I feel. No amount of talking that will ever amount to a real apology or an admission of responsibility.

So I think I’m ready to unfasten the harness and to let the plow fall behind me, to leave the old questions behind.

Maybe it’s time to let the field go fallow, to rest, to let the weeds grow where they will and to know it’s not my concern. To accept that the work it would take to grow something nourishing in that field isn’t my job and never was. That this one field, the one that others planted for me a long time ago, is leached of nutrients, full of husk and rot.

Many of you know my stories now, and it’s hard not to judge all three of my parents and what they did. I have judged. I do judge. I hope, though, that I also show some compassion when I tell what happened, for the people they were all those years ago, young and weighed down with their own heavy baggage. No excuse,of course,  just the way it was. And maybe still is.

I’m sure I’m not done being angry about all that happened, but I’m not angry right now, and I wasn’t yesterday. In fact, most days I don’t think about Sue or my mother. My father, more often, since he is in my life and there’s navigating to do. But I don’t need to live in the past – who has the time for that?  I will write about those things when I need to, still, especially when they intrude on the present like a visitor who didn’t call ahead. Because someone showed me that writing about all of this is important and in doing that, she helped me in a way I never hoped or expected.

For now, though, there’s nothing wrong with smoothing over these memories and getting on with the sweeter days when they come, and for saving my energy to push a shoulder against the rough ones.

I walk to the edge of this field, stepping carefully over the stones and deep furrows and ignoring the ugliness at my feet. Mistakes in the past, rationalizations in the present. Old years, souls tied in impossible knots.

I lift my eyes to what lies beyond the fence line, to where two children who look a little bit like me are waiting, and I climb over it, unable to tell if the creak I hear is from the strain of wood or from my old, wise bones. And when my bare feet touch ground on the other side, I will know that I can prove an old cliche dead wrong just once.

Because over there, where they stand, where we will all stand together, I know without even looking down that the grass really is so much greener.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

the mama bird diaries January 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Your last sentence gave me such chills. What a beautiful post.

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Jenn @ Juggling Life January 27, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Getting older definitely brings us gifts.

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flutter January 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I am SO proud of you. So proud.

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JCK January 27, 2009 at 11:47 pm

This is beautifully written, Jennifer. Perhaps most of all because you’re going to where the grass is greener.

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tysdaddy January 28, 2009 at 5:42 am

What a realization, that some things are better left fallow. Barren. Maybe forever.

It takes guts, my friend.

Beautiful . . . Thanks for the reminder.

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Louise January 28, 2009 at 6:16 am

I love that in some places the grass IS greener on the other side. I’m glad you have that and know where to find it.

Wonderful writing.

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jenrantsraves January 28, 2009 at 7:39 am

Beautifully written, as always! I’m so glad you are getting to that place!

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Manic Mommy January 28, 2009 at 7:49 am

That was simply lovely.

I agree wholeheartedly. I choose to forget but not forgive. My past does does not define me; I do.

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Daryl January 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

I am glad you’ve managed to sort through this enough to let go of some of it .. hopefully one day you will be able to let it all go … doesnt mean you have to ever forgive anyone but yourself.

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Ann January 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

So hard to let go of the past…yet so hard not to. You are in a good place.

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Gwen January 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

Perhaps the writing has helped you get to this place. Perhaps another day, you will need to revisit it again. But I’m happy for you that you are here now.

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Mary Alice January 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

Writing does help sort things out.

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V-Grrrl January 28, 2009 at 10:46 am

This is such an emotionally honest and vivid piece of writing. Your images are so well chosen.

I don’t have big emotional dramas or abuse in my past, but I have grief over the deaths of my parents and my sister when I was a young woman. And like every middle aged person, I question the choices I’ve made in my life and ponder “the road not taken.”

For the last few years, I’ve been engaged in mental and physical decluttering, trying to come to terms with where I’ve been so I can focus on where I’m going now. All this work has been done as I navigated huge changes in my day to day life and circumstances.

It did seem endless. I got depressed. I wondered if digging through the past was lightening my load or adding to it. I felt like a train engine pulling too many cars but choosing which ones to uncouple and leave behind seemed overwhelming. I had to keep pressing on, wondering all the while whether I’d ever be done, ever feel peaceful again.

Then, peace came to me. It just did. I was able to let go of so many things (physical and psychological) without struggle. It’s not like my life circumstances had drastically changed, but my experience and perception of them had changed.

My point in this very long comment is that when I knew without a doubt when I was “done” with this particular stage of processing my life. The ruminating and grieving phase ended wiithout fanfare or rationale.

I’m glad you’ve hit that point too. That you can leave the plow behind and walk forward with your family. Gallop off into the sunset, Jennifer!

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texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana January 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Yeah! I loved this. Love. love. love.

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Tammy Kling January 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm

What a beautifully written account of life and the milestones we pass as we journey in it. I think you are right on to let those things in the past lay quietly aside and to keep moving forward. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes you…

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apathy lounge January 28, 2009 at 6:43 pm

I think you’re incredibly brave for confronting your past (and your parents’ role in it) in this space. I’ve made small references to my own parental issues in mine and have been taken to task for it behind the scenes. This week I actually sat down and wrote some good things about my parents. It was time, but it reminded me that I don’t do it often or well. I could learn a lot from you.

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Emily R January 28, 2009 at 6:59 pm

i am so glad we walked this together

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Suzanne January 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I am so happy for you, you really sound at peace. I especially love the last image of your going over the fence to join your two beautiful children. Lucky you, lucky them. Keeping looking forward girl.

p.s. love the ‘freshining up’ look of the blog and your lovely picture!

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Stacie January 28, 2009 at 11:13 pm

I am so happy for you. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through and I feel lucky for my own childhood. Yet, I can’t help but feel separate too because the idea that anyone could treat children with such contempt and disregard is foreign to me. Most importantly, it will be foreign to your children as well. So get one of those great big boxes of wildflower seeds (you know the ones where they’re all mixed up and you’ll never know what you’ll really get), tear it open and throw those seeds to the wind over that fence. Your parents may have abused that land but it’s rested now and you’ve already made it a better place for your own children.

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AJsMommy January 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm

We’re both moving forward – away from different tragedies, sure – but forward nonetheless. The feeling of weight lifting is refreshing. Welcome to the greener side. Reach out – there’s a warm hand to lead you across.

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CrazyCath February 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Y’know, I have been a bit absent of late but I am so glad I came over to read this. I have been waiting for this post from you Jennifer. It took time, that’s all. And time heals.

Don’t just stop working the field. Sell it. Leave it. Give it away.
Some one else can build on it and maybe, make it pretty again one day.

Many hugs and blessings to you. You are lighter already…

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Lennie February 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

You put it beautifully…honestly…without rage or sarcasm. I have but one small comment. In 1983, when my son was born, I said to myself, it stops here; the cycle stops here, stops now. And you know what? It did. I learned that the cycle can be broken and once you do that, you’ve stopped it forever — at least for your own little family.

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Denise March 31, 2009 at 11:23 am

It’s tough to not get the closure but it’s so healthy to recognize that you’ve done what you can and your life is good.

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