In an effort not to combust from all the RAGE I’m experiencing – here is a happy moment in my life a like to reflect on from time to time…
When I was struggling under the weight of control “Gareth” had over me…on one of the rare afternoons Gareth wasn’t home “watching me”, my friend Troy randomly visited. He jingled his car keys happily as I opened the front door to greet him; “Get dressed – we’re going out”
I never went anywhere without Gareth “accompanying” me.
I bit my lip, worried. What would Gareth say?
Troy seemed to read my mind “Just for an hour – we’ll be back before he is” he winked.
My old friend – a friend I’ve had for more than 20 years now – I can’t look at him without feeling a rush of fondness for him. Troy’s hair at the time was quite long in front and hung over one big, brown, friendly eye.
“Ok” I relented “just for an hour”
Troy beamed a huge smile at me and before I knew it, we were off in his car; Troy singing along (badly) to the radio and glancing over at me to offer a reassuring smile.
We arrived at a park. I don’t know it’s name or where it is so I haven’t been to visit again…but it was just a wide expanse of freshly cut grass in a huge oval. Troy and I got out of the car and I followed him to a nearby wooden picnic bench. Troy sat on the table and patted the seat next to him.
I gathered my dress around me and sat stiffly next to him.
“Hey” Troy said, smiling warmly at me “I know you’re going through a rough time right now. I know you’re battling some really tough things. So, I’m not going to talk at you. I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I’m going to walk around this big oval and just let you think”
At the time, I was so confused, bruised and battered, I could only nod. I had no idea what was happening or why – I just felt so lost.
Troy gave my hand a gentle squeeze, and started his walk around the oval.
What was I supposed to do?
Why wasn’t Troy sitting with me?
I wasn’t used to being alone anymore. I had no idea what to do with this freedom.
A million phrases and ‘rules’ from Gareth filled my mind – a million things I needed to obey/do to gain his approval. Sitting alone in a park with Troy was definitely not one of them. I’m going to be in so much trouble! These warred with voices from my parents in the past “you should do this” “you need to do that” – all mixed in with Anne’s voice “people are talking about you” “Everyone thinks you’re a psycho”…
I felt so overwhelmed, I almost cried out for Troy to come back. But he was so far away now and the day was so hot that Troy’s outline across the oval looked like a shimmering candle.
I smiled at the way his jeans seemed too big for him and how he suited his checkered cotton t-shirt so much. I think country life and country clothing really suit my dear friend.
A wind blew and ruffled the leaves of the tree above me and I enjoyed the feeling of its caress against my face. I listened to the sound of the leaves dancing in the breeze, gently shuffling against each other.
I took deep breaths.
My shoulders relaxed. I didn’t realise how strained and tense I was until now.
This – just sitting here alone – was so good for me. Nourishing in a weird way.
Slowly, all the warring thoughts in my head faded…until there was nothing.
Nothing at all.
AND IT WAS BLISS.
I spent an hour breathing.
Just breathing in…and back out.
I spent that hour just listening – to the trees, the wind, the branches, the leaves, the birds…to the steady thrum of my own heart beat.
Ba-doom. Ba-doom. Ba-doom.
Troy did about 5 laps of the oval.
He eventually came back to sit next me again on the bench.
“You good?” He asked, wiping sweat off his brow.
“I am now” I answered. I smiled. My first real smile in months.
“Then let’s go”
And without another word, Troy drove me back to mine and Gareth’s flat. Troy didn’t come in with me but let the engine idle as I sat next to him.
This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given by a friend. Time to just breathe.