Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Birth of Venus

It is said that Zeus ate his wife when she was pregnant with Athena. It had been prophesied that the child would be more powerful than Zeus, and I guess he just couldn’t have that. This put an end to his wife, but the child Athena continued to grow inside his body until one day she burst out through his skull.

And Venus, goddess of love, was born from the sea after Zeus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the water. I don’t recall who did the castrating, or why, but I think this too had to do with jealousy. Nonetheless, this tragedy gave rise to the birth of Venus, whose curvaceous form rose from the sea foam, naked and holy, while ecstatic cherubim heralded her arrival.

Athena and Venus are not alone when it comes to unfortunate birth stories. As it turns out, most gods and goddesses are born of misfortune.

I read these stories when I was young, on rainy Saturdays, out of a hard-cover book on mythology given to me by my grandmother. I was barely a teen and yet I wondered at the irony of it all. Zeus and his cohorts were gods, after all, powerful beyond measure. And yet here they were, destroyed by their own emotions.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that this collection of impetuous and tortured gods was all of us.

I think of you now when I read these stories, as you were a man undone by emotion. On the outside, you always appeared so calm and controlled. But I could feel the disquiet just beneath the surface. Perhaps that is why I stayed so long. I thought I could rescue you from yourself.
When I swam in the waters off the coast of Australia, I remember being surprised at how calm the ocean was when I dove beneath the pounding waves. You were just the opposite, like an upside-down storm at sea: deep, roiling waters underneath with a glass-like surface.
After you were gone I found the notes you kept in your planner. Each day you chronicled my faults. Oddly, you wrote of nothing else. Not of work or the kids, no ponderings of life. Just a diary of all the ways I did not appease your needs. I had gained weight, wrote too much, sat the kids in front of the TV, ignored you, went to bed early when you wanted sex, stuck you with the kids when I was sick, gave you a look. It was all there, recorded in your small, precise handwriting. The mundane activities of my day, as seen through your distorted lens.
Given your dissatisfaction with me, I was surprised that you reacted with such vehemence when I finally did leave. You turned on me, like Zeus devouring his lover. It seemed there was no end to the ways you wanted to destroy me.

I figured out much later that it was never me you were fighting. It was all those voices inside – angry, berating, telling you that you were never enough. They circled and dove in your head like angry sparrows. When I left, every black-edged taunt in your mind crystallized and was projected outward onto me. You looked at me and saw yourself.
I’m not angry at you, not now, despite the harm you brought upon all of us. You no longer seem like an affronted god ravaging my world. Just a broken mortal, injured beyond imagine.
I recognize, too, that you were a catalyst for my own healing. You were my whetstone.

Think about it. When I tried to walk away, you destroyed the path. I hid and you smashed in the door. I ran and you cut off my feet. I cried out and you burned my tongue. You put me in a position of having to constantly improve my game: fight harder, run farther, write louder.

You were my midwife, assisting in my birth. I should thank you for that, your contribution to my awakening.

When I saw you recently, I could see that the years in prison had not softened you (but then, how could they?). You walked into the courtroom with that same calm fa├žade. The litigation was a game to you – see if you could hold me under longer than I could hold my breath. What you didn’t realize was that I was no longer playing the game. I gave that up long ago.

I could tell you were shocked by the verdict. I suppose you still expect reality to bend to your carefully crafted illusions. I watched you walk away after the hearing, the anger threatening to break through the surface.

Your history might tell you that pain begets pain. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes, pain brings love and darkness gives birth to light. I learned, out of necessity, that when we develop the courage to look long enough at our own pain without blinking, it will eventually lift, and then shift into something quite spectacular.

If you look closely at this world, between the folds of darkness, you will find a generous expanse of love just there for the taking.

I wish you peace. I wish you healing. I hope one day you will know what it feels like to be released from your wounds. And I wish you were able to see, truly see, the beauty in this world. If you could, perhaps you would be able to make out in the distance, beyond the ruins of our past, the magnificent glow of light emerging like the dawn.

For behold, Venus rises from the shadow of the sea.

This is my final post on Wanderlust. I shuttered the blog several years ago, but I have chosen to re-open it so the archives are available for those who wish to read them. Shutters are great when you need to close out the world, which is something I needed for a time, but they also keep the light out.

I have a new space where I write now, but it seemed best to post this piece here, where it can act as an apropos full stop to a tumultuous and unimaginable chapter of my life. ~Peace~


  1. Wow, KB, that is so powerful. Your imagery is perfect, and your generosity of soul toward him is staggering.
    May the peace and love and light that you so richly deserve, surround you all the rest of your days.

  2. Emotions flood me reading through this, not as strongly as they did a few years ago, but I am not so far removed from my own story that I able to wish him light, yet...
    thank you for sharing. Reading this is painful, but opening the door to let healing begin. Thank you.

  3. Beautifully written and as Toni said, very powerful. Sounds like you're in a good place :)


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