This post is part of a series of posts that was initiated by Barbara of Me My Magnificent Self. In this challenge each blogger writes of their own experience and then highlights the blogger that will be posting the next in the series. For all the original detail please see the January Challenge on Barabra’s own blog and for the next in this series please go to Crowing Crone Woman of Wisdom. For a full schedule of contributors scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Catching the Light
The radio was on, the latest tune was coming to a close and the adverts kicked in. Cheaper insurance, an upcoming gig, another sale just started and then my ears pricked up, it was as if the voice was speaking to me:
“Why are you always so messy?”
“Can’t you just tie your shoes for once in your life?”
“Why do you have to be so stupid?”
“After all that I’ve done for you!”
There was a short pause between each, to let the words take effect and finally a second voice asked the listener how they felt after hearing the words. A wry smile spread across my face as the words resonated in my head. The next record came on, though I barely heard it, lost in my own thoughts. I was now over 40 and much enlightened by all the tough work that had been put in over the past five years or so. Years in which every counsellor I met shed tears as the story was told.
In 1981 my father died. I was devastated but was told I had to get on with my school work, my future would depend upon my exam results. The trouble was I had told a huge lie to the judge and then promised myself that I would make things up with my father as soon as I was old enough to legally travel by myself. With my father dying tragically young, I was unable to make amends and unable to grieve. There was no one I could talk to, if it got back home it would almost certainly earn more reprimands and reminders of why I was a worthless, ungrateful child. So buried it remained for a long, long time.
I was close to 40 and yet another relationship had ended. I ended it, it felt terrible but I knew it was the right thing to do for both of us. I also knew that unless I did something I was never going to have a long-lasting relationship, but quite why I knew not. This is not what I wanted.
True, there were signs before this, like when I was at university and drove down to a landmark bridge, got out the car and let the tears flow. In a foreign capital I periodically got such excess pains in the abdominal region that I was unable to walk, had to wait for a short while before being able to take a further step. I saw doctors and was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), on the basis that they couldn’t pin it on anything else.
In some ways it doesn’t matter, what matters is that I wanted to change, wanted to address whatever it was that was holding me back. I felt it was linked to my father’s death but could not provide a link. I sought counselling, simply dipped into the yellow pages as it wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with people I knew. And so my story was told and retold to a stranger. I looked back at things I preferred to keep buried, shed many a tear and found myself exhausted. It was not easy to do, but then I wanted to live and live well so I had to do it. That I think was the awakening, knowing I had to look back in order to go forward. In this case it was triggered by yet another failed relationship.
In all of this, there was one exercise that I found particularly difficult, I physically could not utter the words. My throat would dry up, my mouth would freeze and tears would well in the eyes. I simply could not state three very simple words:
“I am loveable”
The first time I did get them out of my mouth I was shaking, lips trembled and breaths were taken between each word. After they had all left my mouth I slumped back into the chair with exhaustion. I could not get my head around it, that someone could really love this wretched boy.
I needed to talk, but to who? The one person who has been there for me was my twin sister, but she had a young family and had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I had no choice, she was the only one. After almost 30 years we spoke about what happened, spoke of those things that we never spoke of before when we were caught frozen, unable to talk, living in fear. It was time to take off the mask that I had been living behind.
We talked of the great holiday we had in the Outer Hebrides when Dad hitched up the caravan to the car and off we went on a great adventure.
We loved the outdoors and on the way back climbed Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. It then came to that fateful lie. As the bitter divorce proceeded, a judge individually asked us three children whether we wanted to live with our mother or father. This is an impossible question for a child to answer, to say one is to reject the other. In any case, I just wanted the family to be back together as a normal family unit, all living under the one roof, including the family dog.
If it was just me, I would have chosen my Dad, but critically I did not want to be alone. I felt my two sisters would both say Mum, so I lied in order not to be alone. The reality is we were each alone as we were too frightened to talk, it was the big elephant in the room. So my twin and I traced where my Dad was buried, I booked my flights and we met again in the month of January in the Highlands of Scotland. We found the unmarked grave, helpfully marked by a bright orange traffic cone courtesy of the cemetery workers. Twelve months later we returned to see the grave marked by a beautiful, simple granite headstone.
The Second Awakening
Incredibly, I got married in a small ceremony in May 2010, on the banks of a bonnie loch not far from where my father is buried. It was, however, the passing of my dear twin sister that sparked the second awakening. In such extreme circumstances true colours are often shown and I learnt a lot. My twin and I talked much, we wished we could turn the clock back, but at least we could talk and still be there for each other. Whatever happened I was not going to have any regrets this time round. I learnt a lot, about myself and about others; that I had carried around so much guilt all my life when it wasn’t mine to lug around
To help myself further, I went to a place called Dzgochen Beara in West Cork to attend a couple of courses. While the centre does include Buddhist teachings, the courses were not of a religious nature but designed to help people addressing loss and looking at relationships. At the heart of this was ‘loving kindness’ and looking after oneself. This was the antithesis to what I knew, the one who was always told that he was ungrateful and selfish so always put himself at the bottom of the list just to try and do right. I now see that putting oneself first makes complete sense, how can you look after others if you are not fit and well yourself?
At last I am becoming myself, freed from the chains that have held me down for so long, freed from the beliefs and guilt that were simply erroneous thoughts. Of course we’d all like to be woken up sooner, but I think the important thing is grasping the opportunity at whatever time in life it comes. You cannot force somebody into awakening, ultimately it has to be their decision.
- I have not been able to find the words of the radio campaign held here in Ireland that so resonated with me – if you recognise what I am talking of and can provide a link or the actual words that would be brilliant.
- Needless to say I have had to omit many details from the above, but I hope the essence is sufficiently held together
Schedule of posts in the Awakening Series
1st Barbara – http://memymagnificentself.wordpress.com
2nd Paddy – http://paddypicasso.wordpress.com
3rd Emanuel- http://emantable.com/musings-of-a-table/
6th Julianne – http://juliannevictoria.com
7th Sarah – http://rayoflight7777.wordpress.com
8th Shree – http://heartsongsblog.wordpress.com
9th Dace – http://mywaytotruth.wordpress.com
10th Korinn – http://www.korinn.com
11th Sindy – http://bluebutterfliesandme.wordpress.com
12th Stefenie – http://dancingwithstefanie.com
13th Mick – https://meticulousmick.wordpress.com
14th Joss – http://ccwow.wordpress.com
15th Megan – http://mychroniclifejourney.wordpress.com
16th Pat – http://patinspire.org
17th Marga – http://lifeasimprov.com
18th Kimberley – http://kimberlyharding.wordpress.com
19th Becki – http://isurvivedamurderattackmyfamilydidnt.com
20th Serena – http://beingmefromatoz.com
21st Heather – http://wildflowerwomen.wordpress.com
22nd PurpleRay – http://purplerays.wordpress.com
23rd Sue – http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com
24th M… – http://seeingm.wordpress.com
25th Brian G – http://middlepane.com
26th Dotta – http://dottaraphels.wordpress.com
27th CW – http://sunflowerrosecw.wordpress.com
28th Laurie – http://lauriesnotes.wordpress.com
29th Debra – http://ptero9.com
30th Linda – http://lindalitebeing.wordpress.com
31th Michael – http://navigator1965.wordpress.com