“Today I am going to Fight a Dragon”Posted: April 19, 2012
When I woke up, everything seemed like it would be alright. I almost forgot the the mother who beat me because nothing was ever good enough, the hundreds of one-sided conversations with the men I had loved and, like my mother, tried to be understood by, the years spent broke and homeless. The love I poured into every endeavour, hoping that finally I had found something that would, in turn, value and honour that little piece of my soul I had given with no strings attached. For the duration of my first cup of coffee, I could savour the reflections of my fading dreams, conversations with my higher self. I could be present in the moment and say, “Today I am going to give my son the patience and strength he needs. Today I am going to give myself the patience and strength I need. Today I am going to fight a dragon.”
When I woke up, gratitude was within reach. I held my son, I told him how much he meant to me. We gave one another succour, and prepared to inhabit the mundane brutality of the new day with mutual appreciation and empathy. We knew that when the world turns its back on you, the greatest gift is kindness. Together, we were human. Together, we had a dragon to fight.
When I woke up, I could read between the lines. I beheld in my vision all the colours of the rainbow that divide myopic black and white. I could forgive and be forgiven, the self-loathing and bitter tears born of misplaced trust diminished to a gently reminding shadow of who I once had been; petty, eviscerating cruelties of small minds banished whence they had come, with the simple grace of a smile. With an open heart, I could breathe. I could plant another seed and believe, again, in dragons.
Then came the dragon. Not bearing strings and sealing wax as I had dared to hope. Not a misunderstood beast to be won with compassion, but the dragon that enviously gulps childrens’ fairy tale ideals of justice and truth, chivalry and good deeds. The dragon every good mother fears as her young come of age, the teller of lies, its glib speeches promising reward while it nickel and dimes their innocence. The jaded sell-out, the capitalist dispensing shiny trinkets hecho en china, gloating over the hidden fee as it hoards the spoils of their unblinking faith in the end of the rainbow. The retail clerk who does not say hello until they have judged by your shoes how much money is in your pocket. The do-gooder who looks only for what’s in it for them, who secretly abhors your need, resents your strength, and gluts on your pain when you break.
Then came the dragon, its battle waged with lies. The slick, scorched voice of the dragon became my mother screaming that I could not do anything right, beating me with her sorrow-filled, dead heart. The voice of the dragon became the silence of my lovers as I waged my plea for understanding. I almost believed the dragon when it said I did not deserve the good things others enjoyed because I chose justice and truth, chivalry and good deeds, over happy meals. I was not good enough, I did not deserve a greeting because my shoes were unfit. I almost believed I was not strong enough to protect my son from the dragon, that his hopes and dreams would be reduced to bitter tears, as my own had been. That he, too, would be punished with poverty and failure if he did not forfeit his innocence. My vision narrowed to a cruel, monochrome point that I turned upon myself.
Then came the dragon, for my pain. Its Orwellian appetites slavered sadism, for it perceived I was broken. Indeed, I believed I could not go on, that the petty tyrannies had won. I had chosen to face the dragon with empathy and kindness, and was duly rewarded with indifference. Night came upon me, a blackness filled with addictions and grief as the dragon fed upon my fears.
When I woke up, I could breathe. I could love. I could hold my son, and we could forgive. Today we would fight a dragon, hearts stitched together with friendship, wielded like shields against the dragon who never truly goes away.