Cutting Ties

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Baggage Check.” We all have complicated histories. When was the last time your past experiences informed a major decision you’ve made.

My parents were always very controlling on issues that should not have mattered when it came to my older brother and myself. They weren’t big fans of my career choice as a cosmetologist. They hated that I wanted tattoos and piercings. They hated my choice of dress. They abhorred my choice in music, though my musical taste is actually very diverse. They even complained that I dyed my hair black, so when it was purple they really had a fit. Some may have seen me as “a teenager with authority issues,” but in reality, I was a pretty nice kid. I didn’t do drugs or go out and party every weekend. I wasn’t sleeping with half the neighborhood. I actually took my convictions of love and respect seriously, even though I realized everything they believed was conditional. I was creative, and did well in school until depression (which was only exacerbated by my home life) wore me down to average grades in a few of my classes. So for all of this, I had to ask why my life choices that change nothing about me as a person and have nothing to do with them were such a big deal? They acted as if they would have gladly changed all the “abnormal” things about me, instead of encouraging me to be myself within reason and instead of supporting me when my friends were not there to listen. That is kind of what parents are supposed to do. Instead, they wanted to stifle my individuality and turn me into someone I am not as they projected their wishes, regrets, and personal opinions onto me. They were not content to disagree with something, they had to make everything a “You can’t do this because we don’t like it,” ordeal, which only pushed me away because they wanted to shape me into someone else, and were somewhat disappointed in who I was and who I wanted to be. The older I grew, the more controlling their antics became. I wasn’t even allowed to work, perhaps in their fear that I would be able to have money that was truly mine, instead of money they wanted me to have for chores and would still put limitations on.

I was stubborn, and throughout my life told myself that I would have the life I wanted, and especially the job I wanted, as I refused to be miserable just to live my life for people that wouldn’t be happy anyway. I left home at 18 to get married. I didn’t speak to my parents for about 4 years, since the aftermath caused them to do some very boundary crossing things that no one in their right mind would do. The choice I made to leave home did carry consequence, as I ended up divorced and working as a waitress, seeing as I was never able to make it to college. I decided to give my parents a call one night, to see if maybe they would understand that this truly is my life. It started iffy, there was still a lot of the same judgmental attitude that made me leave to begin with. Then they offered me something they THOUGHT I could never refuse. They would pay for my college, IF and only if I came back home and went to one of the two community colleges within a 30 mile radius. I refused. Then they offered to put me a trailer on their land right next to them, so long as they could “check up on me” and I went to one of the two colleges. Again, I refused. Why? Because I know what that entails. My parents’ controlling, meddling ways had not stopped, and would only have been worse since they believe the way to keep a child close is through more control. They proved that in the fact that they offered to help their only daughter go to COLLEGE with a bundle of strings attached, knowing that I was working hard to go to college in the state I had moved to. Were they proud of me for holding a job and paying my way? No. But it’s okay, because I am stubborn enough to do things my way, and in the long run, I’ll be more successful for it. Instead of limiting myself to one of the community colleges’ sub-par training in my field, I am on my way to AVEDA, one of the best cosmetology schools in the world. Instead of rotting away in the same town I was born in, I am visiting Scotland with my boyfriend. Had I been staying near my parents, they would have tried to figuratively crucify him just for his long hair and probably even because he is not American. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had taken the seemingly easy way out.  Sometimes, the past is there for a reason. It reminds us to do things a little differently, even when we are vulnerable, lest our problems become even worse in the long run.

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Stay (Prompted Piece)

Photo by Romel via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo by Romel via Flickr
(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

(This is a short story written following a writing prompt posted by Paige Reiring via her blog break the system . You can find the specific post here.)

She had always clung so tight to the man she called her husband. He had always been by her side. They had known each other since they were very young. Like every day since he first entered his now bed ridden state, the memories flowed in.

He had been there at her sixth birthday party, albeit reluctantly. It’s where they first met. “I don’t want to be here! This is a girl’s party!” He declared, with a boyish pout on his face. She just smiled and took his hand, urging him to join her and the other children to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey. He pulled his hand away, and started walking towards the front yard. “Where are you going?” She called out, following him. As he sat on the front porch swing, he folded his arms. “I’m gonna wait here for Mom and Dad to pick me up,” he huffed. A small tear formed in the corners of her eyes, and the subsequent sniffle made him face her. “What are you crying for?” “Because… I want you to stay.”

Thirteen years from that moment, he had been helping her settle into  the apartment her parents set up for her college years. Many things had changed in that time. They had grown into adults, school was behind them, and friendship had turned into young love. They both had agreed to take it slow from the beginning, since their relationship started when they were only 15. The love grew strong over those 4 years, and with each new chapter in life, new steps are made. He finished helping her unpack, and they talked over coffee, until he noticed how late it was. He leaned over to kiss her goodnight, but as he stood up, she grabbed his hand. She gave a knowing, loving look. “Is something wrong?” He asked. As she cupped his face and kissed him, she whispered, “No. But I want you to stay.”

Couples argue, and they were no different. Shortly after their marriage, things put a strain on their relationship. He had taken a new job that cause him to work many late hours. On their one year anniversary, time and the date had completely gotten away from him, and he had neglected to inform her of his late arrival. She sat at the restaurant they frequented, dressed her best from her hair to her shoes and present in hand, only to leave an hour later when he didn’t show up. She stayed up at their apartment until he walked in the door at 12 am. The argument that ensued had been heated and impassioned. Even though he felt guilty and knew he had been working too many long nights, his pride would not let him give in. He argued that a year or two of countless hours on the clock was worth it in the end, since he had his eye on a promotion with a better paycheck. “Was the promotion worth missing a good portion of the first year of our marriage or our first anniversary? I am so sorry that you can’t find time in your busy schedule for me, for us. A relationship, like a fire, will burn out in two years if not tended. I don’t want your money. More of that can be made. I want your time. Because once it’s gone, there is no getting it back.” With that, his pride no longer mattered. Her words burned into him, not just the foreshadowing of what would come, but the love she held for him. The guilt set in. As his tears fell, he looked at her and said, “You must hate me now. You must want me out of your life as soon as possible. I… I’ll leave if you want me to.” Seeing his regret, and knowing she could finally get through to him, she sighed and tiredly smiled. “No, of course not. Those feelings, those words would not exist if I didn’t love you. Of course I want you to stay.”

They only had one child together. After many failed attempts at conception, the pending birth of their little bundle of joy had been extra gleeful, and extra cautious. The bags were packed for the impending hospital trip, and the birth plan was in place, as she wanted a natural birth. However, two months before the predicted due date, she went into labor and was taken to the hospital. After an analysis, a nurse informed them that an emergency Cesarian section was required. “Your husband will have to stay outside of the operating room, I’m afraid,” the nurse said. With the requirement of surgery pushed upon her, and the fear of losing their child racing through her mind, she grabbed his arm, looked up at him, and whispered, “Beg them to reconsider. I can’t do this without you by my side. I want you, I need you to stay.”

A raspy cough brought her out of her daydream. After a blissful, fulfilling life together, she watched her husband lie in his deathbed. They had spent almost 70 years together, and now she knew she would soon have to live her last days without him. He was vaguely aware of his surroundings, and still clung to life, clung to his wife. In a weak voice he asked her, “What… what are you…. thinking about… my dear?” She smiled, took his hand and kissed his forehead. “I was just recollecting all the time we spent together. How you always have been by my side. Even though a few times when you may not should have been.” He smiled for a second, and feebly squeezed her hand. She could see he was fading fast. “I’ll stay… as long as I can… for you.” Tears filled her eyes, and she kissed his forehead again. “You have held on long enough. Heaven knows I don’t want to lose you, but at this point, you are suffering so much. Beyond this world, there is a better place. Please, just wait for me there. For one time in my life… I don’t want you to stay.”