The following are some things I found when I finally got around to having files recovered from an old computer that bit the dust. One is just a short little poem that I wrote as an exercise in an adult education class. The other is a little story I wrote just because.
These were written about 12 years ago when I was in the midst of coming to terms that I couldn’t stay married. I haven’t changed any awkward phrasing or edited anything in either–they are just the way I wrote them when I was struggling to find my way.
I am sharing them because they show where my thoughts were at that time—how I was processing what I was experiencing, trying to come to terms with reality–at least a version of it I could deal with at that time. I was beginning to own my own role in my situation, and I was also recognizing that I had beliefs that were keeping me trapped there.
In the following story about the parakeet, I think I was trying to understand both the keeper and the kept along with the safety of the cage and the perils of being trapped there. The ideas are swirling, I’m working on figuring things out…I’m getting closer….
A few years ago I inherited a parakeet from my daughter. I did not want a bird, mind you, but I got one.
So, making the best of things, I went about the business of accepting her as mine. Being the creative genius I am, I gave her a superb and thoughtful name: BirdieBirdie. With lilting variations and other ridiculous sounds.
Yes, I did. She seemed to like her new keeper and BirdieBirdie and I became friends. It didn’t take long. I talked to her and she would leap to the side of the cage and talk back. Cute, fun. I bought her toys, bells, ladders, mirrors and all sorts of things that seemed entertaining to me, but what she really wanted was my attention.
All the time.
I had a home office so I took the teal green creature up to be with me while I worked. It seemed like a good plan. We’d keep each other company. It worked fine. Until the phone rang with a business call.
The second I started talking, so did she. It seemed any time I spoke, BirdieBirdie assumed I was speaking to her. And she responded. Loudly. Now, I’m not big on caged animals of any sort anywhere. I didn’t want this one in the first place for exactly that reason—and about five hundred others—so, in that desperate moment, I let her out.
Oh, my, it was a circus in the beginning; a bird-wrangling rodeo to get her back in the cage when the time came. It was, however, fairly effective in keeping her quiet during business calls. Fairly.
Then one day, I was talking to her and she swooped down and landed on my head. Always the head. I put her on my shoulder, my desk, my chair, and she’d stay for a little while then back to the head or gone.
Eventually, she would come to me when she wanted or whenever I called. She’d go back to her cage when she felt like it and she’d hop in whenever I carried her over on my finger.
She was no longer trapped. She could come and go, and know that there would be another time of freedom.
She had loved me when I kept her in a cage, but she wanted out so badly, to be free. I was afraid if I let her out, she’d hurt herself, she’d get out or get eaten by the dog—believe me, we had plenty of close calls.
In the end, it was the cage that killed her. We had a new kitten and she flew to the side of the cage to see what was going on, and little sharp claws got her through the bars. The cage didn’t protect her at all.
In her freedom, she came to me of her own free will. Trapped, she died.
Keeping someone in a cage through jealousy or codependency may keep them with you. But it is only in the freedom that they can truly choose to be with you.
The story isn’t really finished, of course—there was more I needed to understand—but it was where I was at the time and the step I took in that moment.
What I wasn’t yet willing to admit was that I had created my own cage. My unconscious belief system pushed me to build it then hand the keys over to another person. The conscious me bemoaned the fact that I was trapped—and I blamed the other person for it.
As you’ll see by the next few lines, I knew the truth—at least part of me did—I was just struggling to find a way to own it. I wrote the following for the one and only writing class I ever took. Looking back, it was really more about allowing what was within to come out and putting it on paper. The topic could have been anything: joy, sunshine, love, roses, puppies or mountain streams. Here is what I wrote:
The cage is locked
The key so near
All that’s holding me
Are the bars of fear
Pay attention to your thoughts and your words. Your truth is there. And, look for the messages in your own life and give yourself those moments of insight—as often as possible. It matters. It is a process of becoming really aware of what you’re thinking about—and why—and then realizing you can make it different if you want to.
Have the courage to start now. Own your thoughts, words, actions and choices. Know what you want and what you need to get there, and then do it consciously, deliberately and on purpose. You can fast forward yourself to joy!
A little Black Pen