Creak! The unsteady pile of self-help books beside her on the library’s scratched table teetered. Engrossed in the book in front of her, she absently put up her hand against them in a steadying motion.
She looked up. It was the frazzled head librarian.
“We’ve closed, Heallen. You didn’t hear the announcements again?” His voice sounded as tired as he looked.
Heallen looked around her. Closed?
Oh. My. Goodness! Closed!
“I’m so sorry, Eric. Yes, I did it again.”
She slipped a bookmark into the open book and closed it in a practised move as she stood.
“It’s okay, Heallen. Are you taking any of these out?”
She looked down at the non-fiction books. These were all about helping herself to know herself better. Oh, how she wanted to immerse herself into all of them!
“No. Same story—No time to read at home. I’ll be back in a month to read more.”
Eric’s mouth shifted into a half smile. “I’ll put them away. It’s a pity you only have an hour each month.”
She shuffled, and mumbled, “Yeah.”
Brightening in that practiced way she did, she smiled directly at him. “See you in a month!”
She stepped away, then turned back. “And thank you for always cleaning up after me. I know your Thursday’s are your longest days.”
Her hand moved to touch his upper arm, but she stopped herself, pivoted and left.
How on Earth was she ever going to get herself out of this vacuum she seemed to live in if she couldn’t find time to read? If she couldn’t even figure out her favourite colour, how could she ever know herself?
Sheesh! With no spare money for professional help, one hour a month to herself, and only allowed to use email on the family’s computer, how did she find help?
Lost in her despair, she forgot she was already late home, and how she’d have to deal with Him. She forgot the risk she ran of being banned from her monthly time to herself. She even forgot her own safety.
Footsteps behind her snapped her back to awareness. She glanced up. Darn! It was dark.
She looked around her. The footsteps belonged to Eric. Phew!
“Heallen, I’ll wait until you get in the car and leave. Security doesn’t start for another hour.”
He sounded and looked exhausted. Guilt fired through her.
“Thanks,” she muttered.
She fumbled with her keys to open the driver’s door, scramble inside, and then fumble some more to start the ignition. Another few, long seconds, and she was on her way home.
“Damn.” It was going to be another long night of accusations and anger followed by punishing silence.
As the months flowed by, Heallen’s desperation to know herself better, to understand how she’d gotten where she’d gotten in her life—lacking direction, deeply unhappy, clinically depressed, constantly fear-filled and hypervigilant, learning she was an unfit person no one could possibly like, inept, talentless, stupid, invisible—increased.
She remembered having friends as a child. Her school report cards were full of mostly As. She’d even made it to Uni. Sure, her childhood wasn’t easy, but didn’t everyone have hard childhoods?
The bank statements showed how much He was spending again on expensive cosmetic procedures, meaning she had to be even more creative with stretching the little money left over to cover nutritional food, bills and school stuff for the kids. Her curvy body could probably do with less calories, so she’d skip her breakfast cereal again.
The memory of her tiny body growing up flickered in her mind’s eye. Why had she changed so much?
A tiny voice whispered in the dark shadows of her mind: You haven’t changed, Heallen; you’ve simply forgotten who you are.
Oh, great! Now she was hearing voices?! He was right—she was going insane.
In that moment of conditioned reaction, Heallen missed the answer she’d been looking for for so long. She now had an ally; her higher self was listening, and on standby to help.
Without conscious thought, her quest to gain self-knowledge had begun, starting with asking herself the right questions, and listening to her intuitive answers.
Her next steps were to listen without judgement, to accept the answers and explore them for truth.