When I was a little girl, I had a Raggedy Ann doll. She went everywhere with me. No doubt the fact that she went everywhere with me is why my Grandmother convinced me to let her take Raggedy Ann to the doll hospital so she could be made “good as new,” with the promise that Raggedy would return on my birthday.
I still remember opening the box with the big red bow, excited to be reunited with my friend, only to find a stranger looking back at me. This was not MY Raggedy! The adults in the room showed me her special Raggedy heart and assured me she was. (Hey, I was four but I wasn’t stupid.) I cried and cried and begged to have MY Raggedy back. My head was spinning. I was heartbroken.
I shared this story with a dear friend, recently, as the first memorable contribution to my sideswiped stories. The telling had just the right touch of drama, or so I thought, when I heard my friend take a deep breath on the other end of the line. (I knew that breath.) “Here it comes,” I thought, as my friend kindly shared their “take” on the adults who loved that little girl enough to replace what was probably a toxic germ-infested doll with a new one. Adults who had no way of knowing that the little girl would know the difference – or that she would use that event as fodder for future “you can’t trust life” sideswiped stories.
Fast forward to now; as the sun sets on the day that would have marked thirty-seven years of marriage. I watch it set, a recently divorced woman.
For the past couple days I have felt grief.
But not for the marriage. I mean, after the first 18 years (with time out for a separation and another woman; Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad) and the second 18 years of reconciliation, in the form of forgiveness and accepting the things we cannot change, there is nothing to grieve but a lot to be grateful for in the amicable nature expressed through this second separation and divorce process.
And not for my ex-husband. We are still in each other’s lives. Just now in a more honest form as we look forward to living our separate lives.
I find I am grieving a metaphorical 36-year-old woman who lived within the body of experience called a 36-year marriage. She is my Raggedy Ann. There are pieces of her I still love and want to take with me. But there are also pieces of her that are toxic and dirty. Pieces that want to whisper of sideswiped stories and reasons not to trust life. Pieces that do not need to go with me as I enter this next chapter of my life. So, now I stand between those adults who recognized the need to help that little girl let go but weren’t quite clear on how to do it and the little girl who saw what there was still to love in that Raggedy Ann.
What to do? There is no doll hospital for this one but this much I know; if she gets replaced, I will “upcycle” her myself. And if she remains with me – well, she will have to stop telling me those stories or get used to me hitting the mute button.
Anyone else with a Raggedy Ann?
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