To The One That Tried To Break Me

gypsywarrior

We met before the time I knew myself.

It was the time when your approval mattered—when your approval became the foundation of the fragmented woman I was.

“You tell me who I am,” I would say, as I awaited your instruction, wide-eyed and so very eager to please. And you told me who I needed to be to win your approval, and your love so laced with conditions and strings attached to heights I would never reach. You drew your lines and wooed me into them.

But your lines soon grew into walls. Walls so wide and tall and deep I could no longer see over them or around them. They closed in around me and I became captive to them as they seethed with your hushed expectations.

I could never leave, for if I did I would know of your rejection, your disapproval, your criticism, and abuse. And you were the one to build me, so I could not bear that you would break me.

Though afraid of the darkness, I stayed in your walls so fraught with conditional love and approval. Sometimes I would see a shard of light, fleetingly, and I would believe for one whimsical moment in the love you were never capable of; that perhaps you would see beyond the surface so smeared with scars and recognize the purity of the heart underneath.

But I would soon learn your love was not light, nor hope, nor truth, nor freedom. It was the sound of the door as it closed behind you, the lock and key to your walls of darkness. I molded and shaped and bent myself to fit within your walls, but no matter how small I became for you, my efforts were futile when the walls would always change shape on your irrational whims.

The darkness grew thicker, more pungent with your dissatisfaction, until my heart too became dark, filled with a blackness that poisoned my mind and wasted away my soul. I began to hate myself almost as much as you did, this girl who could do no right. Worthless, hopeless, useless.

You nearly broke me.

But not quite.

Because you didn’t hear the primal roar that began to swell inside the pit of my stomach before it made its way into my bones and out through my scream. You didn’t know what I had already survived through, the tenaciousness of my strength, my courage, my resilience. You didn’t know of my fighting spirit that may have lay down short of hope for a time, but never without defeat.

For I cannot be defeated.

I am a warrior, made of the dust and the stars and the oceans and the skies.

I am a phoenix that has risen once again, a force of nature, a hurricane, a storm, a raging fire.

I am certain, I am sure. I am complete.

My feet stand firm upon the earth and she carries me, her energy rising up within me, and though the winds may blow I cannot be moved. The shard of light was never you. It was always the light within me, the embers of a powerful spirit you never quite burned out.

Your walls have no hold on me as I walk away now, light on the wings of my freedom. You tried, but you did not break me. You will try again, you always do. But I refuse. I know who I am now. I hear the voice of truth as it whispers in the stillness of the place you used to be. My light can no longer be contained.

And I know I will never again be found captive within the dark walls of your approval.

Time + Distance = Perspective (and a warrior heart)

tumblr_static_large.jpg

The mountain road winds its way past valleys and gorges at the foot of the Snowy Mountains. I’m breathless in the wake of its beauty, enamoured by the diversity of the country we live in, from the rough-textured sparseness of the outback to snow-scattered mountains and the cities between, framed by oceans of endless contrast.

A thousand kilometres looms ahead of us, one last epic day of travelling to get home. By the time we arrive home late tonight, we’ll have covered 5000km’s in only 10 days – with five of those days being spent in the one place. Which makes for a hell of a lot of driving on the other five days.

But I’ve come to love the drive. It’s the place where time slows down. The place where thoughts are processed, daydreams are free to wander, hearts are awakened through the beauty of landscape, and souls refreshed as we create distance between our every day lives and the undiscovered road ahead. The drive is a gift.

As we weave through low level clouds on mountain tops, I reflect on the last 10 days. I appreciated the Gold Coast experience, and am glad to have given that experience to my children, but in all honesty, my heart was not there like I thought it would be. At some point I realised pieces of it were scattered, left behind in the places we had driven through in the days before we reached our destination – in the harsh outback with its cactus bushes and red dirt, the winding creek beds that flowed through picturesque gum trees, the wild and jagged mountains of the Great Dividing Range.

These were the places that resonated in me, the places my soul yearned for. They felt like home, whereas the Gold Coast and all its glitz and glamour was a strange land, one I was in, but not of. I spent my days there with an element of homesickness. Not necessarily for home, but for the world I now belong to. For it would seem somewhere along the way this city-bred girl has become a lover of the land, a woman of the earth; barefoot on grassy paddocks under star-dusted skies, nomadic and primal and unencumbered.

hippie woman

While away I binge-read The Natural Way Of Things by Australian award-winning author Charlotte Wood. It was one of the most confrontational books I have read, it left me disturbed and unsettled and awake in the middle of the night trying to process it, but in a way an amazing book should. I won’t go into an entire plot here, but for those that have read it, I found myself fascinated with Yolanda and the way her character developed, her primal instincts, her survival skills, the way she found her own strength which led to a freedom the other girls could not comprehend. She had the heart of a warrior, and the more I shed the layers of my old self, the one I was told I had to be, the more I find the same heart beating inside my own chest.

Warrior hearts are strong, independent, unyielding. We don’t need anyone else, we don’t follow any crowds, nor do we follow any rules. We are misunderstood, feared, and often believed to have gone a little mad. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

And like Yolanda, this can sometimes be a lonely place. We are selective of our tribe, and equally as content without one. My tribe is small and scattered, and while I am mostly at peace with this, it has been the highlight of this trip to have spent time with family, and friends who will always be family, whose presence has left me refreshed and restored, who share the same heart and spirit, who meet me where I’m at and love me there as I am. My tribe. I needed to see them more than I realised.

This trip hasn’t always been ideal. We drove to find warmth and instead bought jumpers and coats as rain made sombre puddles upon grey pavements. I spent two days in bed sweating out a fever and being forced to watch episodes of Top Gear against my will. We spent exorbitant amounts of money on theme park passes that we barely used due to ridiculous school holiday crowds as much as the bad weather.

But there’s still been something wonderful about it, about the drive, about the distance. For with distance comes perspective, and I hadn’t realised how much of that I’d lost of late. The lens had become too close to see the bigger picture, but the further we have driven, the wider my perspective has become. It has been the time and space I’ve needed to reshuffle the pieces of my world that had separated a little, and place them back together in rightful order. Hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs, red and black, numbers aligned.

My world once again makes sense to me. I make sense to me.

Sometimes it just takes some distance to remember who we are.

summer photography tumblr (2)