Until We Are Fine

Last week, I was taking too many pills. Not purposefully, but also not by accident.
This week, I’m more solid, starting somewhat anew. Still tired and afraid, but possessing a bit of momentum. Not quite hope, but an expectancy.

I’m trying to move ahead, and have several supportive friends and family members who have helped me unburden. There are moments I feel adrift, propelled by the winds of pointlessness. Then I remember others, and decide to finish buttering the bread, get the dish from the sink to the dishwasher. I decide to answer a ringing telephone. Pretend. 

It will get better, at some point. It already has. But I’m still tired and can’t sleep, still sweaty but freezing. This isn’t going where I meant it to go. 

We have to ask for help. If we don’t ask, no one knows. They just think we’re mean or shy or FINE. But we are not fine, are we?

We are not fine. 

But…

Eat the bread. Drink the tea. Hug the child. Pet the dog. Write the poem. 

Until we are fine, or a facet thereof.

Maybe It Doesn’t Help

Asking for help doesn’t seem to be as effective as I advertise it to be. “Ask for help! Don’t go through it alone!” It seems that asking for help just makes people think you are crazy. And makes them think a) they are saviors to your cause, making it about them rather than about the hurting person, or b) they get angry because you’ve lost your marbles and the inconvenience of it pisses them off.

Either way, not what I was expecting. And I won’t ask for help again.

Drown My Sorrow

I could die in this closet tonight and no one would know until tomorrow around noon. Look right through me.

I won’t do it. It’s too mundane and makes too much sense right now. And I know that what makes sense now is crazy. So I won’t follow the crazy. But I am staying in my closet for now.

I’m in the hangers. I have too much. Stuff. Shame. Fear. Anger. Grief. Resentment. Fraudulence. I am never who I pretend to be.

But I do not know who I am, so the pretending is easy. Pens and poems and sadness do not a human make.

Right? Or am I wrong?

I Am Mother

What was your mother like? she asked, with pad and expensive pen in hand.

Like any mother, maybe. Locked in the bathroom, in the tub crying. Taking litte blue pills when she thought I wasn’t looking.

Dad would come home and always pick the bathroom lock. Try to soothe her in his rough around the edges ways, sit on the floor at the edge of the tub until he could get her to crawl out, off balance and dripping wet and cold from the hours-old water.

Mostly what he did helped, but her cry eyes would swell for days, and she always tried to line them with wax pencil, thinking it hid her secrets behind what she called a smoky eye. She seemed to think a melancholy look was beautiful.

I thought sometimes she faked the crying in the bathroom thing for attention. But Dad said no, that if she didn’t hide in the bath, she’d have walked out into our Wyoming desert with the coyotes, lain down in the sagebrush, and we’d have never found her again.

I wondered why she didn’t just leave us if she was so unhappy. Go to California or something, someplace with sun and not so much snow and coal. But I knew in my heart she was too faithful and loving and afraid to know what real leaving was.

Dying, she could do, if she’d have loved us just a little less. But she loved us more than the sun, more than the God she wrestled with, more than the stones and bones and Bibles she kept in her special drawer, and mostly she loved us more than herself.

And that was maybe what saved us all.

Of Here

It’s difficult to hear someone you admire say something that is, or seems, contradictory to all of the things they’ve said before. An author and spiritual mentor wrote this week that, because we feel pain in this world, perhaps it means that our spirits are not of this place, but of elsewhere.

This, from a teacher of Earth Medicine, whose writings and teachings are of the medicine of plants and animals, the magic of the soil, the air, of nature.

It’s not so much that I completely disagree with the sentiment, that perhaps our essence is not originally of here. But, the idea flies in the face of all that I’ve admired and learned from this teacher.

It feels like she’s changed her tune. Which we’re all free to do, at any time or place, but perhaps an introduction to a new idea, a preamble to a complete change of heart, a warning that everything has changed, would have been a gentler way for the student to learn.

The concept that my spirit, my soul, my essence, whatever I choose to name it this week, is not of here was a very difficult and damaging, and long-held, belief for most of my life. I clung to my Christian faith, in its many forms, ferociously, desperately, and forced it to bleed me dry and empty in its not-of-here-ness. It was a cop-out on my part. If I was not of here, I could simply rely on the “fact” that, some day, there would be an escape. And sometimes, I wanted to make that escape come sooner than it should.

I’ve had several suicidal times in my life, and still think of death in rare moments. However, it has been Earth Medicine, my faith in nature, that has brought me the farthest from the precipice, and has kept me away from swinging out over the edge. I consider the doe. What does she do? She survives. Her absolute purpose is to survive. Why? It doesn’t matter. It’s just what she does.

She is of the earth. She is earth. She survives.

And that is the belief, the knowledge, that has changed me. When I feel desperation slipping into the cracks of my fragile peace, I look to such things as the doe, the rabbit, King Prawn. I look to the sun and the moon, to the stars, the darkness, the breeze on my face. I pick up a pretty, round stone, pluck a sprig of wild sage, a cornflower, hold a twig of just the right size.

And these pieces of the mundane, these bits of silence and birdsong, these things that circle around, season through season, remind me that it is the simple things, the basic and earthly things, that are my sustenance and my refuge. A pink wildflower reminds me of my beautiful daughter. A leaf, grown so large it seems unreal, reminds me of my wildly ambitious son. A buck in velvet tells me tales of my loving husband, my best and most faithful friend.

The moon is my mother, the sun my father, and the world in green and sea blue is my realm, a place of every possibility, every emotion, every wish and desire and dream. I sit on my patio chair, watch the hummingbirds drink scarlet juice, see the ants busily and endlessly about their work, watch the clouds float by through a curtain of aspen leaves. And I am home. This earth is my home. It’s where I come from, and to whence I’ll go.

Yes, I am fully of here. It appears I am my own teacher now. And that is a story of evolution.

 

A Beckoning

Sometimes we’re not sure of the direction in which we’re headed. And so we study, and we grow, and we learn, and we search wholeheartedly for that one thing that moves us into knowing, into truly living in the essence of who we are. This is a journey of years, of lifetimes. And it is one that all of us share, one that we who name ourselves seekers willingly acknowledge.
We dive in. Even when we are afraid.
Starting With Rabbit has become my little window looking out onto the world, my treetop perch, where I can quietly state my piece, pass my gifts (such as they be), share my passions, and create from the inside out the person that the Great Mystery beckons and calls me to be.
I am made of the sweet smell of sage at the start of a burst of rain, of bird feathers and fallen branches, of the infinite shades of green in early Spring. I possess the brightness of a high noon sun over a sheet of diamond-encrusted, deep-winter snow, and the velvety darkness of the February New Moon.
I am a coyote calling, looking back as I run, going wherever it is that wildness lives. I honor the Earth, and consider this ground my sanctuary.
Run with me.

 

Escape Artist

I am a person who smokes on occasion. Oddly, I can smoke two packs a week, then suddenly go days, weeks, even months, without smoking, without any withdrawal symptoms. I don’t get the jitters without a cigarette.

It seems that I smoke most often when I’m at home (outdoors, never inside), and when I am needing a reason to be by myself. When I need to escape.

I am an escape artist, and one of my choice means of escape is to retreat outside to smoke, where I’m generally not followed. I like being alone sometimes, and a sure- fire way to get people to leave one alone is to light a Marlboro.

When I was first married, I was surprised to learn that being locked in the bathroom did not signal to others that I wanted or needed to be left to myself. The bath used to be my place of peace, and I was utterly shocked, but humored, the first time my new husband picked the lock to come in. After twelve years of marriage, I don’t bother to lock the door any more, unless I’m trying to prove a point (the point being, “I am angry enough to make you go to the trouble of picking the lock”). The lock is never a deterrent.

By the time my daughter was three, she knew what random household gadgets to use in order to pick the lock herself. Privacy was unknown to me.

My husband abhors smoking, and my daughter is of course not allowed around cigarette smoke, so as a method of retreat and ironic self-preservation, I took to smoking.

The only drawbacks, other than future lung cancer, are that Wyoming is as cold as shit, and the cigarettes aren’t long enough. I get a ten minute break a few times an evening, I freeze, then come inside red faced and carrying the stink of a bowling alley. But it’s a respite.

If I took a year off work and did absolutely nothing, maybe then I’d feel relaxed and whole. But, maybe not. One never knows until after the experiment is over, if it actually worked. One never knows anything.

I’ve read that there is a small percentage of the population that can smoke and not be addicted. I’m lucky that I seemingly fall into that category. But there must be a healthier way to escape than this.

Being part of a family can be hard. Being in unexpected places can be hard. Being someone you never expected or planned to be (or not being who you thought you’d end up being) can also be hard. I have a beautiful, loving home life. A good, quiet life for which I am grateful.

But sometimes I’m still just a coyote running.