Friday, June 29, 2012

Toxic Shame: Lost Love

How can anyone love him? Including his mother, sisters and girlfriend?

I am responding to the above question that was recently asked by my friend. He described a scenario at an outdoor café involving a young couple. In my friend’s words, the man was a thuggish guy in his twenties wearing a tee-shirt with cutaway sleeves, the mandatory tattoos, for this 'sub-species '. He had a beer belly and a convict style haircut. He had a bull terrier on a leash.

Apparently the man was displeased with the food and he wanted to express his anger towards the cook or the manager. His girlfriend begged him not to.

My friend witnessed the exchange of one syllable words laced with cussing and shouting and he became disgusted. In fact he was so disgusted that he asked me, how can anyone love him?

Well, I would like to address this.

I can only guess that perhaps no one really did love him, at least when he needed it most during the first five [crucial] years of life. With the crushing number of one parent families and the loss of the nucleus of intact homes, it is evident that many of our children have grown up with attachment and abandonment issues.

Many parents are so embroiled in their own drama; they miss the fact that their children need them at all. Children do not only need a parent every other weekend or to be along side of a parent whilst he/she talks on a cell phone or checks email. They need your undivided attention, at least most of the time. Children need to be the focal point; they will be gone soon enough and then you have lost your opportunity to guide, love, nurture and teach them.

I don’t mean that they should rule your life and become tempestuous, controlling monsters. No. They need nurturing, guidance and discipline. They need not be shuffled off to play video games, plunked in front of the television or other sophisticated electronic devices, which can be another set of problems if the gateway to the vast world of information is left unguarded.

Without considering the internet and wireless devices, there are simply too many distractions. Our ‘disposable’ society has basically abandoned the children and thrown the cohesive family unit under the bus. It seems that the children themselves have become the distraction.

I learned a great deal from my experience as a mother who navigated divorce with children. It is important for me to share what I learned from this. The main point is that children who live with a set of loving parents have a substantially better chance of being more grounded and secure in their adult lives than those of one parent homes. No matter how hard either parent tries to make up for the other, whether it be physical absence, lack of financial or emotional support, or the fact that they are not living together as a complete family anymore; the pain and turmoil exists far beyond the reaches of the initial experience.

It has become very clear to me that no matter how hard I loved them [my children], the other factors still exist(ed) and I could not love them away. That was the most difficult and substantial lesson for me. Of course no one can assume responsibility for another. We are accountable for ourselves individually and our respective relationships.

Getting back to the young man at the café… the hardcore language, tattoos, hair and basic threatening presence is no more than the tools of a wounded child rising to meet his challenges as no one did for him when he needed it. He was probably a victim of neglect, abandonment and maybe physical and or emotional abuse. No matter which of these, he had no choice but to fall into the category of bully or being bullied. If he was a victim of bullying as a young child and no one was there on his behalf, then it stands to reason that when he finally got to the point where he could stand his ground, that he does so in an overstated manner that will no doubt lead to trouble. He will not flinch when people glare at him, people (like you) who label him as a punk who could never possibly be loved. Culturally speaking, you are right, which is tragic yet true.

He was probably labeled from the start as the kid who had no advocate; the one who showed up at school with dirty socks and faded thrift store clothes. The perennial scape goat who never got his homework done because no one gave a damn what he had in his backpack at the end of the day. Which was not even close to the name brand backpack, instead he had the cheesy one from Wal-Mart that his grandmother gave him. The one that he thought was really cool until he got teased on the bus, causing him to destroy it or maybe he just tortured the cat instead.

He was the one who got to eat free lunch on the program for “healthy kids” and sometimes, if there was enough money in the school budget, he enjoyed a free breakfast too. Everyone knows who those kids are because there is no discretion; therefore he wolfed down the much anticipated meals in toxic shame, knowing that the weekends were filled with things like canned ravioli, cheese curls and sugary drinks.

Tattoos are a sense of belonging. Many in our culture are not part of an intact family, church, village or tribe, therefore I believe that to compensate for this loss, tattoos may symbolize the natural human instinct to belong (to something, anything). Tattoos are very common now as most of us are aware.

I know that Pit Bull Terriers have become popular. Do you see anything that fits the stereotype here? They are known for their ability to protect, guard and attack if trained to do so. They give the illusion of ferocity, even though they are quite capable of being a loving and close companion. The outcome (again) depends on human involvement.

Of course he has a Pit Bull.  In addition to his crude image, it’s about time he had protection. The Pit Bull fills in for the absent parent, family, secure and loving childhood…the wounded boy has protection, which you will not want to mess with. So it works.

And the girlfriend? She may understand all too well what it means to grow up in a world with unmet needs. Or, she may have had everything handed to her and she sees the ember of this broken young man’s spirit. Some people think that they can save others. Maybe she is saving him because no one was there to save her, or no one to save him. Could they be in a survival mode together, clinging to what could be love, but uncertain of what love is? We won’t know unless we ask.  We won't ask as long as we are afraid.

So now, when his burger isn’t cooked correctly at the café; he has his say. He is finally big enough to raise his voice. It isn’t really the café owner who is the target of his rage, it is all of those who laughed, taunted, rejected and wrongfully and rightfully accused him from the time he was able to realize that it was happening.

I learned from my daughter that it is never what it seems. Everything is wrapped in a package – some pretty, others neat, some frightening – we have a plethora of gift-wrap to choose from. The heart inside of this gift beats in a rhythm unknown to the casual observer.

I prefer not to judge. When we judge others, we are judging ourselves and achieve separateness from the Creator and endless possibilities of healing, correcting and reaching higher levels.

Therefore, I know all too well how pain masks itself within the ink of elaborate and sometimes not so elaborate tattoos, rough talk and tattered clothing. My answer to your question is; how can anyone not love him?
Journal: Scarlet Lily

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Winged Fugue: Who's Got Your Back?

I sat in the middle of a field surrounded by daisies, white clover and different shades of yarrow. The bees and butterflies were delirious; seemingly intoxicated as they flew from one blossom to the next. A crow that I have not yet named squawked from the same branch it always does. We’ve been getting to know one another, but I am cautious of his greed, wanting more than his share and cautious of my longing for a pet. I reached into my garden basket and tossed two small crackers towards him into the tall grass. He pretended not to notice but I’m onto him now.

As I continued to work, it got increasingly hot and my glistening sweat attracted an assortment of carnivorous insects. I usually apply a combination of eucalyptus and lemon grass oils but not today. I remained calm and reminded myself that we share this space and just because I am higher up on the food chain doesn’t mean I should annihilate them (even if it is like being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie).

I looked around in search of the dragonflies I had seen earlier. Within seconds of that thought, at least a dozen came to the rescue. I extended my arms and legs and closed my eyes as the iridescent winged creatures brushed so close to me that I felt them against my skin, face, ears and hair. The tone and feel of their buzz was deep and may have frightened me as a child, although I have always been taken aback by their beauty and connection to faeries. They whisked through the air devouring the insects that surrounded me and some that were actually latched onto me.

This made me giddy. I’m not sure if it was pure joy from knowing, but I think that it may have tickled. After capturing a photo of the event with my mind’s eye and tucking it into that place where I collect memories for when I have the blues; I returned to harvesting. I was hesitant to move from the field where I sat, but I had my daily quota from that area and needed to go to the mint and mugwort. Would they follow again?

The deer flies immediately zoned in on me followed by a few mosquitoes. I kept my focus on the plants, resisting the temptation to brush them away (which seems to cause the deer flies to intensify). In less than thirty seconds, the dragonflies were surrounding me, only there were more this time.

The winged fugue of various tempos and dynamics swirling about with a counter melody of bees and butterflies at the edge of the daisy field and gardens left me breathless, joyful and satisfied.

Why bother with essential oils if the dragonflies got my back?

Journal: Babies Breath

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Untamed and Limitless – My Place in the Wild

Today when I awoke, I noticed the difference. The sense of persecution was a lingering mist rather than a deep rushing river pounding relentlessly into my being. I gazed at the tall pines outside my window (like I always do) and then focused on the abundance of dark pink roses that are in full bloom. At least three different species of butterflies adorned the blossoms with their wings opening and closing gently, offering an array of color to an already brilliant show.

I am grateful for that. I said softly as I continued watching.

I decided that instead of immersing myself in nature that I would knowingly become nature and resume my place. What I mean is that I have always escaped into the wild, which is where my worries melt away and I find peace. Then I return to the ‘other’ world, which drives me back to nature. It was my cycle. Participate in the ‘other’ world that is false and not aligned with my soul and higher purpose, and then flee into the woods for restoration. This pattern in itself was an obstacle in the flow of my innate rhythm and creativity. I became disheartened, directionless and separate.

It was necessary to stop viewing my actions in terms of ‘going out in nature’, ‘leaving nature’, ‘loving nature’ and all of the ways that ‘nature’ fits into my life. I am nature. We all are. We are one.

I understand that it will take time to progress into this new, old (original) way of being and that the utmost responsibility that I have to myself is to trust that it is okay and it will work.

During my transition from the music world into the vast world of the unknown, I bought into the idea that I needed to abandon my authentic self and get a job, any job, even if it meant self betrayal and auric devastation. I no longer believed that I could rely on my vast creativity for abundance. I accepted that all was lost and I surrendered to what was not in alignment with my vision and the greater good.

My energy was funneled into this wretched misunderstanding based on a lack of faith. It is the cause of the initial separation of self from self, and self from nature. Once I made the split, it became a sharp duality.

I relied on my time in the wild to compensate for the time that I spent participating in a world that was indeed a vexation to my soul. I was dependent on the corporate world for economic survival…a world that required a huge investment of energy to support, making it vital to retreat into nature for healing and restoration.

This way of life was transparent. I became helpless and resigned myself to this self-created obligation. I was indebted to an illusion. The pendulum swung wildly from pain, depression and despair to relief, joy and peace; from anger, resentment and enslavement to wonder, appreciation and freedom.

I knew that I possessed the key to my own jail and that everything I need is within me (Gnosis). When I became paralyzed and numb, I fled into the wild, bathing in the essence of the natural world with the knowledge of my return to the 'other' hanging over me like an ominous cloud. My longing defined me. I relied on the process of peeling away the outer layers of discontent just enough to survive and sustain and repeat.

I became a master at looking the other way…meditating for peace and the ability to accept others and our differences. I practiced unconditional love to the point where I loved all and not myself. This became increasingly more difficult as it seemed to give a message of the allowance of unacceptable behavior. The longer I remained silent, the more challenging the other world became. My once clear boundaries were blurred to the point of non-existence.

At night I dreamed of finding a way out or rather a way back into my original self with my intentions intact. I asked for guidance, protection, love and compassion. I viewed the other world in terms of God and one, seeking clarity.

When the truth would no longer hide in the shadows, it was finally revealed whether I was ready or not. The moment that I was released from the chains that I had forged with tools derived from my own fear and ignorance, I bowed in gratitude to those who I once thought were my jailors.

Now is the time for healing, the time for returning fearlessly to nature with my original intent and purity. After seven years of this dance without song or music; I am home…untamed and limitless. I have resumed my place in the wild, which had never abandoned me, but that I had abandoned instead. Hallelujah!

Journal : Scarlett Lily

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fresh Rain: Drenched in Peace

The rushing rain and impatient wind brought me to the edge of my instincts. The temperature dropped and the visibility was low. I considered two possibilities. The first was to curl up with a soft blanket and be lulled to sleep by the sound of rain tapping against the roof or take advantage of the decrease in bug activity and go outdoors to harvest various leaves and flowers for my tea blends.

I really had no choice, because if I decided to sleep, the thought of missing an almost bug-less opportunity outdoors would haunt me and keep me awake; it wouldn’t work. Plus, I am not one to give in to naps as often as I should. I always feel like there is so much to be done and I must use every moment to the fullest extent.

So I dressed in my outdoor work clothes and entered into the world of volatile wind and driving rain. Within moments I was soaked but it didn’t matter. There were only a few mosquitoes and black flies. To me they are annoying, even when wearing my net hat.

I was happy to be in the rain. More importantly, as much as I complain about the thick swarms of bugs, I rejoice that there is healthy and abundant life where I live. If there were few or no insects, then something would be wrong. I am thankful that there is no toxic spraying here. There is hope in bugs – in spite of chemicals (such as aluminum and barium) lacing the atmosphere, water and earth’s fragile ecosystems – there is life. Even though I sometimes complain, I am quite grateful that nature’s balance is still intact and the lower part of the food chain is present.

I deliberately passed by my favorite daisy field. I have been waiting patiently for their arrival. They nodded with bright faces filled with optimism – fuel for navigating cold, gray mist. Then I was ready to sit directly on the saturated earth amidst a sea of wild strawberries that are on the verge but have not yet produced fruit.

As I picked leaves I found myself singing I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover; one of many beloved childhood songs. Unexpectedly, this became one of the selections of music on my [personal] harvesting soundtrack. In fact, I tried 'not' to sing it and it just wouldn’t go away, so it kind of amuses me. I have quite a collection of songs on the playlist including Waltzing Matilda, another childhood song that my sisters and I listened to repeatedly on a vinyl record until it became more crackly than musical.

I always sing aloud, hum quietly or other times sing in my head. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I sometimes choose silly childhood songs when I am outdoors. In general I sing because it is my nature and also to let animals know that I am present even though I am certain that they have picked up my scent much sooner than when they hear me.

Recently a friend from the Pacific Northwest mentioned that black bears are more of a nuisance than a threat and that one can yell and it [black bear] will leave and that it is the brown or grizzly bears that are dangerous. We have black bears here and not grizzlies, so I do not have any other point of reference. However, learning this gave me a different perspective. I know that running is the wrong thing to do [Black Bear Encounters 101]. I always imagine that I would stand on the opposite side of a tree, keeping it between us while maintaining eye contact and if it doesn’t run off, I would shout to show that I am strong and brave. And then I would most likely pray. I do ponder these situations because there is a high black bear population where I live and I am an outdoorswoman. This season I have already seen three black bears in the yard and they have helped themselves to the hummingbird nectar. This happened last month. I took the feeders in for a while until I felt that there was more natural food available to them. It seems to be working.

Besides letting the (black) bears know that I am sitting in a field or walking through the woods, I like singing because it is an opportunity to be that girl who is separate from the rest of the technologically advanced world, blending with the natural world where innocence and logic resides.

For some time, I remained outdoors, drenched in peace, listening to the rain and a few boisterous crows flying amongst swishing, slightly bending, white pines. The swollen streams hurried along almost at their fullest capacity. In addition to the wild strawberry leaves, I harvested raspberry leaves, wild roses and the beginning phases of red clover.

The scent of fresh rain, damp greens and rich soaked earth was overpowering. Any tension within me dissolved in the precipitation as it washed over me. I reached a point when it was challenging to pick because everything was clinging to my wet fingers and hands.

When a deep chill began to set in, I went indoors. I spread all the leaves, flower heads and petals on drying screens and peeled off my wet clothes. After a long, hot shower I put on my favorite, soft flannel nightgown, bundled up in a thick cotton comforter and fell asleep to the sound of rain tapping on the roof.

Journal: Babies Breath