As I was pulling weeds this morning, it hit me. It was a special effects, explosion of color energy, transportation to the centre of observer seeing so clearly how I operate moment.
When I see me, I know it is a true “vision” when it is not a harsh, judgemental, OCD perfectionism, adult watching rebellious teenagerish tinted vision.
I tried to pull the invasive plant from the hardened soil and it broke off in my hands. And then I stood careful not to crush a “real” flower. I was barefoot in the dress a bed and breakfast guest left for me.
I walk around with it on, lately, most of the day. I put on no bra, do not brush my hair and get up straight out of bed to do my work. I have over a 100 guests a month to prepare for.
And so I stood in the silky, modest dress without any attempt to seem like anything.
“I use the walls as a defence.”
As a child having a dangerous father who let me know at any time he could kill me if I was not compliant; having a dangerous father whose body was inhabited by a kaleidoscope of six rotating personalities had left me wary.
The one thing I could do once I left home was to refuse.
At home, I could never refuse. It would cost me my life.
It left me singularly alone. The nine years I spent in University were spent by and large in a library.
The orderly books were my defensive structures. There was quiet. No one could suddenly begin screaming in anger or pain in a library. There were no games. A book was checked out, checked in and read within certain parameters.
My safety, my sanity, my ability to grow depended on my controlling the gates of my existence.
I went through four roommates my first year of college because I refused to engage. The head of the dormitory called me in to see why they kept leaving me.
Trust was a foreign concept to me. Withdrawing into silence, into long midnight walks on a deserted campus, into ideas and books and biographies of others’ lives served me well.
Added to the taint of trauma was the fact that I was an empath which meant that just walking into a room filled with people would be strenuous. That woman over there bend over her drink has been battered. The loud, heavy man is carrying so much grief it almost dissolves my own body.
And so I controlled any contact that I had with others. I had to go to work. I had to make money and function in the world but I was an actress.
I had learned early on that crying at my desk in second grade would only lead to the bully gang finding me at lunch time and circling me to beat me. They would turn the zippers of their jackets outward and strike me with them until the zippers left welts.
One does not cry when one is beaten at home because there is no room for solace in the school.
Chickens see the spot of blood and will go after the weak one. This is what I learned in primary school.
For three months of the year I could not go to school because the bruises were too telling. Someone would know. I must not betray the family.
I was taught that when I was the most injured, I must hide it.
I became an actress. My shining intelligence, my feigned self confidence, and my carefully built muscular body made the struggle invisible to those around me.
And I could always control who was around me.
I could always refuse to answer the phone; refuse to go to the party; refuse to join a group. It was how I survived.
I will be 73 years old in August. As I stood in the garden in the silky dress without having undergone any morning rituals of artificiality, I saw that my way of dealing with my experiences was neither mistaken nor unnecessary.
Bare feet on the ground, a broken off weed in my hand, I said to myself, “This is where you are now.”
There was no need to grade my “performance.”
I am just here to learn. And maybe it is time to stop hiding who I am.
That thought felt good.