I was a saltwater girl and now am a saltwater woman. I lived on a sailboat for many years and always off the coast of somewhere. We began in Maine and eight years later landed in the Virgin Islands. I was fine giving up the livaboard life when my parents divorced, but I never made any promises to give up the ocean.
I need water. Fresh will do, but saltwater waves are the ones I hear crashing into my dreams at night. If you've been here before you know this.
I love the selkie story Sealskin/Soulskin as interpreted by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It is my spirit story and when things are not right with me I truly dry out, just as the selkie of the story does when her skin is kept hidden from her and she is forced to live out of her element. My hair becomes lifeless, my scalp flaking and chapped.
My mother and father came from families where everyone else had pristine skin. While they were not plagued with acne as teenagers (nor was I), they were the only ones who developed skin issues and even shared some...psoriasis, eczema, irritations etc.
It appeared as if I might have gotten lucky and skipped some sort of hereditary sensitivity until my scalp began to dry out as a teenager and my complexion became increasingly ruddy as I matured. Several years ago I developed something both my parents had been spared...seborrheic keratosis. Little (sometimes not so little) brown growths on my face that I call my "brown spots". They embarrass me, cannot be covered with make-up as they are patchy and raised and not great candidates for dermatological procedures as they are numerous and known to come back.
Everyone who knows me knows my affinity for selkie and mermaid lore. When we lived in Maine, our harbor was filled with seals and one night my father spotted me from a large picture window wading into the water in the middle of the night. I was five.
My mother and my father are talented and gifted people. My mother is a wonderful story teller and my father, before he died, was an unexpressed artist and romantic poet. Neither belonged to the families they were born into and both were raised in vastly different environments, but creativity wasn't appreciated in either. They were uncomfortable in their skins. It makes sense that they'd both be plagued with one skin issue after another.
They had successes and failings in their roles as parents, but I think each had too much invested to do much encouraging of my early creative exuberance. My father projected his fear of humiliation onto me and my mother feared my success would happen before hers, I think. There is no blame here, but as a result of their issues, I too, became uncomfortable in my own skin and to this day, cannot say I've really found my home.
I was always called sensitive and cannot tell you how many bosses, friends and family members have taken the liberty of telling me I need to grow a thicker skin. Can't they see I have? Literally?
The other day I had a powerful realization. There are no genetic markers for all of the skin issues only the three of us have shared. Everyone else has or had glowing Irish, German or Scandinavian complexions. My grandmother's skin was olive like my dad's, but there were no real issues.
I realized I must break an energetic marker to finally be comfortable in my skin and body...to be and live as I must.
I thought of the seals and their beautiful brown spotted pelts. It made me wonder if perhaps my seal spirit made the spots emerge as a warning that I was drifting dangerously away from my core. I'm still not sure, but I had a dream recently and it signified healing...not just healing of my spirit, but healing of my skin.
It was too long to write the whole dream, so I wrote a poem about it. Something tells me the sea understood I was waking up and knew it was the right time to take me away for some physical and energetic body healing.
As of now it is untitled.
The sea rolled in and paid a call on me, she spoke not of debt or charity, instead
presented me with periwinkle shells.
blue gray deep, through currents formed by exhalations of the moon.
from her hands, the one woven through with stinging purple flowers.
mattered more, it was solace while her creatures scraped and burned me.
renewing than the next, time in salty water is never wasted.
Laura McCullough DeLorme 2015
I wish I could show you...
when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.