I go bravely even though all my cards are played, my house has fallen, my love is broken, and I stand here naked as a babe in the snow. I am blue with the cold of my vulnerability, yet I stand head held high before my demons daring them to come and take me. Is this bravery, this slow suicide we women face because we dared to say no, take a stand, and then find ourselves alone in the elements with no place to turn? If so, I’ll choose this death over the suffocation of your fine cage. You were master, punisher, withholder of love, but no more. I have freed myself and in going free I have taken flight into the chasm of the vast unknown, knowing only that my heart still beats and tomorrow will come whether I have the strength to join it or not. Though my parachute will catch no air and my wings have lost their feathering I will take this fall believing it is better to break and be reborn then to remain whole and unchanged. I go bravely into this world without the insurance of a good life, but with a life, my life, held, captured, grasped tightly in my own two hands.
We were six. You were a Navajo, and a black girl, my soul sister-more sister to me then my own flesh. I loved you. I love you. You were dark brown and your hair hung in glossy black ringlets. We read books on archeology in the library, we giggled over mummies and sphinxes, talking about the ruins we’d wander, the deserts we’d ride across on camel back. I’d hold your hand. You’d hold mine and say, “Shall we?” I’d answer, “we shall.”
Home was hard. My mama screamed, punched, kicked. Your mama drank, smoked, fucked your nameless fathers. Thank god for grandmas. Mine was an immigrant, dancer, nurse, a jitterbugging good time girl grown gray. Yours was a white haired squah, mother to many, once a reservation maiden sent to Indian school and beaten for speaking in her people’s tongue. We both lost our families to violence.
My mama brimmed with poison, spilling her lies into my ear for spite. “You need to know Eleanor,” she said, “Tanya is not black, and she is not Navajo, and there are no people who will claim her. She has no people. Her mother is a bad woman and her life will be hard.” I looked at my mother, the red-haired L.A. calendar girl, ex-go-go dancer, and nodded, my heart sinking in my chest because I loved you.
That week we stood in the sun watching your little brothers play, one Mexican, one almost white. “I got something to tell you,” I said, and I poured mama’s poison into your ear in a hushed voice, a loving voice laced with concern. “I need you to be brave,” I ended, “because mama say’s your life will be hard.” I remember how your big eyes held mine, how you nodded at me and said, “OK.”
I cursed you that day, my mama’s words working you over through me. Christ, how her lies laid thorns in your path. No one knew what you could be but mama’s words took everything. You and I…we were everything…until that day. I remember saying goodbye. Mama didn’t want me playing in your apartment because she’d asked your uncle where he was from and when he kept saying, “here, I’m from here,” she’d got angry. But honestly, where else could a Navajo be from but here?
Years later, when we were 13, I heard you got pregnant. You partied drunken like your mama, while I rode fancy ponies in pretty show rings in a tweed jacket and hunt cap. I was told you left school to earn money while I went to college to pursue my dreams. I became an angry person when the dreams fell through, ready to fight the man and the system. Did you fall into the system? I grew up, grew old. Did you get to be old too? I remember everything about you, the way you danced, how the sun lit up your hair. I remember that I loved you…never seeing your pretty color as anything but beautiful.
If I could take my white mama’s curse back, I would replace it with courage, with kindness, with the vision of us riding camels in the desert together seeking lost civilizations and buried treasure. If I could change the past I’d hold my hand out to you and say, “Shall we?” and taking my hand you’d answer, “We shall.”
Just like me, cotton has its own personality. I like the way it breathes against my skin. I like the way it smells, my perfume and natural scent mingle with the finely woven threads. I like the way cotton feels when it glides onto my body. It fits like a second skin the moment I slip into it. At first it’s strong and cool but contact makes it soft, warm and sensitive to every curve of my body.
The dress lies pressed and pleated across the worn back of a kitchen chair. None of my chairs match. Like me, they’re second hand, a little worn but amazingly beautiful; graced with an elegant patina that comes with experience. Pink, turquois, the third is red while the fourth is a green so worn it’s really just the memory of color pressed into oak.
I dress next to the ironing board. It’s old too, but not as old as the chairs. The board lies across the top of my kitchen table, only feet from the 50’s aqua colored fridge that never dies. Glancing at my reflection in the darkened window I see my silhouette; a nude strapless bra and panties glimpsed for a moment before the cotton dress drifts over them.
The dress slides, slipping towards my knees. My arms shimmy through the green and white spaghetti straps that add youth and elegance. I face my reflection, still and ghostlike in the dimly lit kitchen. I smile. My Laugh lines grow through the black and silver curls that frame my face. My body is strong. Long legs look out under the knee length hem; well defined shoulders give way to arms that have held and loved many people.
This is my night. Tonight I’m forty-nine, strong, happy, at home to myself, to my life and ready to celebrate the day of my birth. I pick up my bag and walk through the front door to the waiting cab that will take me anywhere I want to go.
How many days have I laid here lost between sleep, thirst, hunger, wakefulness and regret? To awaken, to truly open my eyes to this new day feels too heavy, too painful. The rocks beneath my body have left permanent imprints in my flesh and yet I dare not move arm or leg, hand or foot to find comfort. Pain is the sole reminder that I’m still alive. A light lingers in the corner, illuminating one small space in the endless darkness. It finds me where I hide in memory so heavy that to really see its glimmer I must open my eyes and then open my eyes again. Hell’s road may be paved with good intentions but its exit is barred by the lies of false prophets and a forked tongued god.
“You don’t have the right to live!” the voice croons gently in my head, every syllable a bullet in the brain. “You can’t ever go home!”
“What is home?” I question, but the voice interrupts.
“You’ve made your bed!”
I fall back into my bed, into a darkness that does not sleep, the voice coming and going, a murmur one moment, a scream the next. The hours pass in slow monotony until I recall a playground with a swing set. The memory is bright, its light pierces the dark that swarms like flies around me. I am warmed by the memory, my body jerking on its sharp rocks, my eyes opening to the corner where a glimmer still waits.
I remember more bright days filled with sunlit kisses and hugs that lasted all day. I remember smiles that lit my world and the warmth of my grandmother’s kitchen. I cry when I remember her, so beautiful with her silver hair and bright blue eyes. Shifting on my rock I raise my hand to catch the spark of light. How glorious the warmth feels on my fingers, its gentle rays sliding to me from no discernable place. I watch the play of light over my skin but my hand is dirty and the shame of filth is too great to bare. The game ends and I am lost again in regret. Grandma scolds me, her voice imperious with contempt,
“The dirt of childhood is easily washed. Yet, the filth and sin of the fallen can never be cleaned away.”
“Did she really ever say that?” I ask the room but my mouth doesn’t move. The thought lives only in my head. Grandma never spoke like that. Lifting my hand again I catch the light, determined not to lose it this time. Always in my heart there is a place for forgiveness. I forgave the one who hurt me, I forgave the people who watched but said nothing, I forgave the doctors who patched me up and handed me back yet where is my forgiveness?
“Do you deserve any?” The heavy question breaks through my thoughts but the voice isn’t mine, it’s an evil thing; it’s not me.
“You aren’t real. I am!” my words rattle the room. The light brightens. I cup it in my hands to hold it close. The closer I hold it the brighter it becomes.
“You are love” the light speaks softly, “born of love, in love, of love and so loved that you shine always, always, always even in the darkness…” I rest back on my hard bed but do not close my eyes. This truth must be absorbed, held, understood in order to feel real. The dark voice returns, shouting out edicts and condemnation that I refuse to hear because the light is with me, it is all I see and all I chose to think on. It’s soft whisper resonating gently through my soul.
“I am love, born of love, in love, of love, so loved…” and lifting my head I roll to my side, moving through the pain to my knees until the light encircles me. It is warm, loving, never failing in its comfort.
“Light be with me always.” I speak my words as a prayer feeling the darkness shrink away with many whining, whispering complaints. That dark voice, with it’s imprisoning words of judgment slides to an incoherent echo. The light draws me in and I am comforted by its softly spoken words.
“Turn to me and I am there. Find me and you find the way home. hear me and know that I am the light of love as you are the love that seeks the light.”
With these words the light and I are one kneeling being, free to stand, free to walk, free to find care, to find comfort, to live and laugh where the voice that judges the fire walkers and the fallen is silenced and blinded by its own darkness. I’ve walked the long cindered mile. I’ve taken the stony path and slept in a bed of my own making but these bruises, scars and burns have molded me, hardened me, opened me up and made me strong in the knowledge that love awaits me and brings comfort to us all.
Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
A Prayer By Susan H.
Today I was able to tape the second part of Eating Your Emotions with the brilliant Joanne Del Core. Recording these radio shows has been an invigorating and emotional process for me. Thank you for all your support and for taking the time to listen to the shows.
Blessings and Unconditional Love,
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss eating disorders on the radio. This is just one of the disorders that arise when we suppress our emotions, our potential and our authenticity. Please take a moment to listen to this show and forward it to anyone who may need to hear it’s message. Blessings and best wishes,
I didn’t want to get married. The idea that I could make and hold a promise to God and a husband until my death seemed too immense for a girl of twenty three. I didn’t like the paper work, I didn’t want the ceremony. I was uncomfortable with the limitations I knew would arise from the everyday compromise of two people making a life together. I loved Dan and in loving him I felt I had already committed my soul to him knowing I was fallible, human and that someday God might want more from me. We discussed me dread of taking an oath to be bound to him forever before God. I’d seen how oath’s bound the people around me, keeping them from expanding their perceptions and consciousness of the world by keeping them in one mode of living, isolated and ignorant, their lives limited and removed from a vaster knowledge of the world. I didn’t want to share my freedom, compromise my passions and become someone else’s labeled and conquered being sworn before God to always be and due as I’d promised to be and due when still, in all reality, a child. People who are boxed in and unhappy look for escape and the emotional fall out of a broken promise is devastating and painful.
The perception of what it is to exist as viewed through an innocent Orange:
An orange sits on a counter top, it is the everyday type of orange, young and shiny in its freshness. In shape and color and lingering scent it vividly proclaims itself an orange. If in ego it were to swear before God to always be the orange would it remain unaltered, whole and perfect, believing in the strength of its identity? Though the orange believes one reality, one destiny, its fate is very different. Taking the orange up we peel away it’s skin. It is now a naked altered orange but still an orange. Does it feel shame for not remaining as it though it would, true to its youthful innocent nature, the nature it swore to maintain before God? Is it more of an orange or less of an orange now that it stands without the skin that once proclaimed its identity? Lifted, moved and dropped, it is transformed yet again into juice. It is now the essence of orange, its fibrous walls removed until it is free flowing orange, no longer contained by structure. With each alteration, the orange has changed, evolved and become more and less than it was to begin with. Yet if this orange really had proclaimed itself before God to always be an orange is it now in an energetic violation of oath? Has it become the Oath breaker, the liar and pathless turncoat who stands for nothing? Will it suffer mentally and emotionally because of this violation of oath? Will it ever see itself as whole and complete again? Or is it lost now forever?
It is, in reality, a simple orange and we can hope it takes its alteration with the spirit and courage of all citrus fruit. Humans are not oranges. We do not rest in the nature of our alteration, accepting each phase with quiet resignation.
The fallible, sentient human may make a million promises in its lifetime. How many will we keep and how many will we alter, bend and break in order to move with the world? Sadly, when a promise or oath is made and broken, the danger does not lie in the loss of God’s love, but in our leaving the presence of his loving light through our own guilt, our inability to accept change and our fear that we are no longer as good, as pure and as loveable as we were. In these moments we punish ourselves far more viciously than any living creature deserves.
God’s light and love never leave us. His joyful acceptance of our stumbles and falls are like those of a parent watching a beloved baby take its first step. In breaking the oath we become liars to ourselves and our faith and to this God who lovingly only wants the best for us. Thus we fall from grace through an internal struggle that has nothing to do with God and everything to do with self-disillusionment, self-hatred and the failure to meet the expectations of our earthly, manmade social paradigms.
In summation, I can tell you that I’ve kept my word to my husband. I’ve loved, honored and cherished him as I swore I would and I have no regrets. My path has altered far from where my dreams would have taken me and with every thought or plan I make, I must put family first while I make time for myself where I can. Marrying didn’t make our love stronger; it didn’t bind us in any permanent structure that could wipe out the possibility of separation but it has brought a tender loving trust that I would not have experienced outside of marriage. The oath hasn’t kept us safe from the terrors of loss but has made us work harder in our marriage to identify when we act out of love and when we act out of duty. In looking at our motives and perceptions we gain greater insights into each other’s souls and keep our love strong. In marriage we have matured and been stripped of our selfish ideals and self-interested perceptions. In marriage we have gained a life based on service, love and a deep mutual respect that evolves and grows richer with each passing year.
I was deeply saddened by Disney’s decision to slim down, sex up and disarm Merida, the princess from the movie Brave. In altering her we tell every American girl that she’s not good enough to be a princess because she doesn’t have a tiny waste, lots of makeup or perfect hair. If Disney had even bothered watching the movie they would know that Merida took off her corset, tangled her hair and ripped up her pretty dress because she knew there was more to life than being a pretty picture to attract a man. Women are more than their parts; this truth must be taught to our daughters or they will always be slaves to body image. Merida taught this lesson and now Disney is stripping her of what made her so magically wonderful, they are stripping her of her authenticity, her healthy figure and her freedom to be real. Please take a moment to sign the petition on Change.org. Sign for every girl who isn’t perfect. Sign for the real girls with brilliant minds, loving hearts and the courage to be brave.
Follow Up: as of May 15th due to negative backlash, Disney has decided NOT to revamp Merida. She will be a princess just the way she is. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. Job well done.
I no longer have anything to prove. Not to myself, not to my friends and not to the world. Stress, anxiety and worry, guilt and fear grow stronger when I reach for perfection; wanting in every way to prove that I am worth knowing, worth hearing, worth the time it takes to say hello. Freedom lives in acceptance, as does love, compassion and the greatest gift, contentment. I have set aside my need for riches, my wish for worldly wealth and I am at home with myself and to myself in a way I never was before, simply because I make no excuses for who I am. I am…and that’s enough.
The road to poverty is paved with unnecessary consumption; that driving need to own the latest, the greatest, the biggest and the best in order to be cutting-edge, cool and accepted. I have bought my fair share of acceptance based merchandise. I have run up my credit cards and wept when I couldn’t pay the bill. I wore the right shoes with the right dress to the right occasion where I said all the right things to all the right people? Instead of feeling exhilarated, accepted and admired I felt tired and jaded as if I’d shelved the best and brightest parts of me for one radiantly superficial occasion.
Once shelved, our best and brightest features begin to fade. Our true natures waste away into the shadowed recess of our souls, coming out in confessions to a friend who isn’t really a friend because in truth, she’s never really met you. Oh sure you’ve shopped together and gossiped together but the moment you let your true self slip into the open, you’re confronted with the reality that you’ve crossed that line into inexplicable depth. Your pretty friend’s eyes glaze over, there’s a lull in conversation accompanied by the reality that you’ve gone too far. “Beyond this point there be dragons,” the old maps used to read and you struggle through uncomfortable chatter, the bird song of small talk, until you reestablish the comfortable anonymity that kept you both intimate strangers. Then your friend grows busy, too busy, to shop and gossip and her world spins on without you.
I have nothing to prove, nothing to preach, I’ll love you in your best dress or in your most ragged pair of sweats. You know the pair you reserve for those days when you’re too old for teddy bears but too broken to understand how much you need one. I don’t care if you’re not wearing eye makeup or where you got your hair done. If you can’t stop crying I’ll probably join you. If you’ve got the giggles I’m right there to.
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
The Coffee stains on the table are my grandfathers. Each intersecting circle creates an Olympic design. The curtains were sown by my grandmother, yellow with little red flowers faded by a thousand sunrises to varying shades of light pink. The chip in the oak countertop is my mothers, the place where she sliced a thousand cuts of meat and missed the cutting board only twice. The scrapes on both side of the back door belong to the dozens of dogs who have graced our lives with wet noses, wet kisses and the click of claws on the hardwood door. The scrape on the floor belongs to my father, the place where he drug his chair along the old oak planks, bellying up to the table, newspaper in hand.
If I were to find my place in this old farm house, it would be in the attic where the pink and green wallpaper now hangs like fly paper from the narrowly peaked ceiling. The floor where my brass bed once stood is scored by my running leaps which always moved the bed an inch. Other children slept here, my mother in her time, her mother before that. The attic is a child’s place, a lofted wonderland whose view never alters with the years. Stepping across the old planks to the warped single pain window, I see a hundred acres of oak trees. These are the same trees that my great-great grandparents planted one hundred and fifty years ago.
Reaching out I take a swath of wall paper, tearing a neat strip to make a sample. Now that the house is mine, the workmen repair the shingled roof and paint the gingerbread siding to its original peach and cream. Someday soon, on summer holidays my own grandchildren will sleep in brass beds in this attic room, their eyes tracing the green and pink wallpaper of my mother’s childhood. In turn they will mark the house, damage the molding, and scratch their ever increasing height into the door jambs. Someday this will be their house, filled with their stories, memories, dents and dust, creating the best kind of housekeeping for a well lived, well loved home.