Someone whom I love and trust has named me a Bear Trainer. Those that have known me as I have grown up with chains wrapped around my knuckles and sharp glass ready to spill at will at those who challenge me have always called me ‘The Bear’. The claws and the standing up to roar and stare what I am afraid of in the face, head on.
I am the bear. I am also the bear trainer. The story of my life. Most of the people in the world who I drew close to me were filled with fire and rage and I either trained them, or they leashed me. To be both, is hard. To be both, is and always be – the way I do things.
I cannot be a mother. That physical capability was destroyed by the boots of another bear, larger and stronger than me. What he taught me instead, was that I should never be weak, and that if I showed any weakness, a kick to the gut would realign my ideas of fighting back.
I meet people who set my mind on fire with the gasoline like fuelled rage that inevitably comes with pain. I put my head down, and brace myself for the burn, determined to hold their hands and lead them away from the source. A therapist, who is a close friend, told me that was a maternal behaviour.
I don’t think so.
I think it is the weakness in me. The choice- to be the bear, or to teach the bear how to stand upright. How to dance in the blaze. To carry around my chains and whips and my belly full of roaring fierceness, just in case. In case I have to choose.
Or maybe, I am just a girl. Just a girl who has only ever wanted someone to hold my hand, and tell me that I am beautiful and that everything will be okay. Tell me that they see the bigger picture and that they love me anyway. I have become so good at doing the protecting and the hyper vigilance, and the reading other people so well that I am always first to say or do the right thing – that I get lost.
Not always the case. Like now. I managed to wrap my hands around a soldier whose heart echoes so many of the same things that mine does. To her, I am a bear trainer. To me, she is a warrior whose knees are bruised, and whose hands are bloodied. She sets my mind alight with the words she sings like a humming bird trapped in a small box, hand made by the keeper.
Her drawings reveal layers of untold stories. Her reflections make me want to redraw, retrain, fix, heal, help and hold her hand while she pulls and fights to remain alone. My misery doesn’t like company, she told me.
There is only space for one in the humming bird box.
So from a distance. I will keep my chains about me, and remind her that she is allowed to lay down in foetal position under her dining room table and cry. My heart will be laid there with her. Simply so she can hear it. Another reminder that she must breathe.
Three sentences I would repeat over and over. Until she stopped fighting.
You are a fine mother, because you are a good human.
You are a hummingbird, a soldier, and a bear.
And, I am here. You are loved. You always will be, even if from across a sea. Because you found me. You recognised me. Not many connections made with such solid beauty, despite the ugliness that comes with it all.
Your fortress is safe. I have no need to tamper with it. I am inside already. I have been all along. Because I loved you from the beginning. Your fire. Your weakness. Your rage. Your strength. Your heart. It is filled with magic that you have locked away.
That tar like blackness that you drown in daily. You won’t sink. Not with me watching. Chains can be used for more than just rearranging someone’s teeth.
Hold on. Everything is going to be alright.