Sunday, January 2, 2011


Fawkes the Phoenix from the H.P books has always fascinated me. He reaches his full plumage, molts a bit, then goes up in glorious flames to be reborn again--naked, featherless, and helpless, picking his way through the ashes of his former glory. He does all this seemingly without upheaval, fuss or any sort of emotional or physical pain. Everyone around him (unless it's Harry, seeing it for the first time) takes it for granted this bird will destroy itself and rise again.

I have had times in my life when I have been on the precipice of feeling really good. I have felt I was reaching a critical turning point where I was going to make a real change, or experience a long-lasting feeling of well-being, or on the edge of truly experiencing good emotional health. Sometimes it's because I'm in counseling, or doing okay on medications, or both. And then something happens. It usually involves an unhealthy choice or series of unhealthy choices on my part. Of course, the choice doesn't look unhealthy at the time--it glitters and gleams and excites and ignites. It surges through me, making me feel truly alive and vibrant and invulnerable. I am in my full plumage, and I believe that I am going to stay that way. Of course, all the glitter is just an illusion--the fire that attracts is the same fire that destroys. And contrary to Fawkes' sangfroid, it hurts. It hurts like hell, down to the core, and the fire sweeps from within and destroys all the well-being, the health, the optimism. I am a ruin. And I know I am to blame for it. I cannot shove that responsibility over to someone else. I am the chaser of rainbows. I tilt at windmills. I follow the primrose path. Even when I know (as I usually do) that it will end in total consumption and destruction. But the fire feels so good at first, I believe it will be worth it. And then I always retain the hope that I will survive with plumage intact. I am arrogant in my naivete.

But once again, I find myself naked, defenseless, picking my way through the ashes. I shiver. No plumage to protect me. I am vulnerable. But I am not without hope that I can change. I still believe in my power to make healthy choices, and to perhaps learn, finally, to stay away from shiny things. And become flame-resistant. I hope. I hope. I hope.....

Hehehe. Dramatic much? You bet. Goes with the territory.


  1. Beautifully written, yet again! Maybe Fawkes has just been around so long he's really good at hiding his pain...or he's just blessed with no memory. Lucky bird.

  2. You're so kind to me. I loved your letter to yourself best, though. It was so good.