I saw a fortune teller at the local markets on the weekend. Mel, who loves that kind of thing, went to get her fortune read. I, in spite of my love for ghosts, witches and the like, have always been skeptical of fortune tellers. To me it seems like they are clutching at straws, everything is caged in such general terms that their predictions could apply to just about anybody.
Mel was thrilled with her fortune.
You are now with a man who is the love of your life and it will last forever. You will travel the world and have a rich, fulfilling life.”
Sounds like the blurb you read on the back of those cheap romance novels you get in the sale bin at K- Mart.
The fortune teller wanted to speak to me. ‘Yeah, right,’ I thought. ‘I bet she says that to everyone who comes to the markets with a friend.’
The thing is, she didn’t want any money for telling me what she wanted to tell me. I was sure Mel had slipped her something, but I listened nonetheless. She described my sister and her husband in quite accurate detail. She called him the broken man. And warned me not to dance with the devil. She said that for my own health I should stay away from both of them. She told me I need to laugh again.
The freakish thing is that she is right.
Lately I’ve been overwrought. Friends have noticed. Some family members. It’s like I’m waiting for something to happen that doesn’t, but because it doesn’t happen I have to keep on waiting. It’s a suffering of sorts.
What do you say when a member of your family has her husband arrested for domestic violence and then takes him back three months later? What do you say when she expects all of her family and friends to take him back too?
My parents, who initially resisted and rejected the reconciliation, have now decided to sanction it. To keep my sister happy. They want us all to sit with my brother-in-law at Christmas dinner, discussing the weather like strangers.
My Aunt Jo has had enough. She is going back to Ireland for Christmas. My other sister, Shelley, who was meant to be coming from America for Christmas has changed her plans. ‘It’s the economy,’ she says lightly, but I know she doesn’t want to sit at the same table as the man who beat her sister and pretend nothing has happened.
It’s a difficult situation to traverse. Here we are, a room full of grown adults, and not one of us can say what we really think. In case we stoke the fire that really is just burning low in the grate.
I’ve been dwelling on all of this a little too much. I feel it is sapping my sense of humour. It is all I can think about. At my writer’s group last week I wrote a story, a really dark story about pain and revenge and turmoil. About a woman who systematically destroyed a man who had wronged her. The act of writing it left me drained. I cannot go on like this. The revenge motif is killing me.
When I got home from the markets my sister, Shelley, had sent me an email, apologising for not coming home for Christmas. ‘I am angry at Millie for forcing us to pretend yet again, she said. ‘I am angry that she can’t see that her behaviour makes us victims just like she is. I’m not going to let her get away with it anymore. So I’m out. For now. No more drama.’
No more drama. She is right. Sometimes you get to a point where the only thing to do is step back and let time take its course. Aunt Jo has got it right. So has Shelley. I have to follow suit. There is nothing to be gained from pushing and pushing for things to be different when it’s obvious they’re not going to be. Not yet, anyway. Sometimes you have to be like the leaf that falls from the tree overhanging the river and let the current take you where it will. Sometimes it’s best not to offer solutions, sometimes it’s best to just be.
There is a quote that I like by Wendell Berry –
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”
In a strange kind of way I feel my encounter with the fortune teller has given me permission to do that.
It is a relief.