|The Warrior (she cries and hides but never disappears)|
36" x 34" Acrylic, Ink & Pastel on Canvas
“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Well, another week, another challenge. On and on it goes. I've been reading Sylvia Plath's diaries and suddenly feel that she's my soul mate. Hopefully, I won't end up with my head in an oven like her.
My life took a tailspin in July when my brother died. I've been trying to pull myself out of it for months; I'm close now. It's interesting how you can move level by level through life, working your way up to a greater understanding. How you can begin to comprehend things that didn't even seem in your line of sight ten years ago, or two years, or two months. I thought I had myself all figured out and then Boom! My brother took out his gun and blew everything apart.
Last night I dreamed that I had created a fantastic film project for school; I was so excited for my mother to see it. We were on our way to the showing, and she got distracted. I kept telling her that it was going to start and that we'd miss it if we didn't hurry. She ignored me as if what she was focusing on was much more interesting. Finally, I decided to leave and go to the show on my own, and hope that she would show up on time.
When I got to the theater there was a sharp, long incline that I had to walk up to enter. It was nearly straight up and I feared that I couldn't make it. I started the journey and as I neared the top, I lost all hope. Along came a strange man and I asked him to help me. He said that I could ride on his back, but he'd gotten in trouble for helping young girls in the past so I should make my way up and then say goodbye. So I did as he said and made it to the top. I took a seat and waited for my mother, thinking that surely she would not be able to make it up that steep incline. The show began and I was so proud but sad that my mother wasn't there, and even more sad that she didn't seem to care that she wasn't there.
Near the end of the show, my mother came waltzing up the incline as if it were a breeze. I was shocked and wondered how she could do that, how she could so easily make it up a hill that I failed to climb. She smiled, and began talking about how she didn't like the seat I'd chosen She searched for a better seat and indicated that she wanted to go higher. I tried to tell her that she was missing my show and that it was almost over, but finding the best seat was more important to her. She walked away looking for something better while the show ended. I sat there alone and crying, feeling that all my hard work was for nothing.
That dream is my life and the issues I'm trying to overcome. I'm trying to teach my brain that it doesn't matter if my mother or anyone else wants to see the show. What matters is that I created it; it is who I am and that it is all valuable.
The added layer of complexity is that if the dream had continued, I know my mother would have looked down from above and told me that I was selfish for crying. That I should have been more attentive to her need for a better seat. That I was only thinking of myself. If she'd had a better seat when she arrived, she'd have been able to see the show. That my priorities were wrong. That something was wrong with me.
In my life, I have cried, and run away when I failed to please the people I love. I have beat myself up and felt powerless to correct the situation, even when it was correctable ... because everyone I love is not my mother; I'm still learning that. I can never correct my mother; she is broken. My brother was tragically broken in the end, and I couldn't correct him either. I was powerless. And so I wanted to run and hide and start over, still believing that it was my responsibility to correct them and that I'd once again failed because something is wrong with me.
I wanted, in my own way, to find a nice, clear bell jar to hide inside and pretend that everything would go away and be all right. I have a powerful imagination that often serves as an escape, a ticket to an okay place, a world where I am surrounded by glass. A place where everyone can see me, but no one can reach me. A place where I'm untouchable and safe.
As an adult I've often failed to see that situations are salvageable, and that some people do care if only I would stay and show them my bleeding heart. I also realize that if I stay, and people don't care, if they can't possibly see my heart, it's not because I've failed. Perhaps if my mother had seen my child's heart, it wouldn't have become so tender and in need of that bell jar. Back then, I didn't know what I know now. I didn't realize that some people are just simply blind.
My heart frightens me. My imagination overwhelms me. I am so sad for all my mother focuses on and for all she misses, and so sad for my brother's pain and inability to correct his life. But I will march on, up each hill, finding a way to climb higher. I will not disappear into the oven.