It’s felt that the dragonfly has been putting on weight and resting too long on my shoulder this week; its next flight launch must surely be imminent. I could do with being reminded of its beauty and lightness of touch. Instead, it’s causing my heart to tense.
I knew that forging this new life wasn’t going to be a smooth trajectory, and, as a negative optimist, I’d always braced myself for a sloggy and ungainly take off. This week I’ve had to consciously remind myself not to mimic that metaphorical bitter, twisted midster that I promised myself I wouldn’t become, to remind myself that even dragonflies have to make the effort to come out of the water, shed their skin and emerge nymph-like and sparkly.
I guess I’m discovering that at any stage of life stage moulting layers of memories is exhausting. It puts a strain on any heart.
My memory is actually incredibly considerate, for it only seems to allow me to remember the things my heart is strong enough to recall – the other memories come as strange mixed up dreams and then at least they can be shrugged off and blamed on red wine and menopausal night glows. They say that life only makes sense looking backwards, but even so, I’d prefer right now to be taking only the odd cursory glance over my shoulder. Instead, this week has reminded me that sometimes you have to be grounded before you’re fit to take flight again even if it doesn’t make you graceful company.
It’s puzzling that in this mood, when I so desperately crave light and laughter, I find myself hermitting away and allowing any compliments or invitations to slide off unnoticed. I guess the rejection years have wrestled down my confidence – the thought of misreading signs again would be unbearable; I don’t trust myself yet. My heart feels delicate and it’s behaving like an upset stomach, purging any nourishment in its need to detox and cleanse before facing Life’s menu again.
As ever, I’ve been taking lessons from my 91 year old mother. She’s been fighting back after a real heart operation this week and was so desperate to be discharged that she kept quiet about some missed heart beats and ‘episodes’ that she felt might prevent this. I get that; I do it all the time. Pretending everything is normal is easier than looking at reality – in mum’s case, it’s actually been dangerous. Of course it’s laughable for both of us, for we’re both so monitored that any blips are very, very visible to those around us. We both put far too much energy into being prickly and shrugging off help because we find it hard to acknowledge that we need taking care of. We find it hard to think we deserve that care. We especially find it hard to say thank you.
Visiting mum in hospital yesterday, sometime into my visit she needed a nap, and I promised to come back when she had slept. On my return it turned out that her dipped pulse had crashed her monitor and that she was no longer allowed to leave her bed until a pacemaker could be fitted. ‘All my confidence has gone,’ she wept as I half-lay on her bed besides her and held her hand, squeezing her fluttering fingers. She said that before she had ‘dipped’, she’d thought she’d been hurtling through hospital corridors with our family and medics all rushing up to meet her.
I really get that too. Without wishing to piggy back mum’s much more brutal and immediate cardiac needs, I realise that there is a similarity; neither of us can be discharged until our hearts stop lurching around. We’re both a bit delicate in the heart region and I clearly have a lot to learn from her.
A heavy hearted dragonfly is unlikely to take flight. A resting shoulder is needed sometimes and it should be gratefully accepted when offered.