October is my favorite month. It's my season. The colors are vibrant in yellow, red and orange, my favorite color. The temperatures cool as the days become shorter with the Earth tilting more away from the sun in her 365 day orbit. October inspires a feeling in me of inspiration. I feel closer to who I am within.
Autumn is the season of October. Some people call it Fall which comes from the New England phrase 'Fall of Leaves'. In Greek mythology, Autumn began when Persephone was abducted by Hades to be the Queen of the Underworld. In distress Persephone's mother, Demeter (the goddess of the harvest), caused all the crops on Earth to die until her daughter was allowed to return, marking Spring. I became quite intimate with Persephone and Demeter in my college days because of my Greek sorority's roots . I have anchored the feelings of security, excitement, and possibilities around October, Persephone and those fond memories of college.
My first 'serious' boyfriend in high school asked me out in October and we started dating. We had a lot of fun together and it was a great experience for my initiation into the world of the opposite sex. He was an all state soccer player and very athletic. It was an understatement to say he was handsome because he was truly attractive and charismatic. People, especially me, just wanted to be around him; And he adored me. I felt special around him. My mother , not the kindest person behind closed doors, kept me off balance to a degree and going through the Catholic system was just compounding the confusion for me. My boyfriend was an equalizer in my life and not everything seemed off kilter. The relationship provided stability for me, however, I knew by the end of my senior year that the relationship had ran it course. I knew we were going to hold each other back somehow, even though just a few months ago we were not. Don't ask me to explain how I knew this because I didn't understand it either. It was intuitive and it was right on and it was my first experience with this feeling. I just knew it was time to end the relationship. My lack of life experience and maturity made it messy and painful and lonely and full of tears. I really hurt him and I realized, quickly, I couldn't do that again to anyone but especially not to myself. Here is where I got introduced to lifelong patterns. Lifelong patterns of trying to right a wrong with another wrong decision. I hurt him and made mistakes in the breakup so my attempt to correct what really couldn't be corrected was to date him again.
I had already decided to take a gap year and that college had to be anywhere but in my hometown. The reason I took a gap year was because the pressure and competition to get into THAT college that would shape my life, terrified me. How could I be expected to go from raising my hand to ask permission to go to the bathroom in school to making a life altering decision. And so in the brisk October sun I took a gap year, working as a bank teller, dating a boy to make up for a mistake, and filling out college applications. By the time it was summer, he had broke things off with me. It was much more painful for me this time because I had gone against my intuition. Another lifelong lesson, trusting my intuition even though there was pain in the trusting. The alternative, as I have learned, is that the pain only gets worst when I don’t listen to that still small voice within.
We ended up attending colleges 30 minutes from each other. Our freshman year, he showed up at my all woman's college dorm on Valentine's Day. A familiar face and a familiar body was just what I needed. Freshman year I was adrift. Now I understand it was an internal adrift, never the less, it soothed me to be once again engaged in sex with a boy whose body I had memorized. Our chemistry was effortless and the comfort of knowing each other very well provided a stability that I was lacking and truly missing in my college life. We dragged it out another 6 months till finally we both walked away. I had hoped we would be friends eventually, after all, he played an important role in my life. We ran into each other in our hometown years later and went out for breakfast till 5am and talked and talked and talked. We agreed to be friends and to stay in touch until that October came and I fell in love with my first husband. He wrote me a letter that was full of rage. I don't remember what was said in that letter exactly, except he never wanted to speak to me again. I hear he got married and has two daughters.
It was a warm Friday in October that I found out I was accepted as a pledge in my sorority. It was another October evening, when I was involved in a sorority mystery date function that lead me to met my college boyfriend. It was a collegiate October morning that I took the LSAT in a room full of anxiety riddled children who wore the title of adult because the last 4 years just kicked most of our butts (even for those who would deny it). It was a beautiful sunny October when I met a woman who would start teaching me meditation and answer those questions that haunted me since college graduation, "Is this really it? Is this what life is all about?".
It was the beginning of October when I meet my first husband. He looked a lot like Pierce Brosnan. He was athletic. He was worldly. He was 10 years older than me. He flew me to Albuquerque, New Mexico’s balloon festival. It was amazing. We went to Mexico and then to Alaska and then he asked me to marry him. I said yes. I said let's do it now. We got on a plane and headed to Lake Tahoe on the California side. We were married on a Tuesday at 5am a week before Thanksgiving. On that plane ride to Lake Tahoe, I knew. I knew it wouldn't last. I almost backed out because I was really starting to have enough experience with my intuition not to ignore it. And then I heard, it will take 4 years not now. OK. Whatever. I got married and 4 years later on a windy October day, I knew it was over.
It was October when I fell in love with a man 20 years my senior and it would end with my heart broken. It would be another October I would find myself falling in love and lust with a tall handsome Puerto Rico man. A tortured poet who was talented and smart but self sabotaging due to an abusive childhood that haunted him. Two years later and another lifelesson... I can't save him. I can't help him. This understanding of when to let go and let that person fall, knowing it is the only way to help, would really come much later. Connecting this string through all my relationships would take more years and more tears.
It was the first week of October, the nation was in shock. 9/11 had just happened weeks prior and the trauma of the event was fresh. My dad was dying. He had slipped into a comma days earlier and Hospice was in my childhood home saying each night it would be the last. As I wait on a crispOctober Sunday, I was alone in the house I grew up in. Alone in the memories of my dad holding me, comforting me, smiling at me. I sat out on his beloved back porch. It was a nice large comfortable covered porch. A breeze always blew through the rafters. I sat on my dad's swing. He had purchased it in New York and had it shipped to his house (this was pre Amazon days). It was steel and sturdy not made to be disposal but to last. Many Sunday mornings, he would cast one leg up on that swing, as he sat in the corner, swinging in the breeze wearing his Hush Puppy slippers in his white undershirt and black pants. I sat there looking at the final garden my father had grown and I knew that my dad was waiting on me. He didn't want to leave me. I went inside and sat next to him. I picked up his hand and held it. I held it for along time. I felt the warmth of his hand and memorized how big and heavy his hand was inside of mine. I quietly said to him, "Daddy you can go. I will be ok. I can do this on my own. You need to go now. " I lowered his hand to the bed and I took a walk in the park behind my childhood home and it was in the warmth of that early October that I found comfort. Very late that evening, holding my dad's hand again, my dad raised his head and looked straight ahead. It was the first time he had opened his eyes in days. I whispered, "Go", and he was gone.
It was the second week of October, 8 years ago, that Bradley and I moved our young family to Colorado. It snowed the first night in our new home. We were excited for the change. Everything felt ripe with possibilities. Indeed it was because 2 months later I was pregnant with our daughter. Colorado was grounding for our family, for me. Bradley and I were creating the life we said we wanted and then..... I think about the time when it seemed to change...could it have been this event or that. Colorado was a deliberate move so we could have access to different healing modalities that simply were not available in Missouri.
We had just finished a round of counseling and our daughter was now one and our son 4. Bradley had come along way and I was so proud of him. Bradley had begun to verbalize his intense grief over his father being allowed to beat him. This was a layer that was deeper for him to get to. His father beating him was obvious but why did his mother not physically stop it. The abusive was buried in his birth family. Bradley would explain to me the sheer fear he would experience at talking about the abuse because he had been conditioned to pretend it didn't happen by his parents. He would joke it off and then he would cry in my arms over it.
My lifelong pattern was showing up, I'm trying to save him. I saw so much beauty in him. In my attempts to save Bradley from his demons, I healed my deeper childhood wounds because being with Bradley inspired me to be a better person. He was my family. It was a tough road with him. He battled feeling deep insecurity at times to depression because he just couldn't make sense of the abuse. He felt inadequate as he would hear his father’s voice in his own head, tearing him down, piece by piece. In between the spaces of his grief was a lot of laughter, fun activities, and much love. A duality was always present in Bradley. Once again, Bradley felt abandoned by his birth family as an important decision was made specifically without his knowledge. It spurred the feelings of abandonment and he got lost in really disliking himself. It is what we think that we create. In the months that followed, I could see Bradley silently giving up. The spark that was always present within him was diminishing. I made excuses because I felt powerless. I couldn't walk away. Had I done everything I could?
It was an October afternoon that he lost his driving privilege. Two months early he received a DWI.He was becoming more reckless. I started to have a laser beam focus to protect my two beautiful children and myself. I could feel myself edging him out of the picture. It was for one year he couldn’t drive. I could feel that year would never come. I stood in the courthouse looking at Bradley, watching him smile but feeling him gone. A shift had occurred. In some cultures, shamans call this the walking dead. It is when someone is still in their body, physically alive, but their thoughts have shifted to the non physical.
It was that same October I was pregnant again. We both wanted a third baby. Could this save him? It's the first pregnancy I didn't plan. It didn't feel right and by Thanksgiving I had miscarried. Bradley's response haunts me as I can still hear him say, "This is the last time we would be pregnant together." I asked him why and he didn't know, it was a feeling he said. I knew it too. I didn't want to feel it. I said to myself that we were heading towards divorce. I didn't want to feel what was beginning to consume me. Everything, from that moment on, felt like the last time with Bradley. I would wake up in the middle of the night to check his breathing. The way Bradley looked at me was with memorization. There was always an ominous feeling and in 7 short months, he would be dead. Suddenly. Tragically in my arms with the children watching in the dark of night under a full moon in our driveway.
17 months later I sit here on another October evening. Snuggled in with my wonderful children and sweet dog. This week has been stunning with golden hues and red glows of the changing of the leaves in the sunlight. I sit on this beautiful night in deep appreciation for the October's that have gone before me and how far I have I come. I sit in appreciation that I have begun a new journey that I was catapulted into through Bradley’s death and I am beginning to appreciate it. As my point of attraction continues to shift radically - people, places and things that are totally different than what I had once attracted are now coming into my life. Of course, it's in response to my inner change. Letting go of protecting myself. Letting go pretending something doesn’t hurt me. Letting go of not needing help. Letting go of arrogance and allowing that little girl that I hid all those years ago to resurface. It’s surreal. As I am becoming, Bradley and I would never have been. We would not have been attracted to each other as I can see how our relationship locked me into that person I was. His death released me.
On this refreshing October morning I thank you Bradley.