Twenty-three years ago today, I said ‘yes’ to a life of recovery and ‘no’ to the addictive mess of a life I had been living. Twenty-three years ago, I had no idea my path would twist and turn in so many fascinating directions. Every year at this time, I reflect, yet this year I see my reflection in shards of broken glass. I can’t quite get a grasp on what I see. It changes from moment to moment and day to day. The deep anguish has passed, yet what remains is more confusing, less definite and in many ways, less comfortable. It’s a new stage of grief called “hiding” or “shut down” or “I don’t like who I have been being very much”… This stage lacks clarity, is full of doubts and questions and feels more tiring.
In the early days after the fire, the pain was raw and ragged. Now, it has buried itself in my system. My new companion seems to be a knot in my chest and a very very very (did I mention very?) busy mind. My mind has always erred on the side of busyness but now the loops are endless as I try to figure things out –where will we live, what should I eat, and what is the meaning of life, after all.
At the moment, I am in Rhode Island to handle the sale of a house my parents bought in the early 70’s. There is much to celebrate and much to mourn and that is another post. But here I sit, reflecting on my life, the last 23 years, and the last 6 months. We are almost (and not quite) on the verge of knowing where we will live in October – yet the bumps in the road keep threatening to throw us off our path. On a grand scale, with a birds eye view, from a rocket ship in space, things may be progressing yet these bumps knock us around and throw us off center and leave us wondering if anything ever goes smoothly. The possibility of settling has been a long time coming. Much too long coming, perhaps. We attempted to live in Flame, resisting renting anything and wanting to reclaim the land and some of our stolen lifestyle. This plan hit the wall when the scorching heat became unbearable living in a metal cylinder, and then of course, the shitter overflowith. [A sidebar of advice should you be going through something similar, do your self a favor: Just rent! Settle, even if it’s not your dream house. You will be better for it in the end. This process is exhausting enough. Settle, you hear me?!}
But, we did what we did, and now here we are almost 6 months later, still in limbo.
Maybe I am romanticizing those early days, and maybe all I need to do is read what I wrote and realize it wasn’t “all that”. But, grief gets complicated when it comes to roost. It spreads like cobwebs, becomes diffuse as it settles into the nooks and crannies of our mind and body. It forgets it is grief and tells us it is something else like we are defective, mean, nasty or stinky. It settles in as a depression, a heaviness, a cloud.
It also does weird things to the heart. Talking to a lovely woman as I flew across the country on Sunday, I felt the fortress walls around my once open heart. She shared about her life, and I listened. We talked about her business, and I engaged and offered coaching. Then, she asked to read the first pages of my book, teared up as told me I was speaking to her heart, telling her story, opening her mind. As I listened, I felt acknowledged – and I felt my heart remain behind fortified walls, refusing to come out to play. Until that moment, I didn’t realize the thickness of those walls. It’s not that I don’t feel tender moments. Yesterday, taking a break from sorting through things, I sobbed as I read an article about a dog dying from heatstroke as he was flown across country. The grief came loud and messy; the pain raw and real. Animals suffering can get me anytime. But where is my heart otherwise? Maybe I worry I will turn inside out if I cry. Maybe I am tired of deep sobbing. Maybe I am just tired.
I keep going back to the mantra that any crisis after 40 is a spiritual one. I know I am in my journey, that questioning what is good and meaningful about the world is normal, that where I am is just fine. Yet, I don’t like this stage. I haven’t seen the dark beauty of it at all lately. Where did that magic go? The fleeting mystical moments? Where did the appeal of a Phoenix rising from the ashes slink off to? Maybe it disappeared slowly just as I slowly got out of the habit of writing. Maybe it is just part of this stage. I know I felt better when I wrote regularly, and wrote what was there to say regardless of having worked it through or figured it out. So, today, I will post this piece. I will let it be messy again. I will let myself wonder how my writing will be received – or if anyone is out there reading. I will speak to the universe and understand that I may not hear an answer now – or possibly ever. Some questions have no answers. Some things don’t work out. Some events don’t go smoothly. Some decisions take us to dead ends.
David just delivered a steaming mug of coffee. My second of the day. As, I near 1000 words, my sweet spot, I still wonder what else there is to say on this anniversary of a choice I made so many years ago. Today, we will be faced with other choices about where to live upon our return. I feel the pause at decisions that need to be made, and at the same time, I crave the answer. As we weigh our options, I will attempt to remember that if we lose our current option of a landing place, it certainly can’t be more painful than the loss of our home. And, dang, I still have not arrived at the state of non-attachment. My human mind still grasps at straws and hope. Maybe, that’s just the stage I am at in this moment of time. Maybe, I will never be non-attached.
Now, I will sip again at the morning miracle, and enjoy drinking from a mug that might be older than I am. We will head to the basement of this dear house and fight the cobwebs as we carry items into light they haven’t seen in years as they head their final resting place – the dump.
Cleaning out the basement seems like a good place to start, and a good metaphor for my morning.