Suffering

When I step out into the world I feel like my suffering is showing.  Like toilet paper stuck to my shoe or my skirt tucked into my underwear.

They can see my suffering.

They can see it on my face like a wart, or a boil or an open oozing sore.  Maybe they wonder to themselves, what’d she do?  That’s gross.  Cover it up.

Not only is it ugly, it’s so profoundly isolating, this sorrow.

The more I reach out and speak, the more isolated I feel.

They don’t want to hear about it.  It’s too much.  They don’t know what to say.

I am tired of being the one to need.

I feel shame.  I feel weak.  The sadness in my heart is just a pit sometimes, that has no bottom at all.

Everyone has the same advice: time heals.  Perspective is good.  Take care of you.

I am tired.  So tired.  I have endured so very much in the past 7 months, I can’t believe it.  I get the constant reminder to be grateful for the health of my children, and my own.

I am.

But friends, as it turns out, gratitude does not erase sorrow.

Gratitude does not heal.  They are two such separate and distinct things.

Focusing on the positive is an ideal thing to do.  But it doesn’t remove the negative, nor does it lessen the pain.

These things, as it turns out, must be faced head on.

The new bar for me is simply survival.  If something makes me smile, it’s a bonus.  If I feel a fleeting moment of freedom, peace, or hope, I notice.

There is so much heaviness and darkness in my heart.  So much sadness.  And, now, the thing I was most afraid of: anger.

I am afraid of anger, because I am afraid of bitterness.  And I am not sure how to separate those two things.

But here is where meditation helps.

I will not put a head on my head.  I will simply say, I am feeling Anger.  This is part of me.

I don’t need to feel grateful, or focus on the positive.

I need to feel all the feels with loving compassion.

So do we all.

Can’t go over it, can’t go under it.

Nope.  Gotta go through it.

The End

The end came and went.  And of course.  I’m devastated.  I haven’t heard from the man who was my closest friend for many months of the most intense time of my life.  Just like that, no communication, no friendship, no nothing.  My kids talk about him because we all often played together.  They don’t know what happened.  They don’t miss him or ask when he’s coming back.  But they have lost here too.

My stomach hurts when I think about it, about quiet shared moments, about friendship, and the potential road that could have lay ahead, if it had been permitted.  And now, it has just fallen off the cliff.  There is no future.  No summer days or cookouts–no little road trips or funny shared moments.  I won’t get to know his little girl anymore who was quirky and silly and kind and deep and strange.  She loved dancing.  She was phenomenally active, a sharp bright mind, quick to anger, quick to forgive.  A darling little girl.

She liked me.  I cared for her very much.

All these relationships just cut short.  I cannot understand that.  A bomb dropped so that they all blew up, desperately careful though I was to protect little hearts, and my own.

Many have said to me that there will be no closure.  No neat and tidy little package to place in my closet.  There’s just a mess strewn out all over my mind and heart and body.  And I can’t tidy it up.  Nothing to say oh, that’s why that happened, or here’s where that goes.  Which was all I was seeking when the communication stopped completely.

Life is unfair.

Two loves lost.

Karen Maezen Miller said she wishes she could protect every tender heart.  But then, they wouldn’t be tender anymore.  Though my pain is deep, bottomless, profound, I have not lost my tenderness.  One thing can be certain.  I never will.  And maybe some day, someone will come along who wants and deserves it.

The end of this is the beginning of something else.  I don’t know what that is.  But one thing is for sure.  I’m in it.  Both the end, and the beginning.

 

Abandonment

It would appear that this relationship that I poured myself into, with this man who popped up somewhat out of nowhere, is over.  I asked him if it was, and he said no.  But I think he and I both know it is done.  I wish he would just say so.  But he won’t.  Because he won’t, I begin to ask myself if it is really just me, bringing all my issues from my previous relationship into this one.  Is it that I’m afraid he’ll abandon me too, so I act accordingly?

Am I sabotaging a relationship with someone I am deeply in love with, or is he stringing me along?

In my marriage I feared abandonment.  But not until I felt it might happen.  And for that reason I closed myself off to my ex husband profoundly.  When I shut the door permanently, he left.  I shut it because something told me I should.  My gut told me something was wrong.  And it is telling me the same now.

But is my gut a liar?  For 2 years I convinced myself that my gut was a liar.  And then I lived in lies.

I am trying to ignore my gut.  Trying to hang onto the rails of the Titanic.  All the while I am questioning whether or not I’m crazy, is the ship really sinking, and if it is am I causing it to do so?

There is a storm in my head.  It hurts so much.

Throughout it all, in these times of deep and bottomless loneliness, I try to be my own companion.  I picture myself putting my arms around myself.  I’m afraid to talk to people about this sadness.  Afraid people will think I am crazy.  And in these times of fear, I try to be there for myself, to let the rest fall way, and enjoy my children.

I did that yesterday, with the help of one of my best friends who simply showed up when I needed her.  I was painting the garage when she came with her kids, and I was planning to just be done at that point but she picked up a roller, the kids went in to play, and we painted and talked for an hour.  She carried my load for me that day, showed up so completely, so lovingly, so openly and so kindly.  She sat in the sun with me, listened and laughed and was that same source of steady kindness and comfort and humor that she has always been.

I have not been abandoned.  I was not enough for myself yesterday.  I just wasn’t.  My kids weren’t enough.  But she was.  And she was there.  So this week I am going to stop questioning myself, and simply focus on what is here, what is good, what is right in front of my face.  This week, and every week, I will be grateful.  And that will bring me back home.

In the Quiet

Life is incredibly hectic as I navigate its murky waters.  I still can’t see, but I’m trying to.

I’m squinting through the twilight.  Light has permeated the dark skies and I’ve grown accustomed to the weight of my tragedy.  It doesn’t feel as heavy anymore.

I am always slightly sad.  Always confused, overwhelmed, hopeful and dejected, and it’s often all at once.  I still run on the treadmill and I feel my soul creep to the back of my brain and rest there.  She hides or sleeps or just takes a break while my body takes over–heart and feet pounding in symphony.

When I’m done running, my soul tiptoes back out to join the world again.

She is timid and shy and uncertain, but she shouldn’t be.

She told me something in a moment of deep stillness.  And it has stayed in my heart and my mind ever since.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the truth that crushed us.

It was the lies.

The truth is nowhere near as scary as the lies were.

Every person who hears the story goes through a process.  And what I see them grapple with the most, the thing that brings out visible fear and devastation, are the lies.

The truth as a stand alone thing is difficult.

But what no one can understand, the thing that leaves a dark cold hole in the heart, is the deceit.

And as awful as it can sometimes be, I have been liberated from the lies.

As I move through this process of squinting through the haze, my soul reminds me every day to seek the truth.  My truth.  God only knows what that is.

May we all be free of the lies we tell others, or tell ourselves.  They do nothing but harm.  And the truth we are trying to cover up is the only thing that will set us free.

 

 

 

 

 

Walls

It’s such a strange thing, these walls we build up around ourselves.  As I think back on my life I see all the times I made up reasons for not being able to do something.

As trite as it sounds, fear, self-doubt, guilt, these are all ways of imprisoning ourselves, and stopping ourselves from moving forward.  Maybe it’s out of loyalty to someone, or maybe it’s out of a fear of the unknown and so we use that fear to separate us from what could be.  And all of a sudden there is an enormous and insurmountable wall that exists only in our heads and nowhere else.

Why do we do that?  So often in my life when talking with my loved ones they would say, “why don’t you do it then?”  “Why not?” “Kids are resilient” “You need to do something for you” and my response was always, no.  I’m afraid.  I can’t.  They can’t.

I gave such deference to these imagined obstacles.  I coddled them and nurtured them without ever questioning their purpose in the first place.

Women spend so much time building up these walls.  They burden themselves with the heaviest of loads.  Some men do it too, I’m sure.  But every woman I know puts herself in a box.  When she’s accomplished one thing, she feels she has fallen short elsewhere.  And the victory of the moment is lost in a waterfall of self doubt and worry.  Why can’t we allow ourselves VICTORY, pure and simple?  Why must we always temper our happiness with our imagined failings?  And who are we helping by doing so?

Somewhere, inside most of is, is a voice that says we do not deserve to be happy.  We are not good enough to be happy.  We need to punish ourselves and bring ourselves down so that we don’t offend people with the light we radiate.

We need to let our lights shine.

How much better could our lives be if we dismantle these walls we have created for ourselves?   What if instead of limiting ourselves by guilt, self flagellation, self doubt, we chose to stand up tall?  What if we laid down all the reasons why not?

Perhaps we DO know our own power and we limit it because the spectacular shape our lives could take is too scary.  Change is scary.  Limitless potential is scary.  What would we be if we had no limits?  How would our lives change if we said YES instead of NO?

The walls you think are there are not.

So many people benefit from our willingness to imprison ourselves.  But so many *more* would benefit (ourselves included) if we tore down the prison walls.  And it turns out, it’s easy to do, as soon as we realize that those walls were never anything more than our own fear.

Those walls never existed but to the extent that I was willing to permit them to stay.

Praying for all the people who have trapped themselves in their own self doubt.  May we see through it.  May we choose to knock down the walls of our self-imposed prison and let our light shine.

 

 

 

Clouds

Maybe today the clouds have parted– just the teensiest bit.  I am afraid to say for certain.  Tomorrow they might be right back where they were, blocking my view of the light.  But today, I thought I saw some peace peeking down at me through the darkness.

It is painful to even write that sentence.  So painful.  My heart is so tender it feels like it will shatter.  But even so.  I think I saw some light.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch.

It seems like nothing.

But I haven’t been able to sleep–let alone sleep on the couch.  It reminded me of when my heart was at peace, so I would just… fall asleep.

I woke up on the couch, and then I went up to bed and slept so well.

I still had nightmares and dreams; the deepest part of my hurting soul leaks out in the darkness.

I think my dreams were purges.  Water everywhere, so much water, houses were collapsing and floating away, as they were carried downstream in rushing currents.  Roofs disappeared in whirlpools of water.  As I watched these houses wash away I was stricken with fear, wondering when my house would come down too.  For whatever reason, it didn’t come down.  It remained standing in what seemed like an impossible (dreamlike) state of affairs.

Why is my house standing when everything else is falling away, I wondered.  And then.

In my dream I had unending diarrhea.  It seemed to last forever.  This is impossible, I thought.  It was so real I woke up thinking how did I get so sick? It took me about 2 minutes to realize there was no diarrhea.

It appears as though my mind is desperately trying to purge my body of its sorrow and sadness and desperation.  Let it float away.  Shit it out.  Get rid of it Sarah. Get rid of it.  I am trying.  Even in my sleep.

I find comfort in that.  Some part of my fighting spirit is fighting for me in the darkness.  Purging, cleaning, drowning, floating away the sorrow.

I slept a little, I dreamt a little, and I think I saw a parting in those heavy clouds.

 

Fear

I am afraid.

I don’t have cancer –that I know of.  I am not dying–well I am, but not today, I don’t think.  My kids are well so far as I’m aware.  And my loved ones are well too.  Yesterday I sat with my 100 year old grandfather and he held my hand.  Where normally he cries, yesterday he did not.  His blue eyes were clear.  “Some people never grow up Sarah, and that’s all I have to say about that.”

I am able to see the good, and there is a great deal of it.

But try as I might, the good simply does not erase my fear.

It is deep and horrible.

I just cannot see.  The questions are tiring to me.

How are the kids? Terrible.

How am I? Devastated.

What will we do? I have no idea.

Will we move? No clue.

Will I work? God knows.

The questions are endless and the answers are absent.

Lately the only thing I can think to do is take care of my kids and run.  I run a lot.  My feet hurt, my shins, my calves, my mind, my body, my heart.

I am afraid.