Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A short story

The sun is just about to splash into the turquoise.  

It is that moment where the last glowing sliver disappears, leaving a sky streaked with coral and golden hues.  I hear the waves hit, and the see the sparkling foam fanning out upon the sand, the gulls skittering upon the surface.  I want to paint this picture so vividly in my mind’s eye that I can not forget it.  I want to hold the moment, to keep this small perfect picture indelible, and retrievable.  Because in this time around the wheel, it seems that much of my sojourn has already been forgotten, never to return...and there is no one to ask.

My husband has many holders of his history.  We are surfside, sitting at a dinner with friends of his childhood, their parents, his own parents.  I am surrounded by their love and laughter, I am embraced and lifted up by it, and yet I am an outsider to all these stories.  Like watching a favorite movie, it is familiar and heartwarming, but it is not my story, and a slice of me sits in abject sorrow and loneliness, for I have no one who can tell me about myself as a girl.

How pathetic and narcissistic to allow this barbed coil of wretchedness any place in my awareness.   Yet there it is.   It is a truth, and I feel less whole because of it.  

No brother or sister, parents dead, never really close with extended family,  a childhood of Air Force relocations, acquaintances remembered, but no lasting friends from those years.   Yes, I have rediscovered on Facebook some friend from high school days.  But the parts of my life that can be shared and remembered in any meaningful way start in college.  If I can’t recall some detail, Teidi or Kelly or Lisa or David will.  I can salvage those parts of my self through their collective net of consciousness, and I cherish those enduring bonds.  

But what I can’t remember from when I was 5 or 9,  12 or 16, when we lived in Oklahoma or Germany or North Carolina, these pieces of me have fallen into a space that, like an anchor laid down at the bottom of the sea, remains unreachable, unfathomable.  Alone, I can not hoist that ballast, or beckon back memories obscured by the tides of time.

Feeling at once forlorn and foolish, I rise from the table before the tears are seen and find my way to the restroom.   I gaze into green eyes, noting with some chagrin the creases of my crows feet, moist as I struggle with this pain. 

Stop it. 

No, don’t stop it. 

Breathe into it.

Feel it for what it is and let the knowing move through you. 

How interesting, this grasping at the past, this idea that what came before is so vital.  The experience and remembrance of a Me through time feels so necessary  to knowing who I am now, to being my authentic self.

But is it really that important after all? 

As a psychotherapist, day after day I hear the life stories of others.  I bear witness to the pain and struggle.  I accept, validate, and ultimately try to help my clients move beyond their self-limiting beliefs and habits, to transform the sadness, fear and anger that keeps them mired in the past, or paralyzed by fear of the future.  

In essence, healing happens in the moment of release from the often-told life story and the endless editorializing and criticizing.  Freedom lies in the ability to be fully alive to the present moment, accepting it as it is without expectation or judgment.  Well-being exists in embracing the process of mindful awareness of here-and-now.  We grow in connectedness to others and feel the evolutionary impulse when we move beyond the constraints of ego -  me, my history, my story - and instead notice what is shared and essential in the experience of humanity.

I walk back to the table and feel connected once again.  We all were children once.  As were our parents, and theirs before them, and further, and beyond to the differentiation of species, and all the way back to the creatures crawling from water to land, farther back to only water, the changed yet same water now holding the hiding sun until it begins its arc again across the brightening sky.

All I really need to know is known.  If I have breath when the sun rises, I will have all I need.





  1. Feel as if I have been on that TALL swing with rubber seat at the MPPC playground, me as a child arcing high in the sky and back and pumping harder as I did when angry and crying to the wind that I created when I felt left out... then letting it go and coming to rest and knowing that it is the here and now and then is gone. Thanks Kathy!

    1. That was beautifully expressed Miss Frances! Thank you for that. I want to reach out and give you a big old hug and buy you s beer.