"Only when alone can I feel at ease even though I long for company of a sort I have yet to find except, occasionally, with Sally, the sort that doesn't make you wonder if what you've just said or done are making people snigger inside. Alone, I inhabit a world shaped by magical belief and the stories I tell myself about myself flow clear and continuous..."
~*~ Nancy Mairs ~*~,
Remembering The Bonehouse
Remembering The Bonehouse
Nancy Mairs' books are the most courageous books I have ever read and I am rereading this book now to remember her courage, her truth, her complete lack of a facade of any sort. The "Bonehouse" is her body, and the book is about living in her body after she found out that she had Multiple Sclerosis. Through her many books, which are spell-binding, you experience, in the deepest level of your being, what it means to live in a body that is deteriorating. I spoke to her once on the phone years ago. By that time she could no longer type but spoke her words into the computer and continued to write books that I cherish and am amazed by.
As I write my book I feel close to her words even though her circumstances have been nothing like mine, but her truth-telling is what is spurring me on to tell mine, to tell the bits and pieces that I thought that I would never write, to express the experience of living in my own Bonehouse, which has been a different kind of trial. Sexually abused for many years, terrified of my own body, living my life, as I've often told people, as if my spirit were flying along with my body bumping on the ground behind me. I have frequently been hurt. It is as if I wasn't aware that I had a body at all.
And I know about the sniggering too. I can only imagine what an odd child I was at school with what was going on at home, but I was made fun of, not part of the cliques, "the cool kids," and I found my greatest solace with my animals, all sorts, mainly dogs, and from ten years old on into early high-school, on horses. I miss horses terribly and if I ever have the means I will live on a farm and do horse rescue, taking in those who are too old to ride, those who need love, and care, in their later years. Animals offer unconditional love, people seldom do. Even the ones you love with your whole heart and they love you, there are always areas that are grey and can become mucked up and muddy and painful, at least for a time. I am not complaining about this, I am simply stating a fact.
And there is the magical child that still lives inside of me. The stories that she has told are not lies, but often tinted a soft shade of pink, or lavender, or sky blue, perhaps pale green. In this way I survive and move on. I am a realist, I don't live in fantasy, but there are those bits of me that have created a world in which I can live and survive. I am a survivor.
Nancy wrote bravely in more than one book about having had an affair after she had MS, in an attempt to feel something in her body that was quickly falling away. She came through that dark time and she and her husband reconciled and have had an incredibly beautiful marriage ever since. If she can reveal that can I write about leaving a man I loved dearly and do to this day, to be alone and discover the side of me that I had long hidden even from myself, that I am a woman who loves women? I am still close to my ex-husband and we love our children dearly. This is a gift that I am deeply grateful for and do not take for granted.
I am writing these words holding my breath, wondering how many of my longstanding readers will fall away, but I've not told my truth for too many years to worry about that anymore. There are people who will be helped by my experience, even if only touching on some parallel reality to theirs. It is for them that I tell the truth too. How can I not?
When I am alone I feel at ease. Yes, there are hours of aching loneliness, but they pass and I settle deep into the gentle comfort of the silence around me where the whirring of a fan, the talking of the grey parrot behind me, the nuzzling of a group of small pugs who sleep all around me comfort me deeply. No, I am seldom lonely, and I have moved very deeply into a spiritual life that I hadn't known possible. I talk to God all day long. He is my constant companion. And I love all people everywhere, and in writing that I am not being trite or prosaic, silly or overblown, I am telling a truth that comes from the knowledge that people everywhere are afraid, they suffer, they love, they feel joy, and in the stillness, the place where I pray and feel all that is, all that I am able to know, I know that the love that I feel is born of a compassion that I have learned as I walked through my own dark days, and in that journey my most potent desire is to help others, to let them know that they are never really alone, to let them know that they are loved. Many won't understand, will disagree, will think it is part of the magical beliefs that are part of who I am, but they would be wrong, and I am past explaining myself. I will simply be who I am. That is the truest, the most important thing that I can do.
In Remembering The Bonehouse Mairs writers:
" 'Your body is a temple,' I will recoil at the perpetuation of this boundless source of shame, self-alienation and pain. 'Your body is not a temple!' I want to shout at each wide-eyed child whose body has just been snatched from her and set on a hill, remote from the grubby reality that she is hungry for lunch with a whole hour to go and the boy behind her has just dropped something squirmy down her blouse and she'd like to whirl around and give him a good smack on the nose. 'Your body is a body. Not a holy place of worship but a person. Not a structure 'you' occupy like a maidservant in her master's house but you, yourself. Make yourself at home."
I am learning to make myself at home. I am making peace with my body. I am writing this book and I will tell every bit of truth inside of me. Yes, I am finally writing the book. It is time...