Sunday, December 23, 2012

Anything Could Happen

When Y2K was coming, preparing for it was like reliving the tension of my childhood but on steroids. I knew all about needing a plan to stay safe in the face of impending doom. So I canned 600 jars of jams, pickles, fruit and vegetables until my cold room looked like a jewellery case with its row upon row of pretty coloured glass. I also had six months worth of flour, sugar, salt plus canned goods, matches and portable stove fuel. Finally there was an out of control happening where I couldn't be caught off guard.

When January 1, 2000 arrived with business as usual, part of me was disappointed. I saw it as a missed opportunity to gloat about how I had outsmarted people who were stupidly living as if they were in no imminent danger. All I had to show for my fanatical planning was a much smaller grocery bill for the next six months.

I watched the countdown to December 31st this year with detachment combined with occasional bouts of patting myself on the back that I wasn't like those doom sayers  My self- righteousness deflated like a popped balloon when I bumped up, for what felt like the zillionth time, against my fear of not being prepared for whatever might happen next, just a few days before the supposed end of the world.

As part of an ecumenical class gearing up for the coming of light we were asked to sit in complete darkness for ten minutes before lighting a candle. Once I shut off the lamp in my office and stuffed the chinks of light coming through the crevices I was left in a blackness that took me right back to childhood. I strained to make out shapes of things in the room just as I did as a child. Back then I would work myself up into such a state until I became convinced that not only had the chair across the room moved but so had the creepy person I imagined my clothes had morphed into as well. I couldn't even run for help because I believed the Beagle Boys lived under my bed and only came out of their trapdoor at night. No way was I going to risk one of them reaching out to grab my ankle as they broke free from their prison.

So when eerie images began to form as I sat in the dark a few nights ago, I asked myself why was I scared of the dark. "Because in the dark anything could happen and I won't see it coming." Not exactly what I thought the darkness would reveal to me.

The tension between who I was as a child, who I am now, and who I have yet to become feels taut in these moments as I`m catapulted back to being a 9 year old girl with a vivid imagination in the dark.

When my Zen timer (oh, the irony) made its Buddha bowl sound I lit my candle and it`s glow grew to illuminate a photo on my desk of my parents and Dearest One. I felt comforted to be among people whose faces shine with love for me. I didn't always feel that way.

My mother was the proverbial boogie man of my childhood. I never knew when she would morph into something as scary as the clothes on my chair in the dark, verbally, emotionally or physically lashing out with such randomness and without predictability. I could never figure out as a child if she loved me and I stood before her closed bedroom door on many a Sunday morning trying to get up the nerve to knock and ask timidly, "Do you love me?" I never got up the courage to go past raising my fist a hairbreadth`s away from my parents` unfinished wooden door. It was a question that hung in the air for decades.

So I find there is a tension as well between the mother I grew up with and the one I have now and the unknown one I will have as she continues to age. The woman who I today, without a doubt, know loves me. The woman who was the source of my greatest fear as a child was the one who comforted me the most in the illuminated darkness this week. 

If that isn't a sign of hope I don't know what is. 



Peter said...

Courage and forgiveness in abundance here.

Jim said...

To my way of thinking, we actually are always in darkness, never with a handle on what the next step might bring, never really knowing the answers to all our questions. We are given His "anchor-line" and those around us for the journey. Good that you have your mother. Good that she has you.....

Daisy said...

As ever, I love your candidness, Hope. I'm glad that you know you are loved; so so good.


tina hunt said...

I have commented several times in recent years that I'm not sure who this scrabble playing buddy is. She's certainly isn't the boozer that raised me. In fact she was so proud whenI was there in August that she hadn't had any alcohol for three months. It's been so fun to watch her blossom. I can't bear to consider losing that.

annie said...

Beautiful, Hope. Our mothers have so much power over us, don't they?

We've been in the country a lot over the holidays. I love it there, but I don't know if I will ever have the courage to stay there overnight alone. The darkness brings out the worst in my imagination.