Wrought iron. My father had a serious workshop in the garden at our countryside home. In there magic happened. He welted and forged some gorgeous wrought iron. With patience, precision and the mindfulness of a true master crafter. I miss my father. I wish we had had more time together. To get to know each other and to learn from each other. The wisdom I have gained over the years is much like the batik wax-resist dyeing technique that allows patterns to emerge through negative spaces. What I have learned has come from his absence.
Today, as I sit in Lebanon, looking at Beirut through the wrought iron of my Godmother’s balcony, I can only be reminded of the sacrifices my father and my mother endured to honour their core belief that “Children do not ask to be born. When they come into this world, you owe them everything.” And everything I did get. What I did not know then, was the extent to which this chorus would make me an unwilling prisoner to the implicit expectations of sacrifice - self-imposed or perceived.
As I continue to struggle with the ongoing growing pain of adulthood and individuation I realise that the unspoken pain of sacrifice, and the implicit expectations that make it worthwhile to the parents are a very heavy debt on the children who did not ask for it in the first place. Not only is it a debt that we can never repay, but we would be very well advised not to repay it forward... sacrifice then becomes a generational debt.
The sting does not come from the fact that love comes to us in such a painful form, it comes from the silence of that passed-on pain. It seeps through and catches you by surprise the day your life derails from those unspoken expectations. The day your life deviates from what kept the pain at bay; namely you matching those implicit expectations born to sacrifice; you are greeted with unfathomable guilt and shame.
From where I stand now, at the midpoint of my life, I am grateful for the presence of my mother, the absence of my father and the weight of their sacrifice on my life from which I can safely extricate myself today. Bruised a little, wise a lot. Stepping now through the wrought iron frame...
Vulnerability in order to be made visible requires empathy and compassion. Nothing is braver than showing your true colours to those deserving of seeing them. Nothing is truer than providing a safe space to receive the vulnerability of those we trust. That, to me, is the highest form love.
First, move. Then, transition.
In moments of transition things feel blurry. I lose clarity and gain mystery. The “not knowing what anymore” feels groundless.
So, here I am, taking my time to establish new routines and develop new habits in this new environment. There is in that process much letting go and much openness. Much vulnerability in there too!
But, truth be told, groundlessness, vulnerability and lack of clarity are all essential ingredients of life. We are only human to the extent that we can navigate these murky waters with empathy and kindness towards self.
It’s a good thing then that I can swim.