During my coaching call this week, we were talking about confidence. Our coach, Deborah Hurwitz, introduced an intriguing drawing of a woman with a large cat (which I thought was a panther) emerging from her chest in such a way that there appeared to be parts interwoven between the woman and the panther. Several of us were asked to give an interpretation of the drawing and they were fascinating. I have been doing some "energetic embodiment" work with Koichi Naruishi and was able to see the woman, who seemed to me to have a serene face, as representing the peaceful aspects of my personality, and the panther as embodying some of the negative feelings such as anger and fear. Because I have been able to start processing those feelings every week as energy, I was able to look beyond the larger part of the drawing to a much smaller hummingbird flying toward the moon or sun and saw that as emblematic of my moving beyond the turmoil of my feelings to a sense of freedom.
The picture and the discussion reminded me of a poem I had written years ago when my parents were still alive and living with us. At the time I was struggling with a serious depression, our house was painted a dark brown, and our fourth daughter Catherine was a bundle of energy who stopped napping at 14 months, learned to climb out of her crib, and kept me running after her constantly to keep her from getting into trouble. I was convinced my parents thought I was a terrible mother, even though they didn't criticize me and in fact helped by taking Catherine every afternoon and entertaining her until dinner time, which gave me a much needed break.
However, all these circumstances combined to give me the feeling that I was in prison and that there was no hope I would ever escape.
I started writing a poem to express my wrestling with despair.
Drained at dawn, the night
sky is scoured blue;
soapsuds curl up on chaparral slopes,
with beckoning roads still
in morning lull:
here, there are no forced marches.
If I deny this gravity,
ignore the pull of house and street
and rise on buoyant feet
day lengthens into light,
mockingbird lyric, summer space
and glimpse of western ranges.
Heartbeat lengthens to a lope--
but calendars weave cocoons
of sentinel pines and splintered moons.
In the dark, gargoyles colonize
the eucalyptus trees,
coydogs, possums, cricket-charged breeze
swirl into dream.
I do not seem
a prisoner of this brown house, these days
of subtle routine chains,
riveted to a window view
--clock time framed--
sparse slices of seasons,
like flint to flame:
one intense vision
held at bay.
I can remember so many times standing at the window, looking out at the dreary brown walls of the house, yearning for the freedom of the sky, longing to walk out for a few moments of fresh air but feeling as if I were locked in by the imagined demands of almost everyone in the house. My husband was a help--he did far more than most men who had a full-time job outside the home--but he didn't understand why I would let the critical tapes from my childhood play in my mind now. I can remember once asking him how he would feel if his mother criticized something he did. He looked at me and said, "I wouldn't care." I knew he wouldn't but that seemed impossible for me.
In those days, my only escape was through my poetry, and I did craft an escape in this poem, with this ending:
Birds paying morning calls
light the blowtorch of sunrise
in these stuccoed walls
I fly free.
This finale came back to me as I was pondering the picture in our coaching program, the ways I'm processing negative emotions through Koichi's help with "energetic embodiment," the huge leaps I have made in my writing and other goals thanks to the coaching program, and I can see myself as the hummingbird soaring above!