Today is my Wedding Anniversary

The first of September.
The first day of spring.
The symbolism of reawakening, rebirthing, renewing. New beginnings. New hopes. New purpose. Arise, awake, anew.

Today I would have been married 8 years.

When I planned my wedding, I chose this day specifically for the symbolism embedded within this season. It is my favourite day of the year. Symbols and signs have such a significance in my approach to life, and I wanted one of the most important days of my physical existence – the transformation from girl to woman, woman to wife – to be awash with such imagery and significance.

Over the last week I have been distinctly aware of the impending arrival of this day. The energy surrounding the memories, the moments, the stories, the feelings are overwhelming; a building tempest of emotions darkening on the horizon of my consciousness.

I turn to face this storm today head on.

I am passionately aware of the choices I have to create both happiness and sadness in my life. And today I actively choose to approach this day with light, acceptance and love. This is not to say that part of my soul is not crumbling. Which it is. This is not to say my heart does not ache in sadness and the scars that I try to wrap in bandages of positive self talk and gentle acceptance are not threatening to break open in a crimson wave of pounding pain. Because they are. What it does mean is that amongst this all, amongst the threatening tsunami of tears, I choose to breathe out, find stillness, locate the unseen sun that always shines above the blanket of clouds and smile. And be thankful.

I am thankful. And I will cry. And both of these emotions are ok.
For how can I allow a tsunami to pass through my soul without some of the waves escaping from my eyes?

I have experienced love.
I loved the boilermaker as best I could for the period of time our souls agreed to tread the steps of this life together. And I remain firmly in the belief that he in return loved me with all he was able.

I am so thankful for the time I have been able to spend with him. He is one of the most innocent, beautiful, hardworking men that I know. He taught me, pushed me, revealed to me both my strengths and weaknesses. Within and through each other our souls ebbed and flowed, pushed and pulled, connected and released. I experienced the most pleasure with him I have ever felt. I experienced the most pain with him I have ever felt.

We loved each other. We hurt each other. We grew through, together and apart.

For the period of 12 years we learnt what it was to be one with another; emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.

Our souls splintered in euphoric release, found the tendrils of each other, entwined, and birthed two beautiful boys. And for the continuation of my life on this Earth, I will be forever thankful for the gift that has been. Forever I will hold a part of him in my heart when I hold my children in my hands.

I am distinctly aware of the importance of the decision I have to chose anger and hurt, or happiness and love, at this moment. For my choices will become the memories my boys will take with them into their own future as children of divorce. These choices I make today will become the reflections in their eyes. I do not want regret to mirror back to me when I look into the pools of their souls. Every day it will tell them I love them, and through them my love with extend to the love of the soul that created them. For the Boilermaker is within them as equally as I am.

I choose not to focus on the hurt of the past but look forward to actively participating and creating the path ahead; a path I am finally, consciously, choosing to walk.

Today, the first of September no longer symbolises the reminder and celebration of a marriage I live within, but instead it is a symbol of a relationship now evolved beyond a husband and a wife, and into a woman and a man who have agreed to remain a part of each other’s lives for the continuation of their breathing moments. We have two children, at the foundation of this relationship we move forward with the knowledge that we will always be a family. A separated family; but a family all the same. Our relationship has not ended, but in truth, has progressed to another stage; that of separated parents with its own difficulties, challenges and moments with which to look forward.

If we can move forward with this knowledge the hurt of loss and grieving becomes more bearable as we realise we have not lost something we once had, but in fact, transformed into something new.

Is that, then, not something to celebrate?

I look back over the past decade with compassion, forgiveness and a heart asking for forgiveness itself. I look back with thankfulness and joy at the moments we shared. I embrace the blessing that these memories have given me, the strength that the struggles we endured built within me, and the countless lessons I have learnt.

Thank you, Boilermaker, for loving me as you did.

I look forward to the future with an open heart, and a deep breath.

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Lesson Learnt

I have to be perfectly frank. I’m not coping as well as I may appear on the outside.
Those closest to my inner circle, the very nearest two or three, have seen the cracks spreading across my life.

I’m late to work most days. I struggle in the mornings. I don’t want to get out of bed. Part of me wants to lay there and never move. But I have kids. And they have school. I push the time until there is no time left except to manically rush through the morning in a guilt ridden, self-loathing, stress inducing spectacle. I hate myself every morning. I tell myself on the drive to work tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I will get up earlier. Tomorrow I will be better. But it never is. I never am.

Work is my distraction, it always has been. But it doesn’t seem to be distracting me properly anymore. I can’t concentrate, but I’m not thinking about anything. I’m thinking about everything. And nothing. And just being tired… Not tired; numb.

Every night I struggle through the non-routine routine. I don’t know what it is we eat for dinner. Something. There are always plates in the sink which is evidence in itself that we ate something. I struggle with bed time. I am back to laying down with the boys to put them to bed… Not because it calms them, which it does… But because it is my excuse to sleep earlier. I convince myself I will get back up and do some work afterwards. In an hour. In two hours. I’ll get back up and face that Job, that paperwork, that mail… In an hour.

But I haven’t been. And the pile is so high I can’t face it.
My clients are suffering. My jobs are suffering. I love my job, but my heart is pounding.

I am not the woman I want to be. I am not my vision.

My anxiety is peaking most days.
I’m averaging a personal 8/10 on my Richter scale most of the time. My heart doesn’t stop. My caffeine addiction is growing.

There is washing in my machine that has been there for a week, but I just keep re-washing it because I can’t face the prospect of dealing with it. Tomorrow I will. Tomorrow. This is the mantra I repeat to myself; try to convince myself, fool myself.

And that is just scraping the surface of the cracks in my castle of life… How it is still standing is but a wonder.

Then, as I lay here, unable to sleep, in the quiet of the house as the dog snores upon my strewn bed trying to hide amongst the folds of sheets and my own legs, I think back on the past month. Meetings. Dinners. Good company. A good list of good distractions. To be honest I have been going out a lot. Too much really. Life modelling, life drawing, dinners, drinks, exhibition openings, theatre… Things are happening. Life is actually happening. It’s a messy juggle I’m not really ready to cope with, not really ready to let go. I’m either too much out or being a hermit with children. There is no in between… Or I just haven’t found it. How do working single mothers do it? (I’m typing this with two children and a dog asleep on me).

But there was one night in amongst the past thirty-one that stands more prominent in my mind. One night where I had on stockings. Not just kmart-special, one-wear, almost see-through stockings… These were pharmacy buys (which is a luxury splurge for this single mum) with floral pattern woven into them; special, sexy, black…. flowery… And to add to my achievement – I had on matching underwear. Any woman knows how much confidence just wearing matching underwear secretly gives you. It’s like having a superhero costume underneath your everyday clothes. Like Clark Kent. Or Bruce Wayne. Or Catwoman. My life is literally crumbling apart around me, but – My God!! – I had matching underwear on that night, so for one small moment I felt like I had my shit together.

I had some time before my meeting, the meeting I was wearing stockings too – so clearly, important. I had my makeup in my bag. I haven’t worn makeup to work in over a year, maybe longer… To be honest, I’m pretty much wearing jeans and a hoody in my office most days. I am basically a walking “thug life” meme. But at least I’m there, right? – This night, however, I slapped on a face, in the dark, in the rain, in my car, using a combination of phone torch, car roof light and street lamp. I was aiming for subtle and understated as the finished product once I hit unfiltered restaurant lighting… but then in my centre console I found the love of my life. My Fire-engine red lipstick… Oh. My. God. Yes.

I put it on.

I looked in the car mirror. My face was a street-lamp white glow of reflected window rain drops, almost as if the night itself was washing me from the outside-in. And there, amongst the streaks of silvered mirror rain and vampire cheeks, sat parted, two red curves and a cupids bow. Like a movie star.

That was me.

All the washing in the washing machine, the morning guilt, the paperwork over flowing, the over-due deadlines, the bills, the disillusionment, the sadness, the stress, the anxiety, the divorce… It all faded away as I watched myself. I had my red lips, my stockings, and my matching underwear. I felt like I could achieve anything. I felt like I could actually take this world head on. I felt like I actually might be something pretty special. And as I sat there, alone, in the dark, in my car, whilst it poured rain around me, I felt… Something.

I felt like my vision. For a flicker of a second of a moment of a breath. I felt like the woman staring back at me was more than the sum of her stresses, the sum of her story. She was the story itself, and she was the one who would control what was written.

It’s superficial, it’s vain, it’s fucked-up; whatever, I don’t care… I felt empowered. And it came from a tiny red canister and some glossy red dirt.

I need to focus on this moment. Somehow I need to bury that tiny ember into the cold hard coals on my soul. If I could turn my mind into air, then I could breathe down upon this ember and start a glow. And that glow could reignite me.

Just imagine then, if I collected more of these embers, more of the fleeting moments of self-awareness and empowerment. I could consume myself in love-fuelled passion and glow forth love, light and fire.

I learnt a lesson; tonight in remembrance, that night of stockings, red lips and matching underwear.

At the end of the day… I am, actually, a superhero. And I CAN do this.

The Juxtaposition

There are two very distinct souls co-habitant inside my carbon shell at present. One is a woman who is liberated and free; focussed on the future and excited about the numerous possibilities that she foresees. The other is her shadow, quiet and reflective, in grieving.

How I can feel so strongly two singularly opposite emotional states gives credit to the power of the mind and the strength of the body. I am humbled and awed at the complexity of these living vessels we inhabit. I am humbled and awed at myself. The journey of self discovery and evaluation is definitely a life-long expedition, and I breathe now the anticipated breath of an explorer who has set eyes upon new land; excited, curious, intimidated, inspired. I am overwhelmed at the depth our body’s can feel. I am both fearful and exhilarated by what I have the potential to survive.

I stand on the shore of the land of unprecedented optimism and potential. All that my eyes gaze upon has the opportunity to fill the empty hull of the ship my existence with riches; riches beyond anything materialism could satisfy. The vista is strewn with artistic endeavours, creative challenges, like-minded beings. A castle for my soul. Soil rich and lush, where the tendrils of my heart yearn to penetrate and take root, absorbing the nutrients they had so long craved before. But it is in this hull of the ship of my existence that lays huddled in the corner, this tiny unspoken secret; my nearly unnoticed shadow. She doesn’t move. Her head a buried nest of blonde encircled with caged arms and legs. No whimper leaves her lips. She is but a broken reminder. I have named her Grief.

Do I, the explorer, leave her there huddled in the depth of my existence, a weighted anchor in my ship? What am I to do with her?
She is a threat to me. An unexploded bomb. A silent cancer. What is she thinking in that dark corner of my mind? What will it take to bring her roaring to the helm of this ship, a wild banshee, to take the wheel, to steel the course away from my hands? She makes me nervous.

I want to take a pillow and smother her. To snuff her out like an unwanted candle lest she bring down my vessel in billowing, glorious flames. But I can’t. Her body would remain forever a skeletal reminder of the murder I had committed. Her tomb a beacon shadowing in my new world.

I have the choice to face her with anger and disdain, with superiority and pride, with hatred, with fear. With neglect, I could starve her out.

Or I could approach her with love.

I know what type of woman I want to be. I know what type of garden I want to cultivate in this heart. I want to go down to her and embrace her, to nurture her and heal her. To lift her up and take her with me into this foreign land of future potential. And together I want us to grow.

But I am scared.

I am scared of her. I am scared of her consuming me. Though neglected and chained to the confines of my deepest inner self, I know that she is powerful. She is the bacteria of pain my soul is trying to fight. I know, in order to grow forward that I must accept and feel this pain, but I am afraid because I do not know how to nurture the wounds without aggravating the infection.

She has the strength to open her mouth and swallow me whole.

She sits in the base of my heart, a piece of coal, hard and unforgiving… Waiting for me to come to her.

I am yet undecided as to how best approach this grief inside of my soul, except to paint her. Fear is the only obstacle in my way. Can I not live within the wild wilderness of happiness I find myself standing within, instead?

No. Not without causing a death within me, and I feel she has many lesson yet to teach.