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Past Lives

September 2023

“You didn’t know me before you met me.”

I made that comment to Dear Husband this afternoon, and he said, “It’s a good one: it makes complete sense.”

Yes, I was quite different in that past life.

Just about the entire decade of my twenties was spent in trying to survive many things, many people, many situations. There exist only 2 or 3 photos of me from my early adulthood, the era before I encountered the young man who would become my husband. It was as if I didn’t exist.

In a very real, sadly real sense, I didn’t.

My associations with men were entrenched and complicated confrontations wherein my job, truly a full-time occupation, was to love the cold-blooded narcissist, with nary a thought for anything for myself. I can blame my behavior, to some extent, on those much, and correctly maligned, “family of origin” “issues” (PROBLEMS) within the viper’s pit from which I sprung myself by the age of eighteen.

I believe, however, that my Muse, my artist-self, was a larger factor for my refusal to settle down before the age of thirty. Somehow, with an intuitive sense that’s rarely, if ever, failed me, I was able to set my course in life. Much of what I’d consciously planned didn’t work out. The unexpected and unanticipated events are the ones that worked out, splendidly, for me. My successes more often arrived because of occurrences that came from “out of the blue.”

Chance meetings have been the eye-opening moments of my life. The Ineffable oftentimes sends us gifts that are unwrapped, and unwanted. My character Camille, in THE DAWN, speaks of that truth to her young daughter, Gabrielle.

In a world where planning one’s life by app has become de rigueur, I am thankful for my way of doing things, my approach to living. The Lord helps those who help themselves. My contribution to assist with divine assistance is a sputnik-type sensibility that is both grounded and in orbit; reasoned and intuitive, spunky and sensitive, furious and placid.

It’s a personality that does not fit into today’s zeitgeist, a milieu that’s filled with phonies, spineless parents, bratty adult children, bitter boomers, and — the woe-is-I impatient instigators of irksome problems they can profit from. There are entire industries devoted to picking those emotional scabs; and there are the privateers, the personal-injury-pirates who leech off of the fears, insecurities, and doubts of others.

This last parasitic type I’ve known well. They prepared me for the life I was to discover, to know, to build, and to cherish with my husband.

From time to time, I recall the staggeringly selfish, anti-social personalities that I used to call CHAMELEONS. I used to pronounce the word, CHAM-E-LON, like Camelot, to mock the faux-white-knight-in-shining armor.

Many were the men, and women, boys, and girls, who camouflaged themselves as whatever it was that I needed in order to con me into helping him, or her. Using another human being is an equal opportunity ploy; and I provided ample opportunity to members of both sexes to conduct their practiced deceits and duping of another human being.

My weakness during my twenties was a severe lack of recognition of my talents. That lack existed largely because I’d been unable to recognize, understand, and value my own talents. It was, therefore, a vulnerability that I rather quickly strengthened.

I tend to think that I was used more by girls/women than by boys/men because I arrived in this world with the handicap of an unloving mother. It was thus easy for the clever she-snake to slither to me in the guise of offering solace, sympathy, a shoulder to cry on. Nine times out of ten, I didn’t want the help; but that stance came with a price.

The costs added up for me, of not letting someone close enough to help me, because I’d once too often unknowingly let the wrong type of person close enough to help me, and I got burned, severely burned. My novel, NORTHSTAR, delves into that wretched theme of betrayal, fear of betrayal, certainty of betrayal because of the irrational fear of betrayal, and looking to the Light in the presence of evil during the darkest of nights.

I was only able to write the final version of NORTHSTAR after I’d fully come to terms with the sorrows and saving grace that had brought me to becoming a wife and mother. I realized that all of that vile siphoning off of my goodness, my good nature, my good heart, and my good will — worked out to the good — my good.

In the fullness of time, I was to comprehend my own strength. I came to realize that I’d been standing on my own two feet for a very long time, since early adolescence; and the users I’d mistaken as kindred spirits had filched me of resources they’d never, in a million years, be able to summon up within their vast empty selves.

My novel, NOCTURNE, presents that light, and The Light, that shines within the darkness.

I recall with some amazement, and some sadness, two 8x10 pix of a young child. I was shown those photographs when I was about twenty years of age.

The child was The Boy in the Orphanage. He grew, physically, to be a man, an older man whom I tried to love, and probably did love. During the early days of our association, he showed me those 8x10 pix which he kept in his briefcase. One photo was of him at the age of five, when he’d first entered the orphanage. The second one was taken when he was eleven, just as he left the orphanage.

The five-year-old had bright eyes, a smile filled with hope, and a striped tee-shirt, somewhat askew around the collar. The eleven-year-old wore a suit, shirt, and tie. His eyes were dull and cynical; he wore a crooked smile that would never go away.

I would have had to have been heartless, as heartless as the mother who had abandoned him, not to have felt a need to nurture this still young man of thirty years of age. I’d believed at the time that I, who was homeless, and he, who was alone in the world, had common cause. Indeed, for several years, we might have shared a form of traumatic bonding, based upon our fears of trusting people.

Beyond those several years, though, I learned the only truism that he trusted, an adamant statement he confided to me:

“The last thing an orphan wants is to be adopted.”

Stuck in his own prison of rage, this man remained mired in the past. He would never be adopted by any woman, would never let her close to his heart.

Perhaps this person hadn’t enough heart to forgive the people who had placed him in a place of safety, away from the chaotic world of a middle-class house that would never be a home. All of the creature comforts and physical niceties had been provided for this family, except for love, trust, honesty, honor.

I hailed from the lower class and had, yet again, mistaken a high social status for a moral code, scruples that lasted beyond a day, or hour. Years earlier, I’d undergone a harsh, painful and treacherous two-timing by a boy who, in the current jargon, would be deemed to have an anti-social personality disorder (which ain’t curable). I’d subsequently been advised by some adults to cultivate relationships with a higher class of person. I replied that this guy lived in a mansion!

Eventually, I went back to a better class of losers. And I met my Beloved.

By that time, I’d mellowed a bit. I was still convinced that showing the guy my worst side first was the way to winnow out the unwilling and the unwanted. If he could accept the worst of me, he would earn knowing the best within me.

Those 8x10 pix were well-worn by the time that I accepted the worst of a man who had walked straight toward the darkness. As I walked away from him, I asked if he’d handed out copies of the little orphan boy photos to each gal that he met.

Nowadays, it’s much easier for the romance-fraud to text the images to those special recipients on the e-mail list. I think it’s called the Push Notification, and we all know who ought to get the push!

The digital swindler is a lazier liar than was the cham-e-lon of yore. I can tell you from my past lives, all of them, that the pleasure derived from deleting the much-reviled Lothario from your electronic memory pales in comparison to taking out a knife and slicing the leather chair that was the site of the crime of passion.

I’ve got that one covered in THE WIDOWER AND OTHER SHORT STORIES.


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