Tag Archives: recovery

The Threshold

from Osho Zen Tarot deck

 I remembered the card differently. I had seen it so often long ago when desperate for direction I would search the deck to find my way. Recently I bought the Zen Tarot deck again, not so much for the wishing as for the beautiful symbolism in the cards.

In my mind I saw a child standing at an open door ready to take a step out of the confines of his life. Imagine my surprise in finding the gate padlocked in this card I had seen so many times! It wasn’t a card to signify moving forward but a card signifying the feeling of being trapped, locked out of a life he couldn’t reach. It was the nightmare of those years as I grieved my “failure” to be able to find the way to succeed in the marriage that had ended. The years of trying had all but erased the person I once was, still colouring outside the lines but recognized as having worth in circles of friendship, in my studies, and in my workplace. The torn pieces of hope were roughly bound together in a crooked effigy of living.

Such a contrast between that time of breaking a decade and a half ago and the breaking I have been passing through in the past months! This also began with grief as the words of another with power to do so walled me out of my passionate dream celebrated in the past years, lived in the present and anticipated for the future until retirement.

But each breaking had done its work of cleaning more of the uneven growth that had effected my ability to walk with steadiness through the stormy moments of life. Over a decade has passed since the day a short film allowed me to give myself permission to not be able to communicate with someone who chose not to communicate with me. I began to accept what I would later read in a book by Parker Palmer. My life was speaking who I was meant to be. What I counted as my successes and my failures illuminated the reality of who I was within. Decades of trying began to be unwound as I spoke the “No” in my spirit that was the beginning of a renewed, more vibrant “Yes” to life.

Though each break was a labyrinth in itself, my life has been a labyrinth of searching for that way out of the confines created by my anxious desire to please and the inability to feel good enough for the ones who held power in my life. The card showed me something I had not realized. That short film had been the centre, the revelation which would begin my return journey.

This moment I had interpreted as the beginning of the labyrinth return journey was something more. I had been on a spiralling movement for years, getting caught in the circling yet ever moving outward to a more expansive life. This moment is not a beginning of the return but a wider circle in the spiral drawing me to a place where I could see the threshold, the exit into a fuller living. 

Only, this time, the chains that held the gate shut are missing and the gate has swung open inviting me to take those final steps.

photograph by L.J.A.

Only in My Mind3 – AB2post

Is it Only in My Mind – The Darkness recedes (Alberta)

Caught up in circles confusion is nothing new
Flashback, warm nights almost left behind
suitcases of memories
Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time

Twenty-seven years ago this month, the me-that-was succumbed to the call of the dark and fell into a depression. All the protective layers stripped from my religion except my belief in God. It was in the broken that the most hope was found. The broken were not so tied into their masks that they could not speak encouraging words into the soul. The broken had found strong enough hands to hold on so that together we could begin to climb. But they lived in one town and I in another so when therapy ended, so did what we could share.

I found my way in the place I was. Now that my youngest was the age for nursery school, I could participate in a project looking at learners at risk and how styles of learning might affect their ability to read. The opening sessions on how we learn were illuminating. I found out that on many of the scores I scored more like the at risk learners than like the teachers. When it came to measures of what was then called right and left brain thinking, or better seen as linear vs global thinking, I was a table and a half further to the global then any of the others. That I was not able to put things in the structured expectations of my world was a factor of how I was made, not an obstinacy.

And yet, I was less than .1 under a 4.0 average when I finished university and a low A average when I finished high school. I was excited realizing that since they wanted to match at risk learners with similar learning styles in tutors, I had something to offer. The person I was had value just as I was in the world I now found myself living in.

The project began with opening interviews. At mine, I was told that they didn’t think I fit the project and they wouldn’t need me. I just didn’t do well in the opening sessions. At that time in my life, I was fighting for life so I had the desperation to stand up for me. I told them. “You are wrong. I am exactly what you need!”

I went on to discuss what I had observed, how the methods used to teach the sessions were exactly like those used in classes at school so, of course, someone like me, that continued to rank in the test categories of at risk learners would not respond in the ways of the others who matched more with the students who were more able to succeed in school. The sessions, like school were directed to certain types of learners. I had learned to cope with that and still succeed in school. Their premise was to match learning styles of the at risk individual and the tutor. If I was not included in the project then there would be a wide range of students with no matches.

I must have convinced them because they kept me in the program.

To accommodate my parenting, I tutored students grade 1 and 2 in the school where my youngest had her preschool classes. I would drop her off in class and then head down the hall to pick up my students. The three young children I got to know in those months became important mentors in my future teaching as their separate needs pushed me outside all the boxes I knew in order to help them learn. I took a correspondence university course on what was then called “Learning disabilities”, read veraciously, and let myself explore within asking myself what things I had done to get past a teaching system that was so different from the learner I was.

The directors of that session not only later told me I was right, they had me lead a session about exploring alternate teaching routes for those students at highest risk, they bought me the 52 cardstock poster boards I needed to draw out the letters large enough for one child to walk them in order to learn. They even invited me to be one of the participants to write a letter to the government about the project. The person I was with all the differences that to the school system could make someone like me seem broken had value.

I became a Brownie leader, taught some voice lessons in school, led children’s musicals and led a group of rowdy junior high students with drama as a venue to reach beyond their barriers to help them grow. I began to become a person with value in the community. A monologue I wrote even became a part of more than one Christmas celebration.

The more I became a part of the community, the more unhappy my husband grew in his position at the church and he began pushing to move somewhere else. So when the opportunity came to move to Winnipeg, I was at a place to believe I had it in me to rebuild a life in a new place – I had done so after a suicidal depression even while still struggling with the residuals, I could do it again.