Nemo is making his way through the area and I am holed up enjoying the quiet. It’s my second Friday off, and already my life seems so different with a little space to breathe.
I have been writing posts in my head all week, but haven’t had the resources to get them down.
Monday morning I stopped by the home of a dear friend and we sat on the floor in her hallway, talking as she sorted dirty laundry. (She’s really quite an amazing friend, and sitting here thinking about it, I feel a bit of awe with how many truly amazing people I have in my life.)
I walked in to her house singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at the top of my lungs (it had just come on Pandora — it’s not actually a full-time part of my music collection.) I did a little dance before joining her on the floor amid piles of kids clothes. Of course, within minutes I was sobbing in her lap. She’s one of those people who can narrow in on things, and her heavy Brazilian accent doesn’t prohibit her from speaking laser truths right in to my soul.
I told her about taking time off, about trying to slow my pace down. She knew exactly what I meant. She would probably slow mine further if she could. She knows all the things — for the kids, work, activities, writing, socializing — that I would like to be a part of, or have almost launched in to.
“Now is not the time, Honey. You are not being prohibited, you are being protected. You just need to let yourself be a child. Just rest. Just play.”
I put my head in her lap and cried.
There is something that happens to you psychologically when you go through events so painful that you body and soul can’t even process it at the time. When you do start to process, it’s like air being slowly let out of a balloon. The longest exhale ever. And when its done (not that I am), the balloon no longer looks like the piece of rubber it once was. It’s floppier and stretched funnily. That’s kind of how I feel: like I was filling up slowly for so long, I finally reached a point where I could fill no more, and now, now I am on the slow exhale back down to emptiness. In this context, a good emptiness. But of course, I can’t imagine being the same as before.
I don’t mind letting you know that I am pretty fragile. I don’t mind you knowing that I have cracks and tender parts and thin patches all over my soul. I don’t mind you knowing that I feel scarily alone sometimes, even though I have fabulous, loving people in my life. I don’t mind you knowing that I have no idea how this is going to look — this new life I am heading for. I don’t mind you knowing that I am confused about what I am supposed to feel and what I actually feel and how it all changes so often. I don’t mind you knowing that it is strange to be a mom and also a single girl. To be trying to rebuild myself at the same time I am trying to build a nest for my little people.
There are so many questions and unknowns. And mostly I don’t worry about them. When I feel them come up, and the haze of unknowing descend, I just lay down on my yoga mat and pray. Navigating real life is nuts. It is so much easier to keep insulated in the comfortable existence of relative certainty.
I tried watching “The Bachelor” earlier tonight, but I couldn’t keep myself interested at all, even with no commercials. There was once a time when I watched that show for real, and actually cared about what happened. It was when I was insulated from myself, when I was just keeping up with the routine of babies and grocery shopping and laundry and always feeling like there weren’t many options. It’s shocking what a little TV and a glass of wine each night can help you maintain. The Fog.
I remember the night the fog fully lifted. It was event I went to last summer. A grown up event where I had grown up conversations about things I cared about. When I went in to that event I for some reason had decided to go in as Just Me. Not Rachel-the-Mom-of-Two-Toddlers, not Rachel-the-Stay-at-Home-Wife, not Rachel-the-Suburbanite. Not even Rachel-the-Angsty-Wanderer I have always kind of felt like. Just Me.
In all honesty, it was the kind of event I felt so totally out of place going to, that I didn’t know which identity to wear. So I just decided to go Naked. Just Me.
Anyway, Just Me took some deep breaths for the first time in a long time, and when the night was over, Just Me was not willing to go back to sleep. When all the other Rachel’s came back, Just Me said, no thanks, I’m going to take it from here.
I didn’t know what that meant, I didn’t know where Just Me would take things. But I did know that Just Me was the only Rachel that could be allowed to navigate this bag of bones from here on out.
And that’s why I say, again, navigating Real Life is nuts. Because there are so many identities and labels and demands that would like to convince us that they should have the wheel. That letting Focused-Career-Woman, or Fabulous-Dad, or Brilliant-Thinker, or Dedicated-Worker, or Courageous-Leader should steer the ship of flesh and wonder that we are. But no one should be steering that ship, except Just Me. Just You. Nothing is more real, or more extraordinary, than Just You.
But weirdly, Just You, might be a stranger. And letting Just You take the wheel might throw everything into uncharted territory. And you may not feel sure about Just You’s capability or worthiness to navigate, and you may not feel comfortable with Just You’s choppy course. But I swear to God, Just You is the only one who can get you Home.
Home is where the Heart is.
Just You is the only one who can steer you to your Heart Home.
So yeah, I am riding these choppy waves, letting this novice sailor, Just Me, learn on the job. It feels scary and raw out here in the wind, but it does feel like we’re getting somewhere.