Rumi said that the origin of the wound is where the light gets in…..
Yet before it does, the darkness will always have it’s way with you. To really know the difference means that each must have a waltz on your dance card. To dance with the devil was an experience I will never forget.
Initially the darkness came for me in the form of all things dangerous and destructive. Life suddenly felt better with wild and reckless company. I felt the sweet surrender as I let it have its way with me on it’s canyons edge taking me further and further from the terrain of hyper vigilance and overly capable. It made me feel powerful to rebel against life’s constricting rules and unpredictable atmosphere and finally I stood in the face of all that I could not fix and jumped from it’s spring board as I took a full beautiful arching swan dive over it’s deep dark end.
It felt good to stop caring who I was hurting and how often I was doing it- it was a relief to plunge into the body of indifference and finally escape the cloying, choking , trapped feeling that held me suspended between two worlds in which my opposing parents each stood, heels firmly dug pulling me in opposite directions like an under-dried wish bone . The love I had for each of them had turned to a black unrelenting fear in the impossibility of not hurting one or the other and rather than face that end I turned inward until I could stand the agony no more. My own fury and fear unleashed a path of chaos and destruction that blazed toward epic proportions as my inner inferno combusted from my own sense of helplessness and self loathing.
As I look back now I realize that I’d checked out long before my teenage years but had never had any wisdom or perspective to be able to understand that this is what I had done. Even in elementary school I was always “distracted” and “If Monica would only apply herself..” but the truth is evident now as mother to my own girl child who holds an eerie resemblance to my former self in looks and in spirit.
At her age, I was simply too busy trying to put the pieces of my home and family life together to have the stamina for anything that seemed less important. The history of my own legacy seemed far more urgent in nature than something that happend in world history. Textbooks seemed so factual and precise… and offereed less stimulation than my heightened senses allowed for. “Is everything all right at home ?” I remembered Miss Crysta asking when I was in the second grade as I sat frozen in place absorbed in some far away land as my classmates filed out for recess. I had no idea at that time what was even wrong with me except that I was kind of thick apparently – my grades said so anyway.
After I joined Al-Anon later in my late thirties I learned about those roles that adult children of alcoholics play inside the home. I sat in shock as I listened to the participants describe my life. I’d felt like an alien on a strange planet who’d finally been reunited with it’s species. Kids in these situations will become the caretakers, the pack mules and the sentry for the events and situations that take place in an effort to survive and make sense of the pain and confusion. They will assume the roles of little adults who work overtime to keep the peace, distract, entertain. Tap dancing through the wreckage as the the tension continued to grow – it’s equilibrium so delicate it teetered dangerously in this fragile pressure vortex that felt a lot like a balloon at overcapacity for more air intake….
As I danced cheek to cheek with the darkness we shagged and tangoed with abandoned over ballon covered ballroom floor empty of eager party goers popping everything in our devastating wake. BLAM!! BLAM !!BLAM!!! – I crashed his porsche, I smashed her things, I cursed and hurled and defied and howled. I beat my sister, I stole from stores. I lied, I drank and I snorted. Even as I sat at the police station (again) waiting for my Dad to come and pick me up I steeled myself for his look of disappointment knowing that this fate was far better than the one that would have rendered our relationship extinct. I would rather die.
At the height of my performance as the anti-christ he was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. Our house seemed to heave a great sigh of relief as each side on enemy lines put down their weapons of mass destruction and began the peace treaty that all of us would sign. There was still time to rebuild the city and restore the burnt out buildings and they did their best to mend the catastrophic woundings that took place there over the past five years in the name of progress. There would finally be an end to the madness, but it happen only after months of steady downward prognosis , grimaces of pain on progressively brittle bones as the cancer spread, and ineffective medical procedures to contain it.
The compromise was cuddled at home in a hospice bed centered in his favorite room, surrounded by his all of his leather bound books and his classical music collection. My mother was never far and most often curled by his side as she swept his hair over his still handsome irish brow with her soft forgiving hands, while murmuring nothings to his neck as we gathered on surrounding couches and armchairs shifting with the discomfort of their newborn intimacy. Adagio for Strings would play along with classical pieces that met my fathers mood as his graceful surgeons fingers composed his opus on octaves outside our range. He died at age Seventy, September 28th. I would be turning twenty one.
Life is a paradox… filled with opposites and contrasts and events that must be gathered to each of us in our own time. As mortal humans we gather their confusing straggling pieces to our chest like a burdensome laundry pile one struggles to contain as it’s carried up the narrow dark cellar stairs only to realize that each sock that once had its match is now somehow, mysteriously and maddeningly missing. By the time the next pile is dirtied enough for that new lightening and brightening formula it’s formerly unavailable partner shows up out of nowhere like a long lost lover for game. set. match. to help make some sense of it all.
As his vitality lessoned over those last three years so did my bend toward destruction. On the day of his funeral I was utterly wracked with the greif of losing him, yet not a pew behind was the surprising rush of relief that comes when any horrible alternative end so narrowly missed releases you safely into the extended arms of mercy. I had been rescued from the bitter taste of betrayal and the irrational fear of losing him in my life to losing him instead to a seemingly expertly choreographed death. There these two impossibly incongruent emotions held each other in a tight embrace as my life seemed to know some strange yet certain alignment with fate.
I’d been allowed to love him without having had to call him out on the dapper coat tails of his hideous disease . It’s lack of decorum. spontaneous whims, and unpredictable mood swings had held us hostage like a wedding party of wildly wilting buttonholed boutonnieres for so very long , yet we would miss it’s familiar hold on us like those who’ve known the blind bait and switch of Stockholm Syndrome. Who were we now without him?
Al-Anon would also teach me that alcoholism is a “family disease” and once you know that the family unit is truly infected by it’s intoxicating fumes you won’t be surprised when I tell you that we all continued to flirt with it’s company as each of us set out for our own black tie event to live, love, and marry into the fun house mirrors of our fractured selves.
To be Continued…..
(ok- so it keeps comin… I thank you for reading and those of you who know me also know I struggle with writers block and have not been writing for some time. Somehow last night as I was sitting with the keyboard this is the story that was coming up … and it just seemed to flow out but please know that it’s only my “story” and not my TRUTH if that makes sense? This is all the past and I am happy and healthy and thriving and I’m telling it from a place of peace… so please know that I so appreciate you reading and commenting AND… I’m really good! -I love my mom and Dad and I love my family to pieces! I think somethings just unplugging or something so I’m gonna keep it coming as long as it’s flowing and please feel free to read, ask questions, laugh, or none of the above. XO)