First draft of personal myth - my life story (age 59).
|Memories come in many forms and each form has a particular fragrance of its own. Today I come to you in the form of a beautiful old wooden canoe that is traveling lazily down the delta. I have no place to be and no time to be there. I have carried a lot in my day, but today I am empty. This body of water I am in is narrow and I am surrounded by beautiful flower petals in a Fuchsia color and the texture of velvet. I suppose they blew off a tree somewhere along the way. I am not thinking of that as much as noticing how freely they swim past me and the stops they take along to way when I notice some resting up against logs at the edge f the river bank. The light perfume of the flower rises in the afternoon heat and we are all grateful for the branches stretched out above that provide us with some shade and for the light breeze they provide as they sway in the wind.|
This afternoon offers the perfect stillness that allows me to go back in time, back to the day I met Octavia. She reminded me of these petals that are wandering down the river. In fact she even smelled like a mix of sunshine, flowers, earth and a warm breeze. By the time I met her she was in the later stage of her life and she enjoyed sitting out here on these river beds. Sometimes she would be weaving or painting and other times she would be laughing, singing or dancing with a child or two that came along that day, but more often than not she was content to rest on her blanket and listen to the natural world. I was lucky enough to be one of the few who knew her whole story.
Life for Octavia was not always so peaceful, which is likely how she ended up creating the life she now enjoys. Once upon a time, there was a house in a tiny town, up on the tippy top of a hill, and that’s where it all started. Octavia was the first born and she knew it well. She entered her life from an expression of love and experienced the joy of being loved and cherished. This however did not last all that long. Before long there were another 5 children and her home was full of darkness and chaos.
During these early years she was not only the oldest in her family, but there were also a few neighborhood kids on that mountain, and she was the leader of the pack. By day she was full of ideas and bravery, but behind closed doors her light grew dim. There was violence, fear and neglect and she could see that playtime was coming to an end. Now her time became more of an escape, out into the woods, to her back yard, away from family and friends where she could pretend her way out of reality.
Inside she did her best to manage all that was beyond her control, but by 9 years old, she sounded the bells and other authorities stepped in. The children were scattered this way and that. Her heart was broken and she ached to put things back together. She continued to live in her fantasies of how she could glue her family back together but eventually buried that hope deep inside and learned how-to walk-through life, life little soldiers do, and she did the best she could with the many changes her childhood entailed. Deep in her heart she felt the sting of grief here and there, but she found lots of forms of distraction too.
She decided early on that she was the only one she could rely on. This came after many broken promises and much disappointment. Letting go of the parts of herself that yearned for the lost connection came easier that expected. She became very good at making friends and then forgetting them as she moved to the next place. It was easier that way, no one got too close and she could keep her tiny garden of grief buried away.
As an adult she easily navigated taking care of herself. Having started in a family where her needs were not met she’d become very adept at assessing the needs of others, which made her quite skilled in the business world. She loved her independence and her own company, and adult life was much more appealing to her than her childhood. Her relationships with men were a bit tricky. Experiencing romantic love woke up that vulnerable place of joy that involved intimacy with another, the place she had closed the door on years ago. These years sparked more opening and closing, but she never found a place to fully land with another. She experienced both betrayal and devotion as well as love and rejection, some of which woke up the tender spots she thought she’d buried long ago. As a true survivor, she found ways to handle the disappointments.
From an early age she’d found ways to escape, some healthy and others not. Eventually the methods of escape became her biggest problem. She found herself in a cycle of dependency that took her further and further away from herself until she got to the point she really didn’t know who she truly was or what she truly wanted. Rather than take a close look at this, or ask for help, she focused outward. She found lots of family members that had needs she could pay attention to, some asked for help and others didn’t. In either case there was often a price to pay, at a minimum it was keeping a distance from her own truth, and the grief she’d buried long ago.
She finally got to the point where finding her own truth mattered more than anything else, so she faced what she’d been up to and finally asked for help. She found others who had been where she’d been. They are really all around us – those who have walked our path, and she leaned in for support and wisdom and little by little let go of the ways that no longer served her. She became devoted to waking up and letting go of all the ways she’d avoided herself and her disappointments and she became even stronger. She set down the shield of the wounded little girl and decided to be present for whatever would come.
Life did not get easier, but she became happier. She found her way back to that joy that lived inside from the day she was born. She came to know that place that could hold both sorrows and joy and remain centered. She came to shed many tears for the bittersweetness of life and she felt lighter.
So you see, this is why I am now able to float down the stream of life free of baggage. For years she piled me up with so much weight, but when she began to accept life on life’s terms and to let go of her expectations and disappointments I was no longer burdened by her heaviness and all the worries she had dragged along.
Now I enjoy the moments I have left and I am witness to her experiencing the happiest times of her life. She is connecting more and more each day to the ones she loves and the places inside that remain. She is tending to her joy and her sorrow, and at those times when she seems to have forgotten, I find her down the way a bit walking the labyrinth to reconnect to her soul and her source, who she chooses to call God.