Not by choice

It’s taken me time to get to this place. Years, in fact. But as time passes it has become clear to me that this isn’t going to go away. Thoughts once fleeting and almost curious in nature now linger and take root – hurt, even. They stay with me. And I with them.

Perhaps, I should explain.

I am barren. I was born that way. For convenience, and to avoid more detail than is desirable to divulge, let’s just call it… a chronic problem with the plumbing.

It was not a shock when it was finally diagnosed. I’d known – or suspected – since my early teens. It was one of those “nothing can be done, just how it is” kind of things that one encounters in life and hurl into the “NOT FAIR” category. But actually, in some ways, finding out for certain was a relief for me. At least, I knew. It had a “name”. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.

I was young…. 21 at the time… and couldn’t care less. I’d never really dreamed of having children, so it didn’t seem too much of a loss to me. I understood well enough the implications but having the mind of someone who’d only just begun to explore life and adulthood I couldn’t fully grasp the ramifications of it. There were so many other things so worthwhile in life… why should I becry this one thing?

Inevitably, time and life matured me, altered my perceptions and – whether forced by necessity or invited by opportunity – taught me that life is never as simple as one might think.

That’s what brings me here. The fact that this is something I have to find a way to live with… or perhaps more accurately… something I have to find a way to live without.

Right now, I have no idea how it could ever have seemed easy or convenient to me. It may not be anyone’s fault, but that doesn’t free me from feeling broken in some ways. Less than whole. And I guess, I feel like I need to say something on this. Speak of it. Give it a name. I don’t know… something.

When the topic is mentioned in conversations or the media, it’s always about how to treat it, about deadlines and upholding the rights of those unable to conceive. Nothing is said of those for whom there never was a treatment, nor any hope. Nothing is said of those who don’t fit into a fertility program. Nothing is said of their rights to have families. It’s their problem. Our problem. My problem.

I guess, that makes me feel like talking about it. Even if it is just to myself here. So the next couple of posts will be a few old entries from my private journal. Maybe more will follow in time to come. I have not decided yet. But to anyone who listens however briefly – Thank you.

.

“For everything you have missed,
you have gained something else,
and for everything you gain,
you lose something else.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Advertisements
Not by choice

Storytelling and its healing power

“Once upon a time…”

That is how this entry ought to start, because what I want to share is a story. A story of being lost and finding the way back home. But too, it is a story about telling stories and why I do, and in that sense I suppose the classical fairytale opening had better wait for next time.

For as long as there has been language, storytelling has been our closest companion. It has kept the ancients alive and the gods close, predicted the future, kept hearts full of hope, enemies inferior and long hours a little shorter. It has born love into legends, birthed more heroes and villains than have ever walked the Earth, and it continues its gentle persistant attempt even today in this digitalised age to teach us that yesterday will come again tomorrow, if we do nothing to heed the lessons of today.

The greastest mercy of storytelling though perhaps is its benevolence in accepting whatever audience is willing to listen. How often have the ears of a teddy bear given solace to one who needed to be heard? And how often have you seen a young child playing alone, yet rigorously chatting away with dolls or animals, convinced of the participation of its audience? Even to the point of giving both pet and inanimate object a voice of their own to respond to the tales shared. Have we not heard of isolated souls driven to mutter stories to themselves in the dark… on a bench in the park or in a house that no longer is as full of life, as it once was?

As bloggers we become merely one more extention of this ageless custom of telling stories to perceived audiences. More or less cohesive ramblings and observations foster questions we rhetorically answer on behalf of those we hope to be listening. The audience we tell ourselves is there. The audience we miss and need so much, we – like the child at play or the lonely old man – are willing and capable of making it up.

Yes, even when no one else will or can listen, we create an audience to validate the need to keep telling all these stories that mean so much to us. Stories that give sound to our heart of hearts and inner voice over the din of life and whatever challenges we face. And so, we become our own flawed heroes, our own redeemed villains.

The past couple of months have given rise to these thoughts in me. Death and severe illness of loved ones, disruptions of a kind that leaves normalcy in ruins and priorities in shambles. In this, I have thought of stories. Of preserving and passing on the wisdom of one generation to the next before it is too late. Of the narcissistic need at times to take center stage and leave an impression on those whose love I so desperately need. Of reiterating and asserting my own presence when life threatens to drown me and wash away any sign I was ever here. Of the wish to connect, to be heard, to touch and be touched… and of existing even in the smallest memory in someone else’s head in the hope that it may just keep me – and my stories – immortal.

The reasons and logic behind all these drives are simple enough to comprehend, and I realised that above and beyond them,… like a single red thread… lies the innate subconscious understanding that without stories, we may just go insane. We need them as much as they need us. They heal us of the injustices done to us, when we can recount our victories and triumphs. They redeem us, when we can tell of survival in the wake of loss and destruction. They release us from the confinement of loneliness. Stories heal the paralysis of fear, sin and shame by calling out the beasts into the light and showing us a way to salvation.

In this I came face to face with my own feeble self. I saw the predictability of my own mentality. The repeating circles of challenge, resignation, resistance, struggle and conquest. I saw the part storytelling takes in that process, and realised I am not all that different from neither the child talking to her dolls, or the old man muttering to himself on a park bench.

Whatever stories I tell, whether they are real or made up, they embody the best and the worst of me – and as long as I can say those things out loud, the weak in me can find solace in the tenacity of the strong. My frailty can find strength in the surge of something greater and more powerful than what holds me back. My blindness can gain sight through the eyes of others, and my muteness can speak the secrets that shame hides both from me and from the world around me.

In telling stories I heal and find my way back home.

“… and I lived happily everafter.”

The end.

Storytelling and its healing power

Flawless

Flowers in the sunset
Fond Memories

Time warps our perception of the world. Like old black and white photos slowly taking a sepia tint as exposure and wear leave their marks our memories shift and distort as they fade and remerge continuously from our minds.

Tonight would have been my brother’s birthday – if he’d still been alive. It’s been almost six years now and I have learned to live with not having answers. I have stopped trying to guess at or make sense of the events that led to his death – or the feelings that caused him to seek to end it at his own hand. When I think of him now it is mostly just because he is absent. Missing from the picture I still catch myself thinking he ought to be part of. It is a fleeting memory now. One I do not dwell with or try to hold onto anymore. At least not for very long. There is no sense in arguing with the past.

The present moment on the other hand has no patience for editing or proof-reading. There is no diplomacy in its ruthless honesty or raw vulnerability… and frankly, it doesn’t always leave the best impressions. So, we push it to the back of our minds for a while. Wait for the images to dull and gather a bit of dust to shroud our sensitivity. Who needs all the facts, anyway, right? Later, we bring them back out and look at them again, and if enough time has passed we may start to see something new. Something different and more pleasant – and perhaps most importantly, something less threatening.

Time gives us the ability to refocus, I think, and over time the details lost will be the ones that we don’t want or need to remember. The real question then will be whether we’ve choosen to hold onto the good or the bad, to happy memories or bitterness and regret. Time will feed or free either at our behest. Whatever the case, reality will be lost in favour of an idealised – or demonised – image of the world as we want to remember it. And tonight more than any other night, I am so deeply grateful that despite the tears and the heartache… it is his smile I see and the sound of his voice, chiming in with mine as we sing together that time has helped me to retain.

For all the anger, resentment and devastation I have felt… in my eyes, he IS perfect. Our time together was perfect, and even though it hurts to have lost it… I cherish the images left within me.

Fond memories are flawless.

I can only hope that in the minds of those I cause harm or disappointment time will be as kind to me.

Flawless