Comfort & Joy
Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope balance and peace are showing up between the mad dashes and crammed moments that this time of year brings. I did not attempt to complete over half of the cooking and baking I usually crank out, because a higher priority has risen to the top of my Yuletide list.
Since Santa forgot to pack that for me in his toybag, I guess it is up to me to secure a version of it… which brings me back to the writing. Even if there is no reader, this process always bring me back to who and where I am. So let’s get at it!
I feel I must quickly summarize the past couple months in order to set the context of why I am begging for sanity today. Here are the highlights:
5 European countries in 25 days – Thank you Ireland for introducing Guinness into my life and reminding me of my paternal grandfather who would take out his fiddle just for fun on Sunday afternoons. A steady nod to Scotland for being so friendly and fun, and for serving up the best curry, ever. Germany, I could walk through your vineyards and countryside daily, but would it be possible to get my 10 euros back from that grumpy clerk in the Christmas store who did not believe she had shorted me the proper change? Hah! Now England, forget about that time I wrote you a letter, in response to the vehicle congestion tickets you gifted me and my rental car the last time I visited. I am happy to report, the train IS a much better option when exploring London, so perhaps I was a bit hasty in my declaration of never returning. I may come back a third time. And Italy, well… your art, cuisine and history are quite extrodinary but I am eternally grateful for the majestic, maroon, patten shoes I was able to stuff into my already full suitcase.
THE Book Launch! – Yes, Finding HER Stuff is published and it was an utmost pleasure to share that special moment with so many lovely folks who have walked this healing journey with me. I am humbled by the support and encouragement, but mostly I am wildly excited about the chance to provide a fundraising and awareness platform for a local non-profit that works with victims of abuse. A portion of sales from every book goes directly to this important work, so if you do not already have your copy, click the link above.
I love my job. Policing doesn’t have many perks. Shiftwork, thankless files, discerning public and intersecting with people on their very worst day… well, it can be an absolute life drain. I feel fortunate to be working with youth again, setting a foundation for their resilience and hope, and potentially growing a positive relationship between communites where officers are not trusted or welcome. It is not a place where immediate results are known, so I trust the work that begins in a classroom, pays off when that student or parent is confident to reach out if their safety feels compromised.
Celebrate good times, am I right? This is joy. This is the harvest after setting out postive intentions, working hard, and seeing each day through to completion. This is a ‘best’ life. This is the stuff that gets plastered on social media newsfeeds to show the rest of the planet our amazing lives. You can almost smell the ‘but’ descending onto the page… so I am not going to drop one. Instead, I will say something else.
And, there are more than joyful encounters tallying within this life-scope. Fear, pain, and shame still consume more moments than I care to describe, and at the risk of damaging some currently delicate relationships with a public outcrying from my soul, or breaking the confidentiality I have been instructed to keep, I shall simply say this:
The ‘work’ continues on my relationships with adult children who cycle through scrutinizing, questioning and blaming my past and present words and actions. I know they have been pre-conditioned to believe this is an acceptable form of practice toward their mother, and perhaps have every right to project their frustration and struggle onto the person who did not protect them from conflict while growing up. And yes, I realize they do not have the luxury to safely be angry at their other parent who deals out rejection like a drug, withholding acceptance, so like addicts they come begging for it. Frankly, I understand the lashing out, the harsh words, the narrowing of their eyes when I attempt to express my heart. Intangible memories tell them I cannot be trusted, even thirteen emancipated years later. Has it been that long? Yes.
An old fight has come calling for my attention. Because of its delicate nature and the ambiguous outcome, I am not able to disclose any further details. My goal in surfacing this historic hurt, was initially to mitigate the potential for further harm to befall me or anyone else with similar vulnerbilites. I thought I had gotten over and through this incident, forgiving myself for not being able to predict it as an outcome, and then managing myself to avoid a possible next time… until someone poked the bear. An injustice awoke in me that now has taken two and a half years to wade through. Being given a seemingly neutral outcome recently, I am left to decide: Keep fighting for an effective and more appropriate action, or let it go. I have been here before. Peering down a dark and uncharted road, certain of only one thing… my weariness.
So, there it is. Life, splitting the earth below me once again; This constant divide between what I want to step toward and what pulls me away from it. My balance is off… way off… and I am clawing for any solid piece of ground. What does JOY have to say for itself now? How do the holidays… the sentiments… the goodwill to all… how do these things show up so I can sleep… if only for a few minutes… in some kind of heavenly peace?
“Ohhh, tidings of comfort and joy…”god, REST ye merry gentlemen
Really, what are tidings of comfort and joy? Why did those two companions get bundled up together for a powershot of Christmas cheer? Coincidence? Rhyming meter?
Tidings actually has two meanings. The first is simply what the lyrics suggest, that glad or happy news is being brought forward. Lovely! If that be the case, perhaps I can ease up on worrying about the troublesome bits that are tanking my joy and lean into whatever is supposed to be comforting.
Or, tidings can mean a flock of magpies… in which case, there is a whole other level of worry to be had! Magpies are the worst. They make awful sounds, they root through and toss around garbage, and they eat or scare away all the pleasant birds. I do not love these creatures, have not ascertained a good reason for their existence, and upon further seeking it would seem the origin of the word magpie comes from ‘maggot’. Now there’s a comforting image.
As I scan the days and months that have rushed by recently, I see many places where the unpleasant has appeared. There have been shocking scenes of hideous maggots, awful sounds that pierce through peace, nasty messes landing at my doorstep and everything comforting seems to get chased away.
Magpies are perhaps the nemesis to my dear hummingbirds; Existing to make the hummingbirds appear sweeter, more appreciated for their beauty and skill. Do these magpie moments ground me or force me to take cover when the threat of their hovering wings come too close for comfort? Maybe this helps carve out my boundaries, letting me know where the lines must be drawn in order to survive the uncomfortable. I am not just thinking about things that make me uneasy or annoyed. There is stuff that cannot and will not ever bring comfort, because I am not in control of it.
‘un’ = no
‘comfort’ = control
‘able’ = possibleshe was not skilled at math, but this formula rang true anyway
Balance. Control. Popular themes, if ever there were. Magpies vs. Hummingbirds, I guess this is the struggle. It’s a fight to gain, and release, control. As I let that truth sink deeper, I am oddly comforted. I can approach joy again without guilt. I am allowed to seek comforts that rebuild my dwindled strength.
With that, let the new year ring in with this simple anthem:
Comfort AND Joy will prevail!