First I listened to Brene Brown on Vulnerability and Shame on audio whilst I sewed a baby play mat in colours of unicorn, fairies, stars and, bizarrely, dinosaurs in peplum frocks. Next, a recommendation from my little sister, It’s Ok that You’re not Ok by Megan Devine. Another mythbuster, refreshing, raw, a real approach to grief and loss. They both speak my truth, one I can now know for myself instead of all the other ‘truths’ that have no idea. Actually, it isn’t that they have no idea. Not that. It is more that they had no way of connecting with anyone who spoke out their shame, their vulnerability, their grief or loss. Some truth talker throwing their pain into the air confounded me and I did what most of us do. I searched my brain for fixatives. Time will tell. Things will get better. He/she is safe now, home with God, in the Elysium fields. Or, No! you are not weak, not guilty, have no need for shame, self blame, fear. Now, all I feel in the blast of these good intentions, is irritation, anger even. I want to run, to yell at them but I don’t and I won’t because now I get it. Our culture has no coping mechanisms for such a meet. We don’t want it. We hate it. We wish we had never met this messy person and we long to make it better. So, wait, what can I say? I know……Time will heal, things will get better, are you busy, are you eating, sleeping, exercising, enjoying nature? Maybe you should look for another man, way of living, place to live, job, passion? All upturned as querulous questions and there’s me behind them hoping I just said the perfect thing.
I find my home through the myth busters. Politely I always did in song lyrics (acceptable) or books parked in genres, equally politely, in book stores. You don’t have to go that way if it isn’t your thing after all. I always did. The ridiculously trapped genre of Self Help covers a million issues and is the most shelf dusty. I noticed that. Fiction, that’s what we want, diversion, distraction, and for the kids, we want pretty pink unicorns, tutu-ed fairies, equally pinked up, and stars, oh stars, all bright and not dying, no way, and then those dinosaurs in peplum. Happiness. Don’t knock it. It is what we are all seeking, after all and yet who has really found it in its entirety? Nobody, that’s who. Those childhood hopes must be dashed, eventually and yet I can see how it would never work to teach them Grimm, as I was taught. Fairy tales in my day were dark but when I read those tales again I just know I would never put a little hopeful face before those words. But what happens when we hit the adult world of super tough? We are not prepared and maybe that is how life works. Our culture is all about fixing. I feel low Doctor. Here are some pills that will help, just for a little while, until you get back on your feet. And, they do, but the core changeth not, the core that is my pain. The caring professions seek to wrench us from our self-destruct and to point us to our own star. Of course they do. Who wants yet another collapso?
And it doesn’t have to be bereavement, this awkward and uncomfortable truth that walks around with a person. It can be any pain at all. There is no competition. Every one of us who knows how it feels to be abandoned, lost, angry, vulnerable, knows this awkward and uncomfortable truth. It is our truth and not something to be flapped away or fixed. We are not fixable. We are in this for as long as it takes and that is that. However, we will put on a good face for that is what we are taught. Responding to someone who benignly and lovingly asks, How Are You with an honest response is not allowed. We just won’t answer honestly because why? Because we are taught to think of others and this Other who stands before might well fall like a tree if I told her my truth. Awful. Can’t sleep. Am never hungry. Don’t care if I don’t wake up. Feel like a yoyo. Anxious, fearful, afraid, lost, crazy at times. I won’t say any of that. I. Am. Fine. That’s what I will say and always say no matter how much that someone asks. And, the truth of it is this. I am. Fine. Because what I want, what someone navigating the void of pain wants is time and space to get on with this. I won’t even say ‘through this’ because I have no idea there is a ‘through’ at all. ‘Through’ suggests an end result.
Today the ice is wild and spectacular. The sea-loch shoreline is capped with rainbows. No unicorns. As the sun hits the smokey ice cover, it flashes back at me, colour shift and then flat grey again, in a nanosecond. I live in those nanoseconds so I get to see. Other walkers might miss it but not me for I am greedy for it all and I am always watching change. A lone woodcock lifts from the bracken and flies right over my head, her wings speckled, spectacular, her flight unmistakeable, her aloneness palpable. Did you see her? I ask two walkers deep in conversation. See what? they smiled. I just smile back. This is my life and yours looks like this. Cosy, designing supper for two, a warm fire, sharing, plans for tomorrow, next week, next birthday. On the track I see dichotomy. On the north side the granite is cold and dark, ice-sheered, silent. On the other side, snowdrops respond to the sun warmth and open like hope. Icicles as long as a spear head and too fat for my fingers to encircle hang northly. Across the track, sun dapples the plane tree bark, warms the new buds, smiles me. I feel at home as I always do when I am alone. One side of me is frozen. One sun warmed and beginning new life.
I am fine. I want solitary. I have no idea half the time how to get through a minute, an hour, a night, a day, but I will not tell you that because you, as I once had, have no idea what to do with such a raw and bloody truth. However, with these brilliant myth busting women and their courage to speak out, I finally, finally, find a path I can walk that is ok with me.