how many years have you spent pulling on clothes that do not fit—forcing on shoes that pinch and make you fall over your own feet?
how many different hats have you worn and each one more wrong than the other?
how long have you wandered from room to room searching for your own breath?
your fingers in the holes in the walls and all you want is earth under your feet, wide open sky above your head, soft rain to ease the drought in your heart, to hear each blade of grass as it moves in the breeze—some holy books call it a spacious place—you call it home.
and you have seen it behind your eyes just before you fall asleep, and the birds that sing in that garden wake you, just before you open your eyes every morning.
and you know it’s there. somewhere.
and perhaps you thought it was tied to a promise, but see here’s the thing, sometimes things break and even words don’t hold their weight and it is difficult for me to say this, because of how much i love words.
but words break too, even ones given as a gift.
anything can break, can fracture, a hairline crack at first and then a slow end into i-cannot-go-back and inbetween being the glue that holds others together, and not remembering the sound of your own name, you wake up one morning and your hands are empty and the first thing you want to do, is ball your fists, curl yourself up from the hunger that has eaten its way through your bones, and all the things that you have used to fill that ache, no longer work, because you have been a cardboard cutout—a paper doll dressed up by the hands of others and you have called this ‘a life’ and sometimes even, ‘my life’, thinking that if you could only possess it with a small pronoun, then it would be ok, be enough, but it isn’t.
and you see others, carrying their lives in their arms and they seem happy with the weight of what they have been given, so why can’t you be the same—wear the same shade of happiness on your lips every morning?
and in your dreams the moon has called you, wooed you with a song that somewhere deep inside of you, you can still remember from lifetimes ago, and now?
now you find yourself standing outside the lines, knees scuffed from climbing outside the box, wrists bruised from breaking the ropes that held you to the life that belonged to your father and your mother and your father’s father and your mother’s mother and all of those who lived their lives before you, and maybe even with you, but see?
this is the secret—their life was never your life to live, even if they said so and there are many ‘theys’ in your life and sometimes the bravest thing you can do, is to turn your back on a hand-me-down-life and leave it behind.
and you have lived a hungry life trying to make sure that your colours don’t bleed all over other people, so thoughtful you have been.
now you are on the other side of the fence. finally.
but you are all alone.
and you are scared.
where to now? where is home? where do you belong? perhaps that two-sizes-too-small-coat wasn’t so bad after all? you could live smaller—lose the weight of your dreams and then perhaps you will fit into that life?
no. no. no. don’t you dare!
let those questions come.
you can’t leave without a hundred hungry questions following you, anyway.
it’s ok. there are answers for most of them. the others will die from lack of fear.
but until then, this is what you do—you breathe… breathe free for the first time and call it what it is—you are on your own, but you are not alone!
open your hands. uncurl your fingers. you cannot receive anything if your hands are full of fear.
see the wide open sky above your head? it is all yours. see the clouds building up in the east? smell the dampness in the air. your drought is almost over.
and there’s more. so much more.
take off that coat, that dress, shapewear? what on earth for? you have always been the perfect shape! no more of this… that hat? those shoes?
kick them off. throw them away.
feel the air on your face and look! see how your skin fits perfectly… stretched just right over your bones, and this is what you have wanted—hungered for, isn’t it?
this freedom to be what they told you, you couldn’t.
here you are.
you’ve come this far and i know that it’s scary—terrifying really, but you can’t turn back now, not again.
open your eyes. look up. breathe. hold out your hands.
for some of us, learning to let go of security and the need to control things beyond our control—deciding every fresh morning to let go of what we think our tomorrows should look like, learning to live in the moment, can be the bravest thing we ever do.
I am watching my son, eleven-and-a-bit years, eat his lunch.
He has the same meal every day—oven chips, carrot and chicken. He takes comfort in the familiar—needs it, like he needs oxygen.
He is using both a fork and a knife.
More than that—he is using ordinary cutlery. He no longer needs specially shaped knives, forks and spoons that are shaped to make it easier to lift food from plate to mouth.
Just beautifully ordinary cutlery.
Taken from the cutlery drawer without a thought and slipped quietly next to plates and bowls.
He still won’t touch food with his bare hands, but this? This one we’ve conquered—the sweet result of years and years of working intensely on a simple skill.
My son is autistic. He also has dyspraxia. Simple instructions such as co-ordinating a knife and a fork at the same time, get lost in the conflicting messages between his neurological system and his muscles.
At least, it used to. Forks and knives and hands and mouth, now listen to his brain.
Dyspraxia impacts his life in hundreds of ways, but we have worked so hard.
Giving up, has never been an option.
We don’t know the meaning of those words.
There have been lots of tears.
Mine and his, and we are intimately familiar with frustration.
But give up?
So, here we are, the two of us, on a quiet Thursday afternoon. It is raining outside, I am having a cup of tea and I am watching my boy eat his lunch with a knife and a fork, and it is an utterly beautiful thing.