La libellule écrit…
(The dragonfly is writing.)
When I took the name Libellule after my divorce to honor my French heritage the dragonfly had long been my totem animal. The dragonfly represents moving out of the darkness into the light. It was in 1999. My marriage had ended, I came out as a lesbian and quickly found myself needing to enter into a cloistered world with animals and the garden, to go deep into a cocoon where all of the layers that had built up over a lifetime for self-protection were painfully tight and tearing. I was about to go through a decade and more of deep transformation. It would take me some time now to move through the darkness and into the light.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Thank God for that crack. The little bit of light that I could see kept me alive, and I was dangerously close to the edge. More than once suicide seemed my only option, but something pulled me back from the brink. In my darkest hour, the closest that I ever came, a miracle occurred. I was just at the very edge of black despair, tears were running down my cheeks, and then, just then, through my patio door flew a very large, luminescent dragonfly, golden, unbelievable but real. He stayed with me for half an hour. I was able to get my camera and he sat with me peacefully while I photographed him.
I call this extraordinary experience “The Visitation” and am writing a small book about it. He did not just save my life but in that moment I committed my life and my writing to spiritual good. To continuing to transform my own life and help others do the same. I have spent fourteen years trying to figure out just how to do it. I am finally discovering the answers and the way is unfolding. The time has come. The time is now.
In January I started to write a book that terrified me. After struggling with it for some long time I shelved it. I didn’t think that I could live in the place that this book might take me to write it, but in the last days, the response that I’ve gotten from readers about my last blog entry, “On Being A Bi Polar Artist,” came from every direction. Comments here, from my Facebook friends and followers, from Twitter, and a lot of direct e-mails. It came to me once again that I had promised that dragonfly, that mystical being who saved my life, that I would be a truth-teller, that my job was to save my own life and the lives of others through my writing, and I intend, now, to do just that.
I am going to share with you, tonight, the beginning of the book that I started to write in January, and tonight I am returning to that book and I will finish it no matter how long it takes. I know that it can save lives because no matter how dark, how bleak it is in the telling, there is also light coming in through the cracks, and it is the story of a survivor. Suicide isn’t even something I would consider now. My job is to ride the waves of the bi polar ups and downs, to survive it all, and record it so that someone else can read it and know, through the worst of it all, that if they just hold on they can make it through.
I am going to put the writing below and let this entry end where it ends because it leaves me almost breathless and afraid to put it here and hit publish, but this is the first step in a long journey. It is time that I return the blessing of he who saved me. It is my turn to help and to heal in as much as I can.
The title of the book is I Will Not Go Down That Rabbit Hole, and I offer it, now, to you. It is a rough beginning, but it speaks for itself…
I will not go down that rabbit hole.
Too many other women (and men) have lost their way, the possibility of so much more that disappeared into the ether as the last embers of their lives burnt out leaving pain and suffering and sorrow in the wake of their deaths for all of the people who loved them, to whom they were important, even when they could not possibly believe that their life had any meaning, that it mattered not whether they lived or died. I have been in that place, I have nearly been swallowed whole by that terror, sometimes I face it every single day, but I will not succumb. I will not go down that rabbit hole. I will fight with everything that I have in me to stay alive, even on my hardest days, because if I can hold on and share my journey maybe I can help even one other person avoid falling into the abyss. If I can then my life will have had more meaning than I can see on my darkest days.
I will not go down that rabbit hole. I have been teetering on the brink and my head hurts and tears are welling up in my eyes and I am so terrified that I don’t know how I will go on but I know that I must. I will not do that to the people who love me. I will not put my children through that. I cannot bear to wonder what would happen to these precious little animals that share my life if something happened to me. I have the rescues, the little ones no one else wanted, and they are so bonded to me their own lives would be in peril if I took my own. Suicide is no longer an option, nor do I want to go there, but the blinding terror that I face nearly every day to some degree must be managed in some way if I am to stay afloat. I will write this book. I will cast it, like a paper boat, out upon the water and let it find it’s course. My dream is that it will multiply and find it’s way to other tender souls who, like me, may have been one moment away from the edge when some unknown thing intervened.
I will not go down that rabbit hole. I will write this book. These words will anchor me to the page, will hold me in place, will tether me to this world. As long as I keep writing I will not go down that rabbit hole.
This morning I got up, went to the bathroom, woke the pugs to go to the potty, and we headed out into the cold. Back in I took my morning medication and we crawled back in under the covers for the hour they now know I must lie down to give the meds time to kick in and me that little bit of extra cushion before the day begins. Most days I can go back to sleep for awhile but this morning was one of the hard ones when the cover I tried to pull up over my trembling body was a heavy blanket of fear I could not remove. It was only because my old teddy bear pug Sampson was lying on top of me with my arms around him that I could hang on. Three year old Tanner pushed up against my right side and shy little Pugsley burrowed into the crook of my knees. These pugs have done far more to save me than I could ever do for them, but even this morning, anchored firmly in place with their soft warm bodies snuggled against mine, I had to keep repeating over and over and over frantic prayers and mantras in my head until I thought I might truly be going crazy. I was afraid to lie there and afraid to move. I tried to just breathe but quickly started repeating my prayer, an abbreviated version this time, over and over until I could bear it no longer.
Usually I want the dogs to stay asleep, just a little while longer, but today, the three little faces, burrowed into the covers with their chorus of puggerly snores making me smile even through the dark cloud of fear, worried me. Can I wake them, do I dare? But they, so connected to me psychically that they know the movement of my mood’s swift changes, sat up almost in unison and looked at me worriedly. I was nearly panting with relief by the time we got up, and once outdoors again, breathing fresh air, released from the previous night’s nightmares and the early morning terror that gripped me, the day, as it usually does, seemed possible. Just before the pugs opened their eyes my own filled with tears.
“I will not go down that rabbit hole, I will not be swallowed whole, I will not let my life end or worse yet let life swallow me up and spit me out, a broken thing that those that I love so dearly will need to worry over or bear the burden of taking care of. I must muster the courage, and find the wherewithal inside myself to live, to be independent, not to let a string of mental health diagnoses and the wreckage of a little girl’s psyche that I try so hard to convince myself and everyone else has been pieced back together into something approaching whole, shatter. I will not let the shipwreck of my early life sink the life that is left to me in my final decades on this earth. I will soon be fifty-nine and it is not too late for me. God help me, I have got to find the way.”
I am nearly weeping as I write this but even as tears run down my cheeks I sink into them with relief. I have written countless books trying to unearth the one in which I could really tell the truth, not be afraid, not worry what anybody else thinks or hold back in any way. In this moment I am fighting to save my life and there’s no more time to waste. I will not go down that rabbit hole. I want to live.
Maitri Libellule, copyright 2013