A brief history of sorts — After my brother’s tragic death roughly eight years ago, my body was a mess, although on the outside it appeared perfectly fine. A friend had referred me to a homeopathic doctor in British Columbia for my spleen pain and general anxiety. My mother and I went together, each having made an appointment months ahead of time. After a thorough examination and a short session of acupuncture she sat me down to talk. It wasn’t what I had expected at all. She was a tall, pointy woman who spoke proper English in a thick German accent and after prescribing a series of homeopathic tinctures to help me, calmly added this, “One day you will need to cry. Not for just your brother but for all the sorrow and secrets you hold inside of your spleen. You will want to be alone when it happens, so if your children are home then send them away. First you will feel it in your toes and then it will move up your body as if you were violently ill.” I sat staring at her, dumbfounded. I came for therapy, to help with physical issues and essentially she told me I needed to cry. I had never been a crier before, instead opting to hold it in until nauseated.
But I have cried,” I told her. “No, you haven’t” was her answer. “I cried at the funeral, and even before the funeral.” I argued. I then asked her when this “crying session” was supposed to happen and she shook her head and said, “I don’t know.” At the time, I was angry with her. Angry she didn’t have more answers. Angry that she gave me what felt like a pending doom session and couldn’t tell me when the doom would occur. Her last words to me before ending my appointment were, “This is not a simple cry Jennifer, it represents something more, and only after you do it can you be healthy.” I walked out of her office and sat in the sterile waiting room, completely confused while my mother had her visit. When she had finished she came out of the exam room smiling and I asked if she had had any mental counseling as well. She told me she hadn’t, but needed to take more vitamin B or something. We left and I never made another appointment with her again although from that point on, on the occasion I would cry, I’d think to myself, “This must be it.”
The die is cast – In 49 BC, Julius Caesar, while leading his legions, crossed the Rubicon river and uttered the phrase, “Lacta alea est.”
A few weeks ago, after receiving a copy of one of my drawings, my father sent me a message. It read, “Jennifer Allison, I do believe you have crossed the Rubicon.” I had heard of the Rubicon River a few years prior while watching a documentary on Rome, however never thought much of its significance – until my father reminded me, in just a few words, of my metaphorical likeness to Caesar.
What do I, a forty-year old woman, have in common with Julius Caesar anyway? I don’t claim to be an expert in Roman history or history in general, and likewise, I am certainly no expert in the art of war. I am, however, like Caesar, schooled; an expert if you will in the art of defiance.
I wasn’t an easy child to raise. I’ve been somewhat defiant my entire life. A defiant daughter: A defiant partner and lover: A defiant mother. A defiant woman. Like Caesar leading his troops across the Rubicon into what would result in a civil war I have led myself (usually at a run,) many times over into the river of defiance. But unlike Caesar, I would never fully cross and instead chose only to stay in the shallow side of the river and ultimately, feeling alone and frightened, I’d return to the safety of the river’s edge; of the known – head down, eyes averted, rallying my Self to try to cross the river once again but never casting the die fully – until recently.
My wading into the river – finally to cross – was in itself an act of defiance I suppose. I hadn’t expected it to be alone though. I was deeply in love with a man whom I thought would eventually hold my hand and lead me across the river. What I found, however, is that the Universe gives each of us our own rivers to cross – alone. And although it’s a frightening, sometimes dark path; it can’t be shared with anyone else. It’s not meant to be. Which I assume is why so many of us choose to forgo the crossing; the casting. So as he and I began to wade in the waters of depth to cast our dies together, he panicked, pulled me back to shore, let go of my hand and walked away to something and someone safe and known. I begged for his help, but he wouldn’t look back.
For months after I stayed on that metaphorical shore if you will…and cried – hard. Harder than I ever have in my entire life as a matter of fact. So much so that indeed I felt violently ill. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact causes of my sorrow as they all seemed to meld together and oozed out of every pore of my body. There were days I wondered if I’d ever recover. I longed for the known; the pattern I had created in my life and the ideal of stopping that pattern, that known, left me lost. But like Caesar, there was no going back once I waded into the river at my slow and steady pace.
About that time, while having a routine annual exam my doctor noticed my puffy eyes and obvious weight loss and asked if I wanted a daily pill to help me “get through” my depression. I declined, instead telling her, “I think I need to sit and feel it all.” She didn’t quite understand what I meant and wrote the prescription anyway. On the way to my car I ripped it up and tossed it in the garbage; an act of defiance.
I wish I could say that “Just like that, I was fixed.” But it’s not “just like that”. There was no one ground breaking emotional epiphany that had me all of the sudden run across the river and never look back. The truth is… I always look back. I still ache, still question myself, and still somewhat long for what could have been; but there’s something different in my aching now. The only way to describe it would be – acceptance. I have accepted the past and no longer try to fix, change or question it. When I feel sad, I let myself feel sad, and likewise, when I find joy and laughter, I let myself relish in joy and laughter. I no longer harbor such immense sadness and in fact, owe a great deal of gratitude to the one who left me on the shore. It was unfair of me to look to him to lead me across the river and had it not been for his torment and abandonment, I would have continued to look towards other people to help heal the sorrow I held on to so tightly – Never really willing to cast my own die, cross my own Rubicon.
Although we both have crossed a significant river, Caesar led his troops to war while I have, in fact, led myself rather slowly away from the war within me, choosing to be healthy instead and never going back to the old shoreline; old patterns…
Lacta Alea Est