I always knew that Mark would come, yet he was not to be my first love bursting with pimples and testosterone and school yard fumbling. He was to be my last love, my one and only true love and the final masterpiece of my life worth waiting for. Mark was to be a real man, not like the others I was going to fall for, who felt so much younger than I, no matter how old they were. He was to be strong and tall, both physically and emotionally, who would make my jaw drop down, because he would be so damned attractive to me. He was to be ‘the one’ to make me flush, as he played tango with my eyes across the room, and to take my breath away every time he would speak my name, because even today, my heart still beats faster whenever I hear his voice, or watch him walk across the road as if he was a complete stranger.
You may think I am just talking about romance, but you are mistaken, for Mark and I share something deeper than just physical attraction, which continues to sizzle and spark on another dimension altogether, somewhere within the kingdom of the soul. We even experienced this oneness as a mysterious gift when we first connected, which was long before we actually physically met. It was as if he had instantly used a secret key to unlock a private room inside my soul, which nobody else had ever known was even there before, let alone entered.
Even when I was just a child, I knew he was out there in the world for me, so strong was the feeling of him. I can still remember it, together with the first twinge of longing for him. I must have been only three or four years old at the time, because I was on a cot mattress in my mother’s bedroom. I was vividly aware that the man of my dreams was a little boy out there in the world somewhere too, breathing the air in and out at the same moment with me.
“I know you’re here now”, I clearly remember whispering to him.
“I don’t know your name yet, but I know you are alive somewhere out there with the moon, and one day we will be together and live happily ever after”.
I would often wonder, if he was watching the moon at the same time, whilst it mysteriously followed me around, wherever I was going. I decided that even if he could not see it, that the moon could see him, and we were mysteriously connected by a shimmering ray of silver thread. Whilst I could not actually see my true love, I could always feel him and that perception helped me to recognise him forty odd years later, but only after two divorces and numerous unrequited love affairs first.
As you can imagine, after so many failed relationships, I had that sinking feeling of being pretty hopeless for many years, believing I had to pretend that I was happy, when my relationship was in reality a living hell. I felt that there was something intrinsically wrong with me, and so I set about transforming myself from within, hoping to make that old feeling of not being good enough, finally go away.
But now I have started at the end and if I continue telling it all upside down like this, you will not understand what we both had to learn about ourselves, and about love, and what transpired before the great love of my life could finally come into it without me sabotaging that relationship too. It was such a beautiful clear day though, when I finally realized that l was no longer separate from everything anymore, but part of the great oneness, which everything is.
Like an odd piece of jig saw puzzle that was in the wrong box, I never fitted in at home, so I rather felt separate from everything and everyone. I was the youngest of six children. My oldest brother and sister were born in mum’s previous marriage and then she adopted my other brother and the twins. My oldest siblings were much older than I and were busy getting on with their own lives, so I did not really get to know them when I was small. Jana and Birdie were seven years older and the three of us shared a bedroom together. They were identical twins and had their own secret relationship, so naturally I felt like the odd one out.
They say it is always easier being the baby, because you are spoilt, but that is just not the case about my childhood. At least not when your mother is dying of cancer and you don’t trust your father, because of the terrible things he does to little girls when no one else is around. My happiness came from outside of myself and depended primarily on my mother’s moods. For the most part, I was on edge, as if I was being trained passionately to survive, whilst being hunted down ruthlessly at the same time by a highly trained mercenary. Her treatment of me taught me to use my gut instinct, as if it was my only hope for survival. Sometimes, I was quiet and carefully watchful like a spy, as she bound my mind up in chains and tortured me as she played with it, for I was never allowed to relax and just be myself. Not ever. Over the long period of time, which was my childhood, I learnt to discover that pain was carrying me across an invisible bridge to my soul, where the journey from the core inspired me to become my own mother, encouraging the small child within to finally grow up. It was my own way of finding some peace within the violent war of my life and to actually gain a sense of control about who I really was.
My parents were strictly controlling and devoutly religious, and they used to threaten us with the wooden spoon relentlessly to keep us in a constant state of fear. My mother spoke in an irritable tone, as if she resented us most of the time, except when we were in the company of others. She never revealed to other people the real person she was with us behind closed doors. They were avid church people and my father was an Elder, so they were highly respected pillars of the community, which seemed to pose a huge contradiction to me. They demanded respect, or I would get another hiding if they thought I had looked at them the wrong way, or had spoken in the wrong tone. I learnt to live on a sea of egg shells, and if I had not become expert enough at sensing the smallest of shifts in my energetic environment long before my mother’s voice was ever raised, the thrust of a wooden jam spoon quickly stung my legs again before I could say I was sorry. Hence, I became super sensitive to the invisible energy of different places and people, knowing that something else entirely was always going on underneath the facade of every day chatter.
I would have loved to have grown my hair long and worn it in a soft and feminine way like the other little girls, whilst dressing up and playing with makeup and nail polish, but my mother forbade it, and cut my hair short, right up to my ears instead so that I looked just like a little tom boy. But I never acted like a boy. Perhaps she did this, because she was aware of what my father was doing to Jana and Birdie the twins, although she never admitted it. I’d like to think in retrospect that she was trying to protect me, by trying to keep me looking asexual.
She would gather me up sometimes and sing to me,
“Claire, Claire Buchholz is no good. Chop her up for firewood. If she is no good for that, give her to the old Tom cat”!
Over and over she would sing that old song and then she would laugh and pull me up close for a peck on the cheek and tell me to run along. The melody still haunts me today, so I guess she programmed me pretty well to have low self-esteem. I ask myself over and over the question which still troubles me. Why would any mother want to treat her child like a worthless little bird locked up in a cage with its wings clipped, so that it never learns how to fly? It just seems so cruel to me now, and as I reflect upon it as a parent. I have to wonder if she was silently suffering from her own wounds to reflect such darkness to me and perhaps she was treating us the way she felt about herself.
When you are a child, it doesn’t occur to you that your parents are sick, or that they are transferring their own inner fears onto your emotional map. All I knew, was that it felt like I was trapped in the pages of a wicked fairy tale. Sometimes I would simply run away from reality and into my own thoughts and dreams, where I was beautiful, and where I was adored by my beloved. I could see the world through my own self-created vision, pretending to dress up in grandma Flo’s lingerie and jewels, and parading up and down the bedroom in her imaginary stockings and pearls with lipstick smudged across my mouth and lavender cologne splashed over my frock in an effort to make myself more worthy of being loved.
Whenever I was just being myself, my parents would repress me with another hiding, so it was easier to act like I was someone else. I thought this treatment was normal and I tried to do exactly what I was told, although my bruises would often prove that I failed. I pretended to be lots of other imaginary people, to try and figure out what sort of person they wanted to love instead of me, which only served to keep my creativity buzzing and flowing most of the time. My mother would often catch me sitting on the step outside the kitchen and fling the window open to find out who I was talking to. Then she would irritably tell me off, because I was only talking to myself by throwing my voice around so much in an effort to create characters of all ages and different accents. She would yell in that prickly tone of hers, which always made me jump like I was doing something wrong again.
The back door of our house led down a step onto the veranda and my father made a special little glass knob, which he placed just low enough, so that I could let myself in. I remember being rushed to go inside one day, probably just to have a pee. As my arms were busy carrying toys, I grabbed the knob with my mouth and tried to suck it open with one mighty gasp. The three inch nail attaching the knob to the door was already loose and was sucked down into my throat lodging precariously like a wobbly bullet. If I screamed for help or breathed in any further, I realized that the nail would kill me, but if I gagged like I was going to vomit, I thought that I may be able to eject it without causing too much harm to myself. The question was did I want to live or die? That little voice was quite plain to me and if I had known the difficult journey I would take in the years ahead, I wonder if my decision would still be to stay? The effort to just let go seemed to be so easy, yet I chose to fight to save my own life instead.
I would often hide in the back seat of our father’s 1932 Yellow Rolls Royce, which he had immaculately restored along with his other veteran, vintage and classic cars. It was just like the one in the film, ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce’, and I kept it as my special place to ponder things over in, or whenever I needed to simply run away from feeling worthless and afraid and back into my own fantasy world again.
I would often sit in the back seat wondering why I was ever born and what I was meant to do here when I grew up. Nobody seemed to have a clue and I was amazed considering my mother and father knew the answers to everything else. It seemed to me that I was here to find my true love and to create beautiful music and exquisite spaces, living in peace and happiness. I remember one time imagining that I was a beautiful lady dressed in floating layers of black chiffon with seamed nylons and high heeled shoes, all wrapped up in a soft white fur coat, whilst smoking a cigarette positioned in a long silver holder. I decided to carefully apply my mother’s dark red lipstick in the mirror that was inlayed into the polished woodwork at the side of the back door, and powdered my nose as well with her softest new powder puff, which I had secretly borrowed without asking her.
The imaginary chauffeur was just waiting to be told where we wanted him to drive us to, as I wound down the window that separated the front and back seats. My love and I had been sipping imaginary French champagne in tall crystal flutes, which were stored in the built-in wine cabinet, secretly hidden in the back compartment with us. We were nestled on plush cream velvet seats holding hands and entwined like a painting of rapture displayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
“Where to my darling”? I pretended to ask in my most eloquent of English voices. We found ourselves gazing into each other’s eyes, and I almost drowned in the pleasure of the electricity, pulsing through my heart and into my groins, knowing at the same time, my love was too, because I imagined his face was all flushed pink, and his eyes were flashing fearlessly with a hint of something that I could not touch with my fingers.
Suddenly Jana abruptly swung open the back door of the Rolls, saying “Come on sis, what are you doing sitting there all alone for”? She had been watching me quietly for God knows how long, before bursting into my fantasy and scaring the living daylights out of me.
“Mum’s looking for you and she can’t find her new red lipstick”.
Well one day ‘the one’ and I would be together forever, I reassured myself. After all, I could dream couldn’t I? He and my piano lessons were all that I had to keep me sane, and I was a woman now. I was eight years old, and I had already finished my very first period for heaven’s sake.