My Hopes, Memories and Dreams

Posts tagged “reflection

Skin to Skin

You lend me your softness

so that

I might remember

the gentleness

that resonates

from touch

skin to skin

and back again

A heaving

of dark days

folded in upon itself

unwinding

amongst the tangles

of

eggshell blue

Egyptian cotton

Your tenderness

spills

like liquid silk

creating rapids

along each softened ridge

to refill

my languishing

vessel

 


The Well Within

I always knew

the well ran deep

A seemingly bottomless pit

So dark and hollow

That for such a long time

I dared not look into…

For the vastness scared me

When I peered inside

Having never learnt

There were walls

Called boundaries

With special nooks

That lay within

To tuck away

Little reserves

of love

Just

…for

Me


Ebb and Flow

Like a line in the sand                          

You draw me to you…

Each grain of tender energy

Leaves trails

Along the valleys

of breath intertwined

then, exhaled

To settle

Between the ebb and flow

of the gentle, knowing tide

that binds us


Pierced through the Heart

Your absence strikes

Like a needle

Pierced straight through the heart

Desire

        Loss

Craving

…the inaccessible…

Patterns that bleed

Through each year

Each month

    Week

        Day

            Moment

Of the tapestry

That is

My Childhood Story

Those knots

in my stomach

…Stitched so tight

Leave gaping holes

In my core

My sense of love

for myself

So intrinsically linked

        With

                You


A Birthday Surprise

EMW9WJYNBAKN The moment I alighted the family station wagon that sunny morning of the 6th of October 1982, I had no choice but to succumb to the senses of hearing and touch in order to access clues to my environment. I allowed my feet to take my body in the direction I was being lead and became conscious of the stony gravel crunching under the soles of my sandals. Some even managed to slip through the gaps in the leather between my toes where dusty sand began to gather. A warm sea breeze played cheekily with my hair, which flipped about in a pony tail tied loosely at the back of my neck. Excited tones of children’s voices lapped at my ears and my heart rose in my chest with the anticipation of all that was to come.

My inner voice was particularly audible in this moment, perhaps due to the loss of one particular all-consuming sense that otherwise took centre stage. The presence of the blindfold, a thick woolen scarf that was successfully meeting its obligation of blackening out the scenery before me, suddenly gave permission to that inner voice to leap forth in my consciousness.

“Just be prepared, alright…that’s all I’m saying”.

I swallowed hard. I knew it. I knew this was too good to be true.  There was always a catch….always a let down. Where there was enjoyment, the claws of disappointment lay waiting for it’s prey. Me. My stomach was in knots by now. The ride was over. Metaphorical kicks landed in my gut…pound, pound, pound.

“Why did you allow yourself to feel it?”, the inner critic scowled at me like I was a silly child.

Well…I was a child…a child excited at the prospect of a surprise birthday party organized by her parents.

“Gee, sorry for wanting some well-intentioned excitement to materialize in my life!”, I retorted despondently.

After all, I hadn’t been completely naive. Nagging thoughts had plagued me that something was not right with this scenario unfolding before me, ever since it was first suggested by my mother a couple of weeks earlier. I had simply shoved them to the back corner of my mind and dumped a few piles of hopefulness on top to keep their muffled screams stifled for a while. A kid’s allowed to have some fun surely!

Even whilst I meticulously addressed each hand written invitation to the eight or so children I had mustered up the courage to invite to my seventh birthday party, I had watched my hand become uncharacteristically shaky as it swapped between rainbow colored scented pens. Reality was never really far from the surface despite my longing to slip into a world of Brady Bunch like contentment. I could not help but ask myself the questions.

Why was she doing this, I pondered with bewilderment and awe. Why would my mother be acting with such sickly sweet generosity ? I gave up long ago on any attempts to decipher her motivation behind such uncharacteristic behaviour. This time she had suggested that she would arrange a birthday party at a surprise location and that I may invite eight of my friends. The laughter filled hub of activity that now surrounded me was materializing as the unidentifiable location, and I was terrified. It felt as if one more step forward on my behalf would be all that was needed to smash though the trip wire that I knew was an inevitable obstacle in my path.

It was time. I felt hands maneuvering behind my head as the tightly bound scarf was given reprieve from its task. I chimed in on the tail end of its’ own sigh of relief, however once my eyes focused on the scene before me, my breath escalated to a high-pitched gasp. I covered my mouth with my hands in shock as my eyes darted over to my mother in disbelief and then back again to make sense of what lay before me. All the other seven-year-old children who were gathered around squealed in delight and giggled in response to my reaction. I could not share their enthusiasm.

Before me stood the tallest, most ominous looking slippery slide I had ever seen. Standing at the base it towered above me, its’ rainbow coloured paint-work shining rapturously in the bright morning sun. But I knew, just like the colourful costume that clowns wear, this was simply a façade that served as an entrapment to an unsuspecting child as they raced up the stairs clutching their heshen sack. I however, saw straight through to the harsh metal base, the perfect conductor for the brutal Australian heat. It glared down at me, causing a chill to run down my legs that were now wobbling beneath me like jelly.

My eyes darted back to my mother and I stared at her intently in disbelief. Then I promptly burst into tears. They knew I was terrified of slides. She knew I was terrified of slides. All slides…any slides…anything to do with slides. Even the local park variety of slide installed within me the greatest terror. I’m not sure how the fear originated but I do recall even as young as four years of age, crying and attempting to resist the coaxing of my older brothers to join them on a water slide at a water park we were visiting during a family holiday. At the time, the thought of the combination of height, speed and rushing water was just too much to contemplate, and in hindsight, understandably so. However, my participation appeared to be a mandatory clause I had somehow overlooked when signing on for this family, and so my father forcibly sat me on his lap and down I went. Once was enough. Apparently this was all that was needed to ingrain the terror in me a little deeper.

And here I found myself once more, with the same urge to run and nowhere to go. Backing out was not an option, despite the copious tears that drenched my party dress. I looked up at my parents in disbelief. Why would they plan this knowing full well of my fear? How could this plan ever be envisaged as the perfect celebration to brighten my birthday and fill me with joy and delight? Oh, that’s right…ofcourse…This was the catch. Again I stared intently into my mother’s eyes and recognized the signs of satisfaction…almost glee, that she seemed to obtain from orchestrating another’s heart-ache. Forgive me if I am sounding melodramatic, but this terror was real and demonstrated previously on countless occasions that made it impossible for anyone who knew me closely, particularly my parents…to deny. And here I stood in a dusty suburban theme park, having been lead specifically to the Magic Mountain of Slides. To me, this was no “Fun Park”.

And then I also had to contend with being confronted by the shame and embarrassment I felt in this moment as my peers and their parents stared at me in confusion. This was a scenario that would haunt me in similar social situations throughout my childhood as I found myself caught in the predicament of rationalizing my responses as my parents stood perfectly composed, presenting their well-rehearsed middle-class niceties, seemingly bewildered by my behaviour. Unable to explain my distress through muffled sobs, I was left looking like a spoilt little brat who was not pleased with her birthday surprise. As my mother tightened the grip on my arm whilst still smiling through her red lipstick, she lowered her mouth to my ear and in inaudible tones to the rest of the gathering, she ordered me to join the other children on the climb to the top of the stairs.


An Un-Godly Force

I have never quite understood what was at the core of my mother’s hateful behaviour. As a child my worldview was solely and heavily influenced by the “God versus the Devil” formula for conceptualizing my circumstances. I therefore came to the conclusion at quite a young age that my mother was simply corrupted by some sort of evil force. I recall hearing from my older sister that our grandmother, our mother’s mother, had told her that even as a young child, my mother’s manipulative personality wreaked havoc in the family. My grandmother had said that her sister called her one day to advise her that my mother was no longer welcome at her house, so could she please not bring her when she came to visit. Apparently, my mother’s aunty claimed that she was tired of my mother pitting one cousin against the other which always resulted in dramas and tears. It made perfect sense when I heard this tale and almost brought a sense of relief that her problems were evident long before motherhood took place. Maybe to the child me, it confirmed what I really felt deep down, that I was not to blame and that I was not just simply being overly sensitive to a mother with an exceptionally domineering personality.

What a terrifying thought to a young child, for whom the threat of the fires of hell loomed consistently in the face of ‘bad behaviour’? The thought of one’s own mother being possessed by an evil, un-godly force made me more and more repulsed by her demeanor and presence. It was the callousness of her behaviour that stung most painfully, particularly when I saw it aimed at her own children. On reflection, despite not having any first hand experience of it in my immediate world, I clearly held a definite view of the devotion and loyalty that should naturally be evoked by a mother’s love for her children. When I recall scenarios from my childhood that stir the greatest emotion within me, they are often related to a sense of betrayal by both my parents due to their lack of empathy and compassion for their own flesh and blood. Yet, even amidst the turmoil that typically engulfed me as my older brothers either chose to harass or deny me, I recognized their struggle to manage their own emotional neglect and suffering. And I still ached for their loss.

As each brother matured and began to date, on the odd occasion they brought their girlfriend to the house I would silently jump for joy inside at the thought that perhaps they had found their escape. This sensation was particularly striking when the second eldest of my four brothers suddenly announced his engagement to a girl he had been dating for what seemed like a relatively short while. The wedding was planned for only a couple of months time. Seated on the brown fabric couch in the living room, I watched them holding hands as they informed our parents. She was slightly older than my brother who was in his mid twenties. He was the class clown, a jovial ruffian, and she appeared almost quite motherly and professional. They asked me to be a bridesmaid. I was ecstatic! Secretly, this brother was my ‘favourite’ of the four, so to be designated a special role in the wedding party was particularly meaningful. Visions of a fabulous dress, a pretty floral tiara in my hair and taking my place as my brother’s sister on the altar quickly took a hold and I was instantly swept away with the excitement of it all. That lasted all of about five seconds.

Suddenly I found myself whisked away into the kitchen and with a sense of déjà-vu, found myself cornered under the picture of the Pope that hung against the green paisley wallpaper.

“You don’t want to participate in this wedding do you?” my mother sniggered at me. It appeared to be more of a statement than a question.

“She’s pregnant. They have committed the greatest sin against God. This union will not be blessed. What were they thinking sharing the one small tent?”

Oh, that’s right. There was that one small additional piece of the puzzle the pair had just added to the picture. Apparently they had gone camping for a weekend together a couple of weeks previously. My new future sister-in-law came back pregnant. ‘How exciting!’ I had thought, ‘I’m going to be an aunty’.

“You are to go out there and tell your brother you do not want to be a bridesmaid because they have committed this sin”, my mother instructed me. There was no room to protest between her nose that loomed down at me and the finger that wagged between my eyes.

By now my brother and his fiancé were in the front garden. With a heavy heart I found my way up the hallway and met him on the front porch. I delivered the message between desperate gasps for air, as streams of water ran down my cheeks and formed pools around my feet. What other choice did I have? This was the reality of how things worked in my family.

The drama continued to unfold the following night when my older sister came to visit and I happened upon a discussion that was occurring between her and our mother in the laundry. “It’s probably not even your brother’s baby”, I heard my mother say, “She has only recently broken up with her previous boyfriend. I am certain it’s his”. The disdain in her voice repulsed me. I kept walking past, lowering my eyes and head to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. I heard incredulous tones of disapprovement come from my sister in response to these hateful accusations as I closed the door to the hallway behind me.

After the dust had settled, the wedding proceeded despite my mother’s protestations. Yet the smoke from the fire of my mother’s spitefulness would soon be whipped up again by her lust for drama, and the damage that was inflicted upon all involved remains to this day. Yet a strange period of calm did emerge for a while following the wedding. During this time my new sister-in-law appeared to befriend my sister and with her insights as a psychiatric nurse, lent support to the theory that my mother was a force that needed to be managed before more of her children were impaled by her malevolence. As I had predicted, this alliance would not succeed in avoiding my mother’s radar. I soon discovered that she had concocted a clever tale to douse upon the smoldering embers that she clearly feared if ignited, could potentially overthrow her. With all the sincerity of a devout god-fearing woman, my mother informed my sister-in-law that my sister had been spreading a rumour that my brother was not the father of their child.

That’s where the relationship between the two women, and that of my sister and brother ended. The smirk on my mother’s face was enough to induce a desire within me to vomit all over her “holier than thou” Sunday church shoes.


Bless Me, Oh Mother, for I have Sinned

Bless me Oh Mother, for I have sinned
It has been a lifetime since my last confession
And these are my sins

Forgive me Oh Mother
For I am your child
I am heartily sorry for having offended you
By daring to ask
To be held in your arms
And in your heart

Bless me oh Goddess,
See me bow my head
As I revoke any longing for your approval
I detest all my childish neediness
For I dread the locked gates of heaven
and the pains of hell

Hear my confession, Oh mother
I have been impure of mind and body
For I have looked in my heart
And am no longer afraid

Release me Oh Mother
Watch my spirit soar !
Towards all who are good and deserving
of all my compassion
and all of my love

I firmly resolve
with the help of my inner grace
to honour my choices
to turn fear into love
and to cherish myself for who I am


Amen.


The Lost Children

                                                                                   

Whose child ?
Flinches, Winces
Burns inside
Silently screaming
Breathless
Tongue-tied

Whose child ?
Cringes, Shudders
Hides their eyes
Compliantly settles
Guts knotted
Despised

Whose child ?
Nameless, Blameless
Belittled
by a Bureaucracy, blind
To lips pursed in anguish
…Yet no words to describe

Who will protect the children
Society denies ?


Man oh Man !

Men of courage, honour and resolve
Mere fantasies created
Through stories once told
Whilst here stand before me
Boys parading
in grown men’s bodies

Size ten boots
Boast of lands conquered
Yet rolled up sleeves
belie the frayed seams
Of the Self and Soul
…That read like a little black book
Scrawled with every nameable insecurity

With lips pursed
To contain my disappointment
(For no hero exists to slay the troll)
I send another on his way
…Those desert eyes…
To lap at some other oasis of need
No such mirage engulfs my energy
For with the autonomy of every womanly muscle
I must drag forth the resolve
To be my own protector
my own husband
…my own father


Pathways

On tiptoe we tread
Tentatively tracing
New stepping stones
Before us
Hesitancy seeks to confirm
The offerings
of
Wholeness

With magnetic force
the mystery of possibiliites
Draws us deeper
   …Closer
Clock ticking
Heart trembling
To step…
………or to Leap ?


An Open Door

Sometimes

Friends blow in

Their warm words

Stroking

the skin

 

Whispers of kindness

Chasing the shadows

Of

Past doubts

That linger

Within

 


Disquiet

 

 

 

Your silence is deafening

Not even ear-plugs of disdain

Can quieten the echo

                                                That richochets through my heart

                                                                                        Still…

 

 

 

 


Sweetest Thing

Unraveling  inner  purpose

Requires exquisite execution

Bravely we must grasp

At

the corners

of those shiny layers

shrouding the Self

And in one delicate

motion

With a twist of Faith

Release the pull of opposites

To reveal the sweetness within


Good Night Papa Bear

Grizzly-Cub-and-Father

“Good night Baby Bear”.

“Night Papa Bear”, I respond as the closing door takes with it the last sprays of golden light that radiate from the hall-way beyond.

As a pre-schooler of three or four years of age, this was the comforting exchange that would end my day.  On this note, I would be happy to snuggle into the added comfort and warmth of my soft toy as I drifted into slumber. It was as it should be…a father comforting his child as she relaxes into the knowing that all is safe and secure in her world, with him there to protect her. This was of course, how things were before I had learned to shut my door, turn the music up and suck in my breath.

For a very short period in those early years I looked to my father as a soft, rounded, reliable figure. I recall being perched on his shoulders at a circus, his thick hands gripping my ankles reassuringly as I strain my neck to peer above the crowd. I am Safe… in the knowing he will not let me fall. I feel the pride swell in my four-year old chest as I follow him faithfully up and down the white chalk lined boundary of a soccer field, whilst he yells directions to the boys chasing the round ball within. I am Secure… in the knowing he will not lose me in the crowd.  It was as it should be. This was of course, before I learned to hunch my shoulders and shrug out which ever response was expected as he carried out my mother’s business.

Numbness connects these memories of my father. A blank white wall confronts me. I stare and stare but can’t seem to find the detail. I cannot distinguish the surface from plaster, timber or brick…I have no idea if its’ finish is gloss or matt. Impressions of my father have simply become a white-wash of nothingness. Over the years, each experience of betrayal I encountered caused the illusion of my father as an ally to dissipate into a languorous puff of indifference; his role as my mother’s accomplice in the game of manipulation gradually exposed.

On so many many occasions when I needed a voice of strength and authority to stand up for what was right and fair and normal, his silence ricocheted from ear to ear, echoing in my head with voluminous discord. At other times his outbursts of rage literally shook the floor boards beneath me, and saw me scream “Stop it…Just Stop It !”, only to be ordered to my bedroom by my mother.  The fear and confusion incited by my view of the limbs of a father and his sons entangled in a violent scuffle on the rumpus room floor, soon transformed to disgust and eventually contempt. As the dynamics between my four brothers disnintegrated, cruelly orchestrated by my mother, I came to despise his placid allowance of her manipulating behaviour that had turned the males in my household into virtual putty. 

Interestingly, acceptance of my father’s role as silent conspirator settled easily within me as a young child. I did not struggle against it. Generally, I did not question it, though at times I did ponder how he could adjust to the world beyond our front door …the real world…as an employee and colleague in a high profile company.   That he did exit the house every morning to maintain a seemingly well functioning professional persona, made his betrayal of his children even more unforgivable.  Yet his incongruous existence did not consume me. I simply grew to see him as a pathetic figure who had succumbed to a life riddled with false premises espoused by an emotionally corrupt woman, that even an eight year old could detect.

When I was around the age of ten or eleven, I witnessed a scenario that cemented my understanding of him as a conscious conspirator in the madness that was our family life. I recall a commotion one evening that lead me to quietly inch open my bedroom door, just enough to provide a view to the top of the hallway. I saw my father standing with his hand on the door knob, a brown leather suitcase at his feet. “I’ve had enough. I’m leaving”, I heard him say. Good I thought Go Go…She deserves it. My mother was on the floor, hysterically grabbing at his legs. Maybe if he leaves, the bars of control that trap us in this existence will melt away freeing us from the poisonous happenings within. Yet I see him pick up the suitcase and retreat back into the front room. Weak I thought, shaking my head in disgust. Yes that’s him…Weak.


I am not a pin cushion

pincushion01I am not a pin cushion

Though I’m soft

and pretty

Yes

A malleable pacifist

I may be…

My core is not filled

with stuffing

For you to sink 

your blunt end

  Into

      

Thanks to   Sara Fryd  for the inspiration from her poem,

An Only Daughter, published in What if…only one child remained ?


Lost at Sea

P3140036Sailing through this sea of life, I continue to find myself in choppy waters. My fellow voyagers are quick to reassure me I have the right equipment, my reputation is renowned; and that my thorough experience as the master of many varying vessels and explorer of bays near and far, is well documented by all.

Given the wondrous praise bestowed upon me by both my crew and fellow voyagers I cannot help but ponder why I keep heading for tumultuous waters ? Caught in the rip, I do see the calm, still pools ahead…oh so inviting…oh so enticing…yet they allude me. Are my navigation skills truly so poor ? How can that be for a seafaring woman of such high regard ?

Here I sit perched atop my cabin, scanning the horizon for calmer seas.  Here I sit alone…a solo traveller on this voyage. Other ships pass me often, bidding me good fortune on my travels but never stopping long enough to share a tale or two over a pitcher of rum. When a lull approaches, inviting space and time for exploration at foreign ports, I courageously disembark my vessel, tossing my trusty life-jacket aside to expose the vulnerability otherwise shrouded beneath. Yet too often my hopes and expectation give way to disappointment at the sinking realisation that the Captains that stop in my waters do not share my fervour for future endeavours, or are just plain simpletons in disguise.

Am I destined to be a solo voyager through distant oceans  ?  Wary of pirates lurking to overthrow my vessel, I tighten the lock on my wares as each stranger in the dark approaches. Yet the tiniest flicker of light burns still within, in anticipation of the discovery of unchartered waters that may be revealed with the turning of each fresh page of my cruiser’s log. Wiping the fog of disillusionment from my binoculars, I raise them once more in the hope of spotting that illusive sea-mate with the qualifications to join me on this journey,  providing the inspiration to fill out my sails and steer me towards more peaceful waters.


A Mother’s Voyage

dancing-water-spirits_2143105_sq_thumb_mGiggles of innocence
Bubbling with love
Contagiously foaming
Frothing
…Swirling
Swept up in the swell
of motherly joy

Enter predestined passions
A professional calling
Awash in a whirlpool
Intensity whirring
Riding the waves
of growth and fulfillment

Adrenaline rises
Caught in the rip
of responsibility
Whipped up by moonlight
Madness
Nocturnal drowning
In muddied roles

Calm breaks
Momentary stillness descends
Pressure rising and falling
And rising
…And falling

Silence stems the flow
Providing the compass
to temporary floating
Dreaming
Hoping

Til the dawn tide
Surges
At the birth of the Sun


Are You My Mother ?

7143C02G3ZL__SL500_

I sometimes wonder when it was I first realised my mother was “different” from other mothers. I haven’t been able to isolate a specific time or place but generally recall the gentle wave of acknowledgment that slowly seeped into my knowing. It has forever left me questioning why I was born to this woman.  I remember reading the children’s book titled Are You My Mother?, and being absorbed by the tale of a baby bird that hatches whilst its’ mother is out foraging for food. The baby bird sets out on a journey to find its’ mother and comes across a cat, hen and even an excavator, asking each “Are you my mother?” until eventually it is reunited with the mother bird. I remember my response to the story, even as a very young child, was that I would have chosen the excavator if I’d had a chance.

As I began to spend more time at the home of friends for play dates or birthday parties once I started at school, I would observe the “naturalness” of the rapport shared between my friends and their mothers, so free of the tensions I experienced with mine. I observed my friends act boldly at times, challenging their parents with a resolute stance, hands on hips and steadfast in their agenda. I would stand back in awe…literally removing myself from the exchange, finding a firm footing a few steps away in anticipation of the eruption that I predicted would ensue. In most cases I was left stunned as the mother after a momentary pause, would throw her head backwards releasing a hearty belly laugh, clutching her sides in hysterics. She may also have been in a state of awe, but more so for her child’s ability to stand their ground, to exhibit the strength and confidence they would need one day when they flew out from under her wing.

Over the years I encountered many other mother figures and they always fascinated me. They almost appeared to float around their homes with a lightness that was so new and refreshing to me. Shadowed by their children as they busied about their chores, their conversations were candid and uncontrived.  They were not infallible creatures…they each had their own source of distractions, but they were mostly present and attainable in an authentically loving way.

I truly believe that even amidst this stage of tender childhood innocence I was still discerning in my assessment of what constituted normal rhythms of interaction and was not lulled into a false idealisation of a picture that in reality, was less than perfect. I witnessed the tears, frustration, illness, stress and isolation that peppers the lives of all women as they struggle to balance the competing roles of wife, parent and in some cases “career woman” at a time when this role was still trekking a path through new terrain. I felt the tensions that arose between parents on the verge of separation; in families where the father was late home from work night after night and in the households stretched by dwindling budgets, tested as additional babies arrived home from hospital. Yet I encountered a vibrant honesty flow through these families whose inner and outer worlds were generally at peace with each other. Mine however was the exception…unpredictable and closeted…the ebb and flow of energy spiraled in a constant whir of negativity, creating a fluctuating climate that was depended upon the emotional whims of my mother on any given day.

By the early years of my primary school education, around the age of seven or eight, the awareness of my mother’s strange demeanour  had became an ever-present strain. I tried to disassociate myself from her at every given opportunity. I enjoyed my walk to school in the morning which in hindsight,  I recognise provided an opportunity to relax into a meditative state in preparation for the day ahead, as I pounded the footpath and reconnected with the rhythm of my heart.  It meant I could walk through the gates, un-tarred by the heavy aura she dragged along with her.

For a time, although I acknowledged that my experience of my mother was quite distinct from that of my friends, I was content that it remained largely uncommented on. Although I sometimes caught the quizzical expressions of other adults in response to her odd demeanour and inappropriate remarks, I felt safe that my friends and their families had not yet tuned in to her oddity, allowing me to blend in to the playground without prejudice. Then the day after I had a friend over to my house for a play date, the child approached me at school and stated with an accusatory air, “My mum said your mum looked at her very strangely when she came to pick me up”. I was devastated. My secret had been exposed. There was no way to respond other than to offer a faltering retort of “I..I don’t know what you mean”. But my heart sunk with the realisation that other people could really see it too.  I pondered what it would mean for me. Little did I imagine that her behaviour would have such a devastating impact upon my peer relations that in a few years time, the teenage me would be left with no option other than to retreat into the school toilets at lunch times in a desperate state of isolation.