Ok. Here we go. I am moving to another city and state, a place I’ve never been, where I know no one and, at the moment, have no set place to live or job to pay the bills. My brain has been planning this move for months but the time is almost upon me and action has to be taken. Don’t get me wrong. I have done plenty of research, spoken to movers, decided what I am taking, but the actual physical getting-the-move-going is only just beginning. Today my housemate and I had a friend take down most of our boxes of crap from the attic and they now fill the back room. I know both she and I have been putting this off as long as we could. The actual moving of things makes it all so real. This is going to be a grieving process. And it starts now.
To top things off, my 66th birthday is next week and I am not ready for it. I feel like I am asking myself to say goodbye to too much all at once. I only just turned 65! It’s going much too quickly. For fuck’s sake – it was just Christmas. At least that’s how it feels. I have always hated Florida, ended up here kind of by default, and would never have chosen this place to make my home. Funny thing is, I have lived here longer than any place else. The Universe giving me the Royal Raspberry, isn’t it?
As I prepare to say my farewells, I am stunned by how many more things about Florida I will miss than I thought I would. The people go without saying. Friends cannot be replaced. But my house, the flora and fauna, the way of my days here – I will be sad to leave it all. It is the end of an important phase of my life. And knowing there is a new beginning attached to it, does not mitigate my sadness. In fact, at this very moment, I am scared shit-less of the new beginning.
But isn’t the new beginning happening right now? There is no line of demarcation that separates endings and beginnings. One bleeds into the other. The new beginning has been happening all along. I am already in it. In some ways I have been bidding adieu all this time that I have been planning the move. On another plane, I began to say goodbye the very day I came here, as nothing stays the same and everything ends eventually. Change is all we can know.
Stephen Sondheim wrote a song for the musical A Little Night Music called “Every Day a Little Death” and I can’t help but see my life as a series of deaths and births co-occurring. I become ashes and rise like the phoenix each moment I breathe.
As a big proponent of staying in the flow of the Universe and my intention, I try always to let go of obsessive negative thinking. But there is a big disconnect between my head and my heart here and I am in a bit of a stew right now. I had a job interview on Monday on the phone as the job is out of state, and I can’t help myself going over and over the gaffs and boo-boo’s I made. When the interview was over I felt stupid and tongue-tied and lay on my bed depressed and bummed for a long while. I was not feeling successful and not letting it go.
It is 3 days later and I am still in that negative space. I want a “do-over” with my interview. I want to call the company and tell them I am not an idiot and ask if we can start over. But it’s like being in the theatre and trying to take back a bad performance. Can’t be done. NO. It’s worse than that. Because at the time the interview was going on I knew that I was bombing and I couldn’t stop myself. I just got in deeper and deeper. I can even remember a voice in my head saying,”Shut up already!” But I was like bath water that the plug had just been pulled on. I was going down the drain at a rapid rate and there was no stopping it. Oh crap.
Letting things go and moving on is an art – a practiced art – and you have to work hard on your thought processes every minute of every day if you are at all like me – someone who obsesses when “bad” things happen. But the true art is in not passing judgment on any event in your life. Things may seem good or bad, but in reality they just are. They are passing moments meant to teach us something. And in the end all there is is now, this time, this second, this moment of being.
So. What is my plan for the rest of my day? Can I really just be present now? Can I let it all go and forget about feeling like a dumb-ass? I know I can, but I am a creature of habit and habits are difficult to break, especially after all the years I have lived. I admit that I feel a bit better than I did when I sat down to write this. Even a little hopeful. Honesty and time heal me. I take the hand of the frightened child that is me, and together we walk under the stars.
I am writing a book about my journey to wellness and recently I was writing a lot about my parents. They are both dead, as we speak, but my father only months ago. In working through my feelings about these two people I have felt, for a long time, that I was past real anger and bitterness. But as I wrote about them the other day, I realized that there is still a lot of residual rage inside me. It kind of unnerved me. I had forgiven them, or thought I had. I had expressed my gratitude to them for whatever part they had played in making me the person I am today. Even their mistakes and what they didn’t do, contributed to the me I have come to like. I thought I had come so far regarding my mother and father; but I hadn’t. I was stunned by the feelings I felt while writing about them.
I am still enraged by their narcissistic parenting and their abuse. I don’t feel it right now, but I did in spades two days ago. Where is this rage resting inside me? And how can I work through it? Or, will I always feel some of it when the right buttons are pushed? I am hard enough on myself to think that were I a better person, this anger would dissipate and leave me alone and my parents to rest in peace. But perhaps I am asking too much of myself. I don’t know. At this moment I am confounded. If the past is done and now is all we have, then why am I, at times, still so stuck?
Perhaps there are no answers to the questions I have about this. Perhaps all I can do is keep moving forward and do the best I can each day. Perhaps the best things for me to do are meditate and write and be a decent human being. Perhaps the answer is found in loving and being loved. There is plenty of love and loving in my life and I am blessed beyond measure. Perhaps the anger is and always will be a natural part of the human experience and I should just give myself a break. Can I do that? I think I’d better try if I know what’s good for me.
I have written about change before and talked about how, in the end, I am always moved by the thrill of the new. But big changes are afoot for me, coming very soon, and the stirrings of my “kicking-and-screaming” self is evident to me, manifest by the knot in my stomach and this very subtle feeling of resistance. It is like walking around with a low-grade fever all the time. I feel yucky and at the same time anxious for the changes to come. I ache from the tension in my body and also feel as though I will burst with joy. It’s all very confusing to the somatic system-not to mention what it does to the psyche. Mentally and emotionally I am up and down like a yo-yo and it is exhausting.
Stillness helps, as does movement. A brisk walk with my poochie, Chloe, does as much for me as a nice 30-minute meditation. I have to be careful when to choose which one. In this state of heightened alertness, it is not always easy to discern what I need at any given time. If my brain is working overtime, the walk is better. Being in nature helps me stop thinking. I look deeply at the flowers and trees and connect with that which is outside myself, with the universal force, and moving my body with purpose expends some of that nervous energy.
Meditation is good when I am feeling sludgy and blurry. It clears my head and both relaxes and energizes my body and mind. It focuses me in a way no other discipline can. And it releases me too. I feel freer and connected to spirit. I feel expanded and expansive. I feel like I have connected the dots. I am unafraid of not knowing.
But right now I am not inclined to either walk or meditate. I am too much resting in fear. It becomes comfortable after a while, as so many unpleasant feelings do the longer we allow ourselves to feel them. But I don’t have the time to be scared. Not this paralyzing scared. There is too much to do, to prepare and to prepare for. I don’t have the luxury of stagnation. I must walk and I must meditate. For these are things to mitigate the kicking and screaming, however silent they may be right now. Unchecked it could get quite noisy inside me and I cannot afford to allow that. So I write, acknowledging the feelings, observing them with some detachment, and expanding beyond them. I become bigger than my limited self and let change barrel on through. I step into the flow and allow myself to be carried on my path. I allow my Self to become One. I am still kicking and screaming, but I treat that part of me as one would treat a frightened child-with love and compassion.
Both my parents made me feel, as a child, that I wasn’t authentic. They hardly ever believed my tears-my father would say “Cut the dramatics!”, and my mother would just ignore me. So I grew up with a very skewed idea of what “real” was. My feelings were not only not validated, they were ridiculed. I grew up with no sense of self as I was constantly told in words and deeds that I wasn’t me. So for much of my life I felt like a fraud and if anyone paid me a compliment I thought it couldn’t be true-that I had just conned him or her, put one over on them. I doubted my intelligence, my talents and skills, my appearance, my essence(which I didn’t even think I had)-ALL of it. Even if people just liked me and thought I was nice to be around, I thought they were responding to a cardboard cut-out, not to me, that I was really a bad person with no redeeming qualities. And who was “me” anyway?
I had no idea for a great part of my life. I can honestly say that until I entered my fifties, I floundered in a sea of confusion about my identity and the nature of reality, and choosing a profession that judges you on your appearance first and talent second didn’t help. It was almost as though I was feeding into the “I am a fraud” belief. As a result, just psychologically speaking, I had a hard time with reality. I had a very difficult time discerning what was real in my life. People, events, the world around me all came into question. It was a profound impediment for someone with a serious mental illness. One could even argue that it was part of my illness. But whatever it was, it was surely a show of the combination of nature and nurture. However “crazy” my genes were-and they were surely-my early life helped fuck me up big time. My parents taught me I had no real self. When I went into the hospital the second time, after my return from England in 1989, my mother told a roomful of mental health professionals that there was nothing wrong with me-I was just a good actress. And for years I believed that! Thankfully, the doctors knew better.
After years of being told my feelings weren’t real and neither was I, it took me a very long time to find my authenticity and to trust myself. I work at it even now, in my sixties. But I have come to understand that my parents themselves had no authenticity and now I try to surround myself with people who are truly themselves. And I see, reflected in their eyes, my truest self, my essential self. I have immense gratitude for my self-awareness and my continuing journey of self-discovery. And for the people in my life who have stood by me through all the changes, I am so grateful. For it is within their love that I find the “me” I had for so long lost.