Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Queen of the New Beginning


A winters day
In a deep and dark december;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Julie's roundtable this week is one I nearly skipped.

It's one of those areas where I am likely to be misunderstood, where I won't "fit in" with the "norm" (which doesn't seem like such a bad thing most of the time) and it's an area where many who read this site might not be able to relate.

It's a chance I'll take. I'm also including this in Wellness Wednesday because the topic is pertinent to both forums.

I am the Queen of the New Beginning. Since becoming an adult, I have lost everything and rebuilt three times. I've walked out on entire households three times. I would have done it a fourth time if it hadn't been for the simultaneous running out of money and visa time.

Ive built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

The grass was always greener over the hill. There was something waiting and the puzzle was mine to solve. To find it. There was always a clue to be followed and discovered. And I had no qualms about bailing on everything. Jobs, potential communities, households of "stuff", the last of which was a small apartment filled with antiques.

I didn't care much because I didn't feel any connection. Nothing got in and nothing got out. I was confined in a small bubble of my own creation. The bubble protected me from a world I could neither understand nor love. It was a dual battle of running from the wild boulders coming down the hill and the Sisyphian process of rolling them back up.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I was miserable in my own skin and couldn't believe that a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old and then a 40-year-old could just be waiting to die. I lived for dying. I drank a lot. My spiritual beliefs didn't allow for suicide... so I waited. My karma was to wait. That's what I decided. One day, I'd be released from the mortal coil and go home.

I don't have any warm and fuzzy stories for you, guys. Not of that life before. Not even one. And I'm not going to make them up, just to make this easier to read.

Dont talk of love,
Ive heard the words before;
Its sleeping in my memory.
I wont disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Loss didn't mean anything to me because loss was as natural as breathing. Nothing stayed. Nothing was permanent. Nothing lasted.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Loss was something people experienced who didn't understand that basic fact. They just made up the sentimental stories. I didn't believe them. They were liars and it's just something they were taught to say.

When I was nearly 50 years old, I took a vacation. A friend of mine who had decided to take the ex-pat route encouraged me to come visit him. I wasn't too excited about the idea but he talked me into it. Michael lived in Thailand.

Many of you know the story from there.

Sometimes a taste of honey is worse than none at all. Sometimes it's just what we need. I have a full-fledged family in Thailand. They may not be blood family but blood doesn't count for much anyway. It's connection that matters. It's stepping outside the little bubble we build around ourselves to let someone in. And I have fully let these people in.

Trust is the hardest thing of all and it is what took the longest. During the time I lived with them, I watched vigilantly for inconsistencies in what they'd say and what they'd do. I found it hard to believe that when they said they expect me to come back, that they really meant it. After a while, I finally believed them. I am not an easy person to convince. After months and months of weekly phone calls and yellow slips in my post office box, I finally came to realize they did mean it. I was part of the family. It wasn't fast or instant. But it is very real.

I'm totally against the admonition in recovery circles that "pulling a geographic" is wrong. Sometimes we really do have to find that one place where we truly belong and where we are part of the fabric of life.

It's difficult for me to imagine losing my Thai family because I don't think it's possible.

The things I've gained from them, the ideas, the beliefs, the consistency, the trust.. and, yes, even the love is something that can never be taken away from me. Every one of them could die tomorrow and I'd still carry that with me. It's a part of me.

I have a picture on my nightstand. It was taken one afternoon when there were many people visiting. We are all standing under the house (the house is on stilts). A motley group of folks suffering the heat. I am standing among them, holding one of the children. He is nuzzling my neck and I look at peace. We are all at peace. We are one.

I'm just one of the group. And if someone had told me that I'd go from blue-eyed blonde from Southern California to a blue-eyed village girl from northern Thailand, I would have laughed. I would have had a bitter laugh and poured another drink.

~*

27 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

Chani, this is remarkable. And I am glad you didn't skip.

You're had a rough path. And on top of that I think you are a seeker.

A new participant (across gypsy flat road) talked about loss and pain, too. She made a point and I think it's relevant to many of us.

She said the gift of the pain was compassion, and the strength to look in the face of devastation.

Compassion is not simple sympathy with an expiration date as so many seem to believe.

Compassion is a bone deep understanding, an internal empathetic wince.

You can do that.

I hurt for the girl you and young woman you who suffered but I am grateful for the current you.

Julie
Using My Words

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Perhaps it was necessary for you to experience the nothingness in order to fully understand and appreciate your total and perfect inclusion in your Thai family.

I have also moved many times, searching for the place where I felt I belonged. I have put down roots to some degree in each of them because it's my nature to do so, but have never found the one that feels like home.

I'm thrilled that you have because it centers you and enables you to act from your true identity.

And I am also very happy that you are here now because knowing you makes my life richer and more sane.

Janet said...

It's amazing the places that life's journey can take you, isn't it? I'm glad you found your family and I hope you can be with them again very soon.

Emily R. said...

Well, look at the two of us quoting S & G on the same day...

The honesty here is stunning. One of the things that inspires me is that you have taken a huge step, a huge change, in order to build a new life for yourself.

Girl, you've got guts.

Emily R. said...

Well, look at the two of us quoting S & G on the same day...

The honesty here is stunning. One of the things that inspires me is that you have taken a huge step, a huge change, in order to build a new life for yourself.

Girl, you've got guts.

niobe said...

Maybe we're more alike than I thought. Though minus the drinking and the Thai family, in my case.

flutter said...

isn't it wonderful to be wrong? :)

Anvilcloud said...

Geography can be important. I think those who may seem to state otherwise realize that you also take yourself with you, so it's not necessarily a cure for many. But you are not just "getting away from" but also "going to," and that's probably pretty important.

painted maypole said...

what a gorgeous post about finding what you've never had before.

Ian Lidster said...

The admonition against geographic cures in recovery circles is only based on the belief that if you haven't changed within yourself, then just merely pulling up stakes is not going to do it.
As the saying goes: "If nothing changes, then nothing changes."
But, I agree with you that when you are coming to peace with yourself then locating yourself in a geographic space of spiritual growth can work wonders.
Really good post, dear friend.

Mariposa Speaks said...

I love reading this entry, and I have read it like 3 times already. How I love you and your journey! You inspire me. Today, is not a good day and I had no one to talk to but just a friend who is miles away, whom I just met a month ago...then, I started visiting blogs and yours is always on my top list...

Tow things strike me most...

"I didn't care much because I didn't feel any connection. Nothing got in and nothing got out. I was confined in a small bubble of my own creation. The bubble protected me from a world I could neither understand nor love."

and

"I was miserable in my own skin and couldn't believe that a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old and then a 40-year-old could just be waiting to die. I lived for dying. I drank a lot. My spiritual beliefs didn't allow for suicide... so I waited. My karma was to wait. That's what I decided. One day, I'd be released from the mortal coil and go home."

Thank you so much! Today, I decide not to make waiting to die as my karma...and not to be confine in my own comfort zone...it will be tough and I know it can't be done overnight, but I will start with the WILL.

Wish me luck...or I might need more than that?!

Christine said...

i'm glad you have people that love you and that you love back.

liv said...

Nice post. I don't think it matters what people think or whether your heart is misunderstood. You understand yourself, and that is huge.

Jan said...

Chani, this is so beautiful. I totally understand how difficult it was (and is) to learn to trust people. That explains much of my journey, too. My spiritual director (who moved away a few months ago) told me many times that my broken feather is trust. I'm glad you were brought to this family.

jen said...

what an extraordinary post, Chani. one of your best I think.

It's a book in the making, this journey to now and when you head east. i wish i could see that picture you spoke of.

slouching mom said...

i agree with jen.

and this?

I am standing among them, holding one of the children. He is nuzzling my neck and I look at peace. We are all at peace. We are one.

magical.

Rimarama said...

You may be one of the few who was able to find her center by physically moving to another place. When I left to live in Europe for a year during college, I was shocked to find myself the same old person I had been in the States, a person I didn't like too much. Your Thailand family must be amazing people!

Angela said...

Wow. I, too, made a geographic that has had an incredible positive impact on my life. But then it was the only one I have ever made. I wish I knew more of your story - guess I'll have to dig around in the archives. Beautiful post. Thank you.

storyteller said...

Trust ... difficult in the best of times and seemingly impossible in the worst, and yet ... to refrain from trust too often locks us in prisons of our own making. Betrayal of trust caused me to withdraw for a time ... reeling while trying desperately to regain a sense of equilibrium. For me, two Don Henley songs pointed the way:
--one with the chorus "It's about forgiveness ... even if you don't love me any more.:
--the other with a lyric about "the end of the innocence"

Amazing how music heals the wounded soul.
Hugs and blessings,

Rebecca said...

Ahhh, the path of the mystic is not an easy one, is it?

Blessed be! Life is good
Rebecca

Susanne said...

Great post, thank you.

mitzh said...

This is one of your best post, Chani. I love it!

MsLittlePea said...

So nice. And fitting for me today reading this. I agree with you one hundred percent about geography. Sometimes we flourish better in a new place. Some places are poison to our spirit.
I'm happy that you found a family. Isn't it sad that the people who hurt us the most are almost always the ones we are related to? That just goes to show that the saying, "You don't get to choose your family," is sooo false. You do get to choose your family if the one you were born into kills your spirit.

QT said...

Chani - this post is so perfect, and so you. Thanks for not skipping it.

Catherine said...

This is remarkable - thank you so much for sharing it. I'm always trying to piece together your story...

And I'll say again - do we get to see the picture? :)

allrileyedup said...

"Sometimes we really do have to find that one place where we truly belong and where we are part of the fabric of life."

--what a beautiful post.

And such a wonderful song.

I won't lie--I listen to this song on a more-than-often basis (is that possible?) and just singing the words gives me a different perspective on life, even if just for the moment it takes to sing them (hence the need to sing it so often...).

crazymumma said...

You walked right into it. Bitter laugh and all.

And you walked right out of everyting that did not feel right.

Simon and Garfunkel?