Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Sunday
Oct252015

The Ghost of Monica Future

I didn't anticipate it would happen the way that it did. Me doubled over in the darkness, swallowing sobs. But then again, I didn't anticipate pretty much anything that's happened over the past two years, so there you go. If there is but a single take away it is that: life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I'm no longer much of a planner. Nothing surprises me now; plan nothing, expect anything.

My friend Doug and I were driving around listening to music as the sun set a while ago and I ended up cruising out to my old house. The one out in the country. Where Charlie was born. The last house we lived in as a family before the divorce. I had wanted to show Doug where I'd lived before he knew me. But when I turned onto my old street I fell into some kind of crazy zone of painful remembrance and forgot about Doug. Ended up parking the car down the street and walking up to the house alone while Doug sat in the car fiddling with his iPhone.

The old white pastor's house was dark with the exception of the bluish tones of a television glowing spectrally from the room I used to call mine. I stood there looking up at that window, shaking, remembering everything that went down on the other side of the glass all those years ago. I don't know what I wanted or what I expected or what I was doing but I needed to get up close to the house.

Even though we moved out more than a year ago it is still all up in my blood. The bones of that home are my bones. I can close my eyes and negotiate my way from the kitchen to the bedroom by sense and feel. That horrible feeling of familiarity and foreign-ness battling in my brain. This is MY house. No it's not! It will always be my house! Someone else lives there now. Your memories inside those walls belong only to you and they're busy making new memories now.

It's not just a house to me, it's a character from my life. An old friend. The other day Serge and I were talking and I asked him of all the places we've lived what was his favorite. Without hesitation he said the Hublersburg house. It was the first house we thought we'd live in forever. It was the last house we lived in together.

I stood there in the violet twilight shadows remembering. I remembered my family there. I remembered triumphantly pulling up in the moving truck from Utah. I remembered lying on the porch swing and singing to my babies when it rained. I remembered planting trees I thought I'd witness into maturity. I remembered going into labor in the bedroom and racing down the stairs to give birth in a pool in the living room. I remembered tiredly holding my son for the first time and marveling at my body's ability to recover from childbirth seemingly within minutes while Serge laugh-cried beside me. I remembered love and laughter and hatred and fighting. I remembered the end; the moment I knew my marriage was over, right there in that kitchen.

My son took his first gasps of air in that home. My marriage died in that house.

I stood there, an outsider now, staring up at the home in which I used to live and imagined myself two or three years ago... Me on the porch singing quietly to my babies not knowing that in just a few short years a completely changed Future Monica would be hovering awkwardly on the perimeter remembering that very moment. Me confronting me. Me on the porch swing smoothing back the hair from my babies' foreheads and singing songs, Serge somewhere in the house doing his thing, both unaware of how it would all turn out. The heartache, the complete devastation.

Sometimes the pain is like a wild animal biting down on my flesh and shaking its fucking head until I pass out from the agony.

And I wonder... How many Future Monicas are hovering around me now? Like I said, I make no plans now.

Reader Comments (14)

Good Lord, Monica. This is beautiful and raw. Keep on keeping on, because that's the only way.

October 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Ah. This feeling is so familiar. I have some heartache over a city where my child was created. And some heartache over having to leave the house he was born in. My hunch is that it does fade eventually. But very slowly. Just got to breathe it in and breathe it out.

I love the idea of our future selves all around us. A very helpful perspective.

October 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeck

I hear your pain. I hate it for you and your children. But, I lost my sweet Mama earlier this year to Alzheimers. That's a pain that I hope no one ever has to suffer. My sweet Mama loved me all my life...yet she did t know me at the end. Love your family, NOW! Forgive them of any sins against you! They won't be there later to do I. I wish I had just a little more time with my Mama! She knew how much I loved her, but I hope she knows how much I'm learning to forgive and love others. She would approve...and that makes me feel better. I love you, Mama...and I am doing everything I can to take care of Daddy for you! I know that's what you would want! :)

October 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Wow. Amazingly written post...brings tears to my eyes.

October 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

I know of this. That house of my babies' first years, the house of the dreams that no longer are, is a block away from my current house.
I drive by almost daily, and 2 years later I still get that sharp twinge of pain, regret and anger when I see it.
You described it oh so eloquently. Thank you.

October 26, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercurlycue

Raw and beautiful post. It's amazing how sometimes anyone of us can be pulled to look back at what could have been. Seeing so much happiness and love as well as the loss of future plans. Haunting.

October 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAllissa

It's so weird/interesting to me that you don't follow Serge's FB but you both post such similar things like posts about a beautiful sunrise, or a funny/unique street sign, or standing outside a home you used to live in (he visited the house he grew up in).
I sometimes get caught up in the nostalgic game too, I'll park outside an apartment I lived in when I first moved to LA and just sit and stare at it and remember my life when I was there. Like a mental home video of a special pocket of my life. Same thing with the time I visited my college town years after graduating. Just seeing other kids walking/living where I spent four years was weird for me. Or I'll play the "the last time" game... The last time I ate at this restaurant was the day before my wedding...the last time I saw that movie was with my ex. When I got fired from a job it took me months to be able to drive by the building and not think about my evil ex-boss and how it all went down. So I can't imagine what it's like to know there's a house near me that contained such sacred memories, but stay strong because one day you'll remember the time you stood outside and cried and realize how much stronger you now are!

October 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

Sometimes I just prefer to live in oblivion. Whatever happens will happen, whatever remains the same will remain, but it's still damn hard living in the present not knowing how these lives of ours will turn out. One day at a time...and remember to breathe.

October 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristine from Canada

This is the most beautiful thing you've ever written. Stay strong, Monica. Stay strong.

October 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterheartsong

Thanks for all the really kind comments, you guys. I really appreciate it.

October 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Whoa. If it is any help at all (and I have found it to be in the last 1.5 years), you are not alone in this. I have at times found it hard to belief that others have felt the bone shattering, physical pain of love that has died. But what you write makes it clear that none of us are alone in this.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarge

This is a truth that will forever live inside of you. It is wholly yours, but at the same time you've articulated the devastation and pain of your experience with such remarkable raw perfection, that I knew one thing as I read it: It is also exactly my own. I recognized it immediately. I can offer no answers or easy escapes to you, but I can nod my head in understanding and compassion and agree that no plans and few expectations offer a safer road to travel for the time being.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeather MK

This is beautiful.

November 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKS

Wow, this is brilliant. Has nothing to do with anything going on in my life at the moment, even remotely, but the message hit me like a ton of bricks. Such haunting poetry. I'll think of my future selves (selfs?) often.

(Never commented on a blog before, but couldn't resist!)

November 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

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