The bleeding of a heart

The heron returned today, passing overhead with silent wings as I walked home the forest. It’s been a tough day for me. Even though it’s a day of celebration –May Day and my husband’s birthday — my heart is heavy with loss. I wonder, how many times you can experience the loss of someone still living? My dear friend, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post, wrote this of loss,”Sometimes I think that people actually die several times for us: figuratively, and then they are reborn to us because of something we think they need to be, but then they have their own lives, and they die again.”

A trunk divided into 4 parts
A trunk divided into 4 parts, 1 now dead

In my journey to inner truth I have experienced the figurative death of people I love, only to allow them to be born again into my life. Perhaps I am a slow learner, but the truth is, I have a hard time letting go. There is a desperate desire that lives inside of me for my children to have the childhood I did not. Easter, and other recent events, have been a harsh reminder that am allowing not only myself, but my children (more indirectly) to be victims of abuse.

Oh, but the heart wears a heavy cloak when loss is an act of self-preservation. I have friends who have suffered the early loss of parents, and although I am deeply sorry for them, there is the part of me that envies the love that they were able to share — a love that lingers full even after death. I am 40 yrs. old and still searching for that parental love, in vain.

Last night my dreams found me by the sea, inside a house atop a hill. I wanted to buy this second home, but when I went up the stairs I was confronted with the energy of malevolent spirits. I was literally lifted off my feet from the fierce repulsion of the haunting inhabitants. Yet, after I managed to make it safely down the stairs again, holding onto the banister, I went up one more time.  A sucker, it would appear, for punishment.

It was clear I was not going to exorcise the demons in that house, so I finally left, relinquishing my hope for a beautiful home by the sea. Today, I gave up on my desire for the full, accepting love I never had in childhood. I knew the writing of and eventual publication of my truths would not be received without trepidation, but I had hoped for redemption. I had hoped for acknowledgment and regret. I had hoped for understanding. I had hoped for love.


Today I was labeled as a narcissist for writing a memoir. Few people, I believe, write their stories in an act of self-idolation. I wrote my memoir to heal my voice and my body. I had, in essence, no choice. I was suffocating in my silence, I was trapped in a legacy of fear. It was never my intention to vilify or harm others, or to undermine their truths when I finally let my words speak my own long-buried truths. The knowledge that I am not alone, that my struggle for voice, truth and love is universal, drives my desire to share my individual story in the hope that it will spark the truth hidden inside others.

I knew this act, which took much courage and resolve, would lead to rejection. I would, inevitably, be rejected by countless agents and publishers who would consider the manuscript not marketable enough, and I would, likely, be rejected once more by some of the individuals who appear as characters. I have paid a high price for my speaking my truth, yet I have made a personal vow not to be silenced again.

I can empathize with the individual who hurts another because they hurt inside. I have angered and hurt others as a result of the wounds I suffered inside. I therefore understand that the person who harms does so because s/he is suffering, unable to love the self, and thus unable to fully love another unconditionally, but I do not understand the soul’s refusal to self-assess, to deny continually the opportunity to heal. To maim, in particular, one’s child, over and over again by one’s actions (or lack-there-of), well, it bleeds the heart.

Yet, mine will heal again, it always does.IMG_1479


When I was a young child, after my mother and stepfather moved us from Oregon to NH, we had an outhouse. In back of the outhouse there was a stream, and beside the stream, tucked in amid the ferns, were white sheetrock buckets holding leafy green plants. The plants were a secret. One of many. They looked like tomatoes, but they were not.

At ten past five this morning the phone rang and I was pulled out of a deep sleep to listen to an automated message informing me that my children’s school had been canceled for the day.  After I cursed the superintendent, my mind began the replay of my dreams. In the first scene, I saw myself standing in a room with my mother and stepfather. My stepfather loomed in front of me, my mother was in the shadows to my right. It was Christmas and my stepfather held before me the partial skeleton of a quilt. Triangular patches of scrap fabric had been sew together (presumably by my mother), but the shape of the quilt was just taking form. It was his gift to me. “Take it,” he told me, “I want you to finish it.” As he spoke my stepfather pointed to bins of calicos in the colors of Christmas behind him, gesturing for me to choose the fabrics of my choice to finish the project. He was insistent, this was something he thought I should do.

I refused. I didn’t want the beginnings of a quilt that he thought I should make on my own. (My mother once helped me make a quilt for my bed, he had much to say about it while the project was occurring.)

Instead, I stood before my stepfather and started to talk. The first words that came from my mouth were muffled and strained, as though I were trying to talk through a clot or a windstorm. There was no strength to my words. But, as I spoke, my voice became strong and clear. “I don’t want the quilt,” I told my stepfather, “Instead, I have something I want you to hear.”

I told my stepfather that for Christmas I had given my birthfather back his name (I did, in fact, give this “gift” to my birthfather this past Christmas). The name my stepfather had taken from him. “Dad.” As I spoke, my heart was racing my words and winning in its mad sprint. I tried to look past the mix of anger and hurt in my stepfather’s face, not willing to allow my voice to stop inside my throat. “I can call two people Dad,” I told him, “There are no rules that say you can’t do that.” I argued my defense to a mute audience, listing the reasons why I should not be denied the right to have and love two fathers. I didn’t stop until I had emptied my body of the words I had been holding inside.

The scene changed and I was standing in another building, a public building with many people, talking to a couple with a child in a stroller. My mother and stepfather were behind me and we asked about the child, a girl with long light brown hair hunched within her too small seat. There was an aura of gloom around the child, a sadness so deep the air around her was heavy, gray.

“How is she,” we wanted to know. The girl lifted her head slightly as her parents spoke of how she was recovering from the depression that had filled her after she had been to Oregon for a visit. They told us that now that she was back she was beginning to improve. As her parents spoke, my heart reached for the girl. This seven year old child with long brown hair, whose too large body sunk into her stroller, needed me. I knew the source of her sorrow. In my mind I saw her standing on the sand beside the rocky gray waters of the Pacific. I felt her open her mouth to a scream whose sound was immediately swallowed by the greedy mouth of the wind. I felt her body absorb the violence of the swirling air as though it were my own. I knew I could help her.  I would teach her how to recover her muted voice.