Narrator: RealMe. Little Me needs to step away for a good long while. I am by the North Sea where I have spent several special occasions in this very old gatekeeper’s cottage; it’s familiarity soothes something deep within me, a place so primal and eternal that I feel reintroduced to my own heart, my dogged determination and please bare with me when I whisper to you my secret idealisation, a very old soul called ME. From my bed with floral bed curtains in green, muted red and golden hints I sit carefully propped up to convalesce both my body and my mind. I look out of the iron crossed windows, down to marshy meadows where the inlets water is smooth; no winds have begun to blow which I often enjoy as they give me a natural resource to recharge my vitality . Tuesday I fell in the bathroom in my beloved 1700’s farmhouse injuring three ribs and spent the better part of two days in hospital and Doctor’s appointments. This has occurred one week short of my flight to the best CRPS, that is Chronic Repetitive Pain Syndrome, rehabilitation hospital in Sweden. I have had fear of how I’ll manage with my additional pain and travel with out conflict, yet when I woke this morning to the foggy gray skies, the solitude of the sea and the ease of no no frustrations a wisp of hope wrapped around me like the arms of an old friend and gently said, ” you can do this”. It is true, I can and I will. This special cottage is strong, durable and has seen centuries of storms. The spirits here unite and gather around me and lift my head up, warm my heart that was growing bitter and sway me so gently that I know I can control Little Me and face the new year with hopefulness. So, to you my readers I send simplicity, a lot of love from one survivor to the next. May a season of bliss welcome us into 2023.
Rock watches from the corner of his eye as Lm takes a long inhale of a pretend cigarette. She is satisfied she is back in her dank quarters, just the two of them without disturbance. Rock has told her she is far from healed and that acceptance of her past eases her presence and will lead to a healthier future. ” Oh yay”, Lm replied, ” a healthy future is so enticing!”. Lm is not believing in Rock or the future full of smiles, love and peace anymore. She is overcooked, baked to a crisp and hard. Rock assures her that if she continues to tell her TRUTH, her story, that she will overcome all of her pain. Lm knows that even if one person saw beyond her soft blue eyes she’d be leary. Everyone, every single person in her world is backing away, and she knows that she has only her pain mentally, physically and emotionally to count on waking her at three a.m. She pulls out a drawer full of photos and sees herself at seven with BadDad and the nice girlfriend at a protest. She’s sad, looking down and he is oblivious. The word of the day, her life and relationships, with her mother and father is oblivious. Obviously oblivious.
“I really thought I’d lost my grip on you Lm!” Rock doesn’t sweat; he has kept a solid eye on Lm. “You’ve been out cold; this was your first setback in years.” Lm scoots close to Rock, leaning her weak frame against his rawness, his realness and stares blankly. Lm was triggered by chronic pain, severe non-stop agony, her attempts to keep herself together crumbled. She ran away from herself which is when the hauntings of BaDDaD and a feeling of distrust take control of her persona. She is edgy, frightened by her own meltdown. Rock pulls her up the dank stairwell and let’s fresh air in through the doorway to her soul. She inhales and shivers with small tears of disappointment. “I’ve been doing so well Rock, you are supposed to keep me safe! It’s your fault you asshole. You are an ugly piece of old cement, all dried up into the most pathetic piece of whatever. Who cares? Not me. Why do you scowl at me? Why can’t I lose you or better yet throw you into the sea where you belong. Stupid Rock! “I am part of you Lm, in fact I am you.” “Holy crap, now I’ve heard everything, you are me?” Rock is still and listens as Lm curses, throws handfuls of small pebbles at him and she pushes him down the stairwell. Rock is not hurt. He lies there in the dark while she rants and raves about what a fool he is. Finally she slams the door shut and bolts it herself then one step at a time she carefully goes to the dark, sad place where Rock is lying patiently. She lifts him up and stares at him. It’s a lonely place without him, the all knowing piece of her, the one that takes over the helm when she is wrought with pain, physical, mental or emotional. She wants to thank him but chews on her fingers instead. Her hair is a tangled mess, just like her heart. Under her breath she whispers, “I love you Rock.”
Four a.m. rain, nine celsius; usually perfect sleeping time for this weathered woman. Sipping ginger tea, disturbed by my relentless coughing, I avoid my bed and waking my husband who needs to work in two hours. From my soft sofa, a burgundy wine red, drowsiness sets in. Plumped up with pillows under an old cosy quilt I stare out a window into the black where the opposite panes behind me are lit with led lights and reflect before me. I want to be small, a Christmas Eve long ago and my mother to be sneaking around, making my morning perfect. She eats the cookies and downs the eggnog, maybe wonders if she’s got it right. Is she enough? Would this have been her little girl dream? Her’s weren’t doused in decor, perfection and excitement leading up to morning fun. My dog with her red bow, the pancake batter, fruit before stockings, albums pre-stacked, ready to drop one after the other, Bing Crosby always first. She has pretty cards on my bonus Dad’s plate and mine. She knows I will wake early and probably puts the coffee maker’s little paper bag in and pours the water, only needing to wake, push the button and join me under the tree. I too, tried to get it right year after year. People pleasing I learned from Mom. It never felt right except when I finally became a mother. I had a doggie too, a red bow, pancakes and coffee. The first year, so perfect. A four month old, the first husband smiling while opening his new sweater as our baby made sweet sounds on a soft blanket in front of the crackling fire. No hoopla. Just a new bone for our dog, the gift of motherhood and dreams were full, all good, with smiles; it would be perfect. That first Christmas as a mother I held my cherub and we watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Each sleepless night was a dream come true then with the long awaited child. Life in the world could be imperfect yet I would forge on, recreating reasons to be joyful, to see good and not look at the late night reflections. It was another morning, at forty years old, a Christmas of struggles and loss; my five year old watching “The Snowman” and cuddling with our doggie, sippy cup with apple juice in hand and already asking for peppermint sticks. I was a woman, staring at the deep Vermont snow with more coming down. This had been all I wanted. Why was I feeling it was impossible to make my husband learn to love through adversity, not resent the world for turning us upside down. Couldn’t we right it again? He’d lost his job the previous autumn and being post 9/11, despite his impeccable skills as an electrical engineer finding work was a dead end; he was Arabic. We’d met in a university town, he a foreign student working on his master’s and a brilliant graduate teaching fellow. He also was in charge of the cartography library and was a quiet, gentle soul. Being from north Africa he was working toward success, his culture beautiful in so many ways we learned to incorporate it easily into our life via cuisine. To this day my young adult’s comfort food is cous-cous with cinnamon and butter. That Christmas it all changed. He sat angry, not hiding his feelings as our child opened presents he resented my buying. I had worked as a writer for two local papers, taken care of those in palative care in their homes and even cleaned someone’s house each week. The bills became monster’s and no matter the music, or the lights on the tree softly lighting each evening he fell into a place that had no room for my dreams or his own. I had pleased and pleaded to keep hope alive and soon I no longer knew how to set the table just right, smile in the wake of tears, cheer up anyone at all. I had failed. Did my mother feel she had failed, too? Did she wish she knew all the answers? I had left home at sixteen and broke her heart. How could I ever fix that? I knew I had to change my own approach. My husband found a job in another state and I stayed behind, afraid to follow I took a small apartment in an old Victorian house in a new town. On weekends he would drive to see us and for awhile I thought maybe it could work. I looked for work and nothing was available with a child and no one reliable to help me out. The story is one of those that many know, you are somewhere, uncertain and just taking baby steps and holding out for an epiphany. Mine came about in a very long and loaded journey, a new country, messy Christmases that I couldn’t fix, clashes of cultures, always bending, trying, pleasing and believing in miracles. Now I feel much older than I am, often in poor health, I dread everything, every holiday as I know it can’t be like it was when I ran from my room, hugged my mother and bonus dad and let my doggie open her present first. I look at the sky now, it’s beginning to show a deep yet slowly lighting blue. The led lights on a timer will click off and I will make coffee. My second husband of fifteen years will wake and ask how I am feeling and then he will work. I will worry about my NOW. Not yesterday or tomorrow. I hope for nothing much but for my young adult to find their path, to be okay and content like that very first Christmas cooing with baby toes high in the air. I want this family, despite the buried knowing of what this “wonderful life” can do to each and everyone of us, to recognize our love is NOW. I stopped wanting it all, however I do keep believing that pancakes and coffee can turn things around. Good morning! Lm and Rock are cheering all of you on. May you stumble into something good, just right and feel the way you need.
I am right with you, aligned as Ursa major and minor as the whole universe continues pulling us towards Love. Keep sharing, keep the voices of women before us alive. Feel unheard? Say it louder. Shout from your guts, CRY. Stay vigilent, mindful of your own inner work. No one can take your powers away unless you hand them over. SHINE. MOURN. Support other women in their struggles, be a woman’s woman, a teacher, a student, carry TRUTH as your flame. Stand up for your beliefs, run from insipid gossip, protect our tribe. Contribute loyalty, sing and play. We are the givers of life, the arches that span like rainbows, we are the gem other’s seek, we dig our hands in the Earth’s soil from every land. When weariness takes us down, rest upon the lap of love, honor your emotions, they need not be sacrificed for anyone. Bleed, bleed , bleed. Breathe deep, call out to the silver stars, the full moon light. Kneel with gratitude as we harvest what we’ve sowed. Mabon is upon us, the cyclical switch is eternal. Place your hope on the table, feel the change within your seasoned soul. Give. Live. Sunbeams, dawn, redgold leafs lie upon your mantal, for tis nature that earns the highest of all awards for her sacred healing, her mysterious essence, her endless ability to keep the house in order, the home in our hearts beating. Blessed Be.
Listen….hold your loved ones tighter. Okay. Those who love tf out of you and stick around through the good, the bad, the ugly. Hold them close to your heart. Let them know you appreciate them. Reciprocate that love and support. There are a lot of people who cannot and will not be able to handle the baggage you carry but there are those that will. Even if it’s one person…that’s your fuxking person, man. Love them. Cherish them. Hold them tighter. Those connections are RARE. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t let them slip away.
Sunlight filters in through Lm’s drawn shades; she can’t sleep and watches as it changes shapes on the ceiling from her bed. None of these studied details will come again, like each diamond, every piece of sea glass and snowflakes the sun continues to provide a different light show everyday. It was a tiny slice at first, narrow and pointy. It widened, lengthening and flickering until it became so engaging going back to sleep was ruled out. Like a deck of cards well shuffled one rarely gets the same hand twice, we never know what we will be dealt and what will happen as the game is played. Life is rarely a royal flush but with curiosity and perhaps hope we continue to play loosely mindful of the whole picture. No one wins more time no matter how many clever tricks they can do. Magical potions, merciful angels, or the great mystery known as God might let us exchange a bad card for a little more time before we finally reach the end of our game. How do we finesse our individual house of cards to spend more time with those we love. How do we prolong our own reflections, our unique light that we project throughout our own lives? The light on the ceiling is no longer visible yet I know another morning design will wake me up, or do I ? The smallest parts of our intricate selves are never fully seen by anyone, yet we continue to try to show our imprint, our colorful feathers and deeply desire understanding with a need for others to believe in us. Will you have lived your life knowing you never cheated yourself or anyone into seeing all that you have to share? How can we take risks, pull out a card from our own hand and use it to justify our dreams. Procrastination is never going to be the winning deal, one must act, take a chance and live as if we all must fold our hands tomorrow. “Someday I want to go on a train to Prague, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea. Someday I want to return to the most northern isles of Norway. Someday I want to see “The Scream” in Oslo. When I turn sixty, I want to be with my best friend anywhere. When I turn sixty I will get a baby piglet and name her Opal or Pearl. When one of my best friends comes to Sweden we will go to Stockholm together and have girl time and catch up eating chocolate croissants and coffee in bed, opening champagne at lunch, see the small galleries and by each other pretty scarves and pretend we are sisters. Someday my siblings will see my Truth, I won’t be the Black sheep but a herder of my flock. When my daughter’s are home together we will take them on a surprise trip to ski again, just like when they were eight and eat pizza and start over again. One day I will sell my ArT work and I will be free from pain, and when that happens I will fly like a strong Canadian goose to see my family far, far away. All will be perfect, we have good genes. Letting Go is a long time away, we don’t need to hurry or be afraid. Our children are safe, they will have good lives and even more good things will come. In the autumn, in the spring, next winter or?