One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
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Twenty-three

Posted on: 23 Comments

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.

 

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23 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    Your sweet heart is right where it has always been. Just needs the ashes brushed off. Love you.

  2. Heather Haley says:

    Kristen,
    My heart aches for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being real, honest, and open. Thank you for expressing yourself in such a raw fashion. You will get through this. You radiate strength.
    Sincerely,
    Heather

  3. Tom Moore says:

    Congratulations on 23 years, half of your life! I enjoyed your share Sunday, and wished you luck. I grew up in Attleboro, Mass, just a few steps from RI, what town are you in? I know of a few good groups out there if you need some connections…. Providence, near Brown, has some good meetings.

    • Thanks Tom! We are in Little Compton – a little far from Providence but there are some good meetings here in center of town. That’s the plan tonight – Gray’s ice cream and a meeting. xoxoxoxo

      • Tom Moore says:

        Very cool, my brother got married in Little Compton where his in-laws live (Jack Angell). It was one of my Dad’s favorite places to go. One of my last good memories with my Mom is on July 4, 2004, when my future wife and I drove Mom and Dad down there to look at the water and the ships.. I sure love that ice cream spot as well.

  4. Kelly T. says:

    I was just thinking about you this a.m., missing your posts, wondering what’s up? Congrats on 23 years! for me, the early twenties, which occurred in my early fifties were life changing. I got to molt, shed old layers, get deeper (and more terrified) than ever and now, out the other side, am reborn yet again. Everything that once worked no longer worked. So I got to enlarge my spiritual growth in great, unpredictable ways. I’ve learned that I don’t get to manage my spiritual growth either. When it’s time, God will, and did, tap me on the shoulder. (well, maybe it was a little bigger than a tap) so here I am. He plucked me out of my life and into another yet AGAIN.
    Keep sharing Kristen. I am so grateful for a friend in truth. You keep it real. <3

  5. Christine says:

    yay for you! messy is the ultimate beauty…thanks for sharing your messy with us all!

    I love you, dear one.

  6. Denise says:

    Congratulations on 23 years! And thanks for writing about ALL of it. Love you tons,
    Denise

  7. Vesela says:

    Dear Kristen,

    I had no idea when you wrote to me earlier this week or the week before what you are going through or how remarkably honest, accomplished, and true you are.

    Apparently, tonight it was time for me to learn about you. You see, last summer when Jenn introduced us to each other, I was dancing as fast as I could, staving off what I feared would be homelessness or dependency on others I’d spent the last 2 1/2 years working harder than ever to prevent. I look at this passage and explain it as part me not knowing so much about myself, part the recession, and part God’s way of drawing me closer than I’ve been before, through some dark times. Dawn has arrived–that is, some changes in me and my circumstances, and that’s why I have the presence of mind to focus on something like “my website.” And focusing on my website means that this evening I started to visit websites I bookmarked last summer (when I didn’t have the bandwidth for them) to discover what in the world I’d been saving for another day because I thought it would have something to teach me.

    And there you appeared. And I read about you, and I watched your video, and I learned about your book–and I said to myself, This woman is a gift! She is a beautiful, true person! I didn’t know who I was writing to a day ago or a week ago–not really. That was an email exchange between busy professionals going about their business (which is not to judge that mind-set but to say it’s a different mind-set than I and Though). And then I read this post on your blog. And I said to myself, Vesela, let Kristen know she’s moved you, that now you know who wrote to you, and that you are holding her before the vast mystery that is God and saying, Bless her! Now!

    I look forward to connecting when the time is right for you. The phoenix does rise from the ashes! Listen: I know you’ll hear me when I share this. Last Tuesday, we celebrated my daughter’s third year of sobriety:) She is the love of my life. Again, the phoenix does rise from the ashes! She is committed to her life.

    With love,
    Vesela

  8. Vesela says:

    Kristen,

    “I and Thou,” not “I and Though.” I just re-read my note to you, which I wrote because the spirit moved me–but, well, it needs (a-hem!) editing :)

  9. alison c. lucas says:

    there are just 12 steps.
    we take them over and over again
    what step are you on today?

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    I KNOW IT WORKS !

  10. Kelly T. says:

    Haha Tom- to say the least! Not your everyday Winter season, more a dark night of the soul, fallow ground, unending … what a journey! The longer we hang on to the old way, to what we used to know, the harder the lesson. Spiritual pride is a biggie. Having arrived, now an old timer, those ideas have GOT to go!

  11. Kris says:

    Congratulations, dear Kristen! Life has betrayed you but through your writing, you have remained loyal to yourself. Your gift is a comfort to many of us on many levels. Journey on!

  12. Finally touching into you and loving every moment of being with you. I started reading from your most recent blog and now have worked back.
    Kristen, I am listening and allowing myself to be with you. I had one home in my life (coming from a military life…where there are no roots allowed)…I remember every crook and cranny of that place and even some of the dreams I dreamed in that world. What I have found that sustains me more than the walls of that house…are the many people who have come to mean so much to me. You are my home, Kristen and I’m thrilled that you live in my heart. Thank you for being there and giving your many gifts….you are loved and needed by so many of us. Loving you, sister! xx

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