How do we heal our souls when they are ripped apart and set on fire? We sit in the smoldering ashes and feel powerless and incompetent because no one else we know could ever hurt this much.
People will gather for morning coffee or chat as they power up their computers on Monday, talking about exciting Saturdays and Sundays and we will pretend. We will find one good thing and exaggerate it so as not to lie to them but to hide the fact that our souls are raw and bleeding.
They would never understand.
Emotional pain is shameful unless someone dies or there is some other tragedy that legitimizes it. Nobody wants to know that we took a perfectly good weekend, fucked it up, and can’t even remember when and how it all began to unwind.
If we dare do anything but smile and answer, “Good!” to the how-was-your-weekend question, we see the panic on their faces and they shift their weight uncomfortably and, um, have a lot of work to get started on.
There you stand with your pants down, exposed and ashamed, and you silently vow never ever to veer off the acceptable Monday morning script again.
My mother is coming for Thanksgiving, and I feel myself slipping into Martha Stewart mode. If I could, I would empty out the entire house, scrub it down, reorganize everything, and paint all the walls. But I’ll be lucky if I can get the carpets cleaned and put dinner on the table.
Apple pie and turkey scents will waft through the house. Smiles and laughter will mix with love and gratefulness. The dining room will be transformed into an Autumn wonderland with the colors of the season lighting up the inviting table.
The meal will cook itself easily and I merely have to smile and open the oven with a flourish to reveal a huge bird with crisp, golden brown skin while my hungry loved ones gather around with Thanksgiving appetites.
We’ll find our places at the table amidst the usual last-minute race to get everything out at once, nice and hot. Our eyes will bulge as the delicious dishes make their way around the room. More laughter and conversations tumble over one another like warm clothes in a dryer.
And I will be exhausted, happily, and delighted, filled with a sense of family and belonging for those moments that will have to last me awhile.
I have a to-do list as long as my arm.
And I can’t wait.
I wish I had kept writing during the times when I didn’t know what to say; I would love to take a peek into my mind over the last couple of years.
I spent a lot of time investigating mysterious health issues that came up out of nowhere. I fought Fear and often lost. My running suffered. I lost weight and gained even more. I got caught up in painful family matters. I forgot who I am. And I cried – a lot.
I wish I could say I’m on the other side of “it,” whatever “it” is, but I don’t know that I am. I’ve simply begun a new chapter in this unwinding story, and I finally feel compelled to spill my guts again, here in this place that I hold dear.
I can say today that I am in a grateful space – optimistic about the future and acutely aware of the undeserved gifts the Universe has presented to me.
Something extraordinary and wonderful is about to happen. I already feel the excitement of it before I even know what it is. I’ve been plodding through the swamp, cold, wet, and miserable, but with dry land in sight and a hope that I would get there soon. And now here I am at the edge of the muck, climbing out of it and standing here, filthy dirty and covered in shit, wondering what I’m supposed to do next, but knowing whatever it is, it’s better than where I just came from.
Experience tells me that time in the swamp means spiritual growth – an uncomfortable stretching of my skin, a devastating tornado in my mind, and a bloody boxing match with Fear that leads me to a new insight and elevates my soul to new levels of Love.
This sacred place has been calling to me for months. Dozens of beautiful journals lie around with mostly blank pages – a testament to my unsuccessful attempts to write with paper and pen. My heart is here. My story is here.
And so I return to Unwritten.
I can’t identify the day when it happened. Maybe it was a gradual thing. Like a roller coaster fighting gravity to get to the top of the hill, the first part of my life seemed agonizingly slow. Then, at the top, a slight pause, and… the brain-shaking, frightening, no-turning-back descent.
Like most young people, I never thought I would age. I wasn’t going to have wrinkles or gray hair – I couldn’t even imagine it. One day, I woke up with crow’s feet around my eyes, and suddenly the lines multiply every time I look into a mirror. There’s no turning back now. I’m committed to the aging process, like it or not.
And with age, of course, comes death. Whether it’s progressing into my nineties or finally succumbing to the statistics of an accident or disease before I get there, my life is plunging down that hill at break-neck speed, and I want to get off the ride. Days have become blips as the wind-blown calendar pages turn over to another month, year… decade.
It begs the question… what have I done with my life?
First of all, I didn’t take moisturizing or sunscreen seriously enough, obviously. Secondly, there were so many things I dreamed I’d do. What about the books I was going to write? What about my contributions to the community? What about learning from all my mistakes and becoming wise and better for having gone through all the pain? What about my happy ever after?
It’s too late.
It dawns on me that while I may yet achieve some of the things on my bucket list, I’m definitely missed out on the wrinkle-defense plan. And so, as much as I detested my childhood, I find myself wanting a do-over. I want to go back and try again. I could do better, I just know it. I would make better choices. I would listen more. I would be a kinder and gentler Self. And I would really, really appreciate my cellulite-free body, and I would take much better care of it.
But if I’ve still got a good forty-some years left on this earth, what can I do with them? What changes can I make to erase any regrets and lead me to a well-lived life in my final breaths?
One of the things that makes me feel stuck in my garage-clearing efforts is figuring out what to do with all of the junk – and the good stuff – that I don’t want anymore. Small trash is a no-brainer. The clothes and small items in good condition are easy, too. I make regular donations to a local charitable organization that drives to my house and picks up the boxes and bags. Out the door with very little effort, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that someone else might find a little joy from these once-loved things.
The problem comes with the items that the charity won’t take, like mattresses and furniture and microwave ovens. So one day I figured out that I could simply drive these sorts of things over to our local dump, and, for a small fee, I could get them out of my crowded garage.
I decided I would start with just a small load, to see how the process worked. If it was as easy as it seemed, maybe I would rent a small truck later and just clear the whole shebang. I felt so proud of myself and happy as I followed the directions to the landfill. This was going to be great.
But nothing prepared me for the enormous, towering piles of trash left to rot and decompose under special tarps designed to speed the process. I drew my breath in sharply, and continued to the main gate, where they weighed the vehicle and directed me to the appropriate “do-it-yourself” dumping area.
The road wound around behind the giant hills, and I felt like I was in another world. Even on this gorgeous Saturday morning, bulldozers and dump trucks crawled over the grounds, like ants gathering food for the anthill. It was overwhelming in a sickening sort of way.
Once there, I watched in a daze as a man shoveled out loose trash and junk from the back of a large box truck into a huge dumpster set up smartly at a lower level, so there was no lifting required. My turn. I pulled out some smaller pieces first, and easily tossed them in the big hole. It felt great. But as my son’s small dresser and a twin mattress from the girls’ old bunkbeds went in, I had a very hard time. Breaking the emotional connection wasn’t a big deal. But knowing that I was throwing away perfectly good household necessities and adding to that mountain of garbage down the road brought a wave of guilt and remorse that I hadn’t tried harder to find them a good home first.
The experience made me more mindful of the waste I generate. It made me never want to buy another thing and to recycle as much as possible, even if it requires a bit more planning and effort than simply tossing things in a dumpster. Maybe our children should all be required to take field trips to the local dump to fully understand the impact of our consumer-driven greed. I have too much stuff. And for what? Clutter only creates stress and then we have to figure out what to do with it. From the store to the landfill – what a waste.
I’m starting to think those tree-huggers aren’t so weird after all.
I decided to take a trip down memory lane and look over some old blog posts here. I miss writing on Unwritten.
So I’m writing here tonight. Because it’s comfortable. Because it feels right. Because I can.
Unwritten is like a long lost friend. When I’m here, the words come easily and my writer’s brain comes to life. I tried a new version of my blog, but it just isn’t the same.
And here I am, sitting up in my bed with my laptop just like always, thinking my final thoughts for the day and storing them here in this sacred place. This precious story that was my lifeline for 10 years. I spilled my guts here. I revealed my Selves here. I used the word “fuck” a lot. I was so very angry for such a long time. I was vulnerable and honest and I learned to live in Love here.
But the Universe is lining up everything perfectly for my next step. I’m scared. I’m thrilled. I’m anxious. I’m moving forward, pulled and guided by miracles and Love, and a promise to myself not to die with the regret of not having done it.
I. Can’t. Wait.