On rebuilding yourself, rock by rock

by - 9:44 PM


And just like that I realized he was crazy, and although at that young age I didn't have words for what he was now I would label him alcoholic, mentally ill and violently tempered, unstable. So, because of him, this man I called father, I grew up in a house without any joy, lots of stress and fear. Without foundation I entered young adulthood, I left my childhood home raw and ragged and felt as if I had fought in a war.

In my middle age I am still sorting through those jumbled moments that left me so raw.  Sorting and throwing out the pieces that aren’t worth keeping, burying the ones that need to be buried, soothing and learning from the ones that still need to be healed and nurtured.

Lining the borders of my old house in an old town are some very old stone walls.  Standing since 1880 they were created to hold back a hillside and mark the property line rather than to keep animals in to pasture as seen frequently through New England.


As I walk through town with my dogs I look at what others have done with stone.  Some walls are professionally done, chipped and nicked here and there to make each piece fit perfectly creating a nicely fitting wall.  And, still others look a bit like mine do, piled up neatly with a mix of differently sized rocks clunked together, their ill fit creating, sometimes small and other times large gaps revealing a pile of soft moss or perhaps the head of a wildflower pushing through towards sunlight or creating an entrance for snakes, voles, and mice to inhabit. 


Back at my home I’ve been slowly rebuilding some of the walls lining the property in spots where I find them crumbling.  I love this work, the feel of the stones in my hand.  One by one I pull them onto the ground to redo the part that is weakening, sorting them and throwing out the ones that aren’t working, burying the larger ones halfway down to create a stronger foundation, working  the dirt behind them and replacing the rocks and shoring up the wall, hopefully, for quite some time.  

As I work on these walls I can’t help but reflect at how this process is like a long life.  As my childhood joy was stolen by alcohol, rage and mental illness leaving large holes in the “walls” of my life I am thankful that I had the fortitude to move on and rebuild.  Each day I put down a new layer, the smaller “rocks” I plug in here and there are love and nurturing, forgiveness, caring…all the little things, the choices are stacked up building my life, making up who I am.  Every joyful moment I share with my kids I am putting a rock back into place where a large hole was.  Every lesson learned and taught or the moments where I challenge my weaknesses, my fears, they have helped rebuild the walls of my life.  


Because of how they were built, m
y “walls” wouldn’t have the professional look of some of the perfectly built ones that I’ve seen around town on my dog walks.  My “walls”, by now, have been pieced together and may be ill-fitting but are coming together good and strong, rock by rock.

A poem:
No such thing as a simple question -- D.Fries

From the back seat of the car you asked me what I would take from my childhood.
A simple question asked from such a small boy.
So small, but so wise are you.

And again, YOU asked ME what I would take from my childhood 
and you waited for my answer.
I peer into the rear view at you, I am stunned and stalling.
“I wouldn’t take anything” I think.
I am afraid to admit to you the anger, the betrayal,  
the sadness that is my legacy.

YOU ask me again what I would take from my childhood,
In the silence of my answer YOU simply said,
“I would take my Mom.” 
It took my breath away as I realized YOU meant ME.
And simply I think that my story has not been fully written yet.

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