“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
hast thou ordained strength…”
KJV Psalm 8:2
I passed the entire night in the hinterland between sleep and waking. It is that odd state where the body rests unresisting but the mind wanders down strange pathways, making connections between seemingly random things and finding answers to questions we did not know we needed to ask. Therefore, when I woke, exhausted and feeling rather low, I simply blamed the fitful night.
It had not even occurred to me to take the leaflet that seriously. I don’t like the things, but I am only going to be taking the damnable pills for a short while and adding steroids to the current handful of pills, as opposed to being waltzed off to hospital, seems a far better option. I had them once before for pneumonia and, beyond the usual sleep disruption and digestive problems, I was fine. I simply dislike steroids on principle.
By the time I arrived at my son’s to make his morning coffee, I was feeling lower still and, when I received a surprising and very worrying message about my finances, that was enough to tip me into feeling royally depressed. It was not until much later that I realised the depression was probably chemically induced and not ‘me’ at all. In the meantime, however, I went from bad to worse and spent much of the morning fighting back or giving way to tears.
My son is, by no stretch of the imagination, a babe. On the other hand, he is my junior by some thirty-three years and we have known each other all his life. Over the past few years, given the unusual circumstances, we have learned how to talk to each other at a level that often goes beyond the mother-son relationship and into that of friends. Those discussions have led us deep into the realms of psychology, at both general and personal levels, especially since Nick took conscious control of his inner life and started down a path to greater awareness and understanding of what makes life ‘tick’.
Unsurprisingly, many of our discussions have focussed on his journey. Today, he turned the tables on me. As neatly as any surgeon, he stripped away the veneer, the excuses and justifications we are all able to come up with. He pointed out that the life I have lived, though not always either easy or pleasant, has been lived with a capital ‘L’… the fight or flight response, when it cuts in, always allows us to live at a higher octane and heightens experience. He looked at the passions in my life, referred to the gratitude I have for every experience, good or bad, that has helped me grow or allowed me to be of use with a real understanding. And, after pointing out all the things I am grateful for in my life, managed to sum me up concisely.
He even, and deliberately, said some things I can only take as the ultimate compliments… but which he refused to commit to paper and would probably have to kill me should I repeat them…but which meant an awful lot.
By this time, I was in tears again…for several reasons. Firstly and foremost because I could see just how much he has grown by applying what he has learned to his own life and journey, not just reading about it or knowing the words. Then he spoke of the suit of armour I wear to face the world… armour I have had to build in order to be a partner, daughter, mother and friend. He took it further, suggesting that the armour was not just there to face the world, but to protect the ‘hurt, fragile little girl’ who still lives in me, and who ‘just wants to be loved and cared for.’
We discussed that little girl, because he is right. She is still there. We spoke about her in some depth and honesty. I denied that I needed to forgive her when he suggested that might be the case. There was nothing to forgive, I had realised long ago that the little girl had no reason to feel guilty. We had already agreed that as we grow, we do the best we can with who we are at the time and that hindsight sees events differently, and with a wider view, than the person we were when we experienced them.
“That little girl we are talking about in the third person?” he said. “You need to forgive her for feeling that guilt.” And as I write that, the tears come again… because he is right.
It doesn’t take much sometimes, just a few words, rightly placed, can open what you thought was a proverbial can of worms and show you that it was empty all along. It is seldom a Big Thing that changes a person’s perspective for the better. Life is made up of chains of tiny things, pearls and pebbles strung together, that heal or hurt. This was one of the pearls and without the imposed depression, the tears and utter negativity with which I had faced the day, it would never have happened.
I wandered to the shop to pick up a few things for Nick and the dog, so deep in thought that it was not until later that I realised I seemed to have been charged ten pounds less than expected for my purchases. It is a tiny amount, compared to the problems I will have to sort out after that message, but it is also a tangible reminder that the universe has a way of giving us what we need, even if we do not get what we think we want. Trust in the rightness of life goes a long way.
It was not until I was obliged to lift something heavy that I realised the third gift the universe had given me this morning. For months I have been unable to lift so much as a cup without horrid pain from an RSI… the lousy steroids I had been cursing must have taken the inflammation away, completely, and with it the pain, even from all the other dodgy joints. You truly do not know what you have until it is gone… and being free of pain after so long, even temporarily, is wonderful.
And as three is a magic number, it was no surprise when a Raven, displaying white feathers under its wings, landed in the tree beside us with an astonishing aerial display, cawing and clicking fit to burst.
What had begun in darkness and depression became a morning of gifts and gratitude. Although the depression continues, now that I know its true source, I can only be grateful for the opportunity it has opened for me to see a little clearer. We can never really tell whether any event may be good or bad until we are able to step away from it and see it from a different perspective and then, the very darkness that descends from time to time serves only as a foil against which we can see the light.