Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Door Number Three

I spoke to a woman whose husband once held a chainsaw to her neck. He took a knife to her leg. He didn’t kill her, but he did bash her head against the wall and punch her in the stomach, taking the life of his unborn child. Other than causing the miscarriage, he never did anything serious enough to warrant investigation or time in jail. He always stopped just short of visually obvious physical abuse. But physical scars heal, now, don’t they? The damage to this woman’s heart will never. It is irreparable and deep. The tears she shed while sharing her story, the certainty with which she felt her pain, the look she showed, the one she wasn't aware I saw, when she spoke of how she should be dead, these things left marks on my own heart as my brain struggled to understand.

I knew a young woman. Her parents had separated but never divorced. They were committed to the children but not at all to each other. They lived in two homes in neighborhoods far apart, wife over here, husband over there, never visiting the other, never vacationing as one, never proudly showing off the partner at company functions of any type. Neither did they cheat. The marriage was a commitment that both held true and dear. They were the best of business partners, this mom and this dad, ensuring shared custody of the children, a family unit, a place (or two) for their young ones to call home. It was not a union typical of the twin beds of the fifties, but of houses in different towns.

I have a friend. She has decided to stay home with the children while her spouse goes off to work. They have two girls, both of whom are cute as heck. The in-laws love my friend, brag about her, cherish the girls. Her spouse is warm and genuine, quick with a smile, a compliment or two. Theirs is the sort of relationship newlyweds dream they will someday have. I was taking a walk the other day, ran into this friend, the girls, and the spouse. They were out for a stroll, taking in the summer air. The two-year-olds were collecting sticks, showing off their bounty, inviting me to join the cause. The energy of the family was such that I was lifted simply standing in their space. My friend is blessed. She spends all day with her little cherubs, contributing to the team. Her wife, her wife does her part by bringing home the cash. They are committed. They are loyal. They are supportive and caring and kind.

You could place many labels on my head. I am a liberal, a Christian, and a wife. I am not here, however, to spew Bible verses or debate political view. I am not here to prove that marriage between partners who share physical parts is right or that it is wrong, is God-like or not. Neither am I here to spout my typical peace, love, and compassion interconnectedness sort of crap. I am not here to judge those who are judging or to say, “Who are YOU to think YOU are right and anyone else is wrong?” I am also, however, not here to judge those who are judging the ones who are judging. We humans can be a pretty bitchy bunch. My bet is that if any two of us, ANY two, were the last beings on earth, we would very quickly figure out how to be best of friends. I have heard the argument as well that MY God is a loving God, MY God nurtures ALL. I am not terribly versed in the Bible, but the last time I checked, there was ONE God, just one. That is, of course, unless you sport a toga and wear circles of leaves on top of your head. As I said, though, I am not here to debate the wrath or the love of Christ. I am not here as one who votes to the left or who signs her letters with namaste. No. I am here as another. Of all the labels one could place upon my head, the one I treasure most is that of Mom. I am here, then, as Mother. I am blessed in this lifetime to find myself mother to four. As a mother, if I were given a choice for my child between door number one—beaten and abused, door number two—neglected and alone, or door number three—treasured and loved, I would choose the third. I would choose it. I would choose it every time.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Blur of Sparkles, Glitter, and Pixie Dust

I know I am not of the age where one would normally reflect back on life with a sense of appreciation for all that has been, counting her blessings as if any day now could be her last. I feel I need a few more decades worth of candles on the cake for that. A box of denture cream. Adult diapers. Psoriasis. Gout. If I am to confess, however, I have run out of fingers and toes for counting that for which I am thankful in my life. I find myself, lately, teary-eyed and joyful all at once, feeling very much like Cinderella at the ball.

Talking to a friend once I came to the realization that my life is very much a living fairytale. The beginnings are nothing any child would choose. One does not say, “I think I would like to be born into a family that struggles to put food on the table, one that sleeps in homes that are cold or should be condemned.” One does not wish on oneself humiliation, degradation, struggle, despair. One does not. But one also does not give up on her life, does not fold her hands and say, “Well, then. This is my lot, and I will take it as it is.” No. She keeps a song in her heart and a smile on her face.

Then one day her fairy Godmother enters the scene. Now is when the magic begins.

In fairytales we call this magic synchronicity, lucky breaks, coincidence, chance. In real life, we call it the reward of sweat, work, toil, goals. Sometimes we call it God, the Universe, Source. I believe it to be a little of all of this. I have reached this point in my story. I have reached the point where good things happen, where the Universe gives back.
Lately, without a good degree of effort on my part, opportunities seem to land in front of my face. I ask, and it is given. Sometimes I ask things for others. And, again, it is given. I recently had the opportunity to feed those who have no food. I asked in a tiny way. It was given in size extra-large. Along with many others who stepped into my path to help make this happen, the little girl who had no food was able to feed others who have no food. You cannot imagine the degree to which this makes me feel.

You should realize the significance of that last statement. I am not much one to feel. Feelings have not served me in my life. I have had to harden my heart to get to where I am. I have had to detach, to strategize, to persevere. I have had to settle, to buck up and deal. This welling of feeling, of joy, inside of me is new. It is new. And welcomed.
And so I count my blessings. I give thanks. I give many thanks.

Each day, I wake to a family that loves me, a family that loves each other, and that loves those with whom they share the earth. I go each day to a job I am meant to do. Leading, motivating, entertaining, teaching, I believe, is why I am here and how I am to spend my days. I realize this may sound arrogant. It is nothing of the sort. We each were put here with gifts and blessings, gifts and blessings that we are to share with those who cross our paths. I have found my gifts and blessings. I am lucky like that. I have the opportunity, too, to write. Or, as I call it, teaching on a page. Entertaining. Motivating. I have the opportunity to write, to make people smile, to lift the vibration of those around me. I am surrounded, in turn, by those who lift me up, by those who brighten my days, those who cheer me on my way.

I realize, I do, that at some point the clock will strike. At some point the dance will end. Still, I have love in my heart and hope in my song. I know that regardless what happens from here, the dance itself is lovely. It is beautiful and exquisite and grand. It is a glorious mix of sparkles and smiles and glitter and gold. That little girl who wanted so badly to be a princess is taking her turn twirling about the floor.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Must You Know?

It has been far too long since I have put this pen to page. I could, if I were so inclined, use any of a number of potential excuse. I have, for example, found myself inundated with homework assignments the likes of which make a bout of the stomach flu seem a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I have begun a charitable project that seems charitable to everyone but myself. The intent is good. The return on time investment not so much. I have found myself living once again with all four “children” under one roof. This is temporary and delightful, I know, but taxing nonetheless. I have found myself occupied with emptying my mind, feet in the sand, ear to the shore. One is not, is she, supposed to work at a time such as this. The reality is, I could use any of these excuses and each would be accurate, but not a one of them would be true.

The reason I have not written, if you must know, is because I have tired of baring my soul. It is the writer’s job, is it not, to take that which no one wants to share and to paste it on the page. No reader wants the ordinary, the everyday. I could write that I saw a much needed movie last night with a friend, that afterwards we went for coffee, conversation, and a laugh. Would you care? Let me mention, however, the nature of that conversation or the way the two of us leaned in to better hear, glancing around to make certain others were focused on conversations of their own, the way we spoke in whispers with pauses that were long and heavy, uncertain in duration or intent, and then, then I know, I have your sole attention, undivided and intense.

I have to undress myself for you to look at me? Frankly, that gets a bit old.

I had a lovely day today. The sun was out, the birds were singing, the breeze was exactly the right shade of cool. I spent the majority of my time with a great book, a bottle of tea, and bare feet resting in a chair. I had nothing to do and nowhere to be. I felt zero pangs of guilt over allowing the day to shower me with its joy, gifting me with love, expecting nothing in return.

There is not much excitement to words like that. They are pretty, yes, but so mundane.

As much as it seems I did nothing more than sit on my ever-widening backend, though, I was, in fact, working rather hard. I was working hard on allowing, on feeling, on fully experiencing my life. I was working on this because I have not done much of the sort in the past. I have pushed, pursued, controlled, manipulated, but I have not allowed. I have been driven, determined, persevering, and mad, but I have not been joyous. For the beginning half of my life, I have worked to make things happen. I have plowed my way through my days in an effort to overcome. I have been serious, single-minded, and obstinate to anyone in my path. I am trying now, trying, to find that little girl inside of me and to give her space to run barefoot through fresh cut grass, to lie on her back looking at the clouds, to watch the leaves as they dance on the trees. I am working hard at allowing. I realize, I do, the irony in that. I am working hard on allowing because I have a goal toward which I work. I cannot let go. Even with allowing I can never lose control. The story you want to hear is not the story of my beautiful day. The story you want to hear is the story I will not share. It is the story behind that goal, behind that working hard on letting go. It is a story that requires baring my soul.

And this, this is why I cannot write. In essay after essay after godforsaken essay I have turned myself inside out for you. I have shown you that which I have never shown anyone, have rarely shown myself. At what point is my life MY life? At what point do you touch my arm, look at me with love, and say, “Enough already. End the story. Keep your words. Guard your heart.”? At what point do you allow me to walk away with even a shred of dignity and respect?

I cannot say that I will never write, that I will never share, that I will never again put this pen to page. To say that is to say that I will never breathe. What I will say, however, is that I feel a deep desire, an intense longing for an arm placed gently around my soul, an arm that comforts me, soothes me, and tells me that all is well and that, share or not, I am worthy, I am loved.