Flight Pattern

butterfly finger

He walked in my door in that way people do when their life is falling apart. He married the wrong woman so they battled and tore at each other, until they turned into people they didn’t want to be. He is a fine man, she is a fine woman, but they are not fine together. 

The pretending is over now, the pain is too great. Their foundation can no longer support their lives. They are at the place of no return, because they know too much truth and can’t put the broken pieces together again. He came today with eyes full of sorrow and courage, with words full of failure and fear. 

But this breaking open, this new place is the healthiest he has been. Of course it doesn’t feel that way to him. He no longer sleeps. His mind races towards an unknown future; he can’t eat and is drinking too much wine. 

He is stepping into the void now, that crack in the universe that teaches us so much.

This is the shamanic initiation, the ultimate letting go, the final test of faith in the face of darkness. But I know this man; I know the fabric of his character and the integrity of his soul. He has to let go. He has to let himself fall so he can find his wings. 

He approaches the cliff now, knowing that it means death, the death of an old self, an outmoded consciousness and a way of life. He walks toward this change because he must. The wise man in him is saving his life, while the personality grabs and claws and rails against his fate. 

Any day now he will jump – and he will fly – and he will find himself, as he floats slowly and helplessly toward the new ground that will heal and free him to start again. I will have the pleasure of being his witness.

The Lost Children

disagreement

We are making generations of lost children. These are the tender souls born to mothers and fathers who split apart and try again with other partners. Often the child from the first marriage no longer fits or belongs. This child, imagining a secure and welcome future is unwittingly discarded, often exiled to an island of loneliness, while being told to behave. These children are brought along without choice, becoming a reminder of another life, another time, another partner. They mutate into the unnecessary appendage of a new life.

I’ve watched it happen with kittens. Place one that doesn’t belong in the litter next to a nursing mother and she will bat it away, often wanting to kill it. So many of our little ones are living the Cinderella story without the happy ending. Soon they are taken to therapists. What’s wrong with this child? Fix him, give him drugs, make him conform, take away his anger. Where is the medicine for a broken home? Where is the mending for defeated trust and shattered hearts?

The Handyman

I hired a handyman to cut my wood. Put up a poster at Big Bear Market and got a call the next day.  I stared at that wood pile for an entire afternoon before admitting defeat. The idea of hiring someone was foreign, but I lacked the strength to drive the ax through the wood and feared losing a limb when I veered off target. 

Chopping wood used to be my husband’s job, but we divorced after seven hard years. He stacked wood in the basement near the washer and dryer, but I didn’t want it near clean clothes, and resented making frequent trips up and down basement stairs, arms piled high, scratched and heavy. He was a doctor who worked all the time, coming home to discuss blood, tumors and medicines. That didn’t work well for a girl with a sensitive side. I talked to him about the wood. Could we please put the logs on the front porch this year? That’s only a few yards from the stove and would be so much easier. He was locked in his position.

 When the man came from the market to cut wood, I felt so guilty I baked a pie to go with his wages. I was unsure about hiring a stranger. Could I just pay for a man?  Have someone help without feeding him and doing his laundry? It appeared that I could. When the handyman finished he stepped inside. Where would you like your wood stacked?

My stomach tightened and I looked away. This was the argument part, that part where I say what I want and he over-rides it with a dominating male voice, explaining the virtues of basement stacked wood. I gathered my courage, planted my hands deep inside apron pockets and said, I want it on the front porch. Right next to the door. And you know what he said? Can you believe it? He smiled and said, How high?  That was it. No argument just, how high shall I stack it? I spent the rest of the day grinning from ear to ear, thinking that I could definitely get used to this handyman thing!

Naked in the Bath

shower-handleWhen I was divorced the first time – still a virgin to divorce – I lost all sense of reality. My house was being sold, my goods auctioned, and my life shattered into a million sharp lethal pieces. I had no way to move forward. The land was too foreign, threatening and unknown. I lost half my body weight.

The night before the auction I went out alone and drank a full bottle of wine. I have a system that does not tolerate alcohol, so a full bottle took me to even more unknown places, all dismal and not numbing enough. I somehow made my way home, opened the car door, spilled out on the lawn, and slept the night.

In the morning people began coming to buy up my life. I rolled from the grass, pushed through the crowd and locked myself in the bathroom. I listened to my life being physically dismantled from the cold enamel of the tub, one material object at a time. Who would I be now, I wondered?  No home, no identity as wife, no job skills, no child support, two small children and a backlog of depression.

My body did not want to participate in the ordeal that lay ahead, but somehow I lived through the day. I rose again and lived through another, and another still.

I met a woman at the library. Her name was Joy. She asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on her motorcycle.

Oh boy, do I ever!

Joy was getting divorced too, from an engineer; mine was a highway patrolmen, neither man a good match for free spirited women.

Joy and I moved in together. She got a job modeling and selling Leggs pantyhose. I sang in the clubs, fronting a rock and roll band.  Eventually, I worked with a classical guitarist, who was a much better fit for my quiet spirit.

At night, Joy and I had long conversations, me perched on top of her refrigerator, her being the more responsible one, and setting limits.

Karen, I don’t like it when you give away my toothbrushes to your friends. They need to buy their own.

We stayed up all night laughing, talking and often crying. We understood and loved each other.  We were full of smiles and raw open pain.

That was 36 years ago. We stay in touch, because I’ll never stop loving her for the way she filled my heart during those lonely confused beginnings. She helped me out of the bathtub and into the world.