Real Life

Five years old, and this is my first day of Boarding School. Some things I remember are:

I remember that dark falling into a bottomless pit feeling of going to sleep by myself alone at night, and waking up in the morning and I’m still alone. I remember that the first month (or more) of boarding school, when I was 5 and in first grade, I would wake up every morning with my eyes glued shut from so many tears the night before. I couldn’t even open them some mornings unless I first got the crust off.

I remember that I never fit in, and nobody every really accepted me. The other kids seemed to have a secret language that I wasn’t privy to. I never could get the soap out of my hair when I washed it because having water on my face panicked me. So my hair was always dull and looked greasy and dirty. I envied the other girls their shiny hair, and the way they all seemed to look good, their buttons all buttoned in the right holes – mine never were. I was so alone. And so one day I put Vaseline in my hair to make it shine. What a disaster. Irene Drown helped me get it out. I was the laughing stock. I retreated ever more deeply into my shell, into my cave of never fitting in, never looking OK, never saying the right thing.

The first year of boarding school was in a big old building, it was one of those old Spanish mansions. A big square building 2 floors and a basement – I can even remember the layout. The bathroom was huge (to me) and tiled, and seemed to echo.

The first week I was in school, someone told me to put the toilet lid down. I didn’t know what they were talking about, so I tried to take the porcelain top off the toilet tank, I thought I was supposed to put it on the floor or something, it was very heavy, and fell and broke. I remember being in a lot of trouble for that. In the medicine cabinet was a bottle of baby aspirin. I liked how it tasted, and one day I ate all of them. Nothing happened to me.

I never told anyone that I was the reason the baby aspirin disappeared. By then, I knew that you should never admit to anything. And after that I never did. If I would have been caught red handed with my “hand in the cookie jar”, I would have denied the whole thing. Never tell the truth. That’s what I learned early on. Never tell the truth, never admit a mistake, tell no one your secrets, and basically, just keep your mouth shut.

We walked to school every day, and along the way we were sometimes bombarded with dirt clods and spit as well as insults. It was a time when Americans were very unpopular.

The 2nd year of school, mother and daddy were the dorm parents. I was really looking forward to it. But I think those 2 years may have been some of the worst. They were so determined to be “fair” that they went out of their way to treat me just like the other kids. I never felt close to them after that. It was awful. Everyone had to say “yes sir.” and “no ma’am”. I didn’t get tucked in at night, didn’t get any of the physical affection I was used to at home.

By this time I was pretty much in my own little hell, very withdrawn, hiding behind my hair, twirling it, sucking on it, a dark cloud followed me everywhere. I never felt clean. I don’t know if it was a mental perception, or if I just wasn’t able to cope with the weekly group shower. My hair was always tangled, I chewed my fingernails to the quick every day. I remember it as being particularly painful and excruciatingly humiliating to be me.

One afternoon, I was down in the living room area and the lamp somehow got unplugged. When I plugged it back into the wall socket, I got a small electrical shock. I thought I had been electrocuted, so I lay down on the couch and waited to go to heaven because I knew that if you got electrocuted, you died. But I didn’t die. And I remember being very very disappointed.

Mother and Daddy got me a “Barbie” for my birthday when I was 7. I had it for 2 days, and then it disappeared. I later found out that the other girls buried it in the back yard. They were jealous. Mother and Daddy did get me a lot of presents, they left the goodbye gifts under my pillow when they left, and I loved that, to me it seemed like a link to them and the love I so desperately missed. But, in retrospect, it really seems cowardly to leave without actually saying goodbye. I’d wake up, they’d be gone, and in their place was a present. What a bittersweet feeling that was. Pleasure/pain.

I get that feeling sometimes even now… hmmm… A kind of heart clenching anxiety… mixed with oh, how nice…. I get that same feeling when thinking about having to do a dog training class. Interesting…

And at the same time, it caused problems in my already precarious relationships with the other girls. None of the other parents did stuff like that, and it really made the other girls jealous. Hence – the burying of the Barbie. And the funny thing is that I wasn’t that impressed with the Barbie, and I didn’t really miss it when it disappeared. Had they buried my beloved teddy bear – it would have been a different story altogether.

The only place I really felt comfortable was under the house with the dog. It was a fuzzy medium size mixed breed dog, I called her Bear, I’m not sure if that was really her name or not. She lived under the back steps, under the porch. I would crawl under there and sit in the dirt with her. Sometimes I heard the other kids talking about me. It was never anything good. Usually something about how I was stupid, or weird. I remember once she had puppies. I got a lot of comfort sitting in the dirt with the puppies sleeping on me. Often I cried when I held them. My face would be streaked with dirt and tears, and then I’d be in even more trouble for getting dirty.

When I was in first grade, I got chicken pox. I remember lying in the top bunk, praying that I would die. Begging Jesus to come and take me to heaven. It was agony. The other kids, and Aunt Edith (the dorm mother) all told me that if I scratched the blisters I would be hideously ugly and scarred for life. So I didn’t scratch them. Not once. It was one of the most difficult times in my life.

Gosh! All this is making me cry!

On Sundays we had to write letters to our parents, the big kids helped the little kids write them. I asked mother and daddy to come and get me and take me home. Aunt Edith tore up the letter and made me write a different one. One that said that I was happy and doing fine. I never asked to go home again.

Well. That’s all I can cope with right now.

This is from an email written to my sister way back in 2004. I have edited it a little bit so that it can be shared on the internet, but I wanted to put it here because now that Saskia is no longer with us, I am trying to preserve what I can. Our relationship as mother and daughter was very challenging because from the very beginning she was difficult and headstrong, and so powerfully determined to do things the way she wanted to do them, and see things the way she wanted to see them.

Here’s the story:

Saskia and James moved the last of their stuff to their new house. Their truck broke down on the way over there. She called wanting me to pick her husband, his friend, and Teddy (the dog) up at Max’s Market and take them to Independence.

I told her to call a tow truck. So she did. And he took them all to Independence. And then I said something about her having to go to work tomorrow, and that it was a good thing that Independence had a bus service.

I was kind of being a bitch when I said this because when I was trying to talk her out of moving, I asked her what she would do if the truck broke down, and she informed me that Independence had city buses and taxi’s.

Either the seal on the transmission is blown, or one of the lines came off, or has a hole in it. She said that someone told her that it wouldn’t be real hard or real expensive to fix. transmission????  not hard?? not expensive????

I hope she’s right.

So… The disaster has begun. The drama is in progress.

I am not being good. I want to be good… but it just isn’t happening… I’m judging… I-told-her-so-ing… fussing… and in general not being good. I just want to shake her! and choke her! And change her into someone else for a while! So…

My internal work begins. (see this post)

And The Drama Continues

Hi. (This is the next email I sent to my sister.)

You know, I have a certain amount of ongoing worry and fear around Saskia and her firm insistence on making choices that put her and her family at risk. And I have a certain amount of worry and fear about credit cards and bills I can’t pay, and the fact that my job continues to sort of sputter along. I have a lot of frustration about my inability to find the energy and the drive to get the things done that I want to do around here to make this place nice. And so far, other than that exceptional time my granddaughter was born, I haven’t had the big stuff that you have with your son.

The big stuff really puts into perspective what is important, and it doesn’t just challenge you to align with spirit, it forces you. Because if you don’t…  Well, I don’t know what happens… probably Saskia knows…

Anyway. I don’t even know what to say about your son. I’m really glad that you are feeling calm about it, because I’d be a screaming raging bitch inside. If I can get myself centered and quiet today, I’ll do some shamanic work and see what happens with that. See what I can see, do what I can do.

Last night Saskia called. The transmission on the truck is shot. A rebuilt one costs $1200, the junked ones at U Wrench It are probably junk and you have to pull them yourself. They have no money. They spent it all on the tow truck. The bus stop is too far away to walk to. It costs $20 to take a taxi to work and they have no money. They don’t have a phone yet. One of Saskia’s coworkers picked her up yesterday and took her to work, and that car broke down on the way.

I did not say “I told you so.” I was in the middle of saying something to the effect of “What are you going to do?” and the cell phone she was borrowing went dead.

Then later, James brother called to say that his dad collapsed at the doctors office and is in the hospital. I gave him the phone number of Saskia’s friend in Independence. I hope they have food for Sydney. I was worrying and worrying and worrying about them – because I love them – and my heart just went out to her. Once again in a desperate situation. And then, because there really isn’t anything I can do, I prayed, and talked to my guides and angels.

And then I did something really comforting. I gave them to Jesus. (he is one of my guides – believe it or not). So I gave them, and my worry about them to Jesus, and went peacefully to sleep. Today, although I am thinking about them, I am no longer having that stressed agitated worry feeling. Actually more of a curiosity, and feeling of compassion than anything else.

So. Actually I might try the breathing thing with my issues.

  • Breathe in bills and money problems ~ breathe out prosperity and abundance.
  • Breathe in fatigue ~ breathe out energy.
  • Breathe in clutter ~ breathe out order.
  • Breathe in decay ~ breathe out beauty and new growth.

I wonder if I’ll do it really.  I have been so spiritually and physically indolent, lazy, immobilized, stuck, blocked…  There is something (invisible to me) that stands in my way. I should do a journey and take a look at it. Notice the use of the word should.

We had a small visit with old friends yesterday, coming together to comfort each other after the loss of a dear person. And I was kind of worried that it would be awkward and sad. During my morning meditation, a Rune popped out of the bowl I keep them in, and I thought… OK… a message from Spirit, or Saskia, or the Gods, or my Guides… someone has something to say. But then, I got busy on the phone, and totally forgot to look it up.

The visit with friends turned out to be amazing. It was a celebration of life and love. We laughed, we told stories, we connected in such a profound way. It felt like a coming home to a part of my tribe that I hadn’t seen in years. My daughter had to have been there, in spirit, because it wasn’t a feeling of loss. More of a feeling of love, like she was right there in the midst of us, laughing along with us, and really enjoying herself.

On my way back home, I was stunned by how happy I felt, how at peace, how relaxed and opened up my heart was. And I was wondering… how is this possible? My daughter died, and my heart isn’t broken into pieces… instead it feels like it’s expanded and opened up in a completely different way than I have ever experienced.

So then, this morning, I thought. I wonder what that Rune had to say. So I looked it up. Here are the best parts of what I read this morning:

Uruz, Strength, The Wild Ox.

The Rune of terminations and new beginnings, drawing Uruz indicates that the life you have been living has outgrown its form. That form must die so that new energy can be released in a new form. This is a Rune of passage…

Prepare, then, for opportunity disguised as loss. It could involve the loss of someone or something to which you have an intense emotional bond, and through which you are living a part of your life, a part that must now be retrieved so you can live it out for yourself. In some way, that bond is being severed, a relationship radically changed, a way of life coming to an end. Seek among the ashes and discover a new perspective and new strength…

Uruz puts you on notice that your soul and the universe support the new growth…

And of course now, I want to call her and tell her all about it… so a little teary eyed with that, but of course I don’t have to call her and tell her because she knows, she was there! But it would be so nice to talk to her about it…

So, my daughter died. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastatingly final. Not ready to blog about that quite yet. However, during my morning meditation, I asked for someone to talk to me… my guides, angels, the powers that be, my daughter, my mother, my father… didn’t matter who… I was just looking for some sort of communication from beyond the physical.

And I sat with myself for … I don’t know… however long and nothing. Just round and round about stuff I needed to do today, stuff I did yesterday… miscellaneous brain bullshit. Feeling overwhelmed by all the work of dealing with the aftermath of a loss in the family… so much more on my plate now that I’m having to really be there and present for us all.

And then it was time to move along with the morning. But as I was walking out of the room, I looked down and there was a rune stone on the floor in front of the door. How it got way over there I have NO CLUE. It wasn’t there yesterday or the day before, and I hadn’t gotten them out for almost a week…

So… Wow! Communication from beyond the physical.

Here’s the message:

The rune was Algiz. The rune of Protection, Sedge or Rushes, the Elk. The metaphysical message of this rune is as follows:

Control of the emotions is at issue here. During times of transition, shifts in life course and accelerated self-change, it is important not to collapse yourself into your emotions, the highs as well as the lows. New opportunities and challenges are typical of this Rune. And with them may come trespasses and unwanted influences.

Algiz serves as a mirror for the Spiritual Warrior, the one whose battle is always with the self. The Warrior’s protection is like the curved horns of the elk, or the warning rustle of the sedge grass, for both serve to keep open space around you.

Remain mindful that timely right action and correct conduct are your only true protection. If you find yourself feeling pain, observe the pain, stay with it. Do not try to pull down the veil and escape from life by denying what is happening. you will progress; knowing that is your protection.

I have a book with a much more in depth and traditional interpretation of runes, and it’s way too long to post here, but some things really spoke to me, here they are:

It is essential that in being ‘connected’ directly with our ‘higher’ (spiritual) Source we have our feet firmly planted on the ground, for unless we are grounded in the practical world in which we are living out our lives we are in danger of becoming unbalanced…

The powerful protective influence of Algiz can be used to put an egg-shaped shield around you and anchor you more firmly to the Earth. Imagine the Rune like a rod or staff in your hand and on which you can rest and feel safe, secure and well grounded. Its force-field around you will act like a shield…. It will protect you on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual…

This rune can help you to find hidden powers to meet any challenge, and center and balance yourself when stressed.

And then there was this:

ALGIZ (also called Elhaz) is a powerful rune, because it represents the divine might of the universe. The white elk was a symbol to the Norse of divine blessing and protection to those it graced with sight of itself. Algiz is the rune of higher vibrations, the divine plan and higher spiritual awareness.

So thank you to the Powers That Be, and the All That Is, and my Guides, Angels, and those in Spirit who love me. That was unexpected, spot on, and just what I needed.

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