Oil on Paper
Written for Living Out Loud Show, November 2004
So who was this girl child who was born July 10, 1949 at 6:38 p.m. in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania?
According to this painting I was born into a challenging world of other people’s horror and sorrows. Very much like all of the babies born today. Indeed, very much like all the babies born into the last several thousand years of people thinking that abusing and killing each other will assuage their own terrors. The collective illusion has been that power over others instead of power shared will make the world safe for the next generation - or at least the present one.
Growing up in the 1950’s, I shared in the grief of a world recovering from the revelations of the decimation of the Jews and others in the Nazi ovens. The grief of a world realizing amidst the burgeoning Cold War that things were no better really for all the sacrifices of the previous decade, as well as grappling with the reality of living for the foreseeable future with the fear of nuclear holocaust.
Specifically for me, there was also the grief left in my father from his immersion in World War II while my mother, his high school sweetheart, worried about him. He was a 19 year old Philadelphia Quaker with a few months of architecture school under his belt when he enlisted in the army in 1943. He was subsequently blown up in the English Channel during the Normandy Invasion and then slogged through the wintery Battle of the Bulge and the Bridge at Ramagen as part of the Army's 1st Division.
I was also highly sensitive to the grief around me from the death, 4 days after my birth, of my maternal grandmother from breast cancer. My mother’s tears were part of the breast milk I drank, indeed the very stuff of the amniotic fluids that created me.
I was the shining, meant-to-be-perfect one, come to be the new generation. I don’t think I was ever innocent. I knew what I was getting into. Astrologically my natal Venus is in the same house as Pluto – so I actually find beauty and meaning in all the shadows. I made the decision not to die at least twice when I had the opportunity as a little one, choosing to stay and honor my commitment to this world. I fixed my sights on the moon and took courage and inspiration from nursery rhymes (The Cow Jumped Over the Moon) and later, children’s books. I found solace and love by diving deep into the pains. Even as a child I sculpted praying figures and healers.
So here’s this little baby coming into the world of horror, but she’s bound and determined (interesting phrase, that) to keep her sense of God – she’ll believe in Santa and fairies and goodness even though she can see and feel all the awfulness around her. She’s not in denial. She loves the world anyway – and she knows hope. She knows always that there are reasons for all this. And she knows that each of us can make a difference and that she has a definite role to play.
But the bargain, the bargain is that she’ll help all these other people for a long time. She’ll pull the family (and others) through, get everyone off to a start. But then she gets to live out her own creative expression. She gets to have her own time and space to grow….
My 49th Birthday: I went in to my Dana Zia* body work session last night with a wild headache, saying it felt like the headache I’ve had all my life. We got in touch with my birth trauma where there was a decision to be made: whether or not to breathe. The bright lights and care-less doctor and a world where I couldn’t be who I am. I would have to start all over – not remembering. And with a mother who needed so much and whose rules I would have to follow. So I was very tempted not to breathe. It would have been so much easier to check back out – to renege on my commitment to come through. But I couldn’t do that to Mother, Carol Maude. Her mother, Marie, was dying. What would my death have done to Mom? I just realized this: Mom’s grandmother (whose daughter was dying), Maude Coggeshall Burns – my Granny – agreed to help me. “If you come I’ll be there for you.” And she was (she lived with us until she died when I was eight) and she is still. Thus I am Lane Marie.
Yesterday in the session I kept having to be reminded to breathe. And still when I crawled home and into bed and asked Tom to curl up with me, breathing was the issue – that and not throwing up with my headache. Dana says my soul is thin from all the martyr commitments and conflicts.
And angry too at that point – with a lot of work ahead to reach towards health.
* Dana Zia now does Shamanic Astrology