Color My World

When they met, she was drowning in blue. The small speckles and flecks of fuchsia she once had, long ago worn away. She met Him and fuchsia once again began to appear. The two of them talked about all things fuchsia. They discussed in depth their mutual interest in fuchsia, how she needed it in her world, how He would help her realize her fuchsia dreams, how He had been looking for a fuchsia enthusiast for a very long time.

As time passed the two of them were awash in it. She bathed her world in this color. She was so full of fuchsia that it touched nearly everyone she came in contact with. People with a burgeoning interest in fuchsia came to her to ask how she had acquired so much for herself. They wanted to know where they could find a color so pure. They wanted what she had. She explained that the mix was not hers. He created this hue. It was very special and anyone trying would be unlikely to create it. She would give the formula to a select few, hoping they would achieve something close, realizing they probably would not, because only she had Him.

One day He came to her, speaking about shades of blue. She listened because it was Him, because this is what they did together. They spoke about everything. Talk of this other color made her uncomfortable. She listened, thinking “We can talk about this all day long. There is no room in my life for anything but fuchsia.”

She knew all about blue. It was tiresome, exhausting, it grated on her nerves. She had actively pushed blue from her life when she met Him, gradually scouring it from all surfaces. Tiny, stubborn bits that could not be reached, still peeked out from the corners. She glared at them frequently, resenting their existence in her fuchsia world.

After several conversations, He presented her with a tiny blue thread and asked her to wear it prominently. “Weave it through your hair” He said “Let others see that you can have more than one color.”

She did so, not because she wanted to but because it was Him and she treasured His happiness above her own. Wearing this insignificant thing created a stir. Whispers about the thread she wore spread. People did not understand how her dedication to fuchsia had slipped. Maybe she was not a true fuchsia enthusiast after all.

He presented her with progressively larger items – a broach, a belt, a hat, boots, a coat, a dress – urging her to shop on her own, to find new styles, new objects to spread the color throughout her life. The larger and more visible the item, the more ripples there were. People, who were never quite sure what to make of her, now took a couple of steps back when she passed. The whispers became fully audible and people began asking her about the blue, accusatory, “What’s up with all the blue? Are you still going to wear fuchsia? Make up your mind.”

She began to enjoy wearing blue. She found that certain shades of fuchsia worked quite nicely with some shades of blue. She looked forward to mixing it up and He was joyful in ways she had never seen.

Spurred on by His joy, she wore less and less fuchsia. She began to dream in blue – blue rooms, blue landscapes, blue worlds. Her personal writings spoke of blue often. When she was lost in thought, she was often mentally combining shades of blue, seeking a richness of hue that would be indelible. She began splashing blue onto those who asked for her special shade. Seeing her color on their skin was wonderful, unlike anything she had ever known. She now craves a time when she can coat Him with her tonality, marking Him as hers, as if she has dipped Him in a vat of her blue ink.

She is still unsettled. She sees less and less fuchsia. She has passing thoughts of fuchsia throughout the day and wonders if she will ever wear it again. She is comforted that, for a brief time, fuchsia and blue existed side-by-side in her life. The mix of colors, the ratios, will surely shift. There will be blue periods, there will be fuchsia periods. She imagines, she fervently hopes, she will always have both.

Epiphany

Since the birth of her child she had felt alone. Her husband returned to work as if nothing had happened and largely absented himself from the home when he was not on the clock. When the diagnosis was handed down, her friends fell away and alone was no longer a feeling, but a reality.

Aloneness became a continuous theme. Alone for feedings. Alone for firsts. Alone juggling the budget. Alone managing the house. Alone administering therapies. Alone, alone, alone. While she was capable, while she did not need anyone to help her in these things, support beyond “I trust you. Do whatever you think is best.” would have been welcome.

Her abilities to juggle and manage and problem solve became her husband’s freedom from worry. Freedom from everything. Problem ‘A’ + Wife = No problem. While she appreciated the vote of confidence in the beginning, eventually it became a burden. Because he never worried about anything, she worried about all of her concerns plus his.

As her child grew, the concerns connected to the child gained gravitas. The minor worries of vomiting every time a textured food was introduced, grew into epic level worries that the child would never have the wherewithal to hold a job. The epic worries gave birth to a host of other worries. Still, she was alone. Alone with “Whatever you think is best. I trust your judgement.”

Then she wasn’t. She met a man who changed her life. Such a simple phrase – “changed her life”. Three words with untold dimension and depth. This man, over a relatively short period of time, became irreplaceable. He became the center of her universe. He offered friendship, assistance, advice, genuine concern, support and … she loved him. Love in its purest form. Love with an intensity she would not have believed possible.

This man was a pragmatist. Matter of fact statements about finding someone else if she were “hit by a bus tomorrow” occurred with some frequency. She often raised the bus scenario to see if the answer would change, wanting to believe she meant as much to him and he did to her. The answer never did change, each time reenforcing her belief that she was not good enough, nothing special, disposable. This inserted itself into the litany of her worries. One false move and I’m out the door. She saw this as fait accompli. Not an if, but a when. Eventually, he would be done.

The pressure of this particular worry threatened to crush her on a daily basis. She would wake in the morning and think of him, wondering if today would be the day. Is today the day her world would come crashing down? Is today the day it ends? Once, when the universe called into being enormous levels of stress in her life simultaneously, she woke thinking that something had to give. She could not maintain sanity under such pressure. Of the three arenas in her life, only one could she let go.

This arena also happened to be the one that often brought her the only happiness she experienced on a given day. Being who she was, she decided, again, as she so often had since becoming a mother, that her happiness was not only unimportant, but undesirable. She had seen, time and again, that when she put her needs first, terrible things happened, ingraining the belief that she was not allowed to be happy. For whatever reason, perhaps for something she had done in a past life, karma had decided that in this life, she did not deserve to be happy for any extended length of time.

When she woke under the stress and worry of life’s obstacles, multiple issues weighed her down, making getting out of bed nearly impossible. That same morning, when she had not been speaking to him for very long, several negative thoughts were expressed. OK she thought I’m being selfish sharing my worry and stress with this man. I’m creating problems in his life. I’m draining him. I’m toxic. If we cannot both be happy, then he should be. He deserves joy. It will be harder now that I know what it is to have this but I can return to who I used to be. He deserves everything I cannot give him. He’s told me he can find another. I will leave him to it. She tried to be firm, matter of fact, about it. With raw pain infusing her voice, she stated the reasons she should not be in his life. She hinted around the edges of saying goodbye for quite some time. She couldn’t form the words. Ultimately selfish, she could not say goodbye.

Several days later, he said a thing. He often said things, offhandedly, seemingly unaware of the impact. Again, with his pragmatic way, he spoke in facts, as if they were all equal in weight and value. He told her, more fully, differently than he ever had, exactly, simply, how he felt about her. He said this as plainly and unaffected as if he were stating the color of her eyes. This statement was spoken in conjunction with other thoughts and ideas. Those that came after, she did not hear.

With the gift of his words, color flooded into her world, suddenly, in the impossibly vibrant way witnessed by Dorothy. My god, she thought, holding her breath, I had no idea. Yes, I knew he loved me. I didn’t know he loved me, loved me. I am not replaceable. I am not a place holder. I am not disposable. I am significant, important, meaningful, to this man who is my world. I’m not alone in the depth of my emotion. Maybe, just maybe, I am good enough, worthy, deserving. Maybe, she thought, feeling as though she were tempting the fates of the universe, maybe, I am allowed to be happy.

Kintsugi

The woman stood under the spray of the shower, lost in thought, while steam filled the room. She had planned on having a solo dance party, as she so often did when happy. Alas, a segment of the morning’s conversation looped through her mind, the bump and grind rhythm of Madonna all but unheard in the background.

He had expected her to cry when he said it: the thing about not being a slave, about not being able to be a slave because of who she is, because of her home life. He was correct in this expectation. A short time ago, in the relative timeline of their relationship, she would have cried, insisting that of course she could, that she would try harder, that she could live up to that title – and that is how she had once thought about the word slave, that it was a title. Instead, she lifted her left shoulder in an almost imperceptible shrug, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a slave This is not news … And? she thought, while the conversation moved on to other things.

In the shower, some hours later, she was contemplative. When did this change? When did slave become just another word? When did it lose its title status? When did she decide it is of no importance what she is called? When did this happen? When did she stop torturing herself, trying to live up to that impossible ideal? When?

She stood exploring the possibilities and, just as the water ran cold, she realized it – The day His collar was removed, she heard, and understood, she wasn’t good enough. The crystal clarity and accuracy of this thought was so powerful that it should have stolen her breath, caused her to stand stock still with shock, a hand on the cold tiles while she regained her equilibrium … something … anything. Instead, there was that same lift of the shoulder and Of course. Of course, that’s when it was.

That day destroyed everything she believed she had become, destroyed the idea of what she thought she was to Him, destroyed her identity, destroyed the small amount of confidence she had managed to gather, destroyed the germ of the idea that perhaps she was worthy.

In the aftermath, she was able to pick up the shards of some of those things. She glued them back together imperfectly. Gaps, where slivers that had been completely obliterated should have been, an agonizing illustration of the parts she could not restore. She pretends she is a piece of Kintsugi, though she fears the reality is that she is held together with passed-its-expiration-date white glue that will surely fail under the most insignificant pressure, leaving her in fragments once again. She doesn’t know what she will do if that happens. It took her so very long to reassemble even this admittedly shabby approximation of what she had been.

Many fragments were left on the ground to be crushed underfoot, waiting to be pulverized into unrecognizable powder, as if they had never existed. Being worthy of anything, finding pride in providing the best service of which she is capable, proving unquestionably to her community that she is who she says she is, having her best efforts lauded. She understands that the only place these things ever truly existed was in her mind, no one else’s, hers alone. These are the things that were left to return to dust. She no longer speaks of them, refusing to engage if any one of them comes up in conversation. Fully grasping now that they had never been real, she will not be seduced into believing again.

Slave is just a word. A meaningless arrangement of letters with which some choose to label themselves or, perhaps, their dynamic. It is not something to aspire to. It is not something remotely attainable. She moves through her days applying herself to her service with the same level of dedication that she always has. Serving Him to the best of her ability, knowing she cannot be proud of her service. It is not good enough. It never was. It never will be. It cannot be. She will always forget. She will always need to think things through. It will always take at least twice as long for her as it does everyone else. She will always be horribly inefficient. She will always miss at least a beat when frightened.

She wishes she could become an unthinking being, obeying perfectly, without error, and without thought or hesitation. She knows that, too, is unattainable.

 

Because they really mean as much as everyone says they do.

In the before time, she saw many posts about the power of “good girl”. Each viewpoint she read earned a scornful smirk. Oh come on now? Are there really this many grown women who need their hands held? Who need external validation? What a load of mass hysterical hooey this is. Though she never gave them voice, she had these thoughts in the before, when she could not begin to understand. The thoughts were born of ignorance. She is not proud of this.

In the before time, she could not know how impossibly difficult this life would be. She could not know that one person could become the focus of everything she is. She could not have known the crushing devastation of disappointing Him. She could not have known the brilliant internal illumination set aflame when being introduced as His girl. She knew none of this.

In the now, when she hears the incantation good girl she understands the power. There is a strength of emotion invoked that is belied by the simplicity of the words. For this reason she knows they are magical. They must be. There is no other explanation.

It is not always easy to hear. When she has failed, when she has disappointed, when she has been chastised, the words burn. When she needs to hear them most, they stab. They wound. They rend. She shakes her head in denial, at odds with them being spoken when she feels they cannot be true, while knowing He would not speak them if they were not accurate, authentic, sincere. She wants to be left alone to punish herself for whatever error she has made. Festering in failure, she wants to cover her ears, to tell Him to stop, to tell Him it hurts, to tell Him she is anything but good.

She has never been able to separate failure, the act, from failure, the person. She firmly believes if she fails in a behavior or task then she, the person, is proven once again to be a failure. As if the thing she could not, or did not, correctly do defines her. It is a brutal way to live, to go from one failure to the next, always knowing there will be a next. Each one a tick on the balance sheet of what a horrible person she is, knowing no matter how she tries, no matter how much good she does, it is not something she will ever, can ever, overcome.

And still, with all of this, given the countless times and the innumerable ways she has failed Him, He still says You are a good girl. He makes her say it, each word chipping away at the definition she has for herself, I’m a good girl, Sir.

You are my good girl.
Yes, Sir.
You are my good girl. Say it.
I am Your good girl, Sir.

And every once in a while she believes it.

.

 

Waiting

She spends her days waiting. Waiting for the washing machine. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for them to come home. Waiting for dinner to cook. Waiting for her brain to shut up. Waiting to fall asleep. Waiting for the anger. Waiting for the frustration. Waiting for the next train. Waiting for a passing grade. Waiting for praise. Waiting to be good enough. Waiting. Everything between serves only to pass the time.

She remembers when it was not this way. She remembers a time when people waited for her. She remembers going out and being and doing every day. Now she waits for those things, too.

Her days are bookended by ritual. Each a reminder of who she is, who she has become. A reminder to give thanks for, and to, the One who revealed who she is and taught her how to be this person.

He said to her that if something happened to Him, that she must promise, as best she could, to continue to be this girl. To continue to be happy, to live. He said this when she was mid-activity. He said this and she became still, shoulders hunched against the idea, a fist clutched to her chest, eyes closed in concentration, willing her heart to stay whole. The agony caused by the mere speculation of being without Him, paralyzed her, stole her breath. He continued speaking of this maybe-thing, on the other end of the phone, not able to see her pain, not realizing she had fallen silent.

What do I tell Him? she thought, This man who is my soul. How do I tell Him that He is the center of my universe? How do I tell Him if His gravitational pull disappears, that I will surely go spinning off into the darkness? How do I tell Him that if He no longer exists, neither do I? How do I tell Him that He is my purpose, my reason, the embodiment of my joy? How do I begin to explain any of that? How does anyone say these words to another human being and not have the person collapse under the weight of a love that intense, that spiritual, that all encompassing?

While she was lost in thought, the conversation moved on to other things, as it often does with them. She never had to answer, to promise that impossible thing, to do more than sit with the horrible imagining of it.

The request of the promise haunts her. She knows that if anything happens to Him, He will take her heart with Him. The waiting she does now will be child’s play. She will have to go on living for those who count on her. Her days will be empty, meaningless, hollow spaces to be moved through.

If anything happens to Him, she will spend the rest of her days waiting. Waiting to follow Him into the dark.