the truth of untruth

My daughter said something to me the other day, it might have been Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, days and dreams blur together for me. What has stayed with me is a thread, shot through and piercing my moments. She may or may not remember it, but that’s the thing I am learning about children; they open their mouths and God comes tumbling out. And, of course, they don’t notice. They don’t stand back and think, “What I just said? That was some wise shit.” They are already on to other things. They grab a chair, drag it over to the sink and waste a village’s worth of water, all the while telling a joke only they can understand the punch line to. It doesn’t matter that angels are whispering to them. Why should they care? They’re not worried about death or monthly income, they just want to make sure their toys aren’t messed with and food is on the table. They have priorities. Joaquin, for example, finds its of utmost importance that he shakes baby powder all over the carpet. He wants to see just how many rocks he can throw in the fish pond before Mommy’s voice goes from ‘sweetheart…’ to ‘SWEETHEART.’ He knows the end result is kisses and nibbles. He knows all he has to do is reach up his hands and say, “Cuddles?”

And this is the Universe unfolding exactly as it should.

The days are a blur to me right now. They are a blur of words and actions and skin against skin and counting down of minutes until Dan gets home so that I can let everything, all of it, GO…

I see the red flash of the van arrive through the white net curtains and already, I’m shoving my yoga mat and towel into a bag, even if class isn’t until two hours and I’m not entirely sure I have the energy for that frustrating locust pose.

But I do. I drive away to sweat and dissolve into nothing but muscle, bone, and a pounding heart, with the hope that at the end of two hours, I’ll be restored to: wife, mother, friend, writer, student, homemaker, daughter. All of these things that I seem to be unable to hold in my two hands these days without feeling as though something is falling between my fingers.

But, Alegra, what did your daughter say? Isn’t that what we were talking about?

Yes. It was.

My daughter sat at the table, her legs tucked into her chest, her thick fringe shading her eyes, and she said, “You don’t love me. You only love Joaquin anymore.”

And as I handed her breakfast, my mind keeping track of the dogs, and the quiet in the next room,  and wondering if this is because I lay down with Joaquin every afternoon for a nap, I said, “That’s the most untruthful thing I’ve ever heard.”

Zaviera sat up a little too straight and replied, “A lot of what people say is untrue.”

How could I argue? It’s true.

In that moment all she needed was her milk with sugar. She needed me to come over and gather her in my arms and prove to her that she is my One and Only Daughter, all with capitals, and I did this, I gave her what she needed, but what she gave me has still been working its way through my mind.

I’ve been failing at my commitments lately. It’s the first time in years I’ve been unable to push and then push again and power myself through just for the sake of following through. After the bus incident, I’ve been in several more near misses. On the way to Bikram tonight, I watched a car slam into a motorcycle. I pulled down the visor to block the setting sun. I noted the broken plastic parts on the asphalt. The victim paced in his jeans and helmet as he attempted to haul his bike off the road. The light turned green and I carried on.

In class, the teacher lifted me off the ground and I imagined my muscles, bones, tendons, brain, organs, everything letting go of everything that is keeping me from being the mother, wife, friend, writer, student, daughter, sister that I am meant to be. Sweat dripped onto my blue towel. I avoided eye contact. I tried not to look at myself too directly in the mirror. While I was in a backward bend, the teacher said, “I know you can go deeper. I see the things you don’t think I do.” I went deeper into that fear of breaking in half, of losing control, and when I pulled myself back up, it was with laughter.

Later, she leaned into me until my breasts pressed into my knees, until my breath was a shorebreak crashing onto my bones.

I returned home and put the children to bed. Dan was already half-asleep. This is going to be our month: survival. We have been here before and we know the routine. We maintain contact in the ways that we can. He goes to work. I am home with Joaquin and Zaviera. We find one another on the couch at the end of the day.

He reached a hand out and stroked my belly. Joaquin noticed and scrambled over, batted Dan’s hand away. He flattened himself against me and growled at his father. My foot reached out for Dan’s foot. We found our way to one another. “I’ll be taking the kids back to Hamilton this weekend?” Dan asked. I nodded.

So what does this have to do with speaking the truth?

I sat with Darryl the other night, after he’d received confirmation of his departure to some place faraway I don’t really want to think about. My heart was hurting. It still is. I don’t want him to leave but I know he needs to. I keep hoping God will throw down a roadblock, but until then, I remain supportive, because that is what we do when we care about others. Darryl has been talking a lot about the power of our words, our commitments, the integrity of our characters. For the last seven years, I’ve felt confident that if I committed to something, I’d follow through, at any cost. In the last two years, I’ve found myself falling short. I’ve had to extend, delay, reconsider commitments I’ve made.

This all comes back to those moments on the mat with sweat dripping down into my eyes and the teacher saying, ‘Let go of the unnecessary energy expenditure’ or something like that – she might not use a word as tricky on the tongue as ‘expenditure’, but the message is the same. By letting go of what is unnecessary and finding that point of comfortable discomfort, God is invited in, and suddenly, we are stretching beyond our limitations.

I started this blog two hours ago with the line:

I am posting this picture because I’m proud of myself. I’m not proud of myself, I’m proud of the way my body has surprised me.

And then I lost the blog.

I texted Darryl because I know it is with the accountability of our friends and family that we carry on to the truly important work.

I had to begin again, from scratch, and I did, because I gave my word.

I think this is where I am with all of the most important elements of my life.

I am beginning again. Carefully considering my words. Learning to speak from a place of truth. Admitting that sometimes the only way I recognize what is true is by letting go of what is untrue.

8 responses

  1. God has connected us forever. Through one of the most painful times in my life he has bought me a friend that I had forgotten. A friend who I know will be there for me. A friend who knows I will be there for her too. God loves you. Jesus loves you. And I love you Alegra…but probably not as much as Dan!

    • I love you, too, D. I’m going to miss you and feel the distance while you are away, even with the bridge of technology, we all will, but I know that in the greater perspective of things, this is all a blink of the eye but what is created in that blink lasts for eternity. I am so grateful to have gained your friendship at a deeper level during this time. You know our heart is with yours, here, now, forever.
      Kia kaha

  2. It’s always nice to see that other people go through the same emotions and experiences when immersed in family life. While the experience is multi-faceted, it is much more palatable after a good surf or hard bike ride…yoga pose. Why is that?! Make sure you get some of that “time” every day. My Dad used to say, “Let’s go for a ride and get the poisons out.”

    • Royce,
      I love this: “Let’s go for a ride and get the poisons out.”
      That is some powerful medicine.
      I’m looking forward to the day I can say the same to one of my children, only something along the lines of, “Grab your board and your suit, let’s go get tossed around in the waves.”

  3. You can also be proud of the ways you are stretching yourself off the mat, in your everyday life, but just like the boundaries of your body, you can only stretch yourself just so far. And just like in a yoga pose, you are bound to fall sometimes but it’s not a matter of failure, it’s a matter of resilience and grace. So don’t feel bad about not meeting commitments or having delays or needing to extend deadlines or time frames. What matters is that you are still committed. I like Zaviera’s thinking and then how you incorporated it into sweating away the layers of untruth to reach the truth, basically. That is a great pose by the way. I have been going to yoga for five years and I don’t think I can stretch that well, let alone balance my body on just one leg. When I had my winter break from school, I was going to yoga almost everyday and it felt great. The months preceeding were like a build up of stresses, worries, doubts, breakdowns, but I was able to shed all of that and get back down to what was real and truthful in my life. It’s so easy to get consumed by the untruth and have it drain all of the good and promising energy. You just have to breathe and hold still to what is true in your life. : )

    • Jennifer,
      Thank you xoxo. Yes, I agree. I’ve been learning so much from my time on the mat in relationship to my parenting, writing, relationships, dealing with life in general – and funny how I was determined that I was only going to start doing yoga to deal with my physical pain! Ha. 😉

  4. You’ve been in my mind and heart more than usual lately. I’ve been blessed so much to have you in my life. As I read about the different angles of struggle all I can do is project hugs across the miles. Ever since we met you’ve always done everything in your power to push yourself beyond your limits, to do more, try more, be more than what your body allows, then you share your family’s wonderfulness and it all honestly inspires me.

    Before I met Nick I was pushing so hard to go on another deployment. Life was getting too crowded with the unimportant and petty and when I was overseas there was so little fluff and so much basic necessity that it cleaned a lot of the toxic commercialism and lack of center in my life. I came back refreshed and I was searching for that feeling again. Opening myself up to love was a whole new kind of world really.

    I just managed to lose the rest of the comment. I guess it was fluff that needed to be cut. 🙂

    Sometimes I let my purpose and direction stray. I’m trying to use this time across the country to reset and refocus so I can go back to my family with renewed drive and energy. Victoria and Logan are beautiful in how they interact and react to each other. I have been truly blessed with them and I need to learn how to record some of these moments in words so they know that their lives have influenced mine from the start, they are inspirations and conduits for my spiritual growth.

    • Debbi,
      Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this.
      First, it’s been a mutual blessing.
      Second, I remember that first year(s) of motherhood, I required a lot of time focused on work-related things (my studies and writing) in order to process the fundamental changes occurring in my reality. So much of my life feels effortless that I sometimes hesitate to bring these struggles to the page but it seems to be where I process the root of things, where I am able to transform these challenges into something that nourishes me and allows me freedom, rather than locking myself into the conflict. I wish I had been born with a sturdier constitution – I have hopes that I’m on my way to being in a place where these things aren’t such an issue, but between now and then, I’m just happy to be surrounded by so much love and support.
      There is nothing (in my experience) so powerful as becoming a parent.

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