JUNE 6, 2008. “Shedding My Skin” …

SHED MY SKIN

I am not alone. I live with the memories, regret is my home. This is my true freedom. Express all the feelings of what I’ve become. I watch the rising sun. I hope I find some peace today. It seems I’ve gone away. It seems I’ve lost myself, it seems I’ve really lost my way. It seems I’ve lost myself, it seems I’ve shed my skin. Are you ready for me to purge my love? Are you ready for me? A bitter sinking feeling. Awake to the fact there’s no going back to this world in which I was living. I’m searching for something but found less than nothing. {Alter Bridge}

Everyone was packing for the journey back to Dallas, but I was on pins and needles. Since my bags were ready to go, I decided to walk down to the water to clear my head once more before heading home. On the way down the boulevard in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, I ran in to our tour guide, Adoram, who was heading back to our hotel after having been out with our driver, Pierre.

Adoram was a lovely Israeli man who everyone on tour fell in love with. I the sensed that he was an empath who was deeply concerned with the human condition, and it was clear that he fervently loved not only France, but even more so his job sharing it. He didn’t work from a script; his musings came from a place of pure love and adoration as he described the things we saw. He’d even captured the attention of the boys who were the reason for our trip, which of course was a feat in itself. As you can imagine, your average teenager wants as much to do with the history of a foreign country then waking at 6:00 a.m. on a summer vacation in the first place. We spoke often while on tour, and on several occasions he’d commented that I seemed even “farther away” than the trip itself. “How are you, Cat”, he asked me many times, but I would just change the subject, as I didn’t want to become too heavy and truly wanted to stay immersed in the experience.

That night, Adoram caught me going down to the waterfront around 9pm, as he and Pierre were heading back up. He wanted to know where I was going and didn’t want me wandering alone in the dark. So, he turned to Pierre, uttered something in French, then turned to follow me back down the hill.

Well Cat, I’m not thrilled with you out here alone in the dark like this, so you can go and sit by the water as long as you like but I’m afraid I’ll be joining you.

After much resistance on my part and much insistence on his, and having repeatedly said that my stroll was for sightseeing only, we finally began talking about life in general and then about “what had me staring so far out the windows of the bus each day“. He was such a good listener, never once interrupting my thoughts, and in fact was quite easy to talk to. “What’s really bothering you, Cat”, is what he wanted to know. With that, I talked, then cried, then drank Sambuca, then cried and talked some more, then breathed … then finished.

When I was done telling him all of “the things that were bothering me”, he fixed his gaze on to the shoreline and we just sat quietly staring into the abyss for what seemed like an eternity. He – the proverbial deer caught in headlights. “Okay”, I said, “this is where you pat me on the back and tell me how beautiful my life is NOW!” Still, no response. He was contemplating. “And”, I continued, “this is where everyone else usually tells me that everything’s gonna be okay, and that everything happens for a reason“. Then he turned to me and spoke the words I never knew I’d needed to hear:

No Catherine, none of this is okay and none of this may ever be okay. You have had some HUGELY rotten shit happen to you and I can hardly believe that you are still here to talk about it!

Adoram Schneidleder, my beautiful Israeli tour guide, the first to help me shed my skin on the coast of France in the wee hours of the dawn. I’d begun to find my voice! As we walked back up to the hotel, I felt lighter than I had in what felt like a century, a sensation I couldn’t quite relate to, yet somehow it felt so good. He hugged me so tight before I headed to my room. I thanked him profusely and told him that I felt as though I was about to have a truly restful sleep for what was left of the morning, and – I DID! I laid my head on the pillow and closed my eyes for the first time in years and drifted peacefully to sleep! No drugs. No alcohol. No food. NO ANESTHESIA! Nothing to medicate my slumber! I fell asleep on my own and awoke feeling completely reborn.

The lobby was abuzz that morning with clamoring of travelers and their suitcases. Adoram was busy answering questions, directing traffic and saying his goodbyes. It felt a little uneasy with him at that point, as I wasn’t exactly sure how he may have received and digested our conversation just hours earlier and was a bit uneasy to approach him. It had only been a couple of hours since he had brazenly walked through the gauntlet of my mind and he had to have thought I was insane. When we got to the airport though and immediately after he hugged me goodbye, he handed me an envelope with this note inside:

Dear Cat: Since on tour there are not many moments for communication, and tomorrow we probably won’t get the chance, I decided to write you a note. Your story – that you shared with me last night – is huge. I did not at any point feel that you were being either inconsiderate, selfish or just “needy” by sharing it with me. And, if having “unloaded” some weight with me has helped you see things clearer, then I actually feel honored to have been able to help. No fears whatsoever. And I hope you will sleep as well tonight as you did last night and that you will continue this way forever. I understand that it was important to unload – and probably being in a foreign country and doing with a stranger who would listen was the best way. I’m happy to have been that person for you. You have gone through some real heavy shit. Don’t ever forget it! And, don’t lose to consciousness of your inner strength. You have it – it’s there! Don’t forget to take care of yourself – of your needs and desires – while you give everything you have to your family. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of them. I am sure they love and need you. I know Christian does. I can see it in his eyes and in the way that he looks at you. Take care of yourself girl! You’re a wonderful woman and you’ve got lots to give others and to yourself! It was a pleasure meeting you!  Adoram