Comforting Words: Angels among Us

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Angels among Us

Days Six and there was hardly any food in my stomach, my eyes were swollen from endless crying and I was drunk.

If ever there was a week from hell, I was living in it.

Floundering between being absolutely lost and not knowing what was to happen next and being positive that this was a cruel dream, I finally reached for a bottle of wine that should have been our contribution to Thanksgiving Dinner with the gay couple that lives a few blocks from our apartment.

It was the Friday after A, our daughter, had come over to share a Thanksgiving Dinner and to celebrate her upcoming 19th birthday with us.  My nerves were shattered and clear thoughts were impossible. While I was trying ever so valiantly to be all that a friend should be – fully present, supportive and honest, yet compassionate, in my speech – what I needed most was a friend.  The bottle of Merlot was the only smiling face that I could see.

Drinking alcoholic beverages is not one of my favourite pastimes.  As a child, my cousin and I had the ‘pleasure’, every second Friday, of having to go to the bar at the corner of Washington Boulevard and West Main Drive in Kingston, Jamaica. Our mission was to retrieve her father’s salary before the bar maid could.

Memories of the behaviour of too many drunken men kept me away from alcohol but the need to stop thinking, the need to stop feeling, the need to be what it seems was necessary – cold, unforgiving and uncompromising – was more compelling.

Rewind to Saturday, October 7 – the day before the bottom of my world fell out and took me down with it.

The turkey was now ready to be ‘seasoned’ and my partner was busy at the kitchen counter mixing spices to rub on the almost ten pounds of bird.  The aroma was wonderful as she was also making stock, using various herbs that I can hardly identify. I was sitting at the dining table, as usual with the lap top computer before me, sharing with her the details of my search. The scene was perfect and had anyone, stranger or long-time acquaintance entered the room in that moment they would have seen a happy couple.

Friday’s mail had brought an offer from an investment company that had caught my attention.  For years my partner and I had (and to some extent still are) mired in debt that a savings account has not been an option for us.  With the many changes that had occurred in the last say six or so months, we could begin to not only contemplate but actually take some steps to securing our financial future.

Blessings come in mixed bags and on the heels of my partner’s graduation from Chef training; she landed a fairly decent position with benefits, which lifted a major portion of our worries. Then our daughter’s graduation from high school and her decision to live on her own had freed us of much of the responsibility of food, shelter and clothing for her. I had also completed my one-year CPE Residency and full time course load for my Masters in Theological Studies, so was now able to seek full time employment. This search had landed me a position that, albeit part-time, pays reasonably well and held the promise of extension.

With more money, not a massive amount but more than we have had for a few years now, and with the direct stress of child-rearing reduced, my partner and I made plans to bring into our lives and relationship activities to enrich the rest of our years on Earth. We were in a good place or so I thought.

So there I sat at the computer telling her, as she did the ‘prep’ for this extra special Thanksgiving Dinner, about this investment offer and the information I was finding on the Internet on retirement planning.  Feeling satisfied with the offer, we signed the forms and a cheque for a small amount to open a new joint investment account. It was not much but it was a start and it was the first of our almost sixteen-year relationship.  More important, it was to be our nest egg.

Feeling pretty good about us and how our lives were evolving, Saturday ended on a good note.  Come Sunday, we were up and about fairly early.  Our daughter had called asking for a ride from the train station and just a few minutes before heading out to pick them up, my partner and I got into a discussion about our relationship.  

For the life of me, I cannot recall now exactly what started that discussion or what it was about. My only recollection is that I had to leave in the middle of it and as I drove to pick up A and her boyfriend my stomach was in a knot.

Thanksgiving Dinner was wonderful and our daughter and her boyfriend were out within two hours. I had not re-entered the apartment fully before I was saying, “Let’s finish talking about that stuff babes.”  Maybe I should not have, maybe I should have let the sleeping dog lie.

What followed was a startling revelation of resentment and inability to let go of the past – mistakes that were made as far back as ten and even fifteen years ago. At the root of most of these mistakes, if not all, was my history of childhood abuse and suffering, parental neglect, my deep-seated shame and fear of abandonment.

Now, triggered by my recent requests to nip in the bud a situation that I noticed occurring with a ‘friend’, my partner decided she had had enough. The picture of a brighter world, one in which we were stepping into a new phase of togetherness, shredded right before my eyes.  

From the moment of that revelation of a long overdue (thank God) truth and with it the announcement that we were over, my spiral into darkness was a non-stop journey.  Questioning every step, every word and every action that either of us have made, uttered or done for the last year (the time since we made our last recommitment ‘vows’) and without any answers to assuage her soul pain or mine, my trip ended with two bottles of wine in less than twenty hours.

A late night meeting with a minister and friend on Friday (October 13) had helped but not enough to bridge the ever-widening gap and life-chocking tension. Copious tears were flowing on both of our parts. My school and professional assignments came to an abrupt halt with me canceling all appointments and seriously contemplating calling the college to withdraw from my new programme.

I felt I could talk to no one.  This I had to figure out on my own with God’s help but She was not coming fast enough.

Laying on my bed in the darkened room with the second bottle of wine almost done on the night table, the little part of my brain that was operative mulled over ways to get back at my partner for what I felt was deceit, on her part and indiscretion on the part of this friend. I also came up with ideas that felt like suitable punishment for me – for my stupidity and, more so, for my failure to heal my past before it ruined my relationship with the best person that ever happened to me.  I needed someone or, better yet, a few persons to blame. The truth is – in my drunken stupor – the heaviest portion of the blame was laid at my own feet.  

Then God entered the room – or at least I finally felt Her Presence. She came via the telephone.

In my despair, I refused to answer or return telephone calls. My dear friend (and I will now use her name instead of initial, yes without permission but she deserves to be named) Ann had been calling me since the day after Thanksgiving. I did not call her back because I needed to be left alone.

In the deepest moment of my despair, I felt myself reaching for the telephone and dialing her number.  She answered on the second ring – I was counting.

“Hello?”

“Ann, it’s me.”

“What’s wrong Claudette?” she immediately asked.

That was all I needed to hear.  Do not ask me whether it was her words or the sound of her voice that told me she knew my pain and desperation.  All I know is that it all came gushing out of me. And as she listened, I could feel arms going around me, holding me close and then I heard her saying, “May I pray?”

She has a special way of praying and as she did I knew everything would turn out as it should. I did not understand the words she was saying but they felt good.

Later, she took me through the paces, carrying me on the journey to my deepest wounds, gently picking at the hard scabs that had formed and then she handed me some special tissue – made of my own heart fiber – to daub the oozing muck.

Then she prayed again. I did not see the exact moment that the clouds lifted.  I could not tell you how the sun got into my room although the heavy velvet curtains were tightly drawn. All I know is an angel, Ann, was on the phone and my life had been given back to me.

Our conversation ended with Ann saying to me, “Claudette, I love you. You are a beautiful Child of God, don’t you ever forget that. You are a woman of dignity, strength, power and love and don’t you accept anything else. I will not allow you.”

Who could argue with that?

I know this has been a long post and I know it has taken a while to get to the point – which is – in your darkest moment, when you think all is lost and that you are a sorry son/daughter of a bitch, remember you are a Child of God. Also remember that She is the only Power and Presence in this universe that is required to forgive, to heal and to bless you.  She will always love you as you are.

Also, never forget that there are angels among us.  I know because I have one a phone call away.

Ann, I love you too and I thank you.  You are truly a Wounded Healer.  I know because I am one too.

Thank you my friend.

Blessings,

Claudette









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