Shut Up and Dance

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Old commands repeat

Swallowing nearly complete

Peace will reign again

RL

Posted in Haiku, Poetry, Writing Challenges | 7 Comments

Own Your Past Canada – A Simple Guide How To

There were a lot of opinions flying after the recent release of the TRC summary of the Truth and Reconciliation report, but sadly, it was hard to discern which one was the majority – acknowledgement or denial.

The Past Shows Us the Way

————————–The Past Shows Us the Way————————— aaronpaquette.net

This report was several years in the making and outlines the history and consequences of the genocide effort Canada inflicted upon its Indigenous peoples from 1876 until presently.

The opinions that followed seemed to hold mostly two views – one that included a good deal of understanding, and support for the recommendations for Canada to acknowledge and manage the issues related to the Indigenous communities.

The other was this example, written by a Sudbury, Ont resident. I felt it encapsulated some very common views about Canada’s Indigenous history. He began his piece by asserting that, yes, Canada did bad things:

“However, the inflammatory statements made are just a little over the top. ‘Cultural genocide’ sounds much worst (sic) than what really happened”.

He goes on to assert that the First Nations people chose to live on reserves and the …“ills that come with that”.  Continuing on, he states what many of us hear daily:

…“a lot of negative assertions and accusations thrown at the government of the day, as well as the churches involved”.  After all  …“Let’s give credit to our leaders of a hundred years ago for realizing native people were living in a perpetually unsustainable cycle of poverty and violence, and at least tried to do something about it”.

Then he concluded his thoughts with this statement:

“Many other cultures have been assimilated without being so accused. These cultures have melded into our own, yet retained some identifying remnants that we share, enriching the culture of Canada. We are all better for it”

I’m at a loss to understand why a newspaper would publish such an opinion when the full summary outlining the facts of history and the point(s) of the TRC is readily available to the public, and certainly for this paper’s editors.  Unless, this was a lesson to show how much ignorance must still be countered within the country.

I won’t bother going over every detail of his inaccuracies because frankly, it was entirely inaccurate and again, the facts in point are readily available from simple internet searches, university resources, libraries and even the actual government department that oversees the affairs of the Indigenous.

What I prefer to highlight is this ongoing effort to continue to publicly obscure historical fact, which is really current, as the Indian Act of 1876 is in fact, still in effect.

The idea that assimilation is an effort that must still be completed underscores the need to realize that not all cultures adopt the European model of success adapted to the North American version, and indeed, why should they?

What this continent needs to do is stop attempting to tell other cultures, and in particular the actual original inhabitants of these lands, how they need to be living. What this country needs to do is really quite simple and that is live up to the agreements in the treaties.

The sad history, and the reason genocide came into being was, simply put, for the stealing of the land and resources that were negotiated for in the treaties — still in effect today, much to the chagrin of many an assimilation apologist.  In fact, treaties are still being negotiated even now.

Then there is the other side of the equation, which is written within the very Indian Act created for the genocide efforts.  It states very clearly, promises to the Indigenous for coercing them onto those reserves. Those promises have yet to be half-way lived up to.

If Canada wants to truly end this travesty, living up to the honour it brags about around the world is the start. Too many people think that becoming “equal” means becoming the same. There is a difference between equal rights, the rights for all people, and the Indigenous rights bargained for on their homelands since the beginning.

RL

http://www.thesudburystar.com/2015/06/21/sudbury-letter-report-unfair-to-canada

Posted in Aboriginals, Canada Day, First Nations, Indigenous, Life | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

The Blacker the Pot… Guest Comment by Paul Curran

“Ahhh, Robyn, well said. Bravo”.  Well, when you’re getting an opening like that in reply to one of your posts, you know you’re going to do some reading.  I’m one of a great many bloggers who enjoy getting the insights from one of our favorite readers and occasional guest blogger, Paul Curran.  When I read through his entire reply to my last post “Hello Kettle, Black Pots Steam & Trumpet”, I had to share his unique and enlightening view, and so I decided his was a comment that was really a post of its own.  I hope you enjoy his thoughts that expanded on my post about hypocrisy.

KettleCallingPotBlack (2)Ahhh, Robyn, well said. Bravo. Matthew 18:15-17 “15“ – Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault is between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16.  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’[a] 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Basically, after you have tried, walk away and do not keep company with those who will not listen.

You know Robyn that when you are making a stew for nourishment in that pot – the longer it simmers, the blacker the pot gets and yet the tastier the stew. The outside blackness can be a result of making excellent nourishment to feed the soul. Mind you if boiled dry and ignored all can be ruined in a black pot. So, the blackness can mean two very different things – or as another old adage goes to make an omelette one must break some eggs. I agree you are right on about teachers teaching what they need to learn. and in perfection, those who teach for the best reasons do so because they know they need to learn and in fact pursue learning simultaneously.

One blogger that comes to mind is Beth over at http://ididnthavemyglasseson.com. She is continuously learning about life and she teaches for a living. I had a French teacher at work (1/3 of our customers were French so the company sponsored lessons for management who dealt with these customers)who was amazing. I spoke to her one day and it turns out that although she had two degrees in languages and was fluent in six languages (she was a university professor), she was spending her evenings learning German because she said she could not teach properly unless she could see the students perspective and she could only do that if she was learning too.

We were also training in a new computer language for the company main frame – a much more efficient language. This teacher was also excellent and could answer any question from the trenches so i asked how that could be so when he taught full time. His answer was telling – he said that he could only teach while he was doing the job and all the learning that goes with it so he worked 40 hours a week teaching and 40 hour programming.

Interestingly enough, given that mistakes make the pot black, I think those who are the best at what the do have leaned through mistakes – many mistakes, so very black. At one point Babe Ruth was the home run king of baseball – and yet what many do not mention is that he was simultaneously the strike out king. His pot was black from trying and from learning from his mistakes. Thomas Edison once said to a reporter that he did not fail 1,000 times when he was looking for a workable light bulb filament, but rather he found 1,000 ways it didn’t work.

So, as is typical of real life, differential equations and quantum mechanics, there can be more than one correct answer as to why the pot is black and the answers are sometimes diametrically opposed. (Just as the square root of 4 can be either 2 or -2.) She who makes many mistakes in the learning process has a black pot and he who continuously makes mistakes because he doesn’t learn from them also has a black pot. They are both understandable and immediately identifiable. The ones that make me wary are those whose pots are supposedly clean – they know not of what they speak or they are hiding their mistakes. Both of which make me nervous.

-Paul Curran

Posted in Life | 13 Comments

Hello Kettle, Black Pots Steam & Trumpet

black swan pot fireSome pots are so blackened that they think they gleam only in the color of innocence, and are the only innocents that matter. Makes you just wanna smack ’em! Sorry, Karma, but there are those days, you know.

From Wikipedia:  “The idiom The pot calling the kettle black is used in a situation where a person is considered guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another. It dates from the time when cooking was done over an open hearth fireplace; both the kettle and the cooking pot would be suspended above it and collect the same amount of soot. The earliest instances {of using this saying} date from the early 17th century”.

More recently, comedian Stephen Colbert somewhat updated the idea when he coined the marvelous word, truthiness:  “Truthiness is what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer as opposed to what reality will support”.

I‘ve had my share of encounters with either idea  and  have crossed the path of one or two of the blackest of these pots.  These are the ones who actually seem to be more Black Swan than mostly innocuous semi-hypocritical vessels.

You may have known one or two of these (pardon me), foul fowl as well.  I mean the kind that swim regularly in the pool of the pet words  –  impetuous, petulant, and petty.  They can be Brutus-like power posers or your sweet as pie pals on the surface, but they both practise the behavior of intimidation and bullying to get their own way, or in revenge for not getting their way.

Generally, I’ve learned to simply cross the metaphorical street with this sort.  You can try to have a heart to heart chat with them, but if you do and the result isn’t something you can live with, do yourself a favor and let it go.  It’s unlikely that you’ll gain a win/win with that kind of mindset.

It’s more likely the most you’d be losing is a load of unnecessary aggravation.  I have every reason to know that there really are few things in life that really are important enough to stand your ground for, and an honest heart to heart with yourself will move you in the right direction in deciding that.

Putting the darkest side aside, while we’re being honest, I suspect that we’d all admit that, from time to time, we are the pot too.  I’ve often heard it said that we are irritated most by the things about others that are in us.  If so, I think it’s really about the degrees of it; the more we’ve worked through those bothers of our own, the less we are bothered by them in others.  This idea has also been followed up by another saying – we teach most what we need to learn.

If we aren’t sure what we may most need to learn at the moment, we could pay attention to what we are putting out there the most.  What are we thinking about?  What are our conversations centered on?  What are our social media posts  about?  If we put out a particular message or focus on a semi-regular to regular basis, it says as much to us as it does to those we’re supposedly ‘teaching’.  Probably more so.

Our only life-changing job in life is our own.  If we do that well, we and our loved ones will flourish.  Doing it well means doing it in accordance to the real meaning of the teachings that come our way, not by following our personal ‘truthiness’ interpretations as conveniently needed.

Regardless of how black our pots become, we all start out the colour of shiny innocence.  At some point we have to accept responsibility for washing it as needed ourselves, and in knowing that we don’t have a right to scrub another’s.

RL

Originally Published on 7/19/2013
Posted in Coping, Hypocrisy, Life, Pet Peeves | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Because I Can…

people heart redSometimes, maybe a lot of times, we need to remember, or at least ponder, what this whole experience of life is supposed to be about.  We hear it all the time; it’s about love. It’s about helping one another.  It’s about lifting each other up when we’ve been pushed down by experiences too heavy to carry on our own.

Living this mindset to any great degree didn’t happen overnight for me nor did it come easy. My middle name is Macadamia, (look it up). It took a number of jarring incidents to make me stop and assess where I was heading and how. We call those incidents philosophical bricks.

Philosophical, schmilosophical – the solid OUCH of those bricks served to open my abilities to care beyond my immediate family needs and the occasional charity event. One clunker that demanded attention is a chronic health condition. When I’ve had to deal with acute phases of it or any other life crises, (I’m really good at getting those), I’ve had the honor of being taught time and time again how living up to life is actually demonstrated. As it turned out, it’s really not as hard as I once might have resentfully imagined.

Those who know me would likely say I’m a strong person.  I know I am.  If you haven’t been defeated by life’s bricks and kicks, you likely are, but there have been times when I’d been so far down, I’d have sworn I was at the end and I was good with that. Relieved even.

I wish I could say I pulled myself out of those periods of desolation by the straps of self-determination, but the truth is, the ball to real self-help really couldn’t have started rolling if I hadn’t first been shown the path via the hearts of my near and dear.

They weren’t the surgeons or psychologists or ministers.  They were the friends who came to me to talk, listen, and hold my hand while I cried. They shared their wisdom and their resources to nurse and support the basics of life.

At the worst of times, they managed to break through despair that was blocking my will to fight any more. They showed me how to breathe once again through those debilitating trials. They worked with great and gentle care to help me feel seen and heard.

Those acts of simple and generous kindnesses were teaching me how to be a better human being, even as I felt incapable of even existing. In the most exquisite and genuine ways, I learned how to act when life grabs a tight hold and demands immediate action for survival.

Compassion changes so many levels of pain. It infuses you with honest empathy. It changed me in ways that I hope never gets unchanged. They showed me how to get up and say, yes I can.

Yes, I can get through this day, pain, event. Yes, I can take time to tell someone I’m thinking of them. Yes, I can listen, yes I can cook a (barely edible) casserole for someone who can’t.  Yes, I can give a few dollars, even if it feels like I can’t afford to, yes I can help.  I can do all the things done for me and more. Yes, I can.

My ‘Yes, I Can’ mantra graduated to ‘Because I Can’.  For me ‘Yes, I can’ and ‘because I can’ means I am alive. I may be limited in talent or immediate resources, but I’m not limited in possibilities to demonstrate care.

It’s my sincere desire, maybe even an obligation, to live up to the promise, the truest meaning of life as so ably demonstrated by those loved ones I call heroes. ‘Yes, I can’ is more than a trite statement or a campaign slogan, it’s a way of life.

It’s not about becoming a saint or a world leader to do something that changes the world. You don’t even have to be a ‘good person’; if someone needs a hand, help them.  I’ll bet you’ll end up pretty happy too, and if not, then please be reasonable enough to settle for content. There are plenty of days in a life well-lived when that is more than enough.

RL

Originally Posted on
Posted in Confidence, Gratitude, Inspiration, Life | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

“I Will Never”…

It’s a rare occurrence for me to re-blog, but sometimes someone speaks so eloquently from their hearts, that I feel compelled to share those strongly felt thoughts.  They can be in the form of a beautiful poem, a touching story, or as is the one I am about to share – words from a heart-felt voice who speaks out in recognition of their privilege in life. She is speaking of her view of life for those of Indigenous ancestry from the other side their experiences.  I found it very touching on many levels , and I was grateful for her generosity of spirit.

I’ve also attached a link to a video from a “white redneck” who says “take responsibility white people”.  His is a rather saltier version, but it’s no less compelling.

The first story begins here, but you will have to click the link following for the finish…

lac-la-biche-mission-1896“It would be another 100 years before the last residential school was closed in Canada — 1996. I graduated high school in 1996. I was preparing for my freshman year at college. I was under the impression that residential schools all looked like the picture above: black and white, old and grainy, things of the past, sad but irrevocable pieces of history.

Today I’m sitting in a cafe that’s live-streaming Edmonton’s Truth & Reconciliation Events. Due to the crazy traffic and parking fiasco I went through, I wasn’t able to make it physically to The Shaw Conference Centre today. Live-streaming is the next best thing, I guess.

What am I to think?

I’m white.

I’m Christian.

The whites.

The Christians.

We were the haters, the oppressors, the mongerers, the rapers, the abusers, the greedy mouths that took away almost everything from you… dear First Peoples of Turtle Island.

No, I’m not trying to impress you with my terminology. I am trying in my small broken way to address you with the respect you deserve. As I sip on my tea, I’m pondering: “What now?” The TRC cannot be both the beginning and the end. Surely not! But still”…

“I WILL NEVER” – A LETTER FROM A WHITE CHRISTIAN AT THE TRC

And,  now for a word from a self-described white redneck.  If you have an extra 5 minutes,  here is a great video from a white redneck who says, “take responsibility”. The language is rough in some spots, but his point is only underlined by it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGJt0JXX05M

Posted in Aboriginals, First Nations, Indigenous, Life, Native Americans, White Default | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Two Years for Me! And the Irish Celebrate the Indigenous!

Two years of dedication to informing, amusing, irritating, or boring! I know how to perform to expectation.  At least, I think so, but considering this is the day of green beer again, I won’t guarantee anything through a lens of verdant bubbles.

For 24 months as of today, I have loved meeting new you’s and the pals who’ve stuck around long enough for me to able to call them friend.  I am so pleased, honored, and humbled by that; you are the quality of life. You have no idea how you’ve shaped my world, but you have and for the better. Thank you for everything you’ve shared in your own amazing words of wisdom, your creativity, and most definitely your humor.

I’ve also used this past year to write more from time to time about my Indigenous ancestry and the issues that surround it.  Yesterday, I came across a story I had no idea about and I doubt many do, but  it couldn’t have made a more perfectly timed appearance in my newsfeed.  It is about a March 1847 effort by the Choctaw people in Scullyville, Oklahoma, who gathered funds and provisions to help the Irish during their great famine.

This effort was a mere 17 years after the Choctow were among those made to walk the Trail of Tears to great desperation and decimation themselves. This year an Irish town will erect a pretty poignantly designed sculpture in gratitude to those Choctow.  It’s quite a story and you can read about it here at Irish Central (March 6):  Irish town builds memorial to thank Native Americans who helped during Famine

Happy Green, Happy St. Paddy’s Day, and Happy 2 Awesome Years with Y’all!

Irish everybody

Irish green

Irish road Irish Sarcastic

RL

Posted in Aboriginals, Blogging, History, Life, Native Americans, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Darn It, Donald Rumsfeld, Did We Really Need This Habit?

 We let our hair down from time to time and speak about things that are born in dark matter.  To that end, I speak of a pet peeve no one should have begun, and especially not one begun by a politician. We have enough of those who under-serve as it is.

I speak now to the official 1000th time I have scratched at my eyes over the interminable use of a question to make a statement.  They are questionable efforts to sound all knowledgy and smart. Yes, I know that technically, knowledgy isn’t really a word.  Maybe I’m just demonstrating another peeve.  Who knows to whom that pet belongs?

Weasel 2 glassesSo, do I hate that people use questions to make a statement on a regular basis now?  Yes! Yes I do, and it’s all Donald Rumsfeld’s fault.  That’s right, “There are no unknowns that we know we don’t know”, former U.S. Secretary of Defense (2001-2006), Donald Rumsfeld .

It all began during the era of searching for the weapons of mass imagination in Iraq.  As head defense guy, it was in fact, his most used defense system.  He deployed it fully during statements to the public or while he was being interviewed.

‘Do I worry about weapons of mass destruction and feel concern for U.S. safety’? ‘Of course’.  ‘Do I anticipate that you’re going to ask me this question, so I answer it to get it off my back the way I want to answer it, so I can ignore it when you ask it’? Why, yes I do’.  Asked and answered, move along now. You get the picture.

It drove me nuts, and when the election was over, I thought, whew, back to regular statements, but then the unthinkable began – reporters started to mimic the annoying habit.  Then anyone who was ever interviewed about anything began to conduct their own interviews until eventually network news, Entertainment Tonight and TMZ went off the air due to obsolescence.

Okay, not really, but would you believe this trend went even further by actually being written into script dialogue for movies and TV shows?

Why? Why must this trend of fatuous intent continue? It doesn’t make one sound cool or knowing or even, stately.  It sounds like what it was meant for, a wily way to buy time before you can squirm onto a different pile of bull-peppermint patties in order to avoid truth or responsibility.  Uncool.  Avoidance.

If there is a statement to be made, please, please just make it. Straight up, straight forward, say it.  Don’t use that weasel way that makes it seem like you just know enough to anticipate what our next thought or question will be.  Arrogance.  Then to follow up that nonsense with your own next question?

Please, let me interject in your own answer to your own questions – don’t.  Let’s just leave as many weasels in the woods as possible.  Now, that’s a good habit.

RL

Anything bothering you today? I mean beside my grammar issues.

Posted in Life, Lighter Side, Pet Peeves | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Second Chances

There was an article in 1998 that warned young reporters were getting their careers turned around by getting too involved with their stories, sometimes even making up details.  I know it seems like a simple case of common sense to just not do either, but if you’re in touch with emotions and recording certain events, that’s not always an easy thing.

When I did write for a paper, as a correspondent in the wilds of northwestern Ontario 20 yrs ago, I experienced something similar. Despite the seemingly tranquil setting of an aurora borealis framed mini mecca of 600, called Pickle Lake, I actually wrote quite a variety of stories around events that would rival any city. To be fair, there were another 600 or so in small areas around the town.

My ‘beat’ covered a collection of assaults, robberies, and murder, and my community profiles provided just as much color.  All of this belies the fact that despite that record, most people in the area couldn’t be a stronger, kinder, and more generous humankind sample.

I expect I’ll write more about the experiences of Pickle Lake, but for now, I want to recount one story that I wrote then, that I wish I could re-write now.

One of my favorite “P.L.” adventures, which took even me by surprise, was joining the town’s volunteer ambulance service.  I studied the necessary courses until I qualified, completed by also getting the license to drive the ‘bus, which incidentally also qualifies you to drive an actual bus.

One of the senior Attendants was a fellow by the name of Dave Halteman.  Dave was one of those friendly folksy type that make a name for themselves by being ready to help anyone, any time. He owned the local auto repair and service station, which also served as the base for all kinds of local rescue.  I think one of his favorites was pulling my car out of a few snowbanks and ditches on those bitter winter roads, and for the record, local jeer-ers, I was not the only one.

Dave was up for anything, which he was called to do often, but most of his town volunteering was devoted to the fire and ambulance departments. He did a fantastic job assisting the oversight of those critical services.  Of course, it goes without saying those jobs take some bravery, and it turned out his personal bar was set at -quite high-.

He willingly took on the job to train a skinny, completely citified, 115 lb. greenhorn. Think about what it would take to teach that winning combo how to hoist a 95 lb. stretcher holding a 200 lb. patient into the back of an ambulance and then drive back to the clinic without skidding off the icy roads, and without breaking a nail.  Yeah, he was cool with priorities like that.

Dave’s easygoing nature didn’t mean easy; he made for darn sure I knew we were working for lives, for real.  Luckily, his patience level was set at -infinite-, because I definitely tested that bar too.  When I bungled, I got a stare that I would answer with my own mortified gape. Then this laugh would ring out.  Anyone who ever heard it, would agree – one of a kind.  Infectious. Unforgettable.

Whoever was treated to that laugh was also served by his decency.  He made a friend out of pretty much everyone who crossed his path because of his honest belief in ‘do unto others’.  Despite all the heroics of his emergency work, this was probably what earned him the most and deepest regard overall.  To say he was beloved to many is not an overstatement, his personality filled a town.

So on that December day, when the news came that his plane went down on the way home from a hunting trip, shock reverberated throughout the region.  No one could believe it and no one wanted to. Many of us held hope that there’d been a mistake. We would learn that the crash took not only Dave, but also his endearing and respected son-in-law, Everett Moore.  Ev was soft-spoken, tall, handsome, filled with kindness, and so young.

Pickle Lake Tree Cross - 2The town became still in the days that lead up to the funeral service. As everyone struggled to comprehend that what happened was real, the two caskets at the front of the community hall laid down all hope for good.

Those of us who served with Dave were privileged to stand in observance as his Honour Guard. The hall seats filled quickly, and everyone else stood outside on a bright, but frigid day listening through speakers.  There were several hundred who stood in that biting cold for the entire service and the interment.  I’m sure desire for relief from that cold was strong, but it couldn’t overcome the desire to pay those deeply felt respects.

The town took a while to rev back to some kind of normal. We learned there was a lot of navigating to figure out how to carry on without the steady assurances and answers of Dave.  We did though, because in many ways, the footprints he laid down were clear enough for us to follow, and so he still shaped worthwhile aspects of our own capabilities.

I wish I could have written all this in that memoriam story years ago, but I was too involved in my own grief. I couldn’t get myself to the place that does justice to the role of reporting, and in service to people who knew he deserved so much more.

I hope what I can put down now, this little bit more, will add to the legacy of how well Dave and Ev impacted people.

One last thing still bears saying too.  For a long time, many of us would often say how we’d give anything to hear that Dave laugh again.  The truth is, I still do, and I believe that whenever we think of him, most of us still do.

RL

PostScript: I also owe a debt of gratitude to former Managing Editor, Thunder Bay Chronicle, Nick Hirst, for helping me cobble together the part of the story I did then.

Hello to my old friends in Pickle Lake and Mishkeegogamang First Nation who stood out in the cold with us that day.

Posted in Inspiration, Life, Reporting, Storytelling, Tribute, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Someone to Watch Over Me…

It wasn’t a typical love story then and I suppose it’s not so much now either, at least not the kind we think about in this season of Valentine wishes and dreams.

broken flower 3jpgYou have to be this young to believe that you are this much in charge of life; that destiny has already been completely met.  To know that the only education you need to make your dreams come true is your own thoughts and a chat with your friends –  to be so heartbreakingly unaware of the precariousness  that will haunt even the babies to come.

She was a naive, pretty, eighteen year old small town girl who had no idea that so many of her dreams were going to turn into a lifetime of regrets.  She picked out her dream man, 20 years old, so very handsome and tall, and who held out to her a bouquet of the loveliest promises.

Not long after meeting, she became pregnant and it probably wasn’t much longer after that, that the first flower from that fragile bouquet fell.   The images her thoughts weaved for her future were simple, but meant everything – little home wrapped in the white picket fence of love, happiness, security, and lovely family dinners, family picnics and parties, and Christmas trees loaded with gifts.

She had intended so many occasions of wonderful for herself, and for me.  We were supposed to be that family that she envied in the movies, the love stories that she placed herself into in her favorite books, and in those images in Norman Rockwell paintings that confirmed how life was supposed to be. Sweet dreams sweet intentions.

They were slapped away brutally.  Literally.  He wasn’t ready for that dream.  Not at that time, not completely, maybe never.   He was more drawn to the calls of a wild party.  He had many more bottles to hoist up, and while he ‘owned’ her, he was nowhere near finished with his explorations of women.   Her resistance to ‘his way’ led to her learning that promises were only his dreams in the moment and they were nowhere near as real as those first black eyes.

I don’t know when I first heard or saw him hit her; I can remember that only from about age four.  I know that when it happened, I became very still as my heartbeat filled my ears.  I must have learned by then to make myself invisible.  The only way she could make herself invisible was to run away.   Some might say she didn’t learn how to do that right soon enough.  She did leave, many times, but somehow he would find her.  Us.  Sometimes her friends would tell him where we were; sometimes even her own brothers would sell her out during drunken party conversation or under threat.  Sometimes the loneliness and fear conquered her and she would call him herself.  She finally left for good when I was thirteen.

She didn’t leave her dreams though.  Not all of them anyway.  She still thought she could find that one good man. That’s how life was supposed to be.  Wasn’t that ever reinforced on every song on the radio, TV shows and magazine headlines?  So that’s what she pursued, even while the rest of her life was floating in a jumbled mess around her.

She had her share of boyfriends for some years, but no one could last for long.   They either owned their share of chaos and/or they couldn’t bear to deal with hers.  It would take years for the stars to align for her.  Maybe it was all the prayers she cried through to be delivered from that loneliness and to fill the need for someone to watch over her, because he came for her, finally.

It was not the typical script for a ‘let me rescue you’ love story.  He was just as messed up as she was, but somehow, eventually, this one wanted to get it together, with her, at the same time that she had reached her breaking point.

Somehow, armed only with whatever bit of guidance that was to come their way, they pushed through all the debris of their lives and rebuilt everything.  They did as best as they could, which turned out to be very well.  Their turned-around lives are far richer, and have lasted three times longer, so far, than their early trek over those fiery, alcohol-fueled coals.

Now she prays, hard and often, that her lessons of recovery from hell have been seen by her children, and their children, who learned all too well the modeled example of her youth.

Dreams do come true, but not from behind the wall of recriminations, isolated introspection, and avoidance.  The answers could be easy, but it’s still  work to carve out the road to them.  This can’t be any harder than it is to stay in pretension that all is well, to stay in hell.

I will pray that her prayers are answered for her. Again.

RL

Posted in Abuse, Alcoholism, family, Inspiration, love, Storytelling, Valentines | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments