I’ve just finished The Unleashing, the first book of Shelley Laurenston’s Call of Crows series. I love Shelley Laurenston. She has a deeply disturbed mind and she publishes at the speed of light, so I have a plethora of paranormal romances to enjoy. Heaven. This series explores the world of the Norse pantheon and their mortal servants. The Crows are women brought back to life by the goddess Skuld to be the strike team of the gods. They are the harbingers of death and a more diverse group of fiercely independent women I’ve never seen. I’d sign up immediately if it didn’t involve getting murdered first. The whole death thing is a dealbreaker for me.
It’s different for Kera Watson who wakes up after she dies trying to save a woman from assault. For Kera, being a Crow beats the alternatives. The adjustment to an afterlife as a Crow is a bit intense, though, as the Crows tend to throw new recruits into the deep end and hope for the best. Eventually, following a fair amount of flailing, Kera surfaces and swims like a boss. Along the way, she is forced to confront her deepest fears and insecurities before she gets her HEA. Ain’t that always the case?
Kera has baggage that includes mother issues, survivor’s guilt and a touch of PTSD. She is only functional because she has negotiated a path through her deepest fears and insecurities that involves carefully managed OCD and meditation. I’ve met my soul sister. And Kera’s journey to the other side of her terror was instructive, as is often the case with my beloved books.
A friend sent me a card recently that wished me a “Happy CDO Birthday.” On the inside, it explained that CDO was like OCD except with the letters in the right order—as they should be! I laughed my ass off. She knows me well. I’m only one step away from Kera and her omnipresent clipboard, organizing everything around me so that I can feel like I’m in control. I know it’s an illusion. But it works.
I crave order. The most difficult part of parenting small children (aside from the lack of sleep and never being alone) was the total chaos in my home. My living spaces had always been a sanctuary for me, and while my room or desk or closet might not look like someone else’s idea of neat or orderly, I know exactly where everything is. Everything is arranged to my personal aesthetic. I don’t like mess (unless it’s mine). I hate smudged nail polish, missing pieces, tilted paintings, food stains and anything ripped, chipped or broken. So, living with toddlers challenged my OCD to the breaking point. I spent time at the end of every day putting things back together and picking up when I should have been sleeping. But they don’t call it a compulsion for nothing. Something had to give.
At first it was my sanity. I flailed in the deep end of parenthood. Eventually, like Kera, I learned to swim. Through the immersion therapy that is life, I acclimatized to chaos. I claimed office space in my house and built a door with a lock. My space. Keep out. I learned to communicate with my family when I was in particular need of order, lest I fall over the ledge. A typical text would read, “I’m stressed out and I need you all to clean up before I get home.” Luckily, they love me; they cleaned and I retained my modicum of sanity.
But others, even those who love us the most, will only rearrange their lives to accommodate us to a limited extent. They will let us down—because they are human and also because it’s not their responsibility to twist into pretzel shapes because I’m a whackadoodle. I needed to learn to accommodate my own insanity, to talk myself off all the ledges on which I continually perched (maybe I am a Crow). Like Kera, I found meditation, which saved my bacon in more ways than one.
I was convinced that I was entirely too ADHD to meditate. I’d tried for years and years to quiet my mind long enough to sit for a time, breathing evenly and touching something beyond the mundane. I’m glad I persisted and tried different methods, because now meditation is an important part of my life. And meditation led to yoga and my Yin practice, which transformed my perspective and healed a great deal of my dysfunction.
Meditation forces us to look at our stuff—the turmoil inside we avoid because it’s murky and messy. God only knows what we’ll dig up once we start exploring the deepest recesses of our souls—all the pain, insecurity, and vulnerability. And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s the anger that all that pain engenders. I’ve written about rage before, and the fears I had about releasing the Kracken. This is what Kera has to face— the possibility that once unleashed, her killing rage will forever control her. I knew that she’d come out the other side. I have that t-shirt, and it was gratifying to see Kera triumph and get hers.
Because an outwardly orderly mind often hides confusion and chaos. If all of this can be channeled for good instead of ill, then we win the brass ring. If not, well, it usually means prison time. For Kera, it means that she’s orderly by day, and a gods-sanctioned killing machine at night. It’s good to have that kind of balance. But for those of us who don’t have a license to kill, we have to find a different kind of balance. For me, the formula seems to be one-part meditation, one-part accommodation and one-part madness. As long as the ratios hold, I can maintain my perch on all of my various ledges and never fall over. Which is good, because unlike the Crows, I don’t have wings.