Chaotic Ana: Liberation

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Taking His Hand

While there are many threads to her story, at its center is a story of love and the man around which her life came to revolve. All she had wanted was to follow him.

They had just met moments earlier, when she was working with her hands and with colors. And what she felt in him struck deep, as if she were an instrument and he was her playing. Soon she would learn that he rarely rested, haunted by dreams that kept him awake, as if there were too many doors he couldn’t keep shut. She, on the other hand, had no such trouble. If anything, besides her daydreams, she rarely dreamt at all.

Despite this difference, they were on the brink of something momentous, as if each realized they’d never truly loved before. As they began their journey, she wondered whether he’d be the one to help open the doors of her consciousness. If there were anyone she’d want to help with that task, it would be no one else but him.

Bliss

What soon followed was nothing short of heaven: the intimacy of skin and the pleasure of their exertion. Maybe it was then that she gave her heart to him.

But she also witnessed the torment of which he spoke; the things that kept him up at night. Contrary to her intuitions, he told her he was living in the light. The only problem was the end. There was nothing there: an emptiness so complete, that it left him swallowed by darkness and gasping for breath, as his very life would come to an end.

She tried to console him. They had met each other, after all. Perhaps the "nothing" wasn’t as empty as he thought. Something had to be there. He should be patient. The answer would come. He would see.

Vision of Horror

But then one night, while eating at a fancy restaurant, she had a vision, the first of many that were yet to come. The image didn’t make sense: a child was being ripped away from her, in a foreign land. And yet, despite the confusion, the feeling was far from uncertain: the taste of horror and a hole in her heart, as if her very being had been stolen.

He had tried to comfort her, tried to tell her that everything would be all right. But the terror failed to go away. It only got stronger, more insistent, as if replying that he was wrong. Words provided no reassurance. The dread, unrelenting and deep, refused to disappear. And that’s when the blackness came.

And when she awoke, he was gone. As if it were his disappearance that her vision had foretold.

Reincarnation

Devastated by his absence, she felt as if she’d been ripped in two. Her other half only recently discovered, now wrenched from her, leaving an open wound. Inspired by her newfound visions, her paintings captured the nature of their love, as if they had been fated to meet: lovers reincarnated, brought back from another place and another time. Their bodies merged into one, his hand plunged deep into her heart. How could such a love be broken?

When they were still together, she learned that he was a refugee of war: born in a camp in the desert, only to be evicted into the most unforgiving places on earth. She’d also learned that he was an activist, just like his mother, a freedom fighter who had died for the cause. Like her, he worked on behalf of the dispossessed, his people who’d been denied even a place to call their own.

Perhaps if she had paid closer attention, she would have seen the warning signs, the conflict that already existed between his activism and their love. Perhaps if she had looked with different eyes, she would have seen that a commitment with roots so deep could never be content in her embrace. But since their honeymoon was just beginning, they allowed themselves to believe otherwise. But now, in his absence, she was left reeling. Looking at the painting she’d drawn, she’d whisper to herself, "Not like this!" For the task of opening her doors isn’t what she wanted to do on her own. Not alone. Not without him.

Hallway and Doors

As fate would have it, while caught in the depths of despair, she would meet a hypnotherapist willing to help, someone she’d learn to trust. For a while, they even became roommates to facilitate the work that they would do, for there’d be many sessions in which they’d try to figure out the truth behind her life and all the ones that came before.

As was quickly discovered, and as she’d already suspected, her current life was not the first. The clue to this were memories not really her own, visions of experiences belonging to another: a feeling that she had lived another life or that this one was a fraud. Once the therapist had even asked whether there were other names by which she’d been known.

As their work proceeded, he’d become more certain that she carried an abyss inside her, the place from which her terror had come. The same terror that had sent her lover away, leaving her completely alone.

Soul Mates

To her friends, her plaints would become tiresome, repeated like a broken record: yearning for him, wondering what happened, asking if he might return. Those who tolerated her grief would fail to understand why his leaving made no sense, perhaps because they’d never experienced a love like the one the two of them had shared. When they met it was as if the gods had answered her silent prayer.

At the time, she’d been working on a painting. Her mentor suggested that she begin working with oils: they were much better for capturing the unconscious, allowing for more depth, unlike the crayons that gave her drawings a childish look. Without a second thought, she’d reply curtly, as if defending doors that were firmly shut.

I paint to forget, to escape.
I don’t want depth.

And yet, almost immediately – as if in response to her unspoken cry – she saw a painting almost identical to her own. The colors were different and the rendering more crude. But when juxtaposed with her own, it was as two siblings happened upon a common memory. At the center of their drawings was predatory bird of one sort or another. Perhaps a hawk. But while hers looked majestic, his looked like a demon or even the devil himself.

This confluence of the unspoken and barely remembered. That was how they met.

Bird of Prey

In his absence, the hypnotherapy is the only means by which she can divine what was lost and, hopefully, understand why he left her side. And so, quite reluctantly, she submits to the man she and her roommate came to call "English" because of the formality with which he spoke as well as his accent, as if her language was not his own.

It was during one of their very first sessions that the image of the bird came to her, although she would only know of it when her words were translated back to her. (Time came to a halt when she merged with the twilight of her unconscious.) And it was from that image – the two of them being devoured by birds of prey – that the first piece of the puzzle comes into place: of the connection that bound them together as well as the fear that drove him away.

The sessions would continue, both arduous and unforgiving: while she pleaded with the therapist for happy memories, they all seemed to lead to images of her death; during the times when she’d speak in foreign tongue, a translator would be brought in to decipher what she had said. All of which only served to underscore the many layers of history through which their excavations led.

Portraits of Death

It’s in this way that, one by one, her doors came to be opened, allowing a glimpse into what had remained hidden. But while this seemed to suggest progress, all they brought were messages of mutilation and despair. And rather than provide her with any clear answers, they only deepened her anguish and sorrow, no closer to any understanding of why she’d been left alone.

Travelling back in time as far as the mind could see, in different places and times, these visitations brought a single message, one that was less about the lives she’d led than about how each of them came to an end. More cruelly, each punctuated by the gruesome ways in which a woman can be made to die.

Which is probably why she chose to end their sessions, too weary of the demands it made. Her therapist and friend were excited by the revelations, but she couldn’t help being repelled by them: stories of young women, none of them dying a natural death. Instead, all stories were a variation on a single theme: tales of annihilation where chaos and terror reigns supreme.

Her Cave Father

Her only comfort came from the man who had raised her in a cave, the place decorated by doors curiously similar to the ones she and her hypnotherapist were now working to open. Since the life they once shared was a distant memory, she’d write letters to him on paper and in her head. He was a constant presence, even if absent, one who could be counted on to help sort through the turmoil in her head.

With affection, she’d call him cave dweller, cave monster and her very own grizzly beast. She’s write to him about her lover as well as the torment she experienced when he disappeared. What she didn’t tell him was what she learned through her hypnosis, as if that would jeopardize the relationship they had shared.

So when his health begins to fade, she interrupted her treatment to go see him. And when he died, she stopped completely, no longer able or willing to continue that work. Instead, she found herself on a boat sailing across the ocean with a man twice her age, not quite knowing what she was doing but certain her life needed a radical change.

Lady Liberty

During the trip across the ocean, she’d confess that she’d never spent as much time with a man who wasn’t her father, perhaps even mourning the time she was unable to spent with "him." Which might also be why, when they reached New York harbor, she’d pass on his invitation to continue accompanying him, traveling the world and celebrating the kind of freedom only a man can presume to be his own.

Instead, it’s the Statue of Liberty that strikes her, causing her to catch her breath. Perhaps it’s her water-stained face that’s caught her attention, or the dignity with which she’s weathered the years. Almost imperceptibly, the portrait of two merged bodies with an arm sunken into her chest slowly replaces another in which this Lady comes to be her other half.

In the meantime, she marvels in the excitement of the City: a new landscape, new sights, new sounds. A new place in which to discover herself or, at least, learn more about what’s eluded her so far. And yet, triggers and reminders continue to haunt her, ghosts of the one who had left and never returned. The one to whom she had given her heart but, for one reason or another, who wasn’t able to stay.

Bird-Man

One day, her therapist reappears out of the blue, not quite the Prince Charming for whom she’d been waiting. He’s excited, even agitated, brimming with news: he’s been doing research and believes he’s found an answer to the conundrum they faced so long ago. They need to return to the origin, back 2,000 years ago. And he’s found people who can help. Despite his claims that she’s never been closer to the answer, she insists that she left that life behind. And in the face of his news, she can’t help asking herself: How am I going to die this time?

He takes her to an Indian reservation, and it’s there that the details of her story unfolds. Like all the other lives she’s relived, she now finds herself as another, this time as Osdad Ciara, the Goddess of Life and Mother of Good Men. She’ll learn that her beloved had dethroned her, instigating a civil war. The skull before her, perhaps like those invading her visions, is none other than the evidence of what was done by the man she had loved, the one who had split her head in two.

In her mind she relives the moment, hounded by a lover now dressed as a bird of prey. She tells him she won’t go with him if he’s dressed like that, repelled by his pride and his strutting. And yet, he continues to taunt her, as if her refusal only strengthen his resolve. Even her threat to leave carries no weight, leading to the death of the Goddess, the origin that gave birth to it all.

Her mentor tells her to remain calm in the face of this extermination, that it’s in her dying that the Goddess glows. For it’s through death that her wisdom blossoms, fueled by Life rather than the machinations of destruction and war. But because it’s too much to absorb, she leaves once again, making no plans for the future other than the desire to take care of herself. If anything is to come of this, she has to believe that the way will make itself known.

Belated Reunion

Later, after she’s established a new life for herself, she meets her lover looking sheepish about his unexplained absence. She puts him through the ringer. When her wrath is spent, he makes a confession, one that returns to the knot that defined their relationship long after the absence that had left her heart bereft.

After your [panic] attack, which we all saw, I had another, which nobody saw.
And I saw that I couldn’t help you, how I would hurt you.

While it was years ago, she still remembers. Both of them had spoken in a foreign tongue; no one else was able to understand. They’d been talking about his horror and how it complemented her own. Despite her terrible vision, she kept trying to reassure him saying that the "emptiness" was just an illusion, something they could overcome if he only had faith: in her and himself. She reminds him:

That night, you realized it’s not over when biology runs out.
Our souls have another biological sense.
You said that there’s nothing in the end, [but] it’s the opposite !
We accumulate.
Death fills, not empties.

While he was gone, these are lessons that she’s learned, forced to face the violent deaths that haunted her so. And while she had preferred to learn them in his company, she now possesses the kind of wisdom that glows like the Goddess of Life herself. Maybe he’s come to a similar understanding, as well.

Lady Liberty in the Making

So thrilled is she to see him again, it’s difficult for her to stop talking. There’s so much to tell him, so many plans to make. All she’s ever wanted was to live with him and, finally, he’s now returned. And yet, there’s a reluctance, as if something’s holding him back, as if there was more he had to say. Which is when he finally tells her what she’s waited so long to hear: confessing his side of the visions they shared and the lives they’d reincarnated, making them their own.

I wasn’t the Saharan you were in love with. I’m Said, his son. My parents were prisoners in a Moroccan camp. A soldier took your son away. My mother was a well-known Berber. She came from way back and possessed energy from other wise women, Amazigh women that came before her. That’s why the Moroccans let the birds eat her alive. They thought her soul would be released into the air.

In the face of this revelation, all she can do is restate what he’s told her in terms that are more familiar = So I was your mother, your grizzly beast of a mother! = stunned by the realization that their relationship would never be the same. In one fell swoop, the bond they shared, as well as his mysterious disappearance, is finally explained: what it was that drew her to him, and him to her, as well as the terror she felt when faced with letting him go. In another life, he had been her son who was wrenched from her, just prior to being left to the birds to be eaten alive.

Swallowed by blackness, she later awakes. And once again, he’s gone.

The Architect of War

Some time later – is it weeks months or years? – while she’s working as a waitress, she comes across an important looking man who wishes to see her, one that her colleagues in the kitchen say is none other than the architect of the latest war that killed their son. And she’s expected to serve him.

As she walks to his table, she’s bolstered by the voice of the Goddess that reassures her that she’s not alone, that they’re all in this together. So, when he engages her in conversation, she’s unable to avoid the obvious: how he – and men like him – are responsible for the death of millions, men sent to their graves far too young.

But just as she’s about to launch into a tirade, as if in response to a self-correction, she softens her approach, unashamed of the tears welling up in her eyes. Instead, she’ll declare she’s convinced that there’s good in him: it’s something she can see in his eyes, even if he doesn’t believe it himself. Which is how she comes to be invited to his suite for a private meeting. And much to his delight, she agrees.

Rebirth

It’s also how, moment later, she comes to be bloodied and beaten, standing between two men not like the other two who have defined her life: one old enough to be her father, the other like the lover who turned out to be her reincarnated son.

She had the gall to defecate on the man’s face, what she called "a poetic act." She also described her lineage to him uncensored, from her most recent past in a North African desert to the people who settled the America continent. When he learns that she can speak Arabic, his anger and confusion find a focus, accusing her of being a terrorist, a threat to him personally and a danger to the state.

Which is when the beating began, an old man gone crazy, fueled by fear and hate; the younger one, his bodyguard, on the sidelines, not knowing what to do. Both stunned by her refusal to cower, speaking without fear, even as she’s beaten into the ground.

Even if you kill me 2000 times, I shall be born again.
You can never defeat me because I am the Mother of Good Men.

What was her crime? She had retracted her adoration, refusing to believe that he was good or overlook the way she’d already been reduced to a function in his eyes. Instead, she boasted of a lineage that had nothing to do with his world. In fact, it exceeded his grasp. In short, she refused to be bowed by his stature or impressed by his importance in the eyes of the world.

Finally Free

Still bloodied from being thrashed, she walks the streets of Manhattan. Except this time, she’s smiling, unconcerned about how she looks to others. For she’s been transported to another world. Finally released from her prison. Finally freed of the doors that had once remained firmly shut.

Another sign of this freedom is the absence of the ritual that defined her life after leaving the grizzly beast, her cave father. For it was her mode of operation when walking down streets like these. Hands held out before her as if she were a divining rod. Looking to see to what or whom they were attracted, eager to see where they might lead. Almost as if they had been programmed to compensate for an absence. Looking for water when her own well had run dry.

But now, experiencing her death firsthand, she’s no longer haunted. And no longer does she yearn for what was lost. For she’s found something in that suite designed for the rich and the famous. By virtue of her newly discovered ability to glow in the face of death, she now knows she’ll live a life to its conclusion and, when her time comes, die a natural death.

No longer is it a fate to be avoided. The Goddess of Life has been reborn.

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~ by mistified on November 12, 2011.

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