I can be free.
I can be free.
I can be free.
The words rattle around in my head like a mantra or a daily affirmation posted on my bathroom mirror.
I feel a knot in my stomach. I feel like a ton weight is pressing down on my chest, a deep, disconcerting heaviness.
The truth is I do not feel free. I feel like a ship in a harbour, anchored, tied and tethered. In the gusts of wind in life, I rail against the ropes, moving with the little slack that the ropes afford me and find myself jerked back into position. Shackled, like a prisoner.
No, I am not free.
I ‘ve had rare glimpses of freedom, but I’ve never experienced the freedom just to be. To be what though… to be still? to be present in life? to be me? Oh, yes that last one, that one, to be wholly and unapologetically me,
Yes, that’s it, I feel it like a mule kick to my gut.
I am not sure who ‘me’ is. Yes, the real me, whatever that is, the ‘me’ without the labels and the titles that have been my comfort blankets for far too long, daughter, sister, wife, stepmother, friend, fiend, nurse, coach. I’ve done a pretty good job of pretending otherwise. I am sure I have fooled lots of people, I’ve even fooled myself sometimes.
I am too scared to look. I am not sure if there is any ‘me’ to find. I am really scared about that. Or perhaps even worse is what if I am nothing more than a combination of this aging body and the thoughts I have. I hate my body most days and as for my thoughts, they shift between fleeting moments of joy to murderous, and everything in-between. I live in this shame and guilt of all that goes on in my head. I am afraid to speak this out loud just in case I am judged. The me condemned. Ridiculed. Lynched. Or more likely, made a laughingstock of,
I ‘d hate that.
I am worried if this is all there is to me, I am afraid that I would see that the world might be better off without me. I might just want to die. And I will probably go to hell for those murderous thoughts, although never carried out, they hang like gallows of shame in my head.
I have only ever felt free one time in my life. I mean really free, not this momentary wind in your hair, sailing in the middle of the Swedish Archipelago moment that disappears in the blink of an eye.
That moment was with Woody, a magnificent black Irish horse. Just so you know, I am not a horse person at all. So, this whole episode was quite unexpected.
I was introduced to Woody in the way I was told to by the ’horse whisperer’. First a sniff of your hand then walk away, a chance to show him I am not a threat. I was then asked to place one of my hands on the his back and the other on his heart.
His magnificent body felt warm, his newly shaved mane stubbly. I felt his heartbeat and his warm breath on my left cheek.
In the very next moment, without warning, I felt my body disappear.
The world as I know it dissolved into a cascade of dissolving, dissolving into a puddle of nothingness. Everyone and everything became one heartbeat.
Another world perhaps. Pure. Light. Unbounded. Timeless. Consciousness. There are no shackles, no chains, nothing is tethered here.
I have no idea where I am and what I am doing here. I have no idea who I am, but I know I am free. None of it makes sense, and yet it all does.
Time stopped. I wonder how long I spent here. It could have been an a second, an hour, a day.
Woody moves his head. The spell is broken. I am jerked back in my body.
Joy is soon followed by tears.
A wall of tears. Unstoppable tears. An overwhelming sense of relief and a knowing… something more, something beyond what I have known before. Freedom