Over the last two years, along with my writing, my self-care routines have disappeared. I watched all those things that gave me grounding during my therapy process fall away. I got angry with myself. In November, at breakfast with a dear friend, I finally put words to my feelings and soothed those voices in my head.
What was causing this great scism in my life so soon after putting all the pieces back together?
I had entered into a wonderful, exciting, and above all, healthy relationship... and my inner world imploded. As I watched my routines and will to write fall from the endangered species list into extinction, I tried to comfort myself. This happened during therapy, too. I tried to reassure myself that everything would one day come back, much like they did during therapy. It was to no avail. Panic had set in and panic supercedes the rational brain.
I didn't want to lose all that I had worked so hard to achieve. I didn't want to give myself up to the thrall of love. I didn't want to lose my path. The last time I lost myself was because of a relationship and I was terrified of it happening again. Was this the cosmic joke? I could have myself or I could have love? Either I walk my path or his?
That's the funny thing about life: it wasn't a question of mine or his - we were embarking on "ours." A mysterious new path that one only hears about in fairy tales, usually implied by the words "they lived happily ever after." (Notice how most stories cover the getting together or splitting apart but not the "what to do when together"? What's with that?! Anyhoo, I digress...) I was fighting through the bush at the end of my old path, not seeing the new path that lay clear before me. Resistence is futile when it comes to the paths that life decrees. You can going willingly or be dragged kicking and screaming along it. Until November, I was kicking and screaming under the self-delusion of acceptance. I had worked so hard for my old path, that I couldn't see the the changes the new one demanded of me.
I kept waiting for my old life and routines to meld into my new one. I grew impatient waiting for everything to resotre. I kept looking back for the road when it lay ahead. At that breakfast in November, I looked at my friend and said, I surrender. I surrender to my new path. To my new life. To the new routines that shape my days.
My old routines had served me well. They gave me strength and focus when I was all I had. But now, I was part of a team. What served me before, no longer served me now. There were new practices that needed to be learned.
My entire life, I had dreamed of a home with a partner that fit me perfectly. I finally had that - and it was terrifying. No one gets everything they want. As with most good things in my life, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. For everything to fall apart. But that was my old narrative. The young girl who held her breath her entire life, moving from one calamity to another. It took some time for me to actually believe that all this happiness was real... and safe. Eventually, I began to trust. To trust that maybe, just maybe, this time, everything was going to be okay. After all, I'm not a little girl anymore. I have proven that I can handle adversity in spades. And even if everything did fall apart, didn't I deserve just a moment to enjoy a life where everything was wonderful? So started the long exhale...
Ambition had left the building. I didn't want to fight, struggle, or drive forward. I just wanted to sit and be still. I didn't care if I ever wrote again. After fighting so long and so hard for every little thing I had, I just wanted to put down my weapons and be overcome. I wanted to enjoy the moment. I got angry at the voices that would say, I should be writing - or doing this or that. I felt my inner child in perpetual tantrum: NO! I just want to be left alone for a while. Just let me breathe!
I was safe and protected. I could put down my load for the first time in my life. For once, that little girl who had fought so hard and journeyed so far had a someone who was her someone and all she wanted was some time to curl up in that loving comfort and rest her battered soul for a while. Maybe for the rest of my life. I couldn't say. I just needed to be able to stop - to stop and exhale. I just wanted to be in the safe happy.
So, that day at breakfast, I stopped. I gave in to the pleadings of my inner child and said: okay, we're done. We're done for as long as you want. Because why do I have to write? Why do I have to be anything other than what I am right now? So, I gave myself permission to just be, as long as I wanted. I exhaled - finally. I slept. I laughed. I learned how to bake bread. I let the air enter my lungs and began teaching myself how to breathe again. Inhale, exhale.
I accepted that maybe I would never write again. Maybe that is something I don't do anymore and that is okay. If you love something, let it go. If it doesn't come back, it was never yours to begin with. Well, that's true about all things in life. I needed to let go of who I thought I was as a writer. To let space into my life for who I was becoming. I had to let go of old ideas to make room for the new ones. My old routines that fed me solo, weren't the ones I needed now. I felt at peace. I was no longer at war with myself. It was the greatest relief I had felt in a long time.
Happiness has been struggle. Many things long buried have come up and out. Fears of abandonment, of failure, of not being enough have flooded my days. Instead of fighting, I lay down and held my breath. I stayed in my warm, comfotrable home tucked away in the wintery north and let all those fears wash over me, until they subsided and I could begin to breathe again.
Today, I wrote. Maybe it will continue, maybe not. I will take each day as it comes and continue to breathe. Inhale, exhale...