Monday, March 5, 2012

At Least for Now

I am nine years old.  My daddy and his companion, my brother and me are on a camping trip.  My father has been very persuasive against my stepfather's complaints and excuses about why I shouldn't go. I am, after all, his daughter when it suits him. I hold no bitterness as we drive through the border to Canada and find a landing from which to launched our canoe for an all day paddle to the farthest away, untouched beach we can find.  I am little, so I don't have to paddle. I revel in this time of rest- my body wracked by the constant labor beneath my stepfather.   I lay on the bottom of the canoe on a blanket with the dog and watch tree tops come and go, some reaching down to tickle the waters edge.  The shore ripples with laughter in these places and sometimes a frog will leap or a fish will break the surface after a gnat, and the hilarity is all the more. I think nature has a sense of humor and beauty and all of these creatures are so much more than the inferior lifeforms that school teaches us about.  For the first time in my life I am at perfect rest and supreme peace.  I wish we could glide forever in this pointed vessel.  Life up until now, endured mostly with my mother and stepfather has been toxic and I have indeed, been poisoned.  None of that matters in this pristine moment.

The water hastens from each stroke of a paddle and slaps the sides of the boat as my brother and my father find a rhythm.  My brother, usually sullen, is almost smiling within his meditative regard.  My father's girlfriend, whom I love like a mother, is humming to herself and my father chuckles and remarks that she can't carry a note in a bucket.  She swats at him and he pretends to mistakenly splash her with his paddle.  Their laughter is music, not too loud, and perfect for dancing along through serene waters. We all settle back into our minds' daydream creations.  I think about that saying, can't carry a note in a bucket. I have never heard that before.  My dad is a smart man. 

The aluminum of the canoe captures the echoed brisling din of landing.  The sand is Earth's hands holding our vessel fast.  The dog stirs and skitters about until he receives the command from my father to jump ship.  He is frenzied as he hits the water, running in great Irish Setter strides along the shore. My father lives in a city.  I have never seen the dog unleashed and the energy of his joy is contagious as we all unfurl our cramped bodies and abandon ship with our bare feet and rolled up pants.  The water is a tepid bath for our slipshod feet.  The sand is a masseuse.  The sun is a warm embrace that welcomes us here.  The promise of a week here, in this paradise, is the antidote to all things past and the assurance of a better future.

We set about making this place our home.  My father whistles and we all work within his merriment, each instinctively knowing our jobs.  We gather gear from the boat.  My brother and father work together to erect tents.  I gather sticks and dry tinder.  My father's beloved builds a fire pit and ties food to a pulley over a tree branch.  There is not much more daylight left, but we are harmonious in our doings- all is as it should be.

Late at night after our campfire meal and songs accompanied by kazoos, jaw-harps and spoons and a lot of laughter, we take to our tents.  We will not sleep in them.  Instead we drag our sleeping bags near to the shore where the softest sand becomes our cradles.  We have come to see the biggest meteor shower in all of time.  

In the warm embrace of my downy cocoon, I see my first falling star and my breath catches with something more than surprise.  I reach my hand to the sky and wait for the next to fall into my hand.  We are so close to the sky, that many times that night, I capture this miraculous star-stuff and even though I have never been taught religion, I now know there is an absolute being.  I know there is something I cannot see that will bring me strength.  I know that I will some day know how to feel safe.  I know with every cell in my body and every current of my mind that no matter how poisonous my life has been and even though I have no false hope that I will not have to go back to my captor, I will always have the stars. 

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder