These past couple of days I have been sensing a weird transition in myself. It’s like I’m crossing a threshold into a new phase…and it feels good. Strangely good. This Cheryl Strayed quote comes to my mind often:
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”
I have survived the suffering. I have endured. And now I’m ready to run. Today, I feel like I am picking up speed in my run. Like I’m moving faster in the direction of my best and happiest dreams. And that I am emerging from the bridge I built with my desire to heal. It’s incredibly exciting and strange.
I think this is where the shift is coming from—I am finally starting to see and hear myself.
This morning started out stressful. I overslept, which almost never happens. I arrived right on time to pick up my son from his dad’s house. I decided to take the interstate back to San Diego instead of the 101 to save time. I usually take the 101 because it’s therapeutic to look at the ocean and traffic makes it not much slower. But I was taking my car to the shop and worried about getting it there on time, so I took the freeway. Traffic was bad but we made it to the shop right on time. I had to demonstrate the problem for the mechanic which took a while. By the time we left, R was asking for a snack. Because I overslept, I had none. We stopped at McDonald’s drive thru for breakfast. He wanted to eat right away and then he wanted a cheeseburger and French fries, not the pancakes I ordered for him. And he didn’t want to go to his friend’s house, where his nanny watches him while I work. Suffice it to say, there was plenty of resistance and not much I could do about it!
I got him settled in at his friend’s house with his pancakes and thankfully he decided this was all a good plan once he got there. Then I ran home to shower and dress for work. I arrived at home precisely at the time I should have been leaving for work. I got ready in about 15 minutes and jetted off in the loaner car from the dealership. I didn’t get far before traffic was again in my way. I think today was the day everyone got in a wreck. I went a different way than usual and encountered two more accidents. I had the small presence of mind to be thankful that I hadn’t been involved in any of that with all the miles I had already driven that day. I got to work 20 minutes late. Thankfully my team was gracious with me.
A patient that has been MIA for over a year happened to wander into clinic. I met with him and then prepared myself to go into the field. I see patients in their homes one day each week and today was the day. It felt like I had already been driving all morning but took off across San Diego county and I was able to catch most of the patients on my list. I drove back to the office to return the company car (which I had used so I didn’t put too many miles on the dealership loaner car). I spent an hour writing notes about the visits I had just done and then left to go pick up R. I realized how crappy I was feeling from having only eaten an Egg White Delite and an Rx Bar. R was still napping so I I decided to go home and make my usual breakfast (egg whites with avocado and salsa and a piece of toast with raspberries) before getting River. Did I mention, there was another wreck blocking the exit to my house, so I had to go on to the next exit and come back? Bad day for San Diego drivers!
When I sat down to eat, it was the first moment of the day where I could just sit. And my initial reaction was to reach for my phone to keep my mind in the effervescent fog of over-busy-ness. But my phone was dead-dead. I plugged it in and reminded myself that it might be a nice mindfulness exercise just to eat my food and actually TASTE it. So I sat at the table and simply ate my meal. It WAS nice!
After I ate, I left to pick up R. I got to my friend’s house and she was lying on her side porch, with tears in her eyes, next to her old-man chocolate lab. He had been sick today and he is old enough that he may not have much time left. Life and death illness has a way of tugging you into the present. I sat with my friend and her dog on the porch. We discussed our days until the little ones made a peep upstairs.
I brought R home and was relieved to spend the night in after running around all day. He was excited to play with his cars. I have been focused on tackling my life this week. I did a big clean out of toys and baby things and clothes in R’s room yesterday. I decided to work on my closet tonight. He drove cars in and out of my room while I sorted things into piles of what to keep, donate and throw away. Cleaning out has been a very therapeutic process too.
I warmed up some stuffed peppers from Costco for dinner. R played very contentedly all evening, so much that when I came to see if I could join, he politely told me that his cars were needing a rest on the couch and would I please move away. I felt a little lost. I want to tackle my life. What does that look like in this moment? I picked up my Carry On, Warrior book (by Glennon Doyle Melton). I opened it up to the final essay, entitled By God, There Will Be Dancing.
It was as if this essay were written for me tonight. She described a scene where she is sitting on a bed across the room from God. God, a woman in this story, is sitting in a rocking chair knitting. Glennon is trying to convey her angst and frustration without speaking up, but when God doesn’t seem to catch the hint, she finally breaks the silence.
“I’m just going to stay sick, aren’t I? You’re not going to heal me, are you? And I’l never have another baby, will I? And my marriage. What about my marriage? Is that going to crumble too? You’re going to leave me sick and empty-armed and struggling, aren’t you? Aren’t you? I know you are.”
Then she threatens to stop being a nice person and to quit God altogether. And God keeps knitting. Then God looks up and says, “Honey. You are so angry. I understand. I love you so much. Would you like me to stop knitting so that we can talk about all of this?”
“I think for a minute and look at the knitting in her lab. I gaze at the part that’s done. It’s breathtaking. All blue and green and hot pink and gold and silver. At first the colors seem to swirl wildly but then, suddenly, I recognize a pattern. The pattern is me. I am beautiful. Swirly, wild and beautiful.
No, I say. Don’t stop. Keep knitting.
Because she is knitting my life of course. I am what her hands are working on. And I want her to concentrate. I still trust her.
God? I say. I’m going to dance. While you knit, I’m just going to dance.
God looks up one last time and says:
That’s all I’ve ever wanted you to do, Sweetheart. You dance and I’ll keep knitting. It’s going to be beautiful. Honey, I promise.”
So I got up off of the couch, turned the music up loud and danced in the kitchen for 30 minutes until R asked me to stop. He’ll get used to it eventually.
I hope in my perpetual busy-ness, heartache, anger and confusion, I can stop worrying about the knitting and remember to dance.