I am sitting smiling to myself, in one of my favourite coffee shops drinking a green juice and munching on kale chips, having just left a longstanding friend; I smile because she is a friend I met while we were pregnant with our second babies, both born within days of each other, both born on the 98th size percentile and both non sleepers; I smile because we used to meet for ‘rocket fuel’ coffee and cake to keep us awake to deal with our bruiser boys; I smile because life has moved on and from the caffeine and sugar fuelled conversations, we slowly sip loose leaf mint and sage infusions with lemon and discuss how our bruiser boys aren’t so ‘bruiser’ any more.
And I smile, because I am smiling; smiling without force. Just smiling, without thinking about smiling. Something 3 months ago, I never thought I would be physically be able to do again.
Life moves on. Time moves on.
I reflect back to around 18 months ago and a method I used when the pain of seeing my Mumbo in a mental hospital was too much for my conscious mind. My Dad taught me how to put ‘Mum in a box’ so that I could get on with my life, be happy in the moment, be present and joyful. How he would allow himself time to look in the box to remember the happy times, or to allow the sadness time to breathe. It was a technique I benefitted from and used all the way through those sad months of degradation and then after her sudden death. And I guess I do it now too, but when I look in the little jewelled box full of diamonds and kittens and chocolates, my feelings are less sad, less grief stricken and today she is smiling and eating some cake to celebrate her 75th birthday.
And as I am now standing on my first ‘love rock’ on the journey to reconciliation, reconnection and restoration, I can see that life has moved on.
I am no longer on the rocky ocean sea bed, overwhelmed by life. I am nervously teetering on my lofty first step upwards, and from this great height, I can see through the crystal clear waters into the depths from where I came. And in my place on the rocks, there remains a dark shadow; the shadow of a large black, iron chest bound with leather straps and big buckles.
I know what is in there.
I don’t need to open it to see it, because I am still connected to it by a long thread, one that threatens to pull me back off my rock, back in to the deep water, with one single hard tug of the heart string. But through that thread I can feel its contents; the soul destroying anger, the devastating grief, the painful heartache. If I were to open it, I hope that I would be brave enough now to see through the darkness and be compassionate enough to see the real truth through the murkiness; the loneliness, the insecurity, the shame that embodied a sorry little tale of two people looking for something they would never find together, just trying to fill their own personal hell holes dug there in traumatic childhood events.
The thread that connects me to this particular box may be threatening, but I also feel it is grounding. Reminding me to be on my guard and forever more to trust my instincts, rather than ignore them, to be less naïve and always, always, always to put myself and my happiness first, rather than spend all my energy on others, trying to make them happy, feeling constantly confused and frustrated that I was failing.
The thread could be a dark destroyer or a life line in my journey onwards. But I know, as distance passes under my feet, and as time moves past me, life moves on, the thread may run out of length and it will be time to sever all connection and the dark chest on the bottom of the sea bed will become a distant, perhaps even forgotten memory; becomed covered and camouflaged by barnacles and clad in sea weed and the life and breath of its contents will have lost all oxygen and therefore, lost all their power on my future happiness.