Running With Wolves

I read a story in Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, many years ago. The story spoke about a girl who waited for the right suitor to come along. The girl lived in a small village and suitors came from far and near, but each time they were not the right one, and she let them go. She was looking for the perfect one. She did not try to fix this or that, in the one that was almost just right, she just sent them on their way and waited for the next one. Eventually, after many suitors and much waiting, the perfect one came.

I was so impressed with that story and could not get it out of my mind. I had never sent a suitor packing before, instead I always tried like hell to make it work. I would grasp details of something that I liked in a man, and hang on for dear life. I never imagined that there could be a constant stream of suitors for me to choose from. I never had faith that there would be the perfect one.

Just prior to reading this story, having been married twice, each marriage followed by divorce, having had numerous one night stands and many relationships of varying length, all ending badly, having given up entirely, handing in my library card, saying enough was enough, the good ones are gone, snatched up by women much smarter than I was, I woke up one day realizing that I had not had a date in five years.

It seemed like there were no men out there, even though the statistics showed millions of single and available men in the world. I imagined that all the good ones were completely taken and were now gone, even though there were divorces in the thousands that happened every day. It did not matter because in my experience, the well was dry. You get what you believe and I believed there was no one out there, no one who was perfect for me.

The story of the girl with the stream of suitors bothered me. How could there be such a story. The symbolism in the story was supposed to shed light on some truth after all.  Where did all these men come from? After being bothered for long enough, I checked out the internet and found dating service after dating service of men looking for someone. I looked up the number of single men in my city and in my state. The number was big. I started to let myself believe, letting the door creak open to the thought, with all these available men out there, maybe just maybe, there was one for me. I was a good catch and I was available, so why couldn’t that be the same for those men who were also looking.

Once I opened that door with the expectation that there were available men, the stream of suitors began to line up. Friends introduced me to their single friends. I went on coffee dates. I met men at my church. I met them over the internet. The stream became steady and reliable.

The next issue I faced was not clinging to the ones who were a close, but not perfect fit. I needed to let them go, like the girl in the story, let them go and remain patient for the right one. It was not that I was looking for a perfect human being. I am not a perfect human being. But I was looking for someone who was perfect for me. That’s a far different thing.

There were many false starts along the way to finding my perfect suitor. I thought that this one or that one was Mr. Right but it would become apparent, sooner or later, that it was not to be. There were those who came close and I had to work hard not to clutch, as I had in the past, letting him go on his way, working hard to be patient and not look back. It took everything I had at times to break the pattern of wanting something that was not right for me, remembering that trying to make it work had failed many times in the past. I needed to hold out for the perfect one. I worried often that I was just being overly picky, that what I was after did not exist, and it was hard to keep a steady gaze forward.

It was the overall feeling of the thing I was after. I wanted it to feel easy, like coming home. I wanted it to be fun and full of laughter. I wanted to be understood without having to push at the finer points. Mostly, I wanted to be loved without reservation. I did not want someone who loved me with one eye over his shoulder, looking for someone better, nor did I want someone who would be constantly pointing out small little things that I might improve on. I wanted someone who was absolutely sure that I was as perfect for him, as I was sure he was perfect for me.

So I waited like the girl in the story. I was not always as patient or as clear as the girl in the story, but I did the best that I could to stay the course. In the end it worked. Mark walked into my life one day and never walked out. The moment I saw him, I thought that he was the one, but I did not jump out of my dress and I waited to make sure. When he did not ask me out on the first night we met, I did not lose heart. I knew that if he was the one, it would happen, and I felt certain that it would happen. There was a knowing I had from the first moment, a knowing that had been missing from all those bad first starts. It turned out that he did want to ask me out, believed that he would find my name in the directory, but was unable to. He came back to the discussion group where we first met the very next opportunity that he had, and made certain to ask me then.

Mark was as keen on me as I was on him. There has been nothing difficult about our relationship and our courtship is a highlight in both of our lives.  For the first time in my life I am where I know I should be in a relationship. That is not to say that we have not come up against difficult things. We have had our share. The difference is that we know that together, we can figure things out. We also know that we are committed to being together. We are right for each other. We are perfect together.

I suppose there are those out there that get this straight out the door. They don’t have to go through marriages and divorces and many failed attempts before finding the one. For several reasons I didn’t get it. I don’t beat myself up about that anymore. I like the life that I have had. All the crazy things that I have been through and done, in the name of love, have made me who I am. I know for certain that I appreciate what I have now, in a way I never could have, if I had not gone down this long and winding road.

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Trust Severed

We were already three hours late for the wedding; at least that’s what I had told them. I was standing up in my sister’s wedding that day and if they had it their way, I would get there three hours after the wedding started. We had driven all the way from Oklahoma to attend the wedding in northern Wisconsin but my husband’s mother lived in Madison which was on the way and we could never, I mean never, just pass Madison without stopping in.

When we moved away from Madison to Oklahoma, when Tim got into a master’s program there, it took a full month of saying goodbye to his mother. We had to have a special party at her house, which turned into many dinners saying good-bye, because we would not be able to see her all the time after we moved. Each of these dinners focused on how much she was going to miss us meaning miss Tim. She came up with a series of excuses why Tim had to come over to help her with this or that. The goodbyes were endless. Finally we were set to leave, but we had to postpone because Tim’s mom had to go out-of-town, and if we left as we had scheduled, she would not be able to see us off. Finally, it got to the point that if we did not leave, Tim would miss his first day of classes. Even so I felt like I could not breathe on that first day out-of-town, imagining that we would have to turn around for some reason having to do with Tim’s mom.

Tim said early in our relationship that it was just easier to just do as his mother told him. Over the years we spent together, I saw how she manipulated Tim and his brother to do her bidding. She was very free and easy with her love, affection and money as long as you towed the line and complied. I had lived on my own for several years before hooking up with Tim, and the idea of having a mother to cow toe around was foreign to me. I adored Tim’s mom at first, she being so overwhelmingly engaging, well-educated, cute and petit, she was downright charming. I soon found out that, like Tim, I was expected to follow the family rules which meant I was to show up at all the family events, put on a bright and happy face and do what I was told. The first time I got out of line, Tim’s mom gave me the silent treatment which lasted a full year. During that year I was still required to show up and put on a happy face. I was in love and wanted to make things right with Tim’s mom, so I complied.

By the time we left for Oklahoma, I was on speaking terms with Tim’s mom and for several years we returned to Wisconsin each Christmas to visit our respective families. Invariably, we would stop to see Tim’s mom before heading further up north to see my parents and invariably we would be hours late to see my parents. We could not leave late the night before, because that would be too hard a drive so late at night. Never mind that we had driven the 18 hour drive from Oklahoma straight through with Tim and I taking turns at the wheel. Never mind that we had already stayed for days with Tim’s mom. It would be agreed that we would leave early in the morning so that we could get to my parents for Christmas lunch. But in the morning we could not possibly leave without a large breakfast, a breakfast that lasted until noon making us arrive at my parents for dinner instead of lunch, my family having to tell the kids to wait to open presents until we finally arrived.

Of course that was not the end of the story. Tim’s Mom would then talk Tim into a cross-country skiing trip after Christmas so we could spend just a little more time together. On a couple of occasions we made the mistake of also trying to get together with friends for some cross-country skiing. Tim’s mom would find a way for us to have to linger on with her, while our friends waited hours at a restaurant for us to show up. The first time it happened I called my friends over and over explaining the problem so they were not in the dark. The second time I told Tim he had to make the calls. He never did. There would not be a third time skiing with friends.

So now I was faced with the prospect of getting to my sister’s wedding on time. I was standing up and this was extremely important to me. I knew from experience that we would have to stop at Tim’s mom’s house on the way up and knew there was no way out of there on time. I decided the only solution was to lie. It was the only lie I ever told during my marriage but it had to be done. I told Tim and his mother that it was a morning wedding. I told Tim and his mother that the wedding started four hours earlier than it did. Of course they decided the best solution was to wake up really early in the morning to get there on time. I set the alarm for the proper time, according to my lie and got up. I got ready and packed the car. I got the kids ready to go. Then I waited. As I suspected we had to have the big breakfast. I could see that both Tim and his mom were looking at me, waiting for me to become hysterical in the manner I usually did about leaving on time. They could not say anything though, because that would announce the fact that we were dangerously late for a wedding, a wedding that I was standing up in. We continued the charade until we finally left.

We left on the three-hour drive north to my sister’s wedding when the wedding was supposed to have started, according to the lie I had told them. Not a word was said by either Tim or his mother about how we could possibly make it on time for a wedding that was starting already.

I made it to the wedding on time because of the four-hour lie. My family was extremely relieved to see me, but was prepared to go ahead without me. Tim never said a word about it. We did not discuss it on the three-hour drive north and never said a word about it after getting to the wedding on time.

My New Car

When my daughter Daryl was six, her Dad finally came home from Japan to visit her. Daryl never gave up on her Dad. During the entire two years he was away, even though there was rarely even a card from him, she kept a tee-shirt of his in her room. As if to recreate him from his scent she would hold that old shirt up to her face and inhale, his smell the only thing she had left.

When Tim showed up at my door, I offered for him to stay with us and before the week was out I offered him not only my apartment, but my car and my bed. My daughter was not the only one starved for his scent. I found it to be delicious that he was back. Our family fell quickly into step as in the old days. Daryl was so thrilled to have her Dad back. Tim and I spent the week, cooking together, going out together to a concert, meeting all my friends from work, and in the evening after a full day, plopping down into each other’s arms and making love. It all seemed perfect. I walked around with that glow on my face that you can only get from a new relationship.

My first husband was emotionally abusive and left no doubt about my decision to get a divorce. When I started to pray that he would get into a car accident and die so that I could have a peaceful night, it was time to call it quits. After that divorce I never looked back.

Tim was my second husband and my second divorce.  The thing about Tim is that even in divorce he was a nice guy and I loved him. We just had very different ideas about what it meant to be married. I believed strongly in fidelity and he did not. I did not like the idea of sharing him and he thought as long as we loved each other, what was the difference. I even tried the infidelity thing on for size, while we were married, to see if I could manage it. I decided to bed this very attractive man who had been pursuing me for some time. It turned things even messier and I became even more confused and had to call it quits. In order to sort out the chaos, I left both the affair and my husband.

That did not keep me from believing that Tim would come around and see it my way. I imagined that he still needed to sow his wild oats and he would come around to seeing that I was the best thing since the discovery of sugar and come back to me. So when he returned to the States to visit Daryl, taking up his old space in bed beside me, I imagined that all my dreams were coming true and we would be back to our old selves, madly in love with each other once again, but this time it would be just the two of us, Tim finally forgetting all those other women.

It did not help that before Tim showed up on my doorstep I was in a very low spot, feeling like a twice failure for having two divorces under my belt, not having found another person I thought could possibly replace what Tim and I had, being overly stressed by the tension of being a single parent and having to do it all by myself. To add to the trouble, when I divorced, I chose to move to Arizona where I did not know a single person and had no family or emotional support besides my colleagues from the office who were all delightfully single and child free and had no idea what I was dealing with.

Just before Tim left to go back to Japan, where he had a temporary position at a University, he totaled my car. He ran into the car in front of him while trying to find an address, not knowing where he was headed. Daryl was in the car and they both had on seatbelts. Fortunately, no one was hurt except the car, it being towed away for salvage. We went to the used car dealer and I picked the best car that I could get for the $10,000 Tim was willing to spend and drove away in a used Nissan.

I took Tim to the airport the next day. He insisted we stop at a shop on the way to the airport and I spied on him from around the shelves as he picked out some jewelry I imagined was for me. When he never turned it over to me on the way to the airport, I asked him about the jewelry. “Oh, that, it’s for Gwen,” he said casually, slapping me in the face with the casualness of it, sending my whole life up in flames. The fact that we had shared a bed for the last week, had cooked together, had fun together, going shopping together, going to a concert together, acting like lovers act, was nothing.

The only thing that had changed during our week together, in comparison to the days when we were married, was that now I was the other women. Gwen was his woman. Gwen got the jewelry.

The Repo Man

Me with Elmo Somewhere in Canada Evading the Repo Man

The Nissan my ex-husband bought for me, after he totaled my car, was now being followed by the repo man. I just didn’t know it yet.  Tim had decided to quit making payments. It was not like I could make the payments. I did not have a job, having quit my last job, not able to continue one more day, being too exhausted. I was fried from the combination of depression and too many years going too strong, trying to do it all alone. In one rash moment, I gave up, quitting my job at a Legal Aid office in Phoenix, packing up the few things I owned, moving back to my parents at the age of thirty-eight. I had not lived at home since I was eighteen. In fact I had been dead set on getting out of there the day I turned eighteen. Now I was back.

I came back down the winding gravel road to my parent’s cottage on the Spirit River Flowage outside Tomahawk, Wisconsin in the Northern corner of the state near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A flowage is a lot like a river except that the only reason it exists at all is because a dam was put in causing a spillage area. The one difference between a river and a flowage is that a flowage can shrink to a slick stream of mud when the water is low at the dam. On the summer I moved back, the flowage was running high with water and I took it as a good sign.

Fortunately, both my daughters were taken care of for the summer. My oldest had graduated high school and was exploring life in Milwaukee, living with her father. My youngest, Daryl, was visiting her father in Japan for the summer. I had insisted that Tim take her, recognizing I was on thin strings at the time.

It seemed like a perfect place to recuperate. There was a little shack on the half-acre lot my parent’s owned that I cleaned out, packing in my few belongings, making it my home for the next three months. My parents were not thrilled to see me lulling around their place every day, looking forlorn and with no plan in life except to recuperate. They suggested little things each day over breakfast to get me moving along in some direction or other. “There is surely a job at the grocery store in town,” Mom would say with an edge in her voice and a frown on her face. “Tim should be helping out more with Daryl. When is he coming back from Japan?” my dad would demand. Dad always thought there should be some man who should be sorting this out for me.

I had a law degree. I was not going to work at the grocery store. The problem was that I was only licensed to practice law in Oklahoma and Arizona. This was Wisconsin. Not only was this Wisconsin, but this was the north woods. Making money here as a lawyer was not anything I had any familiarity with. People here tended to stick with who they knew. They did not know me and I was a woman to boot. Anyway, I did not even have the $500.00 necessary to pay for the bar exam and I had none of the study materials to get prepared to take the bar. I had no plan and there was no man who was going to sort this out for me.

I spent the summer looking up old friends and going to visit them. I liked it away from my parent’s house and the constant reminders about how lost I really was. In my Nissan rambling down the road in Wisconsin in summer, the pine and the birch trees making a tunnel of green, nearly covering the sky, with the black-top road my only companion, that being the nearest I could get to feeling free.

My parents turned out not to be the answer to my prayers in the way I had hoped. They did not understand the concept of being burned out. They had worked hard their whole lives and had no one to complain to about it. It was my choice to marry the men I married and I had made my bed. They wanted to enjoy retirement, not take on the care of their adult daughter and all of the problems that come with that. It was not that they were kicking me out. They just wanted me to figure things out and get on with my life.

Coming home from one of my visits, I found my parents sitting in their usual spot, outside in front of their house, taking in the sun at the time in the late afternoon just before the mosquitoes come out to drive everyone inside. “The Repo guy was here, wanting to know where you were.” Dad said sternly. “He wants to pick up the car.”

I had no idea Tim had been stupid enough to let this get this far. He had threatened to quit making the car payments, thinking he had paid enough and it was time for me to make the payments. I figured he had totaled my car and should be required to replace it for me. The Nissan was in his name, not mine; it was his car to pay for. “How the hell did they find me here” I wanted to know.  I could not believe that they could possibly find me out in the Wisconsin woods. It had not been that long since I had left Arizona and I left no forwarding address.

For the next two days, I made sure to park the Nissan in with my parent’s vehicles blocking it so that it could not be snatched away when I was not looking. It was time to leave my parents place.  The repo man was making that clear. The only answer was  to move back to Arizona where I could get a job as a lawyer without having to wait the next half a year or more that it would take to pass a bar exam.  Daryl would be back in another month and school would start for her. I needed to find a job and an apartment and get her registered for school. After two months of floundering, I felt purpose returning to my life.  I knew what I needed to do.

I sent in a request to cash in my only retirement account which totaled a measly $3,000. It would take a couple of weeks of process. When it got here I would move back to Arizona.  I still had a couple hundred dollars left in my pocket. With that I left town, both to evade the repo man and to go on one last road trip before I went back to my life of work and single parenthood.

Deal Breaker

The bar is filled with college kids, some older, but most of them younger than me.  I am here to scope out the guys who are saddled up to the bar, filling the small cramped spaces, chatting and laughing, looking so free. I try to make myself fit in, knowing that I do not. I am different, having started college late, after getting married, after having a baby, after getting divorced. It never escapes my mind that I have a kid at home. I am not free.

Val is still outside the bar. It is a trick that she taught me. I go in first, looking as if I am looking for her, but really I am there checking out the crowd, seeing what the guys look like. Val will come in once I have had a chance to work my way through the thicket of people to the other end of the bar.  She will come doing the same thing, making it look like she is looking for me, but really checking out the guys, meeting me at the other end to compare notes. There are more guys than girls so we will stay here for a while. We order a beer, having already gotten tipsy at home where beer is cheaper, nursing this beer as long as we can, unlike the beer at home which we chugged to get fast results. We wiggle into a spot at the bar where we see the most guys hanging out.

I know the kid at home is a deal breaker with the guys. I have been here before. I struggle with the deceit of hiding my life, hiding who I am. Do I see if I like this guy before I tell him, breaking the deal? Do I wait to see if someone likes me before I tell him and break the deal? My heart does not like this idea.  I try not to think about it. I don’t want it to be so important.  I am just here to have fun, I tell myself. What am I supposed to do, wear a red badge on my chest?

Val has taught me everything I know about this game of flirting. Val, who did everything the normal way, had nice boyfriends in high school, went straight to college, dating more nice boys along the way. During the years Val was going out with nice boys and having fun, learning the art of flirting, I was at home with a child and diapers and a husband who wished I didn’t exist. Val picks up with the guy next to her, easily moving into conversation, accepting a light for a cigarette she bums. She will talk about anything except medical school, thinking that is a deal breaker. I can’t imagine how being in medical school can possibly be a deal breaker for her. I admire her. Actually I love everything about her, her bouncy brown hair, her Wisconsin twang in her voice, but mostly the fact that she is free in a way that I am not. I am shy and it takes me awhile to warm up to this game of flirting, even with a few beers under my belt.

On campus the other day, this guy chewed me out. He saw me waiting for the light to turn green at the cross walk, me with my bike, my bike with the child seat attached to the back. He yelled at me, chiding me for leading him on, pointing out that he did not know I had a kid. I was embarrassed, my head hanging, saying nothing. It was true, I hadn’t told him. The light finally turned green. I walked off, my bike at my side, the child seat like a red badge of shame beside me, the guy still yelling at me.  I did not even know his name. Last weekend I had been with Val, flirting with him at a bar, a bar just like this one. He was the bartender.  I flirted with him when I got my drinks. He never asked me out. We never kissed. Why did I need to tell him?

We are being offered drinks now and the night is fun, full of laughs, everyone looking for someone to love, no one showing it. The game of flirting is in high gear. I have forgotten about the guy on campus. I can be just like Val, just like everyone else here. Free.

There’s a guy I think is cute, long wavy hair to his shoulders, a beard, small round wire rimmed glasses and a nice smile. He’s interesting, goes to the University, the economics department. I am in Business school and we compare classes we’ve had in common.  Having a kid is the most important thing in my life but I don’t say anything about her. We are just talking. This is not serious.  He tells me his mom is Jewish and his dad is Catholic. He was raised Catholic but wants to be a Jew. I am an atheist and want to know how a person can want to be Jewish.  This conversation is more intimate. Still I say nothing about my daughter. We end up outside, kissing, me thinking I should tell him, not wanting to, thinking I should, knowing it will be the end if I do. The kisses are nice, having been a long time since I kissed anyone. I’m just here to have a little fun, I tell myself. This won’t go anywhere.

The Beach

From the car window, we both eyed that coast line; a deserted stretch of beach just past the Wisconsin border on the Upper Michigan Peninsula. There was not a soul in sight. The beach stretched on for miles and the sun gleamed off the golden stretch of sand as waves lapped the shore and seagulls flocked and landed. Daryl imagined jumping in the waves like an Orca whale. I imagined a long walk in solitude.

I had been hesitant to take this trip alone with my youngest daughter, who was now twelve and had a mind of her own. She had strong opinions and I was too exhausted most of the time to put my foot down. We often ended up in long arguments about things that made no sense which further exhausted me. It often felt like we were in a vicious cycle with no end in sight. We would be alone together for the entire trip. There would be no escape from the arguments. We would be trapped together in a car.

I was a single parent in the deepest sense of the word. I was single and a parent. The parent part meant that I never had a moment to myself. The single part of that meant that I still had dreams of having a life separate from being a parent.  I longed for a little solitude. I wanted time to have a completed thought of my own without Daryl interrupting with her desire for her mother’s attention.

“Daryl, why don’t you just play for awhile and I will go for a bit of a walk. I won’t go far. You can watch me. I’ll just go for a little way and come right back.” She relented and started to make a sand castle while I started my walk up the beach. As I walked I tried to imagine myself free of motherhood and able to just take long walks on the beach. I pictured what I might look like walking alone on the beach with the wind in my hair and a handsome man walking from the other direction. My vision was short lived.  Daryl trotted up by my side.

“But Mom, just come in a little; I’ll show you how to play in the waves.” she said with that look of someone certain they knew what they were talking about.  There would be no point arguing. Daryl would not let this rest. She danced along by my side in the edge of the water. “Mom, come in just a little; jump like this; feel the waves.”

I stopped and watched Daryl dancing around in the waves. She was so free about life. She found pleasure so easily in the simplest things. I gave in and joined her in the waves. I jumped the way she showed me how to jump. Then it happened. I felt the waves. I mean I felt the waves the way Daryl felt the waves. Daryl just played and looked at me satisfied that I finally saw.

Addicted to Therapy

My last therapist was a Guru who wore a tunic and a turban on her head and handed out flower essences like candy to a hurt child. I’ve always been attracted to therapists with some kind of weird angle.

The first time I went to a therapist it was in hope of salvaging my second marriage. My husband was considerate enough to agree to attend even though we were now living apart and each of us were now seeing other people. I thought the marriage was fixable, but if it wasn’t, I was going to have a backup plan so I hung on to the boyfriend. After our first two sessions together, the therapist separated us. I suppose that should have been telling. We lived in Oklahoma at the time so it was not surprising that the therapist believed that reaching out to God was the answer for everything. I did, however, find it surprising that the therapist thought I needed a divorce. In the end I put myself in her hands, filed for a divorce and moved to Arizona leaving my husband and my backup plan behind.

In Tempe, Arizona I found a place called, The Body Works Studio. It was just a corrugated metal warehouse separated into several rooms of different sizes. Anyone who touted the creative and the odd was invited in to set up shop there. I went to those workshops like a moth is attracted to a flame. I hoped to be transformed. I wanted the old Peggy to be burned away and the new me to fly free. I went to scream therapy, goddess therapy, writing workshops, poetry workshops, artist way groups, dream therapy and dance therapy.

It was at The Body Works Studio that I landed in with a therapist and a group of women who were addicted to men. I felt at home there, although I considered myself above the other women in my group because I did not currently have a man that I was addicted to. I never mentioned the gay guy from my poetry workshop that I was super infatuated with. It was a real blow when I finally realized he was gay.

The therapist from the addicted to men group became concerned about me falling into tears all the time in group and told me a prescription for antidepressants might do me some good. I didn’t really think that I needed antidepressants. I could figure this out without going on drugs. But the therapist seemed rather insistent and I thought I would give it a try.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office wondering how you go about asking a doctor for antidepressants. I thought about telling him about all the stress I was under raising two kids on my own. Or I could tell him about my job running a legal aid clinic while at the same time trying to pass the bar exam in Arizona. Or I could just tell him that the therapist recommended the antidepressants. It didn’t sound convincing to me. I was asking to be given a controlled substance after all.

These thoughts were still winding around my head when the doctor finally came in to see me. I think I got the words “I think I’m depressed” out of my mouth before bursting into tears. Big sobs started coming out and snot started to run. The doctor got out his pad of paper and handed me the prescription. I guess that’s how a person asks for antidepressants. I bawled all the way out of the doctor’s office and hid in the waiting room bathroom until I could get my sobbing under control. Maybe the therapist was right about the antidepressants.

By the time I moved to Tucson I had given up my addiction for men and I quit the antidepressants. But something was missing. I kept reaching for what it was but I could never really put a finger on what I needed. I found myself making better choices most of the time, but life felt hollow.

My new best friend found a therapist that she liked and I knew that this friend would have done her research so I was quick to sign up. The therapist’s office was in a little adobe backhouse across from where the therapist lived with her husband. The backhouse was old and painted in desert hues with sunset colors joined in. It was decorated with sea shells and stacked with stuff that looked like it was from a rummage sale. There was a pretty adobe fireplace that she lit on cold winter days. My new therapist always had a box of Kleenex and a cup of hot tea ready. She sat in a wicker chair with a large round back that made her look like she was sitting inside a halo. She was younger than me with long super curly hair and a cute face making her look angelic. I sat across from her in a comfortable cushy chair. It was in that chair that I spent an hour every week at first and then every two weeks and finally once a month breaking through to the secrets of my past that were hidden away in dark dank crevices of my mind and body. It felt like exorcism at times to reach them. Together we dug them all out and she helped me to normalize them. The day finally came when the tears stopped and I finally graduated therapy.

Graduating therapy was not what I expected. I still had problems that I needed to work through and it was not like my old self  burned away and a new me came flying forth. It was more like I became more comfortable in my own skin. I started to appreciate who I was with all the flaws and weird angles that I was made up of. I liked myself more just the way I was. I was just more “me” and it was just enough to hang onto out in the real world when things got tough.

I found Guru Ravi because I needed help with my youngest child who was proving to be a real challenge and I found myself turning into my mother. I had done fairly well tamping down the urge to scream and yell with my oldest daughter and I never reverted to spanking, but with this second child I had no resources and all my tricks were not working. I brought Daryl in for our first appointment expecting that the Guru would have a talking with her and figure out how to fix her. Guru Ravi told me to leave Daryl at home after that first visit. It turned out that I just needed some new parenting skills. I had been lucky with my first daughter; with this second one I needed some real training.

I went back to Guru Ravi when I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. By that time she had became family. When either of my daughters, who were now adults, needed help, they turned to the Guru. I liked her turban and the joy she always radiated on her face. I needed to soak up some of that joy in a big way. It seemed natural to schedule an appointment to see her. I saw her for about four months to help me through the roughest parts of my recovery. We finally came to a place where I saw that I was going to make it. I would be OK whether I lived or died from this crazy disease. She could bring me to both these places and I could see that the real point was in living life while I still had it to live.

One year later, Guru Ravi would die from ovarian cancer.