Walk on Water

 

Walk on Water (1)

 

I was maybe ten or eleven. My feet, dressed in navy blue Keds, dangled over the water. I could see the soles and my dark knee-length socks reflected in the water. I sat on the edge of a pier and found that peaceful part inside myself. It was a part of me that I could only find when I was alone.

I know my family thought I was odd. Sitting on the end of a pier over the calm waters of the Magothy River, I could feel their eyes on my back. From the warm den with its picture window, they wondered about me. They worried about a girl who would choose to sit out in the chilly, overcast March day, Easter no less, than in the warmth with her family.

But I was content here. I was wrapped in my own little world of magic and probabilities. I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming at the time, but a voice interrupted.

I knew the voice wasn’t outside of me. I wasn’t sure if it was me or someone – something else, but I could hear its words very clearly.

“Walk on water.”

“What?”

“Walk on water.”

I hesitated. How was I supposed to walk on water? Like Jesus. Jesus was a miracle worker. I doubted I was.

“Go on. You can do it.”

The bottom of my feet tingled, right through the soles of my shoes, and my body felt weird. Lighter. The water beckoned, and I wondered if I had finally lost my mind.

I felt like two people in that space between two moments. The breeze froze. Sound halted. Even the gleaming ripples held their place as if caught in a photograph.

I was torn between faith and terror. I knew in a very deep part of myself that this walking-on-water thing was a possibility. I understood on a visceral level that I was able to bend space and time with my thoughts. But was it probable? And what would happen?

My mind raced over the potential fallout. I could fail miserably. I’d sink into the water, floundering and freezing, and end up in the hospital. First the ER and then the sanitarium because I had clearly tried to commit suicide. And I heard voices. Tsk, tsk.

I could succeed. My family would watch me walk to shore, unharmed, dry as a bone, and serene as a perfect, summer day. I would be canonized as a saint by the Pope no less. My grandmother would be so proud. “I made her come to church every Sunday.”

And no one would leave me alone. I would be pursued, hassled, and asked to perform the miracle again and again. Scientists would study me, even want to dissect me, and I would become a ward of the United States government. Perhaps to use as a weapon against Russia.

Either way, I would die inside. I thought of my brothers, alone with the monster that consumed our father and helpless beneath the indifference of our mother. I knew I was all that stood between them and the madness of our home life.

I didn’t want any of it. And as the voice continued to cajole me, I chose to do nothing. Well, I chose to argue with the voice, and this was something I did not do to an authority.

“No.”

I waited for punishment, for reprobation, and for rejection.

“Why?” was all the voice asked.

“I’m needed here. This is the path I chose.”

I could feel the voice’s silence in my head like a pressure.  Weight squeezed me into something small and insignificant. I struggled against the heaviness.

Perhaps I was a coward. Perhaps I had chosen the devil-I-know. I’m sure I did. Fear is a many-splendored prison. But I knew that any way I sliced this bread, all the pieces were stale.

The scrutiny, the concern, and the potential for imprisonment was too great if I chose to act on the voice’s demand. Though I was in a different prison, I knew that eventually, I could escape.

I also knew I had work to do. I had children to raise and words to write. I had dreams to pursue and a life to build. I had my humanity and I had plans to develop it to the highest heights I could reach.

The voice stopped cajoling as it watched the visions that unfolded in my head. I felt the pressure ease and let out a sigh of relief.

“Very well. You have made your choice.”

I blinked. The chilly breeze caressed my cheek. Sound flooded my ears with the lap of water against wood and the call of a hungry seagull. The waves threw muted flashes of light into the dark cavern beneath the pier.

I was alone again. I was sane again. Mostly.

I rose to my feet, dusted off my skirt, and shivered. I had never remembered an experience like that. I had other instances of insanity, but none had made me feel as small and frightened as this one.

I studied my grandparents’ house, which looked like one of the models that Pop Pop would place around his beloved Christmas train garden. On Easter, the garden was carefully stored away for the next Christmas.

I returned to the stifling warmth of family. I picked through the basket of candy I’d been given. I pulled Easter grass from my hair. I argued with my brothers (“Stop touching me!”) as we returned home.

I felt relief as my head hit the pillow. The status quo had been maintained for everyone but me. My brothers were as safe as I could keep them, wrapped in the bliss of ignorance.

Only I was changed forever and to this day, that moment on the pier haunts me.

© 2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Release of Death

The Release of Death

My mother and I before she said, “I’m sorry.”

I can only speak of my own experience now that someone with enormous influence over my life has died. I could write about the horrors of those last two weeks or how I cried when I made one of the most harrowing decisions of my life.

Instead, I’m going to write about the last two years since the death.

I had a love-hate relationship with my mother. It was a two-way cycle of yelling for most of my life based on misunderstandings that can only arise from two incompatible perspectives violently clashing. She believed that everyone, including myself, lied to get attention. I believed that honesty was the best policy, sometimes to my detriment.

My mother had Bipolar II with a co-morbidity of closet narcissism. The world revolved around her and the vagaries of her manic-depression. She refused to get help and she refused to acknowledge my illness as anything other than histrionics and attention-seeking.

I can’t hold her illness against her now. Not since my diagnosis with Bipolar II, which was only valid in psychiatric circles with the release of the DSM-V in 2013. The medical community had betrayed her with their shoddy treatment of her breast cancer. The psychiatric community could only do the same.

She was right. Many times, she was right about people and situations. How she conveyed these insights was the problem, because she cast her sense of self-importance and “superior” intellect into the telling.

I don’t care for that kind of conveying. It smells of deceit. But how could my mother deceive me? I was her first-born and only daughter. I was her miracle when she gave birth to me.

These insights are the aftermath of death. You don’t only grieve the loss. You grieve for the relationship and the moments. All of them.

You get angry that you were left behind. You lament over unresolved grievances. You regret the future that will never be.

It’s all about you now.

You might hate the person who died, and if the ties were half a strand of DNA and/or all the interactions implied in that sort of relationship, you are torn up inside. Love and/or hate. Mixed emotions that you must resolve.

But here’s the other side of the coin. Whatever awful relationship you had with this person who influenced your life, the death sets you free.

Whatever aspect of your life this person dominated is now open for you to explore. Sometimes, it’s your entire life, but usually it’s a shedding of judgments that infected you through criticisms. It’s the letting go of someone else’s perspective. If you want to, you can see clearly.

The weight that lifted from my shoulders after my mother died was enormous. Here I was thinking I was my own person and I’ve discovered that I wasn’t. My mother’s influence touched the most important aspects of my life and colored them with the idea that I always made poor decisions, that I was nothing compared to her. That’s a weight I was willing to lose.

I’m relieved she died.

There. I said it. As much as I loved my mother, I hated her more. Her decisions deprived me of a potentially healthier life.

Because that’s what abuse does. It gives you a greater potential for illness. It gives the abuser a greater potential for illness. Emotional, mental, and physical violence take its toll on both parties involved in the transaction.

I can’t change what happened, but I wonder if I would have been a more productive contributor to society without her influence. I wonder if I would have developed my predisposition for Bipolar. There was a time when I wasn’t ill. I was just frightened and conflicted. Hypervigilant.

Sometimes I miss you, Mom. We had some good times, but only after I “divorced” you. You couldn’t undo my childhood, but at the end, it meant so much that you wished you could. That you learned how to say, “I’m sorry.”

But most importantly, you said, “I believe you.”

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Written in the Stars

It’s supposed to get even more interesting on November 3, 2013 with the New Moon eclipse and Scorpio and Mercury Retrograde getting all comfy-cozy in the 12th quadrant (house) of the sky. Karma Brewing, that’s how Urania’s Well describes it and she’s saying this New Moon eclipse energy went into effect approximately 30 days before the actual event. She explains it better, so click the link:

BREWING KARMA

Interestingly enough, the 12th quadrant of the sky sits across the cusp of my 6th (Public Service) and 7th (Partnerships) houses (because when I was born, that’s where the fixed houses aligned with my chart). I went through the furlough like a good federal worker (6th) and I became more active in social media (7th) as my writing got a kick start. I’ve been building relationships in the public sphere for the 30 days prior to November 3rd.

But Urania predicts long-term effects. She warns of deep karmic issues bubbling to the surface and cautions her readers to deal with the issues as they arise.  I have an issue that leaves me paralyzed. I know what to do but I don’t want to do it. I have many reasons not to do it.

Image

Mercury, you keep coming back to haunt me!

I am a dark, family secret. In my reckless youth, I would have revealed all the gory details if given a golden opportunity like this and damn the consequences. And now that 44 years have passed, the consequences of this secret are laughable.  What concerns me is the possible upheaval of tidy mental worlds. Beliefs are such inflexible and tenacious things and I lack the energy to deal with the fall out of other people’s choices.

This secret is one of the reasons I have been brutally honest with my children. I don’t want them to constantly look over their shoulders wondering when the other shoe will drop. For me, the other shoe just dropped. New information has come to light. The shock is like being mugged in the back alley of a reasonably safe, suburban neighborhood.

My choices are: ignore the information or follow the thread to the center of the labyrinth and face the big, ugly Minotaur that awaits. Ugh. Of course, I am brave to a degree of stupidity that would make Evel Knievel flinch—I speak in emotional terms not physical.

I’ll confess, though I’m dithering about to do or not to do, I know I will do. I can’t help myself. This is my nature. I rush in where angels fear to tread. I leave chaos in my wake and only those things strong enough and flexible enough to survive will remain.