Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Brighter Song...

Lioness, Tanzania. By Helen Ratcliff

For some time now, I have been struggling with everything in life. Work, emotions, family, purpose, direction and constant pining for the completion of my 'Big Cat Studies' course. This, however, seems to cause considerable apprehension amongst my fellow humans. The capacity with which they seek a reason for this choice of subject is almost tangible. "Why big cats?" They cry... I never seem to have a convincing enough response, other than the truth. So I tell them..." It just feels right and is something I need to do... Something soulful and spiritual... "
 I watched a documentary last night about a single lioness and her lonesome cub. How the lioness never ceases to amaze me. She is strong and intelligent. She makes wise decisions. For example, after chasing and killing an elusive wild boar for a meal, to sustain her undernourished little cub, and seeing him tuck in to the first meal in days, she is confronted by hyenas. Just one of the challenges she is faced with every day. It is the rainy season in Africa and The Plains are not exactly abundant with prey. But, she chooses not to fight. Her cub needs her physically well and able to hunt - an injury could cost her life. Also, a pack of hyenas would easily take her cub's life. She is the protector and does not have a pride to support her... alone in this wilderness... she must follow her instincts and calls the cub away from the kill, to safety... Sometimes, I feel like I am alone in my wilderness. It has felt like that over the last few months...
 I believe this emotional abyss began when my younger brother, Carl, announced that he was moving to Australia with his family. Suzanne (my Sister-in-Law), Josie, Noah and Isla. Isla, the youngest, is my God Daughter. Carl had been offered a job in Melbourne and had made a life - changing decision to move there - and I do not blame him!
 The thing is though, he refused to talk about it with me and completely shut down in my company. If I began a conversation he would walk out of the room, and for a while, I was unable to actually finish a sentence or feel relaxed around him or his family. I had always considered Carl's home to be an extension of my home. Unconditional love, comfort and support... or so I had thought for many years... Then, it all blew up in my face, one horrible day back in early February.
 I was useless that day... tripping over my words and crying hard, you know the type of tears I mean... When you can hardly breath, as the misery and unbearable shock of what you are experiencing and hearing is up there with the death of your Mother. May sound extreme, but years and years of anger were unchained within that moment. Like a frenetic thunderstorm which bellows through you and shatters your nerves. I faced a truth that day and it hurt at a tremendously deep level. I was confronted with a reflection of past years and my faith and belief in myself was unhinged. My world as I knew it had suddenly changed. The anger had apparently been born of my behaviour that dreadful day... My behaviour? I had asked Carl to read some of my blog ( I had recently written about The Iberian Lynx), I valued his opinion and was seeking direction in life - like the majority of us. To that end he exploded... He had no interest in what I had to say. I was selfish, ungrateful, useless, unloving, ugly, bitter, hopeless, boring, draining, a failure and had no purpose or place. He was sick of the sight of me... I was the elephant in the room. It didn't really matter what was actually said, for that is what I heard and believed that awful day...
 Two months went by before I heard anything or received an apology. I had also lost my job at the beginning of February, so had used the time to find work - even though there was an almighty sense of loss in my heart. I tried not to think about it and put the argument to one side and focused on providing a living and paying the rent... I went out hunting... like the lioness. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger... Isn't that what they say?
 Well, Carl did finally make contact. A late invitation to the leaving party was excepted, we parked up our monsters, put on a brave face and said farewell... Some of this experience, in my heart, has not yet been resolved. Perhaps they are demons and dragons closer to my core, which I had no awareness of and can only deal with myself. Maybe I should be thanking Carl for enlightening me. With this new - found awareness, things can be addressed.
 Carl has now moved on to a brighter and sunnier life in Australia - I am delighted for him, he deserves it. Unfortunately though, things are not so sunny in London. I am yet to find work. I was falsely lead in to thinking a job offer was imminent, but to no avail at the very last hurdle. Almost three months of interviews and trials! Still, perseverence is what is now called for here. There is only one option and that is positive thinking and building my 'self - belief' up again. I have failed in the past, but that does not make me a failure. I cry at wildlife documentaries, but my passion does not make me hopeless. I am single, but that does not make me useless or worthless. So... like the strong and beautiful lioness, I will embrace the challenges which lie ahead and bravely follow my instincts.
 The love I have for my Brothers is an unconditional and pure one. I realise that theirs is diluted in return, because of their families. I will only ever come second in their hearts. (I have an older brother, Mark. He lives with Karen and they have two lovely boys - Matty, the youngest, is my Godson).  However, the strength that comes with memories of growing up, sharing, laughing and being nurtured by the same Mother, is a bond and a gift which I will always be grateful for. It is because of them that I keep going... And, of course,  Jaffa and Otto, my feline companions!
 This emotional 'radio - head' will soon, hopefully, be finely tuned to a much brighter and mellifluous song...

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