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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The best things in life are not things

Further to my last post I find myself forced to look more closely at my own capacity for violence, for abusive, manipulative and intimidatory behaviour. I recall with the shame the moments when I have chosen the easy option of repeating the behaviours forced into me as a child rather than the more difficult and rewarding path of taking responsibility for how I am and choosing to make the good overrule the bad.

My body tells me that this struggle is never ending as I pace a silent early morning house unable to tell where the screaming comes from or if it is audible to others. I feel the noise as a slicing sensation, weasels ripping my flesh, scalpels turning me into sashimi. Sometimes I realise I have let out an audible moan or squeak or if I have managed to stay asleep for more than a few hours I burst awake unable to breathe, my lungs too full to get any air in and too paralysed to let any out. Fortunately this has happened enough that I can disguise the appearance of it if I wake anyone as I drown, clasping my neck and gulping ineffectively for - I don't know what - it's air of course, oxygen, nourishment, sustenance but more it's a desperate desire to be seen but not hurt to be loved but not smothered to live feeling free and safe.

So I lie there perhaps clawing at my neck, my back arched, my face a rictus smile of need knowing that unless I help myself I will die. I wake in a house where I am coccooned from reality by the warm embrace of my wife and daughters' love and over time the terror recedes and I can reassemble myself to pass for normal for every hour that I feel compelled to leave the house.

And then reality bites, every car journey involves encounters with angry aggressive motorists competing for their space on the road to nowhere, their need to get to their destination 37 minutes late rather than the 41 it will be if they drive as if other people matter. The streets of Sydney are lined with beggars, junkies, broken arses and backpackers smirking when I will not sign up to give monthly direct transfers to support charities they've worked for for four days. Yes, I say, I have worked 14 paid hours in the last eleven years - you're welcome to all of that money. I worked for charitable trusts for the last eight years of my career you're welcome to the difference between their wage rates and what I could have earned if I'd remained a seat-warmer in a government department. Take, I say, the $A11.50 an hour I earned as a residential care worker at an adolescent rehab centre along with the dysfunctional management team and the constant abuse and occasional death threats - you're welcome to all of it - spend it well. And I smile and nod my way through the day dreading the arrival of night when my family one by one falls asleep and the people I e-know are busy or offline so I must calculate the balance of coffee and whisky and how loud the music can be so it disturbs no one else and do I go to Coogee for dawn and feel the sand abrade my feet and draw me home into the earth and the wind come off the water and the waves play and tease with their ever changing shapes and patterns and the light, the dawn bringing warmth, illumination, safety to the day and where the sea meets the land but before the land turns into property and I remember Peter's rules for approaching the sea and I recall a song my children sing "the earth is our mother, she will take care of us" and the sea a fickle lover and demanding parent reminds me it is there and on the edge there are bits of building and of ceramic and glass and other gifts given by the sea and remnants of what has been taken - and I recall people taken, and with the city at my back and the sea facing me and the light increasing I stare loss and loneliness in the face and know that it is all right that there is pain and with it joy and the sea takes my howls and my screaming and lifts it from me and in its passion and fury it washes me clean and from the loss comes the the reminder yes they are gone and you don't have them but remember they are here and they were there you did have them so think on what you got what they gave and how the world is a better place and you are a better person for having known them and so go now clean and strong back to the city and wrap your loss in a blanket of forgiveness and joy thank you for your tears the sea is a better place for them thank you for your howling the wind is stronger and cleaner for it and as the rising sun lifts the light off your wet cheeks it is brighter fresher so thank you for all that is good and bad about you and thank you and thank us for being ourselves we will always be here think on Michael and his ho'oponopono chant and in your forgiveness allow in other's forgiveness and as the sand appears later on and out of your clothes remember that the sea and the edge always remain and always change - come again soon and surrender to the sky your heart of anger.

1 comment:

merc said...

I love this post. Synchronistically I wrote a little thing maybe on this just a few minutes or so ago.
The paradox the sea is Mother and Devourer.