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Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Lost in Transition

I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately.  Everything seems to have shifted.  For so much of my adult life, I’ve been very busy.  I moved across country and back, got married, purchased homes, had children, raised families, got degrees, got jobs, quit jobs, got other jobs, got other degrees, took care of dying people, buried people, birthed friendships, buried friendships. You get the point.

At 35, I was living in Utah in a recently purchased home with my soulmate husband, my 2 and a half year old, and the baby in my womb. The baby was due on October 31st, and I was nearing the due date. I got a call from Maryland that my mom’s husband went to work and had a massive heart attack.  I think my mom must have called me, but I remember talking to my sister-in-law and my sister too. It was devastating for all.

I called my husband at work and could barely speak – the receptionist thought for sure I was in labor when she gave Jeff the call. The call was about death – not life.  I couldn’t go the 2000 miles for the funeral being 9 months pregnant so I went through the process at a distance. It was difficult not being there; not being closer, and I think that is when I was pulled back home.

My mom and her husband were lovely folks; they lived in the moment and showered their grand-children with tons of gifts. However, when Frank died, there was no insurance, and my mom had no Plan B. My family and I moved in with her about 8 months after his death, and a year later we all purchased a home together.

Life really took off once we all settled into it.  Mom lived with us and shared much of the load. She was able to help with the kids, the cleaning, the laundry, and the gardens. The kids grew, she aged, people began dying, and eventually mom left us last October.  I’ve been out of sorts lately.

I have two jobs.  My day job is in a school and follows the school calendar; the other is a small private practice that keeps me busy in the evenings.  But it’s summer, so I’ve got some time on my hands from the day job.  I’m usually productive – cleaning, working, socializing.  But I feel kind of lost this summer.  I don’t want to clean or work. I want to sit on a beach, I want to watch baseball.  I want to move. For so long it seemed life was pulling me along. I didn’t really have to make choices – things just happened. I was living with and for others – taking care of parents and kids and not thinking much about it. Now this transition.

Everyday – it just seems like the rug has been pulled out from under me – like everything is shifting – like I just don’t know my place in the world. The worst part of all this is I do!  I do know my place, I am on solid ground – the place just changes and that is okay – normal even  – but the feelings – they hold me captive. Running helps – a lot – just getting out of my head and into my body.

I realized the other day – I have some freedom right now.  I don’t really want to clean or take care of this home anymore – I really want to move.  I could never have  moved as long as mom was here – I didn’t want to, and it wasn’t an option.  But suddenly this house feels strange to me.  Too big, too much work.

I turn 50 in a month. My kids are looking at colleges. My mom died. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. The economy stinks. I want to move. I don’t want to take care of the house. Running helps.  I’m not needed in the same ways I have been for so very long. No one is dying (actually everyone is dying).  I’m being held captive.  What to do?

I will sit still.  I will wait.  I will breathe, and write, and ask for help when needed. I will try so very hard not to judge myself for not wanting to clean this house.  I will not judge myself for feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin after so much work to feel comfortable in my own skin. I will have faith.  I will have faith that it is possible – no – probable – that in an hour I won’t feel like this at all – that I will be hiking in the woods with a friend wondering what the big deal was.  I will feel comfortable in my own skin. There are no big deals.

I will tell myself the things I would tell others.  I am in a new place. I have never been in this place before.  It is okay to feel uncomfortable.  Most people feel uncomfortable. I will wait.  I will wait.  I will wait. I am so very happy I have learned to wait.  I am blessed to know how to wait. I won’t numb (except with my passion/obsession with the Orioles), I won’t run from this by giving into it and buying a house in this mess.  I will go hiking. I will have dinner. Heck – I might even clean the house.




News Flash: Woman held captive by feeling!

Feelings – we all have them. Feelings are not facts; they rarely make sense.  Why then do they so often hold me hostage? I can be at peace – driving – relaxing – working – eating, and suddenly my world is shaken – heck sometimes even my faith is shaken.  Why?  I didn’t get news of death or getting fired, or divorced, or anything.  It was just a feeling.  A feeling of. . .un-named fear, anxiety, a wave of intense sadness, and then I am trapped.  I can’t escape the feeling, and I begin to ruminate and obsess.

The other day a friend gave me a typical example of this: she bought her first new/used car in about 20 years.  She is intelligent and savvy. She knew the brand she wanted, she knew approximately how much mileage she wanted, she knew what she could afford, and she bought the car.  On her drive home she heard a strange noise.  She called the dealership, and scheduled to bring the car back for service.  While she was driving back to the dealership, a feeling took her captive. If feelings have voices, hers sounded something like this, “You made a big mistake. This car is bad; it may be a lemon. What are you going to do? You don’t have time to deal with this.  This was a huge waste of money. How could you be so stupid? You are so stupid; what a mistake you’ve made!”  All the while her gut is wrenching, her throat is tightening, and she feels as though she must cry or scream or spit. She’d been captured, and couldn’t escape!

I picked my friend up while the car was getting repaired and we spent some quality time together.  We talked about feelings, and we laughed about them too.  We shook our heads thinking how strong feelings are, and how even after much practice, we still can’t completely elude them. They still capture us.

It’s summer. My schedule gets less rigid during the summer.  This flexibility must alert my feelings, because they really come rushing in with swords and ropes to immobilize me. I awake to no alarm and the voice begins: “Wow it is 8:30 – you are so lazy to have slept this late.” Or: “Wow it is 6:00, what is your problem? Why can’t you relax and sleep in?”

Often I awake with sadness or anxiety.  My new practice is to get up anyway. I don’t try to figure it out. I don’t give in to the thoughts and feelings, I just try to move ahead.  Sometimes it stays with me all day; sometimes only for a few minutes. This isn’t to say I simply ignore them – although I guess sometimes I do.  I notice the feeling. I greet it. I sometimes learn something from it. I pray. I meditate, but I don’t delve into trying to figure it out completely. . .anymore. . . I’ve realized that often feelings just don’t make sense.

A friend of mine asked me to run with her the other day.  First the thought comes -“I can’t run with you – you are faster, stronger, better.”  Then right on cue, the feeling comes to bind me. My stomach begins to rumble, my breathe quickens, and I feel shaky.  Then I think – maybe I’m sick – I shouldn’t run. It’s hot – I can’t handle this heat. Usually, I put my running clothes on and get out the door.

One thing that always helps free me from captivity is my voice.  Although often my mouth feels bound shut, and my throat feels it is closing, and I have to force with all of my might to speak.  When I do, when I tell someone what I’m feeling (okay – not just anyone – woah – I’ve learned from my mistakes here). When I tell someone I trust – what I am feeling, I can then think it through. I can process these feelings for what they are – just feelings.  Nothing to be afraid of – nothing that makes sense. It usually ends in laughter and peace.  I’ll take these feelings any day. . . although I know these won’t last either.  None do; they come, they rise, and then they leave.


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