Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look at how it shines

What do you do?

When you are a writer but you can't write?
When just looking at words exhausts you, and inside, you feel filled with silence?

What do you do when some days you can hardly speak or move because the Sad is so big?

When you can see joy, so clearly—it's right in front of you—but it skims over you, past you. It can't get in.

What do you do when you feel thin as clouds?

What do you do when you know you should feel your good life deeply, you should feel it well, but you can't? It's as though you are outside yourself. Watching the smiling and the good things and the sweetness but you can't get to it. You know, logically, the joy is there. You want so badly to have it inside, to keep it close. You wish for it—you will it inside. But it slips by.

Two nights ago, my son said, "Mum, do you think you'll ever feel happy again?"

All I could say was, "I think so, sweetheart. I hope so. I'm working on it."

How hard that moment was.

What do you do when the loss of a friendship brings back your whole history? Everything you've ever feared and everything that was devastating about your childhood—here it is again.

But now you're a Grown-up and you should be able to take it, shouldn't you? Where is your armour, woman? Where is your bounce? Why are you lying down? Why aren't you fighting?

Damn it, get up.
Why can't you stop crying?


What do you do?

Well, I guess you start right here. Right now. With something simple. You make yourself raise your head. You look around. You point yourself towards the good that is. Whatever you can see.

Here, you point. And here

and here.

My girl's birthday was on Friday. She's 9 now. She is so beautiful to me.

She had such a great day. She got a windmill house and tiny toy cats to put inside. The paddles of the windmill actually wind up and move. How amazing is that?? Guess how big her smile was all day?
It was this big.

I just held her close and breathed her in.

We went to Taronga Zoo in Sydney on Saturday. With my niece who makes every day technicolour. She is so cool. My kids loved being with her. We laughed and gave hugs and saw tiger cubs! My kids got toy animals from the zoo shop and played with them the whole car ride home. AND we found vegan gluten free pizzas for dinner in Newtown—one of the hippest areas of Sydney. What a fine day that was.

Then it was my birthday on Sunday. My very own. I got cuddles and sweet presents (toy foxes and owls from my kids. So gorgeous). Dear friends came for lunch. They sang happy birthday to me in three part harmony. Can you believe it? It doesn't get more beautiful than that.

After our friends left, I walked the dog. Slowly, slowly, just the two of us, to the park and back. And then—as the kids read peacefully on their beds,
and my husband took a nap—
I went
quietly, privately,
to church.

It's not something I regularly do, or grew up with (religion and faith were not my parents' thing at all). So now I'm a grown up, I visit places of worship with wonder. I go to church services like they're an Event, like an art opening or the ballet. Each time, it feels special. Every time, I feel like a tourist, wondering how and where I can fit.  I sit there taking it all in, my mind and heart open.

Just before the service started, I met a woman who has read my blog all year, who has sent me the kindest emails, even given me a book. I walked up and said, "D__? I'm Helena." We hugged like we'd known each other for years. What a gift that was.

The kids were waiting for me when I got back.

"Where did you go, Mum?" they asked. "What did you do?"
I told them, and they said, "That's great. That's cool."

Because, if I've taught them anything, it's to explore.
To learn, to reach for things bigger than them, to dream. To let everything in.
To be open.

I try to live that, with everything I am.

Then on Monday, I had to face our loss all over again.

Friends were meeting up for lunch, but not us—we couldn't be a part of that circle any more. On Tuesday, our regular group met, but we aren't part of that any more either—I can't see how to go without causing stress.

All the lift I'd found—the positive I'd tried to build over the past three days—disappeared.

Monday and Tuesday were deep and hollow.

And I blamed myself completely. I felt (and still feel) so sorry—even without knowing exactly what we did. I keep thinking, Somehow, I missed something. Somewhere, there was a moment I could have turned this around. I could have been finer, more together, been a better friend. I could have fixed it. And then I wouldn't have this loss. I wouldn't be here, on the outside.

Childhood all over again.

Days like these you think, How do I get out? Where do I go?
Where are the ladders, where is the light?

You look out and think you see nothing.

But yesterday, in all that hollowness, I took my kids to the pool. We swam and relaxed, and in that moment my girl—who has steadfastly refused to have swim lessons—suddenly figured out how to breaststroke. Just like that.

On Monday, I took my son to circus class. He laughed with his friends and learned to spin a plate. He loved that.

Tuesday afternoon, I ran my after school writers workshop. Those kids are so fantastic. Every single time I see them I am glad.

Last night I had a date with my husband to the movies. The film was lovely and sweet. I curled my arms around my husband's arm and he kept his hand resting on my leg.

My mother watched the kids while we went out. She is so beautiful. She is staying close—like a mama bird with her wing out.

Each day I have cooked for my kids. I've taken them to every place they needed to be. When I have seen friends, I have smiled. 

This Friday is lunch with friends, old and new. I just know it will be filled with Lovely.

Tomorrow is another swim, with other good friends. Another swim to go with the one we had on Tuesday, and the one we had today, out in the glorious summer sun.

As for this moment?

Well, the frogs are croaking outside. The dog lies, splayed out, on the cool tiles. My husband is reading upstairs in bed.

The children lie in their beds with fans blowing on their skin. Their cheeks are so soft. Their smell—I could live inside it. And inside their kindness, their sensitivity, their thoughtfulness. Inside their pealing laughter. Inside the way they reach out to me,

with their wings out, sheltering.


Look at this.

What I have.

What we have, together.

Such beauty.

I say to myself.

Look, please.

Look at how it shines.



  1. Oh Helena...I am so sorry you are on the outside of the joy! I can feel some of your pain from here :( I had wondered how you were, because I hadn't read a post from you recently. I really do hope that the joy and the goodness can find its way in to your heart soon!

    Happy birthday, several days late. It sounds like you had some lovely things happen that day.

    Thinking of you...big hugs are being sent your way!

  2. This breaks my heart into. I have been sneaking over, every day, hoping that you have posted. I have had you in my thoughts so often. I am so sorry. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better. But I see so much happy in the sadness. Birthdays and giggles and zoos and circuses and cake and swims and more. But I feel your pain so deeply. I don't know how I would handle it if the same thing happened to me. Because it obviously doesn't just effect YOU, it effects your entire family. I am glad you found some 'special' in church. I wish I could just hug you and sit and talk for hours. Know that you are in my thoughts...always in my thoughts. I am sending happy feelings all the way from Alabama. Hang on, they will arrive soon. Love you friend.

  3. I hope that getting it out helps to heal the pain. And in this new space, which has been created for you, new friends and opportunities will now be able to pour in. Whatever you are open to can now rush in, well, maybe slowly, but you are now open to the possibility of new friendships, friendships that are more suited to all of you. Shine as you are, not as something you are not. Peace.

  4. that's the way...little by little.
    happiest of birthdays - the joy won't let you stay lonely for seems your sense of survival and passion for fullness will serve you well in these days, and that's something *you* have created.

  5. Ah, I'm so sorry. It doesn't really seem fair that your friend made the choice to sever your friendship, yet you are the one who doesn't feel like you can go to group events. If you bother her so much, she should be the one to stay home.

    sorry. I know that's not helpful, and probably the exact kind of bad attitude you are trying to fight off. I'm just upset for you.

    Sorry, sorry, sorry. We love you.

  6. This is tough Helena, tough to see such a beautiful spirit like yours so hurt, tough that you have difficult situations that won't let the wounds heal. This will pass... It will it will, dear friend because you are fighting for it through the cloudy and the gray, this too shall pass. You are mourning and you must in order to heal. Everything will be ok, i know it.
    Happy happy birthday to you and your lovely daughter. I am thinking of you!!!

  7. Happy Birthday. May this new year of your life bring you peace, joy and happiness. I am so sorry that right now the sadness is so great. You are mourning. That takes time. Church always has a way of calming me too. I love the image that God is holding us in the palm of his hand. It helps me to realize that while the moment I am in might be awful and painful and sad, I will get through. You will walk through this surrounded by the love of those who care about you.

  8. I'm so sorry you've been going through this!

    I'm with Slim... you are doing it, getting out of it, little by little.

    (And wanted to let you know that I went through something like this a couple of years ago, and it totally and completely sucked. !!! :))

    Shifting focus to the good things is absolutely the best way to do it (as you are), and those good things will make their selves more and more known.

    In the meantime... hugs and kisses and love to you!

  9. I don't have the right words. Just sending you some love :) ...

  10. Dear, sweet all of you: from the bottom of my heart—from the tips to the ends of me—Thank you. It makes such a difference to read your words. They make me hopeful, and feel so blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  11. I am sorry you are going through this. I have been through major depression, and it's one of the worst things I know. You are a beautiful writer, your words are poetic, honest and real. I am enjoying your blog.

  12. This is the most beautiful blog post I've ever read. One of the most beautiful things I've read. Ever. Your honesty, wrapped in your incredible talent is a gift to the world. It's an honor to know you. I wish we lived closer.

  13. Happy birthday to both of you lovely women!!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.