Memoir Entry: 2009

As a young girl, I used to dream of joining the Navy and sailing the seven seas! Growing up in south Florida, I grew to love the ocean. I would sometimes spend hours on the docks watching the ships in the distance and dreaming of what life at sea must be like. At times I would close my eyes and imagine myself on the deck of some sea faring vessel, slicing through the frigid black water; salt air blowing wildly through my hair, and the smell of the ocean filling my nostrils.

The freedom and adventure I imagined was alluring to me. I have no doubt that most would struggle with the loneliness of just such a life, but solitude has never been a problem for me. Quite the opposite, in fact. I find that I am centered and renewed in my times of seclusion. Though, I suspect I am so powerfully drawn to isolation at times, because it provides an escape from those parts of my life that I struggle with so intensely.

It’s a gorgeous day in Sedona, Arizona; perfect weather for a hike. There’s a light breeze blowing against my face and the warm sun is beating down upon my back; very much unlike the blowing winds and cold temperatures that I’m used to this time of year. It’s amazing what a difference 30 miles southward, and a descent of 2000 feet in elevation can make. 

From the cliff on which I’m perched, I can hear people talking below me; but it does nothing to disturb my thoughtful state of mind. I almost wish it would. Being out here alone with my thoughts can be therapeutic at times, revealing at others. I can see already that the latter will be my lot today.

As a child, I’m not sure I ever gave my future a second thought. What am I going to be when I grow up? Will I attend college? Will I marry? And if so, how many children will I have? Surprisingly, I don’t recall these things ever entering my mind. And if they did, I didn’t invite them in long enough to remember them. It’s not that I haven’t been ambitious or even successful in life. I’ve spent 4 years in the United States Army; 4 years in the United States Air Force; traveled all over the United States, as well as other countries; and have spent most of my life in a career field in which I’ve excelled in a variety of roles. No, ambition has not been an issue for me.

But life itself? Well, that’s a different story altogether.

My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. Not a new story; on the contrary, a far too familiar narrative. In that one word, everything I knew to be real and secure dissolved into nothing; and for the first time in my life, I felt fear for the future. I’ve heard people say that it’s common for children to feel some fault or responsibility when their parents divorce. I certainly felt a lot of things during that time, but fault for what was happening? No, I never felt that way.

It was no more than a few days after the news that I was torn from my home and my father, to take up residence with my mother and her newly acquired boyfriend/soon to be husband. And so would begin a series of planting and uprooting that would continue for nearly the remainder of my childhood.

My father eventually re-married and I spent much of my adolescence volleying back and forth between him and my mother – mostly as a punishment by my mother for some wrong I had committed, real or imaginary. Ironically though, some of my best memories are of living with my father. Even so, the rejection that I felt from my mother during that time was not lessened by this fact.

As children we tend to see and believe the best in people, regardless of how they treat us. We accept that our parents love us, regardless of what they say and do; and we trust that those whom we care about, care about us. There are those ties that bind no matter the circumstances. But, as we grow older we begin to see the inconsistencies between what people do and what they say, or don’t say. Though I’m not sure that seeing does much in the way of changing our hearts and minds. Children are resilient, the foolish proclaim. We would do well to remember that we were all children at one time, and we carry the scars to prove it.

As the memories flow, I’m overcome by the realization that life can be dreadfully unpredictable at times, and somewhat terrifying. Gradually, I begin to see (perhaps for the first time) that somewhere along the way I’ve lost the wonder and innocence of life. I think I’ve spent most of my years trying to avoid that feeling, though I’m not sure I understood it until this moment. And now that I am aware, what good does it do for me to write about it? Will these words somehow bring about a miraculous conversion? Will I suddenly be healed of the years of hurt and rejection that have brought on this loss?

I’m tired of being strong; I want to be vulnerable. I’ve so long denied that this part of me exists, covering it with so many distractions, that reality has become blurred; and I’ve deceived myself into believing that I am fine. 

What I so desperately need is a hiding place; a lap that I can crawl onto and lay down my head in peace. I long to love freely and be loved in return, to enjoy life in all its richness; but this open wound in the depths of my heart causes me to fear and pull back. I want to finally feel the fullness of this pain that I’ve so fiercely protected, even from myself. And in feeling, confront. And in confronting, be healed.

I know that no amount of self-help books or popular psychology can heal me. They can only help me cope. Only Jesus can truly set me free and make me whole. This is exactly why He came. I am why He came. We are why He came. To redeem us from the curse and effect of sin. To bring wholeness to our lives. To set us free. To rescue us from the insanity of this world. And to return us to our Creator and Lover of our souls. Praise God for His great love toward us!

Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.”

It’s getting late and I should start my return trek. It’s difficult to pull myself away from this beautiful spot; but somehow I feel refreshed, energized, and ready to head home. 

As I stand, I see a man below me stacking rocks to create what I would guess is a cairn. I find this strange, as there is only one trail at this point in the hike and it hardly seems necessary to mark it. But the irony is not lost on me. I realize that there is also only one trail for me at this point in my life. I can continue on my current path, moving further into the trees and brush; denying that anything is amiss. Or, I can turn around and follow the one trail that leads me out of this canyon and back toward home.

Copyright © 2009 Deanna Renee All Rights Reserved