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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Somewhere Between Here and 1536 I Found My Reflection

I started trying to write this post as an article for another website, but I just couldn't get across what I really wanted to say so I scrapped it.  I could not get personal enough in an article to get my point across.  But since this is a blog I can pour my heart into what I'm saying.  I guess I'll start with the source of this blog, Anne Boleyn.  I've always been interested in Henry and his six wives, but something happened this past year, maybe I saw a kindred spirit, maybe a memory was triggered somewhere in my heart, maybe I'm just a raving lunatic, but you know what?  I don't care.  Last year I was looking for episodes of "The Tudors" to watch online on YouTube, and they were there, broken up into 8 minute clips.  Along with them were several music videos.  Not knowing what they were I began clicking on them and in one I saw Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn walking to the scaffold and I felt like somebody kicked me in the chest.  Now, I've seen Anne walk to the scaffold many times, I've seen Charlotte Rampling do it in "Anne of 1000 Days," I've seen Natalie Portman do it in "The Other Boleyn Girl," an excellent book and terrible movie interpretation, I've even seen the infamous Helena Bonham Carter do it in "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" but I had never had such a reaction before.

I watched, holding my breath, and then burst into tears, not just small tears, but outright sobs.  Something in me said "Do you see this?!  This, this is what happened are you listening?!  Are you watching?!"  So I went to the video store later that week and checked out season two of "The Tudors" and started watching it.  During that week I used one of the videos to teach a poem to the sixth graders "Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep" rumored to be written by Anne but never proven.  The kids were in awe of the video.  So I watched all of the episodes up to episode 10, the episode where Anne is executed.  I thought about watching it, I touched the DVD a few times, and finally, feeling like I was watching a scene I knew all too well and was dreading watched that episode.  I now own the DVDs and I have only ever watched that episode once.  I can't watch it again. 

It's not like my senior year  of  highschool where I went to see "Titanic" 5 times in the theatre so I could sob about Jack dying, it's different.  Part of it is she reminds me of me, she reminds me a lot of me.  We have a lot in common.  We both have one child, a daughter, who we adore.  We both thought we would have boys and didn't.  We both craved apples like nobody's business during our pregnancies.  Neither of us are classic beauties but I don't mind looking at myself in the mirror most of the time.  But really, it's her temperment.  She was firey.  The relationship between her and Henry reminds me so much of how my own relationship with my husband used to be. 

I can only think that when Anne had Elisabeth and was subsequently pregnant two more times in the next two years and suffered miscarriages her hormones were all over the place.  She must have been grieving for her two lost babies, who she must have loved the minute she knew she carried them, for she did love Elisabeth, and spent large amounts of money furnishing the tiny girl's wardrobe.  It was said that she liked to keep the baby near her on a cushion.  Elisabeth's christening gown was found in the attic at Sudeley Castle in 2007 (can you imagine such a treasure?!) and it is covered in the most beautiful embroidery.  Anne and her ladies must have spent many hours and pricked many fingers working the beautiful designs into the tiny dress.  Mothers don't do that for children they don't love, they hire someone else to, Anne didn't.  There is no record of an order for a christening gown, no payment, so she must have done it herself. 

Anne was no angel by far, her temper and her rages at Henry contributed greatly to her estragement from him, though reportedly he was no better.  I believe, and granted, this is my belief, also discussed by Alison Weir, that Anne was suffering from post partum depression and the more hidden, more secret, post partum rage.   Having been to this dark place, I know what I'm talking about.  I had my daughter, whose middle name is Elisabeth with an "S" like Anne's beautiful girl, and promptly went crazy.  Not just a little crazy, not like cat lady crazy or new mom weepy crazy, but like raving angry lunatic crazy.  Almost every day.  Directed at my husband.  For 14 months.  By the time he said he couldn't take it anymore and wanted a divorce he was broken.  He didn't know what was wrong with me, I was in the middle of it, I didn't know, it's not what people talk about when they talk about PPD, but they should because it happens to a lot of women.  I found out he had been confiding in a very good "friend" who was female, and at the time I remember dropping to the floor and shaking and screaming, and then I had to go to work.  It was a bad day to put it mildly.  How must Anne have felt when she walked in on Jane Seymour kissing Henry?

Now, looking back almost two years later it was the best thing that ever happened to us.  I got myself straightened out, he got himself straight, and we fixed what was between us and I can honestly say we love each other more today then we ever have, because we know what it is to lose the other.  Whether lost to madness or lost to a wandering heart, lost is lost.  I think Anne was lost somewhere in this darkness too.  I don't think Henry would have fallen in love with her if she had not been dignified and affectionate during the 10 years they were together before they had children and were married if she had not shown him love.  Yes yes, she was a conquest and kept him on a string, but he honestly, truly loved that woman.  I have a book of his love letters to her, and her one surviving letter to him, and they are beautiful.  Besides being a madman Henry was an accomplished poet and musician, (but then so was Edgar Allen Poe) and Anne was as well.  They were possibly a perfect match, possibly the worst match in the world for all their anger, but I like to believe they were really soulmates.  And I like to think of Henry as Jonathan Rhys Myers instead of his bloated self, but you know, it's a better dream that way.

Anne's bout with darkness ended on a scaffold in a courtyard of the Tower of London.  Mine ended with medication and two healed hearts who together raise a beautiful little girl in a happy home.  But, there but for the grace of god, go I right?  If they had known at the time what they know now about PPD would Anne's end have come about when it did?  Would she and Henry have led a long and happy life together?  Maybe, maybe not, read my post on karma and you probably won't think so, although, as my husband and I believe, if you do the right thing, you change karma.  He and I have always told each other that we have known each other from a time long before we met, it was instant between us, it was like we had found someone we had been searching for our whole lives.  So when he says to me "I've known you forever in my heart" I answer "Or at least for the last 500 years or so."  I seen in Anne a part of me, who I could have been, what my darkness could have ended in, for it is said that she "took much joy in death," at the end.  I like to think I have repaid my own karmic debt, and hers, just a little, by helping myself and my family.  I wish she had had the chance to do the same thing.  So I hold her close to me in my heart, and try to keep alive the memory of a vibrant, intelligent woman, whose life was taken too soon.

Gentle visitor pause a while,

Where you stand death cut away death cut away the light of many days.

Here, jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life.

May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage,

Under these restless skies.”

-Memorial to the exected, Tower of London-

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