“The snow is so beautiful,” said Lila when she sat down in my office
“Yes but why are you crying?” Tears streamed down her face even as she tried to smile.
Many people learn to wipe away tears and smile. Sometimes it seems that the more unhappy someone was as a child, the better she learned to do that. Put on a good face, kids are told.
Lila was running her hands over her lovely wavy hair, wet and glistening from the snow.
“The snow puts me right back to the first night Mick and I walked together. It had just started to snow, big beautiful flakes. He was walking me to my car but it was so wonderful, we just kept walking.
“Everything seemed magical. We felt so lucky to have met. You know how it is when exactly what you want happens, and you can’t believe it -- that’s how we felt.”
That meeting was five years ago, months after Lila’s first marriage ended in a heartbreaking divorce.
Lila and Mick married a year after they met. It seemed quick but, Lila said, why not “seize the moment, and live the dream.” She seemed to be living her dream when she got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who was now three years old. So why was she crying?
She was crying because MIck’s addiction to child pornography had recently come to light. Lila couldn’t help but fear for her daughter’s safety. Lila herself had been abused by her father as a child, and ironically her first marriage ended when she found out that her husband had abused his daughter from an earlier relationship.
“What’s the matter with me? How can I keep picking men like this? I thought I knew everything about Mick.”
And Mick knew everything about Lila. He knew all about her past, and he had never given any hint about his problem.
To be fair, it’s not that Mick was deliberately withholding information from Lila; he thought he had his “problem” under control, and it was the furthest thing from his mind when he met Lila. He later said his “weakness” resurfaced when the stress in his life contributed to his feeling that he didn’t have control.
Lila was confused, frightened and angry. She was confused about what to do; frightened for her daughter but mostly, she was angry at herself.
“How could I not have seen or intuited this?
“How could I have been so blind and stupid?
“For a second time! What’s wrong with me?”
She was much angrier at herself than at Mick. When I mentioned this, she looked at me with sad searching eyes. “He’s really hurting. I think he left things around for me to find out almost as a precaution. Can you believe that? He’s sick and he wants to get better. Mick is such a strong man usually but when I confronted him, he cried and begged me not to leave. How can I be angry at him?”
Lila was turning on herself with her anger and pain because that’s frequently what people do when they weren’t well taken care of as children. It’s ironic that when parents act irresponsibly, children often feel like they themselves must have done something wrong.