What would Medusa do? Given the fate of her story and the fate of our history- as it is these days- I set about working on my gaze, and called on the snaked headed woman to guide me through a week of taking more steps towards this newest edge of development. She did not disappoint. First, some backstory on the ways this divine creature has been in my life.
My mother liked to tell of when, on stroller rides up and down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, people would stop and ask, in true southern style:
my goodness, where did she get all those curls?
My mom would smile and say she put me down for a nap one day with a head of thick black hair and I woke up with a head full of curls. There was one curl, in particular that spring from the middle of my head.
There is proof. I’ve seen the pictures.
Ya look like Medusa ,people would say.
It always sounded like a curse- even with the southern drawl.
My hair stayed that way until I discovered the art of boxed color the summer of my senior year in high school.
This was during my Aerosmith phase.
What can I say?
I lost my Medusa. The soft snake like curls unraveled into a hot jet black mess.
Medusa came back when I was pregnant with my daughter, whenever I cut my hair really short, and when the shock of finding my husband after he committed suicide settled into every cell in my body. Everything changed.
My hair was a gnarly, curly, grey streaked, snake mess; a barometer for not only the weather outside, but the emotional storms brewing inside. Not only was my hair a mess- I discovered I had also lost my ability to gaze deeply into the eyes of another. I did not have the strength to fix a stone cold stare on anyone or anything- when in the past, as every woman knows, there is a way we have, when a gaze, a look, a snap of the head, and a lift of the eye, meant business, or for that matter, pleasure.
Where has my Medusa gone?
In the almost three years since my unimaginable, two years and nine months to be exact, in between the aftermath and the ongoing, I have rediscovered the gifts of my Medusa in the most profound ways. Bizarre ways I can not fully explain.
Let’s begin with snakes: When my daughter and I moved out of the old house,and into our new house, a week after somewhat settling in, a Shaman came and blessed the house. While she was here, a snake passed the threshold three times. I kid you not.
Awww, she said, you have snake medicine here. Use it.
A week later, I found a fully intact snake skin right by the front steps, fully intact, from the tip of the nose, to the end of the tail; even the eye sockets were in place, as if the snake herself, just up and left her old skin, fully intact, and set out with her new skin, fully intact. So, we CAN leave the old, fully intact and begin a new.
Since moving into the house of Medusa, my creative energy is returning, the trauma of complicated loss is giving way to the gifts complicated loss gives us, if we allow it. I bear the scars, but I have not lost my head, I see the way, but I am still blinded by the shield of reality, of pain, of remembrance. I feel the burn of anger and the defeat of exhaustion. I am intact.
But…..let me rephrase.
My curls? Recently, I graced my head of curls with a swath of red. There is one curl, in particular, though not in the middle of my head, that picked up the color well. It dances in the red, all springy and coiled, ready to strike, or not.
I am getting my gaze back too. You know, the one. That one look that tells the history, that tells her-story.