I don’t know what my mom was thinking when she dropped me off in front of my Catholic elementary school. When she put this overly rule following, people pleasing girl in that grey plaid uniform, white shirt and criss cross tie and sat me behind that desk in first grade.
I believed it all……hook, line and sinker. I am the poster child, for that Irish, Catholic girl.
Of course, with that deep conviction which still serves me well, I have honed a sharply developed skill of being fairly hard on myself, aka, the fabled and famous Catholic guilt.
Of hashing and re-hashing my marital mistakes, the choices I have made, the what if’s and the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s.
For me, the Catholic girl, forgiveness was easy. Self-forgiveness……..not so much.
Why had I stayed in a bad situation so long? Why had I been so determined to be a ‘fixer?’ Why couldn’t I accept the inevitable? Why had my choices kept my children in an impossible situation this long? Why had I stayed so long that I lost all of myself?
I remember in my twenties, driving with my friend as her young daughter slept soundly in the backseat. I remember exactly where we were. My favorite street, in my favorite town near her home.
I am not quite sure why we remember certain moments in our lives….the ones that become our very own defining timeline and soundtrack to our soul, but we do. They are the distinct words that shatter our otherwise, noisy journeys.
“Why did you put up with me all those years?” She asked randomly.
In high school she would always try and say and do things to shock me. I would just smile and shake my head. The truth is her declarations were easy to ignore. While she may have tried to act the part of the wild teenager of abandon, her actions said another thing completely.
While I was out at parties, she was out in D.C. handing out blankets and food to the homeless.
“I always saw you for who you really were,” I replied casually and somewhat confused that she seemingly felt she needed forgiveness.
Obviously, long past our teenage years and deep into my own, mid-life, teenage resembling, personal drama, my phone rang. I heard the sound of her voice in what would become another defining moment in the soundtrack of my life.
I had just written a piece about her rescuing animals and she was calling to chat about it.
“It’s such great work that you do,” I say. “I need to do more.”
She sees through me. It is her Superman x-ray vision peering through my mid-life adolescence.
Just as I, many years before, had seen through her adolescent antics.
“Colleen, you have always been a rescuer of people,” she says.
She is seeing me for who I really am.
She is offering me forgiveness. This Irish Catholic girl will take it.