I just found a picture. A picture of a perfect little boy. He couldn’t have been more than a year old. Kneeling next to him was a beautiful, young woman with a smile on her face. This wasn’t an ordinary smile, either. This woman was bursting with pride and happiness. What a perfect picture.
And suddenly, I felt as though someone punched me in the stomach and knocked the living shit out of me.
The woman in that picture was someone I used to know.
The woman in the picture was me. A very young me.
How beautiful I used to be. How genuinely happy and full of life and love I once was.
What happened to that woman?
Life happened. Some good things, and a lot of bad things. Things that have robbed her of the pure smile. She’s become a woman burdened with shame, guilt, regret and depression. Somewhere along the way, she got lost and hasn’t quite found her way back.
I mourn for that young girl I see in the picture. I mourn for all she’s lost. All she’s destroyed with her stupidity and selfishness and stubborness.
As I cry, this precious little girl who I’m holding in my arms, my daughter, wraps her arms around my neck and nuzzles her little face against mine and although she can’t speak, she tells me “it’s ok, Mommy, I love you”. Her soft skin against my aging, dried out skin tells me to forgive myself, to leave the past where it lies and to move forward. Her sweet breath against my cheeks tells me that I’m not all bad, that I’m just human. Her gentle little coos in my ear tell me that I am worthy of love and that no matter what, she loves me, her brothers love me, her daddy loves me and I should love myself.
“Forgive yourself”, she says.
I don’t know if I can. I’ve hurt people I love. I’ve said things I can’t take back.
At times, it feels as though I’ll never be that beautiful woman again. I’ll always be tinged with ugliness. I’ll always be the depressed girl just trying to make it through life.
Then I feel my daughters tiny little fingers grab ahold of my hair, and it’s as if she’s grabbed ahold of my heart. I am aware of the fact that at this moment, I have to make a choice. A choice to stay stuck in the past, boggled down with guilt and sadness, to never move forward, doomed to repeat the mistakes of my past. Or, to forgive myself and to live in THIS moment. To live FOR the moment. To rediscover the joy that is my life NOW, in the present and to build on that for a future full of great things.
I have a choice.
I choose forgiveness, love, happiness, new experiences. I choose to live for the moment, expecting only the best for the road that lies ahead. Never looking back, except to reflect on how far I’ve come.
My God, it’s never been clearer to me than it is at this moment, she wasn’t an “accident” she was God’s gift to me and that gift is my second chance.

22 thoughts on “photograph

  1. becky

    i love you. this is your best post ever.
    stop beating yourself up over what you cannot change in the past. choose to make the future better and love yourself and your family.
    hugs to you honey. :*

  2. lee

    Fabulous, Yvonne. Fabulous. Both you and your daughter (and the Boys and their daddy!) deserve the best. Great insight and I hope you hold it dear, even on the hard days.

  3. dana michelle

    Chills. You gave me chills. What a remarkable post.
    No of us are the person that we were at 20 or even 30. The innocence and vibrance of youth are replaced by knowledge and experience. And yes, some baggage too. Sometimes I look back at the young Dana too, and wonder what in hell happened to the energetic young woman who was always doing something. She exhausts me now.
    Sometimes I’d like to go back and be her again, but I’d only do it on the condition that I be allowed to take my 45 year old brain back with me.
    Youth has nothing on experience. You are the wonderfully complex person that you are because of everything that you’ve been through. Never forget that.
    Best wishes on your journey into the here and now!

  4. jen

    God, Yvonne, you can’t make people cry right before they go to Karaoke so they have to reapply all of their makeup.
    That ain’t cool.
    My God, can you write.
    That is not a question, honey, that is a praise.

  5. Zette

    I just found your blog over the weekend, and I’m so absolutely impressed with your writings and how you feel about your daughter and sons. It’s similair to my own life and I LOVE that someone else sees life in many of the same way I do. This post was amazing, and a bit frightening for me, because I too, just was feeling the same things only a few days ago. Brilliant writing. Beautiful family. You are fast becoming a new favorite of mine. Keep your head up and smile.

  6. anne

    Beautiful words, and true. It can be sad to look back and note what was lost… but, between the time that picture was taken and now, so much has also been gained. You are a lovely person, a lovely *human being* – and all that being a human being entails. My heart goes out to you and your family, and I wish you all the best on your journey into forgiveness, love, and happiness.
    Thank you for making me smile, laugh, and think.

  7. Sandee

    That little girl you never thought you’d have is here for a reason Y! She is here to help you forgive, love and be happy with all the blessing you have. That post made me cry dammit! Love you girl!

  8. brilly

    I’ve seen photos of you with your daughter and do you know that in all the photos I see there is a beautiful woman smiling at her. That woman is you. I see that woman with her sons too. The same beautiful woman. Will you ever believe that?
    When are you going to stop beating yourself up for being human?
    You are no more “tinged with ugliness” than the rest of us. Your skin is no more “dried out” than the rest of the worlds is.
    Gabby was never an accident, you need her and she needs you. I don’t care if you call it god’s will, or fate, or karma. You wanted her and you asked for her and she was given to YOU.
    Lucky woman.

  9. sarcastic journalist

    We all make mistakes. We hurt people. things like this happens. You can’t decide if people will forgive you but you can forgive yourself. what has happened has already happened. you can only work towards the future.
    and honey, you’ve got a bright future. Don’t let this destroy you.

  10. Diane

    Y, somedays you write something witty and I laugh.
    And other days you write and I cry.
    Your kids are so lucky to have such a beautiful mom!!

  11. Michelle

    I agree that forgiving yourself is the hardest thing anyone can do. A friend sent me a Christmas card that said something about “our greatest need is for forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior”, and it made me get all weepy, because that’s the biggest thing I struggle with. (Sorry to get momentarily cheesily religious on you, there!) Anyway, forgiveness is ours for the taking…the best gift we’ll ever be offered. And it’s not polite to turn down a gift that makes the giver so happy to bestow, you know? So wipe your tears and take that gift with a smile. You are *precious*, in the truest sense of the word. Don’t forget.

  12. Tish

    (Wiping the tears from my eyes)
    I loved this entry. You should send it somewhere, really. What a great blog you have! Come see mine sometime

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