This is a little something I wrote in April of 2009, thought I’d share:

as a result of the trauma this past summer, every day i feel pain, sadness and fear. sometimes it’s overwhelming, making me unable to get out of bed, maintain a regular heartbeat, eat, or sleep. fortunately, those times are rare ov late. most of the time it’s just a feeling that lies mostly dormant under the skin, deep down in my chest. but it’s always there.

i try not to let it affect how i interract with the world. i’m able to find many joys in family and friends. music and books. i sing with my kids, i say my zikr, i dream, i cuddle, i gaze out the window and marvel at the green shoots braving the snow. but it feels as though these are just layers on top of the sadness, and that if you look just a little deeper, scratch away the surface, all the hurt comes up.

for awhile it felt as though my hurt was the canvas, and all of my pleasant experiences were just paint on it, covering it up for awhile, but no matter how thick i threw it on, no matter how many layers were applied, the canvas would still be there, lying underneath, unchanging and full of pain.

but this morning i came to realize that that trauma and all the insecurities and deceptions and abuse and fear and depression and… everything that came with it is also just a layer. it is not the canvas. deeper down underneath there’s a core of me that is the foundation, the base. G*d and i live there. all these experiences and relationships -painful and joyous- add to the work of art that is me. add depth. texture. colour. shadows and light.

i am not my pain. i am not my joy. one aspect may dominate and become a focal point for awhile, but they are just part of the big picture, the ongoing piece of art that is me.

some may some may find it lovely, others hideous. heck, some may not even acknowledge that it’s art, look and think “i could have painted that, and would’ve done it better”. but gosh darnit, i think it’s beautiful. i’d hang me on the wall.

what kind of art are you?

You never know what will set you off.

For me it was listening to a morning drive-in show where the topic of discussion was, “If you weren’t gay, would it be better to kiss your dad or a friend?”  I felt sick, anxious, and started to breathe out of control until I turned off the radio, put on my ipod and listened to my new fave song, “Courage” by Vieux Farka Touré. I wish I could understand all the words, but I get the impression that it’s about being brave, not being afraid of the thunder, and being able to bend.

Last night speaking with the eldest, for her it was watching wedding shows on TV, watching pretty young women on the happiest day of their lives walking down the aisle with a beaming, proud poppa on arm.  She got all weepy because of the thought of having nobody to walk her down the aisle.  I assured her that we have a community of people who would jump at the chance to do so.

But still.

Last night I spent about an hour and a half on the phone reconnecting with an old friend, Ay.  Ef was in the mood to talk, but I got to chatting with Ay and lost track of the time, and when I called Ef when I was done, he wasn’t available.  I was a bit pouty about missing Ef, but happy talking with Ay about single parenthood, old friends, fave music and bands. He inspired me to throw myself a huge birthday party like I used to do of old, and I’m now looking outward and ahead more than looking inward and behind.

There’s a lot to be learned from introspection, self-awareness, and the past. And I still have a lot of healing to accomplish based on the past events (not just the acute trauma of the past six weeks, but the subtle abuse that led up to it as well). But for awhile, I’m going to work on a project of hope and beauty.  The great thing is, this project is going to involve some truly beautiful and talented people, and I’m so excited at the prospects I could just burst.

In related news, for the first time in almost six weeks, I didn’t have a nightmare! 

I dreamed that I was in my house with Ay.  We were both getting ready for my big birthday party in the city, and he was putting on some weird makeup- his whole face was covered in white paint except for a few black bits around his eyes and mouth.  Then suddenly he was dressed like a dervish (except I didn’t know what a dervish was), complete with white shirt and billowing skirt, black cloak over top, and crazy tall fez-like hat.  He kissed me gently on my forehead and my lips, not in a sexual way, but in a gentle, loving way.

I woke up with a smile on my face with a pull in my chest as though I might burst from happiness.  I looked out the window at the sun rising outside my window, and suddenly wished I knew how to pray.  My time in the darkness wasn’t over, but suddenly I was feeling hope, and joy, and gratefulness for being alive.

Edited to add…

Later I was to find out that Ay was on the Sufi path, and that the person kissing me in my dream was a dervish.  Ay wasn’t a dervish yet, though I had the honour of witnessing him “take the hand” and begin his dervishood awhile later. 

Three months after that dream at my big party in real life, Ay took the stage with his band.  His face was painted all white except for three black chunks- over his eyes and one over his mouth- making him look like an electrical socket.   I was surrounded by friends, secure in my choice of the Sufi path, and burning with love for G*d and creation, and started to cry with gratefulness and joy.  I credit that dream the night of September 11th, 2008 with getting me started on the Sufi path and to healing with joy.

I recently went to a good friend’s wedding, and I wanted to share a few experiences with you.  She and I used to live together almost twenty years ago.  She’s the godmother of my eldest daughter (which in itself is a funny story).  She and her family have been a source of strength and inspiration for me, especially in the past two years during my time of darkness and emergence into the light.  She and her partner have been through a lot together and come out stronger than ever before, and it’s a joy to visit them.  I was honoured to be invited to their wedding at the Jerrahi Sufi Centre.

Friday night the Micron and I attended my friends Kina Gece– a Turkish bridal henna party- and had a lovely evening amongst girls and women of all ages and backgrounds, united in our celebration of our good friend’s impending nuptials.  Then we slept over at a friend’s place, Em.

Saturday morning my friend Em and the Micron and I went to the local market, picked up some Portugese buns, vegetables to grill, some smoked gruyère and spiced havarti, some spicy mustard and some tzaziki.  We marinated the vegetables, sliced bread, cheese and tomato so that all would be ready once we got downtown. 

The plan was that Em, the Micron, My Fella and I would all go downtown for a friend’s housewarming party BBQ. Em would stay at the BBQ, whilst the rest of us would head back out west to the location of the event. Unfortunately, circumstances intervened.  The major highway leading us into the city was closed, and I wasn’t that familiar with the lay of the land.   We were supposed to be leaving the BBQ around 4:20 in order to get to the wedding on time, and already it was 3:30.  We were in the middle of heavy traffic, and weren’t convinced it would be feasible to make the BBQ on time.

So we made the decision to go to the Sufi Centre.  Em was a bit nervous that her shortish skirt and tights wouldn’t be conservative enough dress, but I offered her a headscarf so at least that aspect was covered!  Tummies grumbling, we made our way tot he Centre which mercifully was nearby.

As we arrived, we had to wind our way past a gazebo tent to park in the back of the building.  The tent was up because that day they were celebrating a “Community Day”, and were BBQing lots of meat to give away to local residents as a thank you for welcoming the Centre (which had only opened up in late 2008) into the neighbourhood.  They gladly cleared off the grill of the charred meat and cooked up a bunch of our vegetables for us.  We donated our tomato, cheese, mustard, tzaziki and buns to the cause.  Em and the Micron both enjoyed some meat, My Fella and I savoured roast portabellos and zucchini and red peppers.   Talk about one door closing and another one opening!

As usual, the Sufi community was warm and welcoming.  The ceremony was casual and funny at times, the Sheikh disagreeing with Hawking’s (“Einstein’s grandson, my crippled friend”) assessement that meeting aliens would be bad for humanity.  Aliens would would be welcome at the dergah/mosque, just so long as they parked their UFOs properly. 

The bride was absolutely lovely in a custom-made dress brought over from Turkey.  I had tears in my eyes for the vision of her.  I’ve always known her as a goth or punk, so to see her so radiant in some traditional garb was a shock and a pleasure.  Her mother, father and sister were glowing with pride and joy, and I know I wasn’t the only one swept along in the the overall aura of love.

Two dervishes whirled as musicians played and other dervishes performed what I would deem a mini-zikr.  The percussive sound of the men’s voices created a beat that resonated in my chest.  It’s said that G*d lives in everyone’s heart, and as the dervishes repeated their ilahis, my little piece of G*d responded and throbbed.  Then the ney played reinforcing a sung prayer, and it was divine breath on earth, making the hair on the back of my neck rise, and bringing more tears to my eyes and a rapturous moment of forgetting all worries, leaving behind my “monkey mind” and being caught up in the beauty.

We said our prayers, and the sound of dozens of pairs of lips quietly mouthing the silent words struck me.  Although no-one was speaking, you could still hear the whisper sounds of S, like a worshipful chorus of crickets, or a sudden gust of wind through tall grass in the summer.

When we pray, angels gather around to pray also and to record our deeds. As a seal to our devotions, we turn our head to the right and left to greet the congregation of these creatures of light.  As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatulah.  That evening, I was surrounded by family and friends- old and new- and was truly grateful to be able to greet and thank the angels and all those around for being there, and wish them peace and love.

Mashallah, S & J.  And thank you.

Speaking with my father recently about plans to get together during the summer, meeting up with other family members, staying in a hotel.  He’s going to make the reservation, and I had a momentary “twinge” about sharing a hotel room between My Fella, the Micron and I.

When we used to travel as a family if we got a hotel room with only double beds, That Guy would share a bed with Micron and I would share a bed with The Elder on account of the adults being plus-sized people, a double bed would barely fit us.   It seemed innocent enough at the time, but I regret it now, looking back.

So last night I asked my new family if they were comfortable with the three of us sharing a room.  My Fella and I would share one bed (I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past few years, and MF is quite slender), and she in a pull-out or cot or another bed.   They’re both cool with it.   This is good.  I mean, we’re a lot more concerned about being seen naked by other family members, which seems a shame that the innocence was shattered.  But now I guess we’re more like most other North American families, hiding their bodies from each other.

Last night I had a conversation with Micron.  She had just gone to her first solo session with her new counsellor in this city, and I was hoping to hear how things went.  I didn’t necessarily want to hear every detail, because that’s between her and her therapist, but I did want to get an overview.  She likes this new lady, even though – or perhaps because of – the grandmotherly vibe. 

Anyhow, she said something that really took me back.  I knew that one of the issues she was dealing with was watching me fall apart.  Both girls had told me that that was something that had hit them hard.  But what really struck me was when she told me about how That Night had played for her.  We were at a friend’s house about a twenty minute drive away in the country.  The girls and I and the hostess were watching some eighties movie with the Brat Pack (I think it was Breakfast Club) in the living room, the host and That Guy (who was at the time my husband) were in the kitchen checking out some game.  The phone rang.  It was the police saying “There’s been an incident we need TG to come back to the farm.”  So he drove away in our minivan, promising to phone back. 

The hours passed, and it was getting late, no word from the farm despite phone calls to both houses.  So our hostess offered to let us kip out in their spare room.  TG didn’t phone back, nor was I able to speak to anyone at the farm before the girls went to bed.

So they tried to get to sleep not knowing if the farm had burned down, if their grandparents were ok or not, or what. 

TG didn’t come back that night.   The next morning, they awoke to me crying and informing them that their dad had done something unforgiveable, and that we were going to get a divorce.  He was going to come over to say goodbye, but then that could possibly be the last time they’d see him for a long time.

What a crappy way to wake up.  And I’d been so tied up in my own emotions that it didn’t occur to me how much of a shock it would be to the girls.