When there was nowhere else but down

Seven or eight years ago, life had become very difficult for my little family.  I could try to explain the whys and wherefores but the events are past tense.  To try to break it down, make it coherent, and string everything together would require more time than I care to give on the subject.  Suffice to say, things were a mighty struggle all around.

Local news today of a father who shot his wife and three young children before shooting himself reminds me of a day or two during that time when I had considered doing the same thing.

The man’s motivation appears to be that of concern over his marital problems and likely, the knock on effect it would have on the relations with his children.  But I presume; I do not know the truth.  I only know sorrow for the situation and relief for my own.

The details were loose.  I didn’t own a gun, and I didn’t know how to get one; I certainly didn’t have money to buy one.  But I remember standing in the living room of our little, rented house staring at the curtains in front of me.  Just standing and staring.  My husband was at work and our children, at school.  I had been crying.  Heartbroken.  My soul wrung out.  I felt desperate.  As if there was no way out.

In hindsight, I think I had a small breakdown that day.  I believed that if we weren’t here, the burden would be lifted.  I imagined if I had that gun, I would kill the kids first, upstairs, then I’d shoot my husband when he came home in the wee hours, and then I’d shoot myself.  I actually visualized it.  I visualized wrapping the kids’ bodies in blankets and waiting for my husband.

So disconnected was I from myself that I thought it would be easy.  I didn’t visualize the  fact that I’d witness my children’s brains scatter, or watch my husband’s body fall, or the last thing I’d see would be the barrel of a gun.  I didn’t pay any mind to family and friends who would be so shocked and saddened. I only visualized a world where our own struggle and suffering ended.

Dark times, indeed.

I am grateful for my own inner strength which pulled me through when my body and soul were limp.

And I hold this dear family in the light today.  I wish the Dad had found some tiny thread to help pull him through.

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All the small things

Almost a year has passed.

Our Christmas holiday felt like the most connected in many years.  Wholly.  Not just parts of it, like the time he gave me a lovely necklace.  The gifts were thoughtful and personal, yes, but it was more than that.

He asked me last year, through tears, what about all of our pictures, and our movies, and our inside jokes?  At the time, they seemed irrelevant.  I was looking at what I thought was the bigger picture.  It was indeed, but I think mostly it was a rear-facing mirror image and it was so big, I just couldn’t see my way around it.  I figured the only way to move forward was to leave all of that behind, and that included tossing aside all the small things.

From far away, they are like a mosaic; a living, growing work of art.  The weekend trips to the beach punctuated by familiar words and phrases when familiar landmarks and places are within sight.  The holiday movies, the actors’ lines that we repeat together, or say individually which evokes laughter every single time, year after year.  The songs and lyrics culminated over time that can pinpoint a memory like a single star in a giant constellation.  The “Do you remember when’s” and “omg, what about’s” and “Can you believe we’s”.

I didn’t realize just how important these things were during the first half of last year when I was ready to leave and create a new mosaic.

Our picture has not been pretty, but it’s ours.  Our life.  Our knitting together of experiences, and though the edges are tattered, they continue to stretch out and grow, and the center is most solid.

 

 

Life evolving

I’ve been sick this week, and had stayed home for two days, pretty much reclined on the couch with tissues, liquids, tv shows, and furry kitty.  My husband was home sick too; a rare occurrence by itself, but the two of us down?  Unheard of.

As long as I can recall, if I am ever sick enough to be home, I will reach a point of utter despair when all I can do is weep.  I would slide into a well of weakness, feeling pathetic; self-judgmental, really just the lowest I could ever feel about myself. It wouldn’t matter if I was home alone or had company, sooner or later, it would hit me.

On the second day this week, I realized that I hadn’t cried.  At that point, I was still feeling shitty but over the worst, so was a little surprised.  I attempted to evoke pitiful feelings but they just wouldn’t materialize.  This has always been one of my traits and yet, it appeared to no longer be of use to me.

Life, when allowed to evolve on its own is a beautiful thing, the realization struck last night whilst driving to pick up a friend.  Perhaps the reason I didn’t feel like crying was because I’d given myself permission to be empowered, to make a choice, to take control of my own life.  That being sick was just that; a period of time when the body is fighting invaders and nothing more.

It may seem like a small thing; to feel no need to cry when sick but it’s a step, and that’s what evolving is, right?…steps toward change?  For a few moments yesterday, I felt in such a positive place.  I knew with clarity that life can’t be forced.  I have set things in motion, I have dealt my hand and now I am witnessing my life blossom, apparently without my even knowing.

Marvelous!

 

Beautiful Dysfunctionality

Allowing this morning’s counseling session to sink in raises my awareness level, and that feels wonderful.

Unless you’re a deadbeat parent, the need to mother, to nurture, and to care for is like a flower that instantly blossoms.  It’s natural and totally one-sided, and that’s ok because that’s what you do as a parent.  Your kid takes and you give, and hopefully you find some morsel of time to replenish so that the well never dries completely.

Things go awry when adults materialize beside the same water source, and now it becomes an unconscious giving.  You love them too, and they need you to care for them for unseen, unrealized reasons, so you dish out for the adult.  Oftentimes, it’s not even a conscious thought; you just do because you have to.  Because this is what you are supposed to do.

You might have the opportunity to restock but you know that if you step away, the one person you have been supporting might crumble, and with it, the life you know. It’s not the best life for you, you know it deep down somewhere, but you daren’t let go because he needs you to be strong, to be the source, to be in his pocket.

Eventually, and inevitably, the well will dry up for him.  Not for the kids, because really their supply is unending and unconditionally always there.  But for him, that well is just a parched, dark brick round reaching down into nowhere.  You stand up; the world tilts for a while as you process what has been happening and finally, with the help of an impartial spirit, you realize what it is  you have been doing.

For a few weeks, he and I have been treading our own paths; seeking our own truths.  It is lovely to see him shed some of the weight that he swore he’d never be able to put down. He is stepping out to investigate and discover about himself and I’m glad for him.  He is learning that it’s ok to drink from his own well, and for my part, I am learning that I don’t need to mother him.

That said, the woman who was part of this union, is but a dried up, withered spirit.  I don’t know if there is life in her because I am not her anymore.  And, I don’t know if who I truly am can ever be part of it again.

It’s been a beautiful awakening for me.  After years of struggle and spiritually backbreaking work, I can now stand up straight.  I can see how strong and powerful I really am. How free I am to breathe, and be, and give as needed.  To give for the want of it and not for the sacrifice.

Friday Fictioneers – Your Life, Your Choice

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Photo courtesy – Liz Young

Your Life, Your Choice

Word count:  100

 

Jeremy stared glumly down at the city; he could smell the destitution from up here. Another night had passed by on Knob Hill with a stolen six pack, and cigarettes.  However at some point, he’d discovered a mannequin head.  Her appearance was a mystery but Jeremy had named her Lucy.  As his buzz grew, he discovered how easy it was to talk to her.

Sometimes, he’d clutched her tightly and screamed; he’d cradled her in his chest while deep, wretched sobs roiled from him.  Sometimes, he’d simply looked at her.

This morning, Jeremy knew he had always had a choice.

 

BritInterrupted

A car needs all its parts to work together to create successful propulsion. Our major parts, if we consider ourselves as a car, would be the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual. All of these aspects require a cohesion for us to function optimally.

My car has broken down, and sits on the side of an unknown road with two flat tires, and smoke billowing from the engine.

I tried to keep things going, push myself to reach my goals, to work toward an obligation later in the year, to keep up, keep going, achieve the goals, get out, get moving. It started out great; I was gung-ho, throwing myself into this activity and that, but I’m not a new model and will admit to not having had a tune-up in quite some time. Before long, my efforts began to sputter. Essentially I leapt into a road trip without checking my shit out first.

The physical, I have often thought, is a manifestation of the troubles on the inside, and if the current situation is any indication, I must be in quite a disarray.

I asked myself, actually asked myself with the view to getting a response, what I could do to heal? The word ‘investigate’ came to mind, meaning to sit in quiet dignity and go to source. I haven’t been there in a long time; perhaps that is the root of healing. I sat in the darkened office at work, with the rumbles of trucks and reversing beeps outside, and meditated. I asked again, in that state of mind, what I could do to heal. Over and over. “What can I do to heal?”  I threw the question out to the Universe and let it go, having faith that I would be given an answer at some point.

I could say that this part of me wasn’t working properly, or the other part wasn’t in sync, and I couldn’t say when, how or even which one lost its footing. All I know is that it took a while and now here I am, the result of purposeful oblivion.

To return to my favorite horse analogy (because that’s totally how I see myself)…this filly needs to stop racing and head out to a nice field to graze for a while (within caloric limits, of course)…and be at peace with the decision. Yes, I’m feeling like it’s time to slow right down.

Mum’s the Word

Ten years of Mother’s Days.

Y’know that scene in Contact, when Jodie Foster’s character is hurtling through the wormhole? That’s sort of what our last decade feels like. We’re vomiting out the other side into calmer space, and it’s still a little fraught (what family with kids isn’t?) but holding intelligible conversations with children certainly helps.

I am not a naturally maternal mother, I don’t think. I was not the sort of girl who dreamed of getting married and having babies. And when I did meet my husband, we kinda sorta knew we wanted to have kids when we were ready. But, the Universe had vastly different plans and knocked us up before we’d even exchanged vows.

So began our bewildering, mentally unprepared tumble into parenthood.

Now we have an almost ten year old son and a daughter, who will be firm in telling you that she is not just seven, she is seven and a half.

I’m not a coddler or a helicopter parent, but I know how to comfort, and offer solace, and take care. My children are not the be all and end all of me, and I don’t think I’m an intrusive parent. They are independent, but never shy away from a hug. They think about stuff, and ask questions. They eat their vegetables, even if they leave the chicken nuggets behind. They do their homework before they go outside. They do as they’re told. They are funny, and loving, and spirited kids, each with their own talents. They are selfish, but care about the planet and other people. They are not yet masters of their own emotions.

At the end of the day, I am happy to ‘tuck them in’ and perform our secret handshakes, play thumb wars and occasionally read to them, even if I groan about doing so, because I’m knackered and all I really want to do is make a cup of tea, sit next to my husband and watch the next episode of The Blacklist. I get exasperated at having to repeatedly remind them to wash their hands after they use the loo, to not leave drinks and snack wrappers lying around, to put their clean clothes away, to do the jobs they are supposed to do, and to be home at 6:30. No, not 7, 6:30…why?  Because the kitchen closes at 6:30, that’s why.

It’s all really ok; there will come a day when I’ll still be reminding them to do their chores, and to pick up after themselves but they’ll have curfews of 10pm, and I’ll ask them to be careful driving the car.  There will be dates, and broken hearts, and proms, and college, and whatever path they choose after that.  Or no college, if my son has his way.  But he won’t.  So.

I might have lost myself for a while there during the early years but look at what I found…a better me, a wiser me, a cheekier, classy, gracefully clumsy, more well-rounded me.

I am not my kids, and my kids are not me.

Without each other though, we wouldn’t be the wonderful unit that we are.

Happy Mother’s Day. And that includes furkid Mothers too!