“You have no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So I’ve brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me.”
Ever since Mum starting visiting us in Sydney four years ago my partner, the Martian, started sending me the most beautiful long stemmed red roses on Valentine’s Day. Three years ago he even bought me some emerald earrings. These presents made me happy for a while but then I could feel the sting of heartbreak when I discovered the roses had no scent and hence no essence I could detect. They could’ve easily been plastic.
I managed to lose the earrings when we moved house. I looked at his green eyes and told him the truth about the earrings. I felt bad that I was careless with them.
He shrugged. He didn’t mind.
Valentine’s Day has never been for us. It’s a day dictated from a deep desire to ramp up the sales of all things that were made to serve an artificial idea of “romance”. “Show our love! Go buy some roses!” is how I imagine the day to sound and it doesn’t evoke passion in me. So we ignore that call nowadays.
That was not always the case though. Two years ago I was competitive with the women in my family. I wanted to beat them in a contest I’d designed in my head. Once and for all, I wanted them to realise my worth. I thought the only way to get them to take note of me was to brag about the gifts the Martian had given me for Valentine’s Day.
At the time, I didn’t know that I wasn’t even a contender in the game set up on Mum’s family’s chat room. I was too much of an outsider, an ugly duckling, to be included and it didn’t matter if I had a nice life in Australia or if I was in outer space about to get swallowed into a black hole.
All of my attempts to outdo the other women, to try to be on top of everything, fell flat and I gave up. I didn’t belong. I rejected them for rejecting me and left despite my most sincere intention to remain loving and present for them. Mum’s so-called sisters didn’t even call her by her preferred name. I found that disrespectful and it broke my heart. That is my gift and curse: I sense the resentments, pent up anger, angst, fear of using one’s voice, inferiority and superiority complexes. I see all those parts of one’s self that get swept under the rug and create an uncomfortable family gathering. In most families, there’s a dynamic where some are deemed the winners, the representatives of everything the family values, and then there are those who sit in silence. They’d given up trying to make themselves heard and understood a long time ago.
My mother was not someone who lived up to her own mother’s expectation that she be glamorous and fashionable. As her daughter, I realised my terrible position in this race for popularity. It was painful but it relieved me. I released myself of the expectations they’d put on themselves to be beautiful and for the men in their lives to be the bearer of stupendous presents. I set the Martian free too. He’s no longer obligated to buy me anything. Happily ever after? Hardly… The gift and the curse live within me.
“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”
All of us have our personal truths but that’s a small and limited outlook on life. My mind is blown every time I talk to people I have shared experiences with. What I remember and what they relay to me are so different even though we were in the same place maybe even sitting next to each other looking at the same things play out on the stage.
All of our relationships guide us in reaching the bigger truth out there and no relationship is as intimate as the one with your domestic partner, husband or wife. They hold a mirror up to our blindsides and we don’t always like what we see. It’s easy to change an outfit that makes our bum look big, but what to do with the truth that we may have inflated egos.
How to change that?
It’s not as easy as grabbing another pair of pants from the wardrobe. When everyone is talking about romantic love, my thoughts turn to the relationship of duty and shared responsibility for our home. There, in thinking of our shelter, this idea of a safe place I’m creating with the Martian, that’s where love’s flame burns for me. It’s what grounds me and keeps me humble. I can always return home when I experience rejection from the outside world, as this is the inevitable fate of the writer who submits pieces for publication to strangers who don’t know her from Adam.
“Let go of your worries and be completely clear-hearted, like the face of a mirror that contains no images. If you want a clear mirror, behold yourself and see the shameless truth, which the mirror reflects.”
Thankfully, we can realise the truth if we simply connect with love – for ourselves. Without having accepted this gift (or curse) for seeing the dynamics and writing them out to gain an acceptance of myself as a memoir writer, I would never have worked myself out of some of the dead ends I kept bashing my heart and head against. There were many relationships with different faces but the same emotions, motions and results of separation and heartbreak. Once the truth came into my life, my mirror was clear and the fog was gone. I stopped crashing.
So this is what I do. I feel the truth in my heart, let it move through me and come out of my fingertips to guide me and those reading towards greater self-love.
Over to you…
What gifts were you blessed with?
How do you share your gifts and is this always welcomed by those around you?
Do you sometimes wish you weren’t cursed with a so-called gift because it appears to alienate you from those around you?
Have you found your true love, the one person who challenges you as much as he supports you, to manifest whatever gift you have within you?