Countin Blessings

It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle and lose sight of the bigger picture. Or worse yet, fall into the trap of tossing all the good with the bad and slapping a negative label on a life that has been. But there needs to be a pause, some quiet reflection. In that silence there is truth. What is so remarkable is in each of the crossroads in my life, when everything had come completely undone, and I stood on the cliff edge looking into the abyss, the blessings each appeared. There out of nothing but pain and sadness, confusion and loss, appeared exactly what I needed to step back from the cliff and find my path again. Each and every time. Never was I left alone, or abandoned to struggle. I will never know the answer as to why. I can look to something bigger beyond myself and this world. I can look to lady luck. or I can just call it fate. Whichever it was, or even a combination of all, I have to count my blessings.

On that fateful late summer day when my father’s plane erupted in flames after it crashed into an embankment, he crossed paths with a doctor. It was a fleeting encounter before he was transferred to a specialized burn unit at Valhalla. Fitting name, since he was basically dead. There he lingered for months in a coma while they patched, and removed, and patched again his scarred hide. He woke up, he fought back. More that a year later he and the doctor that first saw his sizzling charred body, crossed paths again. She stayed. My mother had run for the hills, leaving me alone with my father. He was so incapacitated at the time it was just me and whichever nurse/ and or nanny was in the picture. There were many. Far too many to remember, or even count. The ones that stand out, were either harsh and abusive, or had some quality that seperated them from the pack. (One that comes to mind was extremely religious). I was a lost kid. defiant and difficult. My life had been turned upside down. Never one for conversation, I acted out. My behaviors clearly speaking for the upheaval in my head and heart. When the doctor came into my life I was struggling. Struggling with life, the changes, the fear, and the emotions. She took me to the massive stone castle she lived in. It was a wonderous place. The vast cathedral ceilinged music room with the wall of leaded windows. The “unicorn” room with the stout canopy bed built into the floor, and the window for peeking down into the music room. The secret passage in the basement that lead from below the dining room to her office. There were animals of every shape and size. ferrets, kittens, cats, dogs, raccoons, and horses. Wherever you looked there was something. For a 9 year old it was paradise. She was very much an easygoing mother. Happy to let the kids run wild learning their lessons as they went. She always felt it would sort itself out in the end. I never remembered hearing a harsh word, or anger from her. It was a loving kind place. It was a perfect spot for a kid whose life had spun hard out of control. But rather than fix that hard spin I departed into a fantasy world. I became feral. It was the perfect environment. Thankfully I still had visits with my aunt and cousins. I still kept tethered to the outside world and not just the extraordinary tales in my head. The more wild I became the harder it was for the nannies to cope. I can’t even imagine what they must have dealt with. Transitioning from the castle to home was tough. More than one of them used physical force to get my attention. I leaned home was a place of fear, while the castle was a place of respite. Over time as I grew older the riding became more important to me than the fantasy. The barn, and the horses replaced the castle. I was changing, and my life was changing with it. I wasn’t a feral nine-year old with mats in her hair anymore. My moods started to dominate my life. I fell deep and hard with no idea why. I knew pain, and suffering. This was a different creature all together. But the wild remained. Instead of fantasies about knights and horses, my mind grew dark. My fantasies grew violent. Rape and murder, blood and fear. They occupied my mind. I still had not found my way around my emotions. My behavior continues to paint the picture of what was happening in my head. Sex, and abuse. It was a new chapter for the wild child. If only I could have stayed in the castle on the mountain. Nell in the woods, without a care in the world. That was not to be. I was initiated into a world of dominance, pain, and sex. But I did not retreat from it. I chased it. Head down like a good bird dog. I looked behind every shrub and tree. I found my abusers and lay down for them. It was my connection to this world. In that pain, and fear I felt alive. The dead leaden feeling, shaded in gray, released its strangle hold. But it had to hurt, it had to be bad because otherwise I felt nothing. It was going nowhere good. Life was once again spinning out in all the wrong directions. It shifted again with a move out of that house. Life slowly started to become more normal.

It is a pattern that repeats, over and over. Each time when I am lost, somehow I am found. Whether it be the doctor, or horses, or art, or Virgil, or my partner. They all came into my life when I needed them most. When I had written life off, and figured it was hopeless. It wasn’t all lost, or all bad. I have had my traumas, and abuses, and horrors, yes. But I have had my blessings too. I can not even wrap my head around where I would be without them. Probably be so personality disordered a normal life would be impossible. I would not be able to have this life, with a stable relationship, meaningful connections, and the ability to love without manipulation. It is because of these blessings. I found a life worth living. They were the light sources that showed the way toward the kinder and gentler path. A path not of fear, abuse, and sacrificial behavior. Not of giving up, and giving in. It was a path of standing up, and moving toward love and self-respect. To leave behind the behaviors and acting out that only got me hurt worse, and abused more. They showed me a very different path. I am so very blessed.

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