Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Timing is Impeccable


Look at the two trees at the top of the hill - near the middle of the photo. I feel like I'm holding on to the one on the left with my left hand - and I have to sneeze. Badly. Have you ever felt that way?

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Just three days after a great one-night getaway,
just one day after a lovely morning walk,
just hours after a great meal followed by an interesting discussion with my daughter,
just moments after reading another two chapters of Japanland aloud,
those old feelings come back.

The feeling of being unworthy of friendship and affection
the feeling of wanting to solve everyone else's problems
the feeling of being an imposter rather than a genuine mother, wife, daughter, aunt, friend
the desperate need for attention: immediate and unbroken attention
the certainty that if I walked away from my home, my family, my church, and all my other relationships, it would be days or weeks before anyone would notice.

There is also the feeling of total inadequacy and incompetence in every role in my life
the doubting and questioning today of everything that made perfect sense to me yesterday
the urge, the unshakable longing, to "run away from home," change my name, and start all over again in a far away city
the utter inanity of nearly every decision I have made in the past twenty-five years.

Even though I know there is nothing true or real or possible in any of those statements, there are moments (like the one I'm living right now) when those feelings portray themselves as the only truth of my life.

The timing is impeccable. Just when I think it's safe to reach out to a friend, to offer counsel to a loved one, to spread my own wings and fly a little, those old feelings come back. Just when I think it's safe to ask myself some tough questions AND find answers, when I get back into an exercise routine, when I begin to get comfortable with the idea of my son being in junior high school and my daughter being in senior high, those old feelings come back.

Earlier today, I was reminded of Sue Monk Kidd's book entitled The Mermaid Chair. On the very first page, the narrator says: "So few people know what they're capable of. At forty-two I'd never done anything that took my own breath away, and I suppose now that was part of the problem - my chronic ability to astonish myself."

So tomorrow, I'm going to do something to astonish myself. Something unpredictable. Something risky. Something that is out of character for me. I'm not going to tell anyone what it is, so that I can enjoy it all the more. I'll use the impeccable timing of "those feelings" as motivation to do something shocking enough to get myself back on track. Perhaps I will come up with a new definition of "those feelings."

The next paragraph in Kidd's book declares: "I promise you, no one judges me more harshly than I do myself; I caused a brilliant wreckage. Some say I fell from grace; they're being kind. I didn't fall - I dove."

Hmmmm... Perhaps I'd better dig out my swimsuit and noseclip.

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A few minutes later: Now that I've given it a little more thought, I realize that I have done several things in my life that have astonished me. Giving birth to (without any drugs whatsoever), raising, and homeschooling these two children still shocks me. My many solo jaunts around the US and in Europe are pretty cool also. Being published (in someone else's book, a book for which I receive no monetary benefit whatsoever). Also, no brilliant wreckages of late; there are a few from earlier phases in my life that still cause me to shudder, however.

Having said all that, I still plan to do something astonishing tomorrow.
Shocking. Eye-brow raising...

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Wow! I can't wait to hear the news of your shocking, astonishing actions!!! I have no doubt that they will be wonderful :-)

Isn't it amazing how our feelings can shift so from one minute to the next? I have no idea where this comes from - this angst and questioning - our uncertainty about who we are, what we're about, what we've done or left undone. I, too, have grand fantasies of running away! (There's a great line in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett says to Ashley - in her lovely, breathy, southern voice - "Oh, Ashley, take me away!" I often say this to my husband in a Scarlett tone of voice!)

However, as you've said to me before, and I am beginning to understand more each day - the wisdom of being in our 40's is a gift. I count it a great opportunity to have made it this far, foibles and all, and to have the presence of mind to reflect, un-learn, re-learn, choose what I want my life to look like going forward. Indeed, the "me" I used to be is not the "me" I am today. That can take some getting used to! It's almost as if we have to stop, think for awhile, and catch up with ourselves - the self we've become.

Thank you for your honesty. It is good to have kindred companions for our journey. Feel free to escape to Dayton, Ohio if you need to :-)

Big Hug,
Lisa

Shelby said...

Oh do tell!! What are doing???

I can't stand it.

But - you go girl (as long as it's safe).