It began like any ordinary day in March. She slept late, despite the light slipping through the slits along the edges of the blinds. Life had been quiet for years and Megan had adjusted her pace accordingly.
Breakfast was an unhurried meal, so different from the times when she’d grabbed a coffee and some sickly-sweet pastry on her way to work. Watching the birds land on the bare branches outside her window, Megan shook her head in disbelief as she remembered her old life.
She had been the queen bee of busyness, never missing an opportunity to flaunt her over-full schedule to friends, family, and colleagues in the hope of garnering a few crumbs of acknowledgement, admiration and, she still cringed to admit it, envy – the sweetest crumb of all. Those crumbs had initially fed her undernourished ego, but as the crumbs got sweeter, Megan’s ego got bloated. It soon accompanied her everywhere, squeezing others out onto slippery edges and into tight corners. She saw it differently – her once neglected ego deserved the extra elbowroom.
And then Megan, the woman who had it all – family, career and the trappings that go with them – lost it all, spectacularly. Her magnificent house of cards fell apart in five days. She moved out of the family home on Saturday and was given a non-negotiable severance package from her company on Wednesday. With having to keep so many balls in the air, she’d naturally missed the many cues lying around her busy life. Her family had progressively filled the gaps left by her regular absence, and her even busier colleagues had deliberately maneuvered her out of the mega project through what she’d misread as innovative team building.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The cold wind took her by surprise as she set off on her daily walk. By the time she’d reached the nearby park, her fingers were numb. But once she crossed into the park, the sun blazed down on her and on the clumps of yellow daffodils dancing in the wind. March, she thought, opening the top buttons of her jacket, was one of those months when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, all in the space of a few seconds – a perfect reflection of the inner conflicts she hoped to settle during her walk.
After her mighty fall, Megan had managed to get her life back on track. But she still had relapses, which set her indulging in that familiar cocktail of doubt, despair, and rage. It was a recipe developed over her lifetime, a special blend of suffering and struggle with a generous dash of self-pity, and when she found herself on that downward spiral, she lined them up in front of her. Tossing each one back, she reminded herself just how unfair life had been to a woman who deserved so much better.
Would life always be like this? she thought, rubbing her hands together as she walked along a path fully shaded from the warming sun. Would her life always replicate a lost property office she was doomed to rummage around in, stumbling upon the missing parts of herself, only to lose them again? She hurried across the grass towards the sunny bench to warm her shivering body.
Megan was tired of the repetition, tired of the relentless combat, and tired of finding herself back in a place she’d struggled to leave. And she’d tried so hard to solve this elusive mystery. Over the years she’d invested in therapists, coaches, spiritualists, gurus, and astrologers. God, if some of her friends knew what she was into now! She’d found a group on the internet a few years ago and was now listening to a dead aristocrat talk through another guy every month about energy and allowing. In fact, those same friends would have her put away if they’d known that the holiday she’d booked in Hawaii was really to attend one of his workshops!
It was coming up soon and she honestly didn’t know anymore why she was even going. It had been another of those silly moments when she felt strangely drawn to something and before she knew it, she’d booked everything and paid a small fortune for her stupidity. And besides, that guy ‘of sovereign domain’ rubs her the wrong way so often, even calling himself a saint sometimes. When was he ever a saint? “He’s so arrogant, he probably canonized himself!” she fumed. Once she got home, she’d cancel the workshop and just go for the holiday. Yes, she’d put things right today and stop all this nonsense with allowing, which obviously wasn’t working. Megan closed her eyes and let her body soak up the warm March sunshine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She was alone in a beautiful garden, watching the butterflies hover from flower to flower as she walked along the rows of flowerbeds. Her dedicated work over the years had transformed this neglected area into a flourishing, natural sanctuary. And every bush, bud and blossom bowed to her achievements as she moved among them. A flutter inside her chest expanded outwards as she let the praise from her garden flow through her. In that moment she felt that she and her garden were becoming a synthesis of thriving beauty.
She turned into a row of peony roses, her absolute favorite flowers. It had taken her years to create these flowerbeds that provided all the different types of roses with the best growing conditions. This particular corner of the garden was her space to admire the perfection of her gardening creations and remind herself of her mastery. But that thrill she’d felt only a moment ago suddenly disappeared as drooping red blossoms and brown petals caught her keen eyes. Without thinking she began to tear off the brown petals and tie the heavy flower to the adjacent stakes. But they still sank back down, despite her efforts.
As tiny insects began to crawl onto her hands from inside the flower heads, her body started to tremble. She began to snap off the drooping flower heads in front of her and then, as the heat in her chest moved up into her face, she grabbed every blossom within reach and broke them off with a sharp twist of her hand. She grabbed a nearby stake and lunged into the neighboring flowerbed, decapitating every blossom in sight.
In a few reckless minutes, she’d turned the most prized corner of her garden into a wasteland. Why had she done that to her beloved peony roses? She started to sob and soon her body was shaking all over as she flung her wooden sword to the ground.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A trickle of cold sweat running down Megan’s back woke her up. What, she thought, was going on? The trees in front of her were bare and her whole body was trembling. She had no other option but to stay sitting on the bench until her body had calmed down. Why were warm tears flowing down her face? Coming slowly to her senses, she realized she’d just had one weird nightmare in the middle of the day in a public park.
Except that the nightmare was far too real, and she couldn’t deny it. That trail of destruction was the pattern running through her life – as soon as she’d sorted out her messed-up life, she would start to destroy it again. She remembered going into such a rage after hearing, in one of the monthly messages, that if something was in her life she didn’t like, it was because she wanted it there. She’d cancelled her subscription to the newsletter that very day, went on a full rant the following day on Facebook that lasted a whole week, and wrote directly to the organization, explaining just how dangerous it was to say things like that to people like her who had suffered so, so much!
She had raged in her black hole, throwing back those malicious cocktails for months afterwards. But once she’d scraped her way back to the surface, she started listening to the monthly messages again. And the surprising thing was, she found them supportive and even soothing. That’s when she first thought about attending a workshop, but still talked herself out of it numerous times. And then, just two weeks ago, she finally booked it and felt so proud of herself for taking the courageous step to attend in person – at least until her self-destructive urge almost got the upper hand. Again.
But it hadn’t. Not this time. She saw clearly now that the finely woven web of self-sabotage that had repeatedly turned her life into a wasteland was her own creation. As Megan headed towards the park exit, she noticed the rows of yellow daffodils in an otherwise grey landscape and was heartened at how they didn’t break as the repeated gusts of wind blasted them. They swayed, she noticed, bending their crowns backwards to relinquish any resistance to the oncoming force. Then, once the windblast has passed, they straightened their tall stems again, reclaiming their natural sovereignty on this extraordinary March day.
Nature, she marveled, creates its own way of surviving without struggling and self-destruction, unlike a certain someone whom she knew all too well. And with each nimble step through the park, Megan knew that she was ready to cut the fine threads that bound her to that someone – her old, saboteur self.
Carmel Finnan discovered at a very young age that stories allow us to live multi-dimensional lives. These days she spends most of her time making magic with the 26 letters of the alphabet by writing her own stories and helping others write theirs. She’s been part of Crimson Circle since 2004. You can contact her via email and through her website storydialogue.com/shaumbra.