My time at the camp was different now. Instead of running away, I was exploring where I stood. Anger often rose to the surface and swirled in a whirlpool of confusion, sometimes releasing into a gentle wave and other times diving back into the depths. I spent time in my kayak, exploring the river outside my door, looking for answers that sometimes appeared with the repetitive motion of my paddle. I felt the pull of the current beneath me, felt connected to the river, to something bigger than myself. My car stood mute, like me, with only the need for work or food strong enough to pull us into motion. But this silence and solitude were by choice. Surprisingly, safety was not a concern. The only threat was of being alone, but I was alone, with no judgments coming from anywhere but my own head. My journal became my best friend. My words absorbed into its fibers, then reflected back at me, sometimes bringing new light and meaning.
Ron and I began to talk more often. I stopped weighing my words when we talked and simply stated what was on my mind. There was nothing to lose since we were already apart. Ron also gradually became more expressive of his thoughts. Some of them hurt. Instead of denying my own participation in the downward flow of our relationship, blaming it all on him, I started to examine my responses in my journal. Anger took the lead. I was the victim! I was the one who had given up so much to keep our lives together, whose pain and stress were pumping blood pressure beyond control. He was the one who walked out each night, who drank to oblivion, who didn’t carry his share of the load, who put us in debt. Eventually the anger eased towards questions. Why couldn’t he stop? Why did he recklessly endanger the family he wanted so badly? Why had I stayed? Why did I willingly take on so much responsibility? Where did the belief that my love could fix everything come from? Why did it never work? What would I do now? The answers would take time to evolve. But I knew the knowledge I needed had been accumulating for a few years now. I had worked through intense fear as I jumped from trees in Project Adventure, and increased my trust in others as well as in myself. Hiking had taken me into the woods that had haunted me my whole life, and I had found peacefulness waiting there. Yoga teacher training had helped me gain acceptance of my body and hidden emotions, and introduced me to my true voice through chanting. Kayaking had launched me into the wonders of the water, and paddling had become my meditation in motion. Walking the Labyrinth had awakened an inner voice and opened a connection to a universal voice of wisdom. And journaling had revealed a major tool for self-exploration and discovery. A tool I needed to put to use.
I wrote about the family I had been born into. Surrounding my resentment, anger, and fear I found perseverance, protection, love, and fear of another sort – my parents’ fear for my safety and well being. I wrote about pain from past relationships. Surrounding my resentment, anger and fear I found my own need to feel worthy of love by fixing someone else’s pain, and my need to feel loved at any the cost. I also caught glimpses of a face that vacillated between my mother’s and my own – the face of a desperate need for love? I wrote about my relationship with Ron. Surrounding resentment, anger and fear I found – once again – the need to feel worthy of love by fixing someone else’s pain. But something else accompanied the fixing this time, and it smelled of control. I also began to recognize my use of anger to control – the practice I had condemned in my father. But here too was perseverance, protection, and love in the complicated mix. Very old wounds bled onto the paper, but, as my mother had taught me, bleeding can cleanse the wound and fresh air can aid the healing. Growing understanding cleared space for that air. And the ointment of growing forgiveness – towards my parents, towards Ron, and towards myself, started to calm infectious fears.
To be continued…..