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"As I Walk" (c) Selina Fenech

Sixteen years ago, I lay in my bed, crying my eyes out.  My younger brother was in hospital, in the cardiac intensive care unit.  He was 20 years old.  I was scared, I won’t argue that point.  I was scared he was going to die; and I was scared about where that would leave me/take me in life.  In the process of that fear and tears, I asked for help from “the powers that be”.  I offered them a bargain, I would give up an equal number of years of my life to allow my brother to continue his.  I made the random suggestion of 5 years.  5  years later, my brother passed away in his sleep.  This set in train the bargain I’d made.  Without realising it, I had put myself in the position of indeed giving up a number of years.

This year is the 10th anniversary of his passing, and I’ve only just remembered that night.  What reminded me?  Oddly, it was reflecting on a Sacred Strand set that I’d beaded during the Pagan Summer Gathering.  The Gathering was only 3 days after the anniversary, and I was still in the deep blue funky that 10th January brings me to (as well as the 5th January 41st Birthday one!) when I chose 10 red beads to bracket 3 special beads.  I also had 2 clear beads, representing Mr U and I at the ends of those red bracket sets, because I tied the strand into a loop, linking the clear beads as a pair at that point.  But I digress…
I was reflecting on the 10 red beads, finally realising that I’d unconsciously chosen that number to represent where I was emotionally at that time – 10 years of feeling alone.  Even though I have never been alone in that time, I felt it.  Then I realised the way I’d beaded them – a double set of 5.   That’s the point I remembered the bargain and that’s the point I realised I’d traded away 10 years for 5.

I’m not blaming anyone but myself for the doubling of the bargain.   I made the bargain and promptly forgot it, “the powers that be” chose a kinder alternative than lopping 5 years off at the senior end of my life; they gave me the choice to become who I am now.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was 5 years after Alex’s passing that I got a kick in the pants from my employer and I sought counselling.  That was the “kid, your time is up, get on with life” buzzer.  That I didn’t hear…or chose not to.  I took the 3 freebie counselling sessions that my employer paid for and didn’t continue the process.  I did however, continue living in a state of continual depression and “who cares anyway?”

7 years after my brother passed, someone I used to call friend became more than that, and I left my home to be with him.  We married a year later, and it’s going to be our 2nd anniversary later this year.   Our lives together haven’t precisely been the much touted ‘bed of roses’, but we have had a few piles of manure to give to them there roses along the way, and there are times I see some flowers on the bushes as a result.  😛
Mr U has spent the last year (almost) doing Shadow Working/Journeying, and I’ve watched his progress with interest as well as some trepidation; he’s growing and changing, but in so many good ways.  I’m a little afraid he’ll leave me behind at times.  Hell, at times he does.  His spirituality and thinking race ahead of mine and I’m left plodding along in his wake.  But this is good, as it’s meant I’ve come to some realisations of my own in the process of my taking longer to grasp things.  Mr U has suggested I might benefit from Shadow Working of my own.

No.  I’ve lived my Shadow Journey for the last 10 years.   Those 10 years have shaped me into a blunt, often abrasive, opinionated person; but I’ve seen several times that life’s too short to pussy-foot around and sacrifice truth on the altar of political correctness.  The last 10 years has seen my fears and anxieties expand to the point I am unable to function at times – just ask anyone at the PSG, assuming they even saw me; and you’d never guess from my wedding pictures that I was terrified of the small crowd of people there.

But, the last 10 years have also knocked the sharp edges off most of my personality.  I’ve found a capacity for caring for someone else that I thought I’d never have.  I have discovered that despite my blunt and abrasive side, people still think I’m a worthwhile person, when they demonstrate this it makes me cry like a girl.  I’ve also found that I tend to be too trusting of people, but I don’t consider that a bad thing.  I’ve been hurt a few times, but I’m still getting out there and trusting people.  It scares me, but I try.

Having come to my realisation that I gave up 10 years for 5 has left me with one over-arching idea now.  It’s time to start living.  One step, one day at a time, doing small things that make a difference in how I exist.  To change existence to living.  To quote a page from my brother’s diary from only a few days before he passed; the point at which he realised he had wasted too many years waiting for death to come:

“Fuck this. I’m going to LIVE…”