WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN
“Well I just heard the news today – it seems my life is going to change. I close my eyes, begin to pray, then tears of joy stream down my face. With arms wide open, under the sunlight, welcome to this place … I’ll show you everything, with arms wide open … Well I don’t know if I’m ready to be the (person) I have to be. I’ll take a breath, I’ll take (him) by my side. We stand in awe, we’ve created life. If I had just one wish, only one demand, I hope he’s not like me, I hope he understands that he can take this life and hold it by the hand, and he can greet the world with arms wide open.” – Creed
But for the grace of God I brought a precious first-born prince, Christian Peter, into this world after 19 hours and 11 minutes of labor on Monday, December 14, 1992, at exactly 4:51pm. My Christian was then and has always remained one of the brightest stars in my sky and I will never forget that day he was born. I was in labor with him for so long that mom and Pete had to take turns in the delivery room with me and mom almost fainted twice. And of course, my sister was there too and had been smack dab in the middle of her sophomore mid-terms the week he was born. Trooper that she was the girl did not sleep for six days straight and would drive the 40 miles back and forth from Denton to Dallas after tests each day so that she could stay at the hospital with me and my son at night. You see this was the only way they would allow him to stay in my room with me and this is what she insisted on doing regardless of the cost to her. As a matter of fact, my sister was the first one to change his first diaper. I vividly remember just as clear as if it were yesterday that moment the nurse handed my newborn son to me and I laid eyes on him for the first time. I inhaled that instant in its entirety and memorized every minute detail of his face before I even had a firm grasp around his perfectly round little body.
New motherhood was an experience to say the least, especially having been so young, and Christian immediately became the focus of all my energy. This of course was a welcomed distraction from feelings I was suppressing inside and at first, I was so busy with him that I was easily able to self-preserve and continue blocking “that night” from my mind. Eventually however I began to dwell on what had happened and it slowly began bubbling to the surface. The strain of the new baby, a new house, His change of career and my spiraling mental health began to quickly take its toll and I was becoming completely unraveled.
When my son was only 18 months old, I just couldn’t deal anymore, and I asked Him for a divorce. “Just run away, Catherine, as fast as you can. Run away and never look back!” By then too much damage had been done to both myself and to my marriage and I was convinced that there was no other choice but to end it. It was downward spiral fast, my life was a fucking disaster, and I was not really functioning on a reasonable level. He said He didn’t want the divorce and tried to change my mind, as well did my entire family. My parents were both raised devoutly Roman Catholic and based strictly on that impermeable system of belief alone, divorce for any reason was not tolerated under any circumstance. Also, they believed that I would eventually “just get over” what had happened that night in the parking garage and by no fault of their own did not understand the depth of darkness I was feeling. I was literally numb inside, couldn’t feel a thing, and but for my relationship with Christian, my heart was barely beating.
To make matters worse, but for my sister, my own family had completely alienated me, and I had very little support from them throughout both my divorce and attempt to process through and recover from my rape. They loved Him, believed in Him, didn’t want us to divorce and stood strong by His side through it all. He was welcome in their home at the time. Me? Not so much. Which was probably for the best I suppose because as I was going through that process, I was angry at everything and everyone and all I wanted to do was fight. So, then I suppose the alienation was mutual. I “ran away from all of them too” because in my heart I just didn’t believe they could “see me”. And too, perhaps I was ashamed somehow of my inability to handle things better than I did. Perhaps I was ashamed to look my Father in the eye anymore because he now knew that I had been raped! Regardless of the reasons, I walked through that feeling very much abandoned, forsaken and alone.