(I wrote this as I was waiting in the airport before catching my flight to the UK)
It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve felt emotionally and physically exhausted. Drained. Nothing left. My last post might perhaps have given some small clues as to my state of mind – imaginary Munchkins, Wizards and Tin Men have all been ‘the norm’ in my daily life of late. Popping up at the most peculiar moments, reminding me that perhaps I haven’t got everything sorted – that all may not be as it seems. They seem to be goading me to reassess my decisions. To check my chosen pathway, as well as the method by which I am travelling along my very own yellow brick road.
Just the other morning, for example, as I absent-mindedly opened the fridge to look for the sugar (yup, I told you I am tired!) I was greeted by Dorothy’s mocking Scarecrow, his head tilted to one side and finger-waggling “Hmmm… intelligence, it would seem, comes in all forms. So do you REALLY think your brain’s working properly, Mel? Do you really think you’re capable of running a successful business?”
And then a few hours later, screeching in shock as an enormous spider scuttled from a crack in the stone wall and over my desk to trap a fluttering moth, I heard the Lion right behind me “Put em up! Put em up! I can fight it with both hands behind my back! You think you’ve done it all, do you? We’ve only just begun, Mel – so where’s your metal?” I might have made it through the past year and a bit and now the business is really taking off – but do I REALLY have the strength to keep my cool… to see things through… to really succeed and live the life of my dreams?
And as for having a heart… well… I’ve even had times when I’ve doubted that as well over the past few days. “Let go!” “Let it be!” “Trust!” “You DO deserve the best!” have all been the kindly reassurances from friends and family who know the ridiculous emotional turmoil I’ve created for myself at the moment, through nothing at all but my own vivid imagination. “So you think they’re all going to be the same do you? Perhaps you need to open your heart to find the good again before you blind yourself forever and never recover” says the Tim Man, a tear forming in his eye as he contemplates my plight.
And all the time those bloody Munchkins are reminding me that there’s no way back. That I have to continue. That there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That I’ve started so I must finish – and all those other glib clichés that at times, frankly, really piss me off!
Because for the past few days, wherever I’ve gone, whatever I’ve done, I’ve been struggling to find peace. The Harpies of last year seem to have been circling again. The thunder has been rumbling in the background. And the air has been hanging heavy with the invisible threat of danger. And so the self-torture has gone on. And on. And on.
And you know what? I’ve KNOWN that I’m doing it. And I’ve also known that I’ve been doing iteven as things are continuing to get better! I’ve been slapping down my successes, questioning their validity and doubting my achievements! How utterly crazy is that?
Last year I could easily have forgiven myself for sleepless nights and a crazy haze of despair. After all, I had real-life battles to fight. I had to survive. Fight my way through an ever increasing set of threats to my very existence. So yes, it would have been perfectly OK to feel this way – then. But now I've made it through - I've survived. And that’s the point. It would have been OK then, but it’s NOT OK now. How very dare I feel this way now?
Ha. And there it is. The self-critical button. The key that sets the cycle off once again.
Because, real or not, the battles I’m now facing are inner battles. Inner questions based on the massive progress I’ve made. The ‘gap’ if you like between what I’ve achieved through pushing on regardless, and the truth of a depleted self-worth that questions whether I will actually be able to carry it off. See it through. Deliver on promises. Or will I fall and let everyone down and, therefore, prove my critics right?
Is this what it’s like to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder? I don’t know. But I do know that whatever it is, it’s really quite debilitating – far more so than the real battles I’ve faced and won. Because now the enemies are invisible. Now the threats are in my imagination. They taunt me in my sleep. They creep inside my head. They make my skin itch and my tummy turn somersaults.
And I’ve had enough. So today I’ve changed. Today I’ve stated my boundaries. Today I’ve said “STOP!” And I’ve meant it.
Driving to the airport I’ve been listening to some old tracks by Joni Mitchell. When I drove away from the village (leaving Dylan at home and in charge with just the pets for company – a whole new level of trust and maturity for both of us, I can tell you!) it was raining. But as I continued north on the motorway, singing along with Joni about a Big Yellow Taxi, the skies started to clear and the sun came through.“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” we sang, as the cars whooshed and skated over the rain drenched road, throwing up rainbows in front of me.
I looked up to the blue sky and noticed a cloud formation that almost stopped me in my tracks. Of course it was totally subjective, but to me, the clouds were making the shape of a huge kneeling fawn – right there in front of me. It was facing sideways, a huge watchful eye shaped by a hole in the formation through which shone a patch of bright blue sky – clear, strong and most certainly intending me to take notice.
Instantly I was transported back in time to my childhood. Back with both my parents, in the home I loved, basking in the safety of the love and warmth of my family. You see, when I was a small child, I had a small china Bambi ornament. And I believed that this ornament was magic. I would explain to mum and dad (and anyone else who cared to listen) that it could move of it’s own accord – if only we all shut our eyes and believed it to be true. I would demonstrate this as often as possible, carefully placing my Bambi in the middle of the room and urging everyone to cover their eyes. After a count of 10 – sometimes 20 – we would all open our eyes and the Bambi would have disappeared. It was magic!
We would all then search for it, for it would always have found a hiding place. I remember the look of love and indulgence that my Mum and Dad would give me – of course they were behind the “magic” all the time, but to me it was totally real.
One day Bambi went missing. I was convinced it had gone and hidden of it’s own accord, but Mum kept telling me that this time, perhaps, it had gone for good. I would not believe it, and explained my certainty that it would turn up. “Oh, Melanie” she’d say “you are always such an optimist!” I was quite intrigued by that – I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I was pretty sure it was something quite important!
And sure enough, one day, I found my Bambi buried in the gravel on the driveway. Perfectly unharmed. Perfectly whole. And perfectly magic. Triumphant, I took it in to show Mum “Look! Look! I told you Bambi would come back! You see, the magic IS real!”
And today, just by seeing the deer in the cloud formation, I was immediately showered with the same feelings of love, safety and warmth that I remember as a small child before everything changed. Today I felt that love all over again. Today, it’s clear to me that the magic is alive and well.
Because it never had anything to do with either Bambi or my parents’ well-intentioned interventions. No. The real magic was the love that I felt. And today I feel it again. The same today as it was then. I’d just forgotten it, that’s all.
But the love, the magic, exists beyond time and reason – and now that I’m letting it in again, well the magic can begin again. Away with the thought demons, the magic of love is alive and well – and back in my life for good this time.