|Edward Gorey illustration. He always gets it right.|
No matter how much shaking, avoiding, ignoring, denying, explaining and ritual we do, our histories cling like rain-soaked summer clothes. History assumes forms that bedevil us without cease. The eggs hatched just as we drew first breaths and their reptile-kin spawn have acted, always, as the rip currents that pull us into the deep water, just when all looked calm. That many of us haven't drowned is the miracle. At my advanced age, I can think "I'm too old for this shit" as often as I want and it makes no difference. Until I fill the basement with concrete and pile their 60-odd years' accumulation of foul-smelling stuff on the lawn, they will not leave. I think of them as The Old Dragons.
Though by now they are as creaky and shrunken as I, they have going for them (a) numbers. I am but one. (b) the sharp elbow of bad manners which they use to intrude on tranquil moments. (c) malice and dishonesty. I think the writer of GAME OF THRONES patterned his endless parade of manipulators on some well-known-to-him Old Dragons. (d) what they claim to be evidence of shortcomings and crimes that could not even be called misdemeanors, when viewed through their magnifying projectors, seem heinous and unforgivable. (e) stubbornness which I have come to believe rises from their fear of eviction. And I swear by the ancient gods, they will be gone.
During my clearest moments, I know each of us, each human, is, like me, a wooden-framed screen door with an inexpertly patched worn spot that always works loose and lets the flies in. No matter how much professional help (and I mean good professional help) we've paid for, shown up for and cried through, any dangerous residue of self-doubt, even a drop, provides the needed false bravado that is the dragons' trademark. They grow, in their wee reptilian minds and eventually in ours, strong, unbearably loud and, because they wear us down so, apparently right.
One of the great mysteries is they way in which we can be pursuing a favorite distancing activity, like sleeping when it is not bedtime, and know as sharply as if we'd put a fork in the socket that something is very wrong and this is not the life we want, nor were intended, to live. And then emerges the next horrifying question: how do I fix it? This is where I come up short, for I am edging forward with the greatest care, taking the tiniest steps, and mostly acting on the strength of certain beliefs:
It is never too late.
Nothing this big can be fixed in a day. Nor should it be. This, too, is a process.
Feeling terrified and small is normal.
The dragons have always lied.
The people who traded your silver baby cup and savings bonds for the dragon eggs lied. It wasn't personal, it was how they got by.
We continue to know in increments of ascending clarity.
I am still here and grateful about 99% of the time.
The old dragons speak the language of why, at some alarmingly advanced ages, we discover that we have been keeping ourselves from what we love most for years, decades. We have allowed the lies to stand between what felt like dreams without hope and our truest hearts. Too-fresh beliefs about being undeserving, insufficient, incapable may finally be toted away in mildew-stained carpet bags bearing the dragons' former address. Even dispossessed, they will try not to go far, not out of hissing distance. Eviction may not be enough. I trust directions must still exist for ways to slay an old dragon.