This drawing of King Haggard's Red Bull from The Last Unicorn is from artist James Wolf. Please support his beautiful artwork, like I did, by going to www.patreon.com/jameswolf
I was about 8 years old. I remember the trophy so well because it was taller than I was, a gorgeous marbled-metal with hues of purple, turquoise and gold - three large tiers with a triumphant golden figure on top with a racquet in the air like she was trying to catch lightening. My mom, who had spent the weekend at a racquetball tournament, came home with two trophies, while my dad stayed home to watch my four siblings and I. The unspoken scoreboard that day read: Mom: 2, Dad: 0.
My mother is built like a brick shit house. She was an aerobics instructor for twenty-six years and step-routined herself through at least three pregnancies. Now, in her sixties, she can high kick and outlast most twenty-year-olds. She loves DDR like kids love candy. The genes on her side of the family are pure demigod, athlete; I even have a cousin we lovingly call the Terminator because once she fell off her mountain bike, hit a boulder and casually walked away. I happen to have inherited some of those genes, but in a less hard core way. To me, my mother was Wonder Woman - mother of six, capable of anything, all around bad ass. I used to want to be her; I even had this magenta-haired Troll doll in an aerobics outfit that resembled my real-life hero. She was Miss Congeniality in the Miss Illinois pageant, a soap actress and a lingerie model. I was the kid who hid behind her legs as she smiled and socialized with everyone and anyone. I used to think she was perfect.
My father is kind of a handsome, mad scientist type with a hint of Evil Knievel. In high school, he nearly blew himself into oblivion while experimenting with explosives on his farm. Cherry bombs were always on hand to chase the hordes of cats from the property. There are some very unsavory stories involving cats and explosives I won't retell here. Nowadays, he is a staunch cat lover with almost nine degrees who is one of the only bio gas chemists in the world. When I say he was a mad scientist, I mean mad as in angry. He was extremely volatile. This is how I knew him as a child; I both feared him and hated him. But I also loved him. I loved the comedian in him, how silly he was. How he would take the green toilet seat cover from the bathroom, put it on his head and his right hand over his heart and sing the green beret song. I'd like to believe I get my open-mindedness and love for learning from him. I also love his story about how he died in college, if just for a few moments, and floated above his own body.
Sometimes we have memories that are inaccurate; I don't know whether I was standing there that day, but I feel as though I was. Right in the midst of it. I remember it so clearly I couldn't have imagined it. My parents were fighting, I was just feet away from the trophy. In the thick of the yelling, my dad suddenly grabbed it, threw it through the open door and smashed it to pieces on the ground. I felt the impact of the trophy hitting the floor as if it had been my own body breaking and I felt such sadness for my mother. In fact, I cried for her. To imagine that trophy, what she had worked so hard for, that she was so proud of, callously decimated in an act of rage. What should have been a celebration of her accomplishments, ended in broken tears. However, it didn't end with the trophy. The typewriter was next, as it too was smashed to smithereens on the garage floor, letters and symbols flying everywhere. A perfectly good trophy, a perfectly good typewriter, both destroyed.
I remember my dad being angry that he was at home with us all weekend, while she was away playing racquetball. He felt unappreciated and disrespected. That's all I remember of that day. The fear, the shock and the sadness. I vowed to never be that person. That person was scary, out of control, completely brutal and reckless. An unforgiving soul. At the time, I could see only that this energy of destruction and anger was dangerous; that it could only be used for harm. That day I locked up part of my power. I locked up the Destroyer.
I've had moments where the Destroyer would come out, popping out of the water like a demon coming up for air. After you hold something down for so long, it's bound to resurface. If you deny it, judge it, push it away, it's bound to sneak around your defenses or emerge whenever you drop your guard. It's come out in lighthearted ways as well. It's two sides of a coin. The dark side came out as the girl who sprayed caulking on the side of her friend's house because she had enough of the abuse. The light side revealed itself as the trickster who set up a play cafe in the basement with her siblings and moments later put on a ski mask and black clothes to rob the place of it's Monopoly money. My family loves that story. I love surprising people and I love surprises. Even the dark and twisted ones. As long as they're funny. I do not like unfunny surprises. Like divorce. Or detached retinas. Those are not good surprises. Definitely life-changing, but not funny at all. The unwelcome surprises had always been an unconscious invitation for the Destroyer energy to emerge.
There came a day, I clearly remember, allowing her out of the cage. I summoned the Destroyer. I knew what I was doing, but I didn't know how badly I needed her all those years. It was the day he told me he wanted a divorce. He started to pack his things and said he was going to stay with his sister. That day I reclaimed my voice. I said no. I needed something to break. I wanted to break something. I felt that so deeply and knew that it was going to be okay. I had realized that the Destroyer could be met without fear; she was an ally. I could integrate her and become more than what I was. I went to the kitchen and took out a tempered glass cutting board, carried it outside and threw it down with all my strength.
The smooth glass shattered and bounced so high above me that it began raining broken glass pieces. In that moment, the world was still; I could see, as if in slow motion, the glass falling around me like crystallized rain and I felt I had been released from a long self-imposed prison. That day I learned to say what I wanted. It would still take years, it will take a lifetime to cultivate telling myself the truth so that I can ask for what I need, what I want. I collected a few of the tiny glass pieces from in between the wooden slats of the deck as a reminder of my internal, silent scream - silent no longer. Now I know she's here when I need her. She's powerful and beautiful. As long as I remember that energy is a part me and can be used for good, as long as I allow her to stay here with me, above ground, instead of banished into the cage of shame, she will lend me her voice and her wisdom. I need not be afraid. I am no longer that defenseless 8 year old, I am a wise Destroyer. I have learned that these unwelcome surprises have been rich blessings cloaked in the guise of cruel destruction, leading to a great rebirth of soul and spirit.
* the artwork on this blog belongs to an amazing artist, James Wolf. Please support the artist by visiting www.patreon.com/jameswolf *
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