My Highland Heart (excerpt 1)

2 Jan

Growing from a naked wee bairn I was shaped & hewn by elders of heroic character and stature to their measure of grit, panache and solidarity. They transmitted and fused their silvery traits into my wee mind via the gutsy, soul soothing tales of our forebears. These were luminous legends that had thrived and grown through the refinery of generations, in just that same way; well cared for and communicated from the mouths of raconteurs and  orators in each era. We do like to regale.

Countless drizzly nights by the coal fire set the climate for these tellings to tot sized ears; a Clan tradition and purpose from its beginning. They branded me in the bold history of Fraser life in our wet homeland in the Highlands of ancient Alba, bonnie Scotland. They gave me my place in our living, breathing saga. They educated me about the entire glorious journey my kin had made; the multiplying, cultivating, soldiering, enterprising, striving and thriving that landed me on our gruff spot of earth.

They told me how some suffered as well with the great number of Gaels in the cultural destruction following the failed ‘45 uprising and Culloden. With numbers as great they left our historic origins in Inverness-shire and ‘The Aird’, Stratherrick, Strathfarrar, Strathglass and Beauly to find adequate living in each new place from Edinburgh, Lanark, Liverpool, Keith, Glasgow, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Montana, to Washington and California, restoring honor to the name.

Learning of the bravery in their chronicles uncovered inborn laws of constance, allegiance and devotion to the “blood of my blood” and “bone of my bone”. I haven’t found family passion quite this deep or high in other people, except a few shrewd others, I mean really, very few. And it seems more likely that before I could even speak I had this love affair for our souls’ true home. Once the flood of our blood bond awakened I’ve carried it into every fight and fray.

Mind you, where the goal of love is concerned, it has been the women in our family who have held administration of its place and lore of ancient dedication to the ethereal, mystic, and poetic spiritual love as the center of our millennia of searching and finding the twin to our souls. Not every woman who’d taken the name had lived that fate, but there had been larger than life figures historically who had. They are the the genealogy of that law for me, right down to my grandmother; That’s where I was given the words to understand that truth in myself anyway. There are an infinity of soul types made, but as to ours, we are the ones branded in eternity by the fulfillment of that sole purpose of existence.

All through my tender youth, those same paternal and maternal elders also delivered a certain axiom that I only wrestled to understanding as a result of demoralizing excesses in my gluttonous years. It went like this: “Whenever you’re moved to find fault or inferiority in others’ lives or loves”, they warned, “always center your mind back on the fact that the majority of this world don’t have anything comparable to the blessings of family, history, and privilege you have… you are obliged to growth & improvement for yourself, your life and the Anam Cara wife that a great fate will bring to you. It is compulsory… required…”

 I pondered how the poker game of that song, written for Scarlet a couple years after the first time our fates separated us in 2001, played out for my eventual wife and me and how powerful it can be, had been, to write words that would become truths in life’s realities, and how I was living with the results of the fragility of our magical tale that I hadn’t comprehend in a timely way, netting the very opposite results today to those written in the lyrics, all ‘permanent seats’ then gone.

As I sat there on a single bed in a room I shared with two other gentlemen, tapping out this account on a keypad residing in a Houston, Texas recovery home for addict and alcoholic men, then separated from my wife for 3 months, trying to be attentive to the divorce she pursued for what was effectively a 48 day marriage from vows and hand-fasting to the date of separation, it still seemed unconscionable that this was real, for starters because having had no other claim to esteem, pride or accomplishment in this life that I’d care to have mentioned, no greater grasp of intimacy, no deeper sense of connection ever, than that of the twinship of our Anam Cara souls, and well over the detox and recovery to sanity from the tornado of my alcoholism, I suffered the darkest pit-of-earth depth of withdrawal and desolation in being apart from her, so spirit and heart crushing, impossible to comprehend; an end to all the life I ever truly cared to own.`It is there that I can still shudder, and that is the hot flame that recoils my hand, in thought, of ever touching alcohol again.  

In the saddest irony, my incomparably compelling wife was and is singular in her ownership of Fraser in every aspect of name, spirit and history. Without hesitation she deeply embedded it to her heart and soul as her own, always hovering way up above all others with less than that nature, who consistently failed in their ill-equipped attempts. Scarlet had dreamt to be a Fraser since her teens. And she has always been the only one rightfully born to it.

The moment I met that shining light of a girl, thirty four years after my birth, it was clear ‘the one’ had arrived. And she revealed to me that same property she also carried all her life, given to her before birth, brought here in her flesh to restore it to its other half in me, in this life of ours, as we knew we had done in countless others. But even so, it would then take the journey of many years to make her my bride.

We’re eerily alike, she and I. We think same thoughts at same times and have each other’s inspirations, feelings, fears and passions. We both naturally take solace under the watery awning of spirits, sensing the wood faeries, or chasing deer in the glen and all Fraser fixtures of salmon in the current, strawberries in the field, charity in our actions, song in our hearts and poetry in our souls. Neither of us recall ever missing that manner of being, deep set in the sinew of our flesh, from toe nail to tip of the head. It’s that stamp that shaped and built us with a rare sense of place unknown to most everyone, and it’s always been hers with mine.

“Of all the vices, drinking is the most incompatible with greatness.”                                             -Sir Walter Scott   

In addition to that love affair I’ve romanced vices far worse and most of those alone on the darkest road I’ve ever known. But as I write of this love and all its beauty I get a sickening shudder raking through my thoughts, turning them upside down to rip open and expose the darkest most painful walk I’ve dragged anyone along. My soul rips and screams at what I know I can’t get away from confessing to you next.

Twenty two days before the day I decided to write out this story for anyone who’d want to read it, I made a horrifying decision to drink alcohol… again… after having drunk again, and again, again, ad nauseum. I say horrifying, because it flew in the face of the definitive knowledge of the inevitable consequences, under the insane misperception that it would be different this time, that I’d only have a few. What perplexes most people without exception is that it’s somewhere before the first drink that the insanity has already begun. It’s because I am “that type” of drunk that it should horrify any sane person.

I don’t ever drink “normally” anymore, those days are gone. After I’ve had the the first one, I drink ravenously, as a beast, devouring my own life in the delusion that I’m feeding from a palatable source outside myself, while taking the poisons of my malformed psyche. Igniting, imploding and then exploding my world, my relationships, my loves, all perceived as potential traumas coming my way, that like an arsonist I must incinerate before they can discover who I really am, see me, and hurt and kill and discard me.

I’m the sort about whom people, even other alcoholics, say “He did what?? WOW, man, that’s insane, literally insane, scary, I had no idea.” Yep, that’s what they say. The effects are bad enough that along with an excess of minimally tolerable episodes in more than the last year, this singular 8 day long event would have everyone we know or are related to tell my wife to never be with me again. Ever. Never. Except my own mother, of course.

I will describe in detail the blow by blow of the event later in this manuscript, but for right now I’ll say that it has seemed, does seem, or perhaps is something over which we miraculously claim triumph in the fullness of time, bearing unbelievable pains, heartaches and sorrows. The tears I cried left me dehydrated everyday.

And although the shock to our apparently idyllic existence was at first the ugliest surprise imaginable in the context of our marriage, we came to see that we’d been long set on a course to collide with a number of namable and unnamable parts of US, but most certainly defective elements in me are what I focus on because they are the only ones any one person ever has the power to change. If I’m not the problem, there is no solution.

You see, the hardest fact of the matter is that I hurt her and scared her and she was terrified and afraid. I showed her something in me, some frightening horrible place of darkness and aberration that she’d never seen and didn’t know could exist in me, nor that all of its fury, defensive attacks and self hatred could come out voicing itself at her. That caused her to fear for herself and created an instinct to think this also meant there was every reason to be as cautious as possible for the protection of her kids, her babies, and though she and I know that I have consistently shown love for them, all of that was trumped by the slightest chance that my untreated inner monster would be let loose by another relapse in their presence.

It took a lot of work and time to make this good again, to be worthy of trust, to be secure, peaceful and comfortable to breathe easily again. The possibility that I may never get it to revolve to turn and face us with a place that we all could have again was my biggest fear, but I was willing to do whatever it took to earn that. So even with no guarantee of anything but the wonderful life I would end up with either way she decided to live, I went forward with that vision of the end in my mind, as I had done with everything I ever won or achieved in my life. The first and ultimate item obviously was to stay sober and invest everything I could in the things that bring the magic and surety out of life in sobriety and spread them everywhere. To be an example for myself and others, to nurture life admirably and be of loving service in its heights and depths. If I was to again have her accept my love and be open to whatever portion of my dreams were still able to flower and grow, it would be in doing those things for their own sake, and the sake of living my amends. I have nothing that I cherish that’s truer than loving her, so I did that gratefully with all that it took to give her happiness, security, trust, safety, peace, joy and love.

I sure didn’t do it perfectly though, I made it even harder starting out, because I didn’t stop and stay stopped in the first couple of months. I apparently needed to repeat the exercise of loss, and meditate on causes, hurts inflicted and failures for more days than seemed right until the overriding truths of our love and purpose restored their law in the permanent memory of my heart, and regained spiritual power over the withering reach of everything else my transforming ego would assert for its control. I surrendered the defects to God and accepted the privilege of serving love in all things.

The deeper issues that stirred the monster had risen up to range in origin from distant past, to young man, to “adult” and right here set firmly in my midlife, in our house right down to some of the impositions placed on our union, or reunion. They had been a seething but unseeable, silent ball of confusion until the weeks and days, and the very day of my terrifying episode. My traumas made fears that made pains that made anger, resentment, guilt and shame. Hardest to live with was knowing how short I had fallen, repeatedly, of being the husband she deserved. The damages of my defects and short comings had been far reaching and varied in where they appeared as worse, worser and worst… and the worst was to have forced the one being I love most in my life to be gravely hurt. It gave her no choice but to have battles with fear, hers and mine, and have to fight, suffer terribly, resent, retaliate against, lie, distrust, demand answers, face, inspect, and fearfully, hesitantly but with the slightest eventual willingness accept them, not as an excuse but as reasons. To watch and not watch the rigorous growth that without question had be done by me or nothing at all of ours would be salvageable in this lifetime… and then to let it all go…

It can be said that it was the two of us in a tidy unison that ultimately commanded my malformed horrors gone, but the greater truth is that it was she alone who facilitated my turning the crucial, crushing information to transformation by an immovable love that for a time she would not speak of as still alive. Even when I sometimes tried to displace onto her the ownership of my part in all of it, while she was also struggling to own hers without having to exonerate mine, she loved me with all her heart.

It is the nature of codependency and the codependent to stay focused on the biggest threat visible in its space, for fear that self inspection or admission of anything will allow that threat to run rampant over them again, and that was true for us. She had those fears and I had them too and the battle of wills and whose hurts are more valid descends into a morass of fruitlessness. As each tries to get notice for their own valid hurts, they feel that any effort on the part of the other for that goal means the story is being “turned around on them”, not seeing that there is room for both of their hurts to be recognized, they have to be. Because by design it is a dance between two, there is no exclusion, no side is better or worse, each one is true.

We both regarded the obviousness of the fact that I had to be cracked open, broken down and forced to descend to the dungeon to unchain the better self I had masked for so long with “justified anger”, resentment, fear, guilt, shame, remorse and self pity. That put forth its purpose more clearly than any one side of any of it. Those were all the obstacles that would become the way through them, to the path of walking a free man and living in the God given dream of our life together. It was plain to see also that our bond  had been made partly to exist for all of these reasons, for the sake of these soul lessons, and the greater good of it all in the next end.

In time, time, time, I will have come to fight to recover innumerable losses, some I still fight to recover today in that ongoing living amends to the worlds I shook with terror. Those of our history and family principles, and their good favor, those of simple life coping skills I had somewhere let go for dealing with post traumas, those of social codes that maintained grace and dignity for everyone involved, those of spiritual codes with which I had been gifted from the beginning of this life. All of these are what I gave and still give my daily attention. I make each day an ongoing hunt for attitudes and actions that enlarge my self respect, earn the respect of others and primarily rebuild trust, love and peace. I work to walk with liberty in this life of loving service, and establish our new sense of home to heal our family, but most of all I work to discover and earn the will of my wife to love freely again.

To my humble amazement, as time passed with sufficiently revealing evidence of true healing and transformation, the only transformation that ever gives anyone a lifetime of strength in sobriety; the death of the old self to the metamorphosis of the new self, we have been able, and blessed, in measured increments, with a day by day absence of drama and discord, to recover some of the US we once held central to our lives.

It was with new bravado, even audacity, that I began a freshly drawn contract with integrity, humility and esteem. My Anam Cara was my strength, my purpose, and its meaning. My eternal, her essential presence in and all around me enlisted every new tool that could be formed inside me to fulfill the mission I can only now know was necessary if I were to birth my best self to appropriately love and serve her. After some time she would tell me she always knew that man was in me. It had been painful for her to see him while I couldn’t. It was healing to have that self grow and take command of his life and it’s blessings. And the ancient love that called it forth.

A number of new measures were taken on in practical things like how to listen, and if to quarrel how to quell, to fight well, honestly and fairly… cultivating and inspiring good mood, good will, passion and fire for life, loving openly, having gratitude, giving kindness, helpfulness, avowed devotion, compassion and generally walking in the sunlight of the spirit.  I made no aim to change anyone or win over the cynical, or any detractors or actors to this side of our world, but at the turning point everyone was warned; anyone near me and us would unerringly be hearing more on top of much about the GOOD in everything. And by that example we’d shine a light of hope to others.

I tend to be ever the optimist. Even when the chips are down I’ve got this almost pushy, persistent voice keeping my mind on the best of the record; hadn’t I always found my way home? Hadn’t there always been a light in my shadows? And hadn’t I always landed back on my feet? Wasn’t there always serendipity, surprise riches & triumphant comebacks? And hadn’t I, when I owned our timeless truth, always known our love? It couldn’t be that I had simply been a lucky man. It had to be instead, if I would again remember, that I had always been loved with a force so great no road block could bear its power. Although you can give generous, loving support to people in battles for inner gold, it’s undeniable that at the last it’s a dance we’re each going to do alone if we’re to escape the prison cell of our own making in our hearts and minds. It is rare that we see many come back across that river, and its for that fact that we find it soul gripping when we do.

When all of it came to truly be about something bigger and better than me; serving the good, the love, the team, the bigger picture… when the work turned from “have to” to “get to”, when duty became privilege; that’s when I could feel myself really “back in the game”. That’s when the more skillful playing began. Because it’s only when we win the elusive inner property of the soul’s sense of liberty that we gain the ultimate power to determine our destiny.

The Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 still lays out the most articulate guideline for me; “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that I am fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”.

She is truth and beauty to me; she that shines in a self owned bubbling essence of pure being, has an intoxicating scent, a taste, a touch of an electric air, a vibrance, a spell, a way that comforts and inspires me like no other creature could. So, yeah, I jumped to fight these battles inwardly and outwardly.

She’s the reason a man as turbulent and combustible, but let’s call me passionate, would even dare to crack and tear his long held false self open and pull out the ugliness hiding his better nature and character to authentically offer them to her. She’s the reason to confront my shame and abandon useless old tools, and build up a life of meaning and value at all, around her and for her, and her children. Because once Scarlet was here, my path would never mean as much without her as with her. She didn’t arrive here to replace or become my mission, but to clarify its true meaning. She was here as the catalyst to my seeing it as I hadn’t quite seen it ever before.

Without question it’s the un-quiet voice of her always ignited fire in me with which I would tell you our tales as they’ve met, diverged and rejoined; hers, mine, ours, and the magic and miracle of truths held in my beloved. Hopefully it would compliment what gave birth and rise to all of it. At worst, we’d end up with a stark, rigorously revealing narrative of every twisted thing about me and my dark shadows that I’d rather you not have learned if I could only have avoided it…

In the beginning is seemed the mass of wreckage that had been wrought was insurmountable, but there I was, in a life I will have scattered far from every valuable property I’d held, for whys and wherefores I couldn’t catch or comprehend until nearly too damn late in the game. That episode of post traumatic alcoholic explosion and implosion that cost us everything we loved and lived for until it came out was overcome in its own way… It was like a mountain casting a long shadow over an otherwise magical land, and by some measure of grace we progressed out of its dark reach to see it fade in our rear view mirror. What that means in the longer run will be seen.

It is often repeated in recovery that drinking and drugs are merely indicated symptoms of the deeper-rooted shortcomings cultivated in an addict/alcoholic, and while chuckling at the parody of myself and his monstrous creations, I had for long been able to inwardly assert that I had some kind of impunity in knowing the joke, with a cavalier wink, and that was the ignorance and falsity that ran roughshod over my life and everything in it. It influenced the direction of my manifestations in immeasurable ways while I held for so long that it was all a part of the “play”, without questioning or self-inquiry.

Believe me that this story does not constitute or aspire to be another tragic tale of battles with substance abuse. If what I have come to find were simply that, I would not seek to bother anyone with it by hunting and pecking out another bound printing to heap upon that over fed pile. What I have come to find has been more astonishing…

But, Lord… that I had only had enough grace to avoid this manifestation altogether. 

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