Slow Curves and Sharp Turns

I am trying to make myself journal several times a week. I think it is helpful, yet sometimes I feel I have nothing to say, nothing to offer even myself. My head is a dull bulb casting shadows on nothingness. But this morning I have the time and the quiet to sit with myself. I keep thinking I will work more in my connection to myself and thereby my spiritual connection but I’m just not sure what that means. I find that I can create many paradigms to help myself become stronger or healthier, but the mystic seems to come only when it wants to come anymore. Hard as I try I can’t seem to stretch towards it.

There was a time in my life I felt very self aware, very connected to something greater than myself. I’m not sure when that evaporated. A catholic faith was replaced with something less defined, but felt stronger, at least to me. A connection to the spirit that was not encouraged or supported by the formal religion. I have slowly evolved into someone I’m not sure I recognize, which is so cliche it makes me want to puke. But then, these tropes must come from somewhere I guess. Yesterday I ran for the first in a long time, running with intermittent walk breaks. At the end of my run I found myself thanking god, the universe – pick your poison- for my health and the beauty of the day. That is all very normal. But then I found myself pushing to go a little further with my run, just a little. And then I did this totally weird and very unlike me thing, I found myself offering my determination and my suffering to the universe. As though they would want it. How bizarre and how very catholic. But I was desperately serious. Even so, neither the gratitude nor the suffering felt recognized. It was just me and my feet out there alone. This is the wrong path. It was the wrong path yesterday and it continues to be a place not worth exploring today. But somehow here I am.

It all feels like so much noise. I never would have dreamed I could be this exhausted and this sad.

Through all of this I am trying to maintain an outward structure. I keep making dinner, going food shopping, working out and tracking my diet. It feels somehow pointless and at the same time something to cling to. I can make sense of the numbers on the scale and biometrics I pretend are real. The scale was just too cheap to be accurate, but I still follow along religiously the fat – subcutaneous and visceral – as well as all of the other little details my magic scale pretends to know. Really, not much difference between the scale and any other prophet that speaks from a place of ill deserved confidence. Except I feel I have some power over the scale, or at least a way I can show up, affect the outcome. For some reason I woke up thinking about how many people I know dismiss the Islamic faith, deriding the idea that god came to Muhammad in the dessert. I guess in order to be believable it needs a burning bush or a virgin. Of course those two things rarely go together. Irreverent, wrong, no wonder I have no connection. My grandmother would be horrified. I envy people with such deep faith. I am not a non believer, I just don’t think there are so many rules or hoops to jump through. Seriously, why would a higher power need or want to be adored? Such a man made concept. Loved? Probably. Adored? Seems a stretch. There is something so subjugating about adoration. Why would an all powerful being be so insecure that it needed subjugation? It just doesn’t fit. I think it is unhealthy the way we need to deify things. It takes away the mystery and the magic. But then, what do I know?

So I find myself casting around, looking for something to believe in. Something to hold on to. I have the support of. my family, especially my husband, but I feel completely alone. A few days before my father died, before we even knew he was dying, my brother had a dream. He dreamt that my father and two other friends who had already passed were sitting in our old living room with him. They were all together, laughing and drinking a few beers. My father looked much younger but he was carrying himself the way he did at the end of his life. He was frail and stooped over some. My brother asked him why he was acting like that, why he seemed ill. And my father said because he wasn’t all the way there yet. The next day we got word that he would be receiving last rites. My brother said maybe it was just his brain working things out. But I don’t believe that. I feel in my bones that it was my father, reaching out to my brother as he moved on. It isn’t just that I believe that, there is a knowing in me. An unshakable belief.

A Time For Healing

Today, for the past few days really, I have been thinking about becoming. We are always becoming something, moving into the next part of our life, our journey, with varying levels of intention and awareness. Sometimes I feel overly intentional to the point of trying to wrest full control from the universe, but of course the idea of just letting the world be around me is equally disconcerting. The idea of sitting and watching the world go by just isn’t in my being. Maybe that is why mindfulness is so damn difficult for me. I was born an active seeker and doer, to do otherwise is against who I am. However, I have been spiritually bereft for quite some time now, and I know that I need that connection to feel healthy and whole. So where does that healing begin?

In January, January One, actually, I joined Weight Watchers. I needed to lose weight, something I have always arrogantly chosen to do alone. I liked the structure and the plan, because I am at my core a person who loves a plan. What I didn’t realize or count on is how much I liked or needed the connection. Connections are hard for me, painful even. If you have been in any face to face conversation with me you can walk away knowing that I will spend hours dissecting that conversation to see how I showed you what an awful person I am. I have a quick temper, a crude humor and can be self obsessive to the extreme. I suck at small talk, swim only in the deep end of conversations and have no idea how to engage really in any type of polite society. I am the type of person you spend a few minutes with at a party and then move away as quickly as you can. I will have driven you away either by my politics, or my excitement around something (a book, my child, a new way of learning, a sports team -Go Birds.), or my general inability to appear coherent. If there is a wrong thing to say, it comes strolling out of my mouth. So I tend to avoid people as much as possible. It is just easier. Social media allows for pretend connections, thus the connect app in Weight Watchers allows me to sort of connect with a group. It is one place I can go and not worry about politics etc. It is mostly people just sharing recipes, workouts, things I like. But it isn’t real.

Two weeks ago my dad died. The pain from my fingertips to my chest as I type that is almost overwhelming. It feels blasphemous somehow to share it. But since I write this for me and really nobody reads it, I think it is okay. Like all death, we knew it was coming, just not so soon. My dad was a huge presence in my life, and something I didn’t understand, maybe am only really coming to understand is that he was deeply shy. Like me. It just didn’t present in the way that people think shyness presents. Like me. The definition of shyness is a nervousness or timidity in the company of others.This leads you to believe that shy people are somehow mousy or, well, timid. That definition is wrong. Some shy people choose to protect themselves with arrogance and disdain and even humor and strength. We aren’t all out there dying for you to notice us or invite us in. We aren’t afraid, at least not in the way you think. For me, at the heart of my shyness is the fear that I will confirm all the worst things I believe about myself in any given social interaction. This makes any type of real connection hard, maybe impossible. I see that now in my father. Because the closer people are to you, the more you love them, the harder it is. A confirmation of my worst self through the eyes of someone I love deeply is crushing. The obvious solution is to keep distance. Except that is painful too. I have lost all the opportunities to be with someone I love because of my fears. And now I find myself searching for them.

Why?

Because I let the way I think others view me guide and control my life. The voice in my head is rarely my own and when it is, I disregard it. And because I pretend to place value on other things – cleaning, working, anything else- to surround myself with a moat of protection. A swampy, shitty moat. Because trying was too hard and I was afraid. And tired. I am always so damn tired. You would think that deliberately not making connections would be simple, but the truth is being around people is exhausting and hiding is exhausting. There is no place of refuge. But one thing I know is that I don’t want to stay here any longer. Yesterday I turned fifty four and I want to be fully me. I want to know that I am valuable and that I matter. And I want to find my dad and my grandmom, in my self and in my deepest moments of connection. I want to be okay with the darkness in myself, because I earned it and because really my sense of compassion and grace comes from there, not from the light. Connecting to people in joy is easy, it is when we connect with others in their pain, in their fears, in their need for forgiveness and mercy that gives the most solace and love. That comes from our darkness. Our wonderful, mystical, deep darkness. The place where we can’t see and we have to trust and just love. And probably bleed. I want to stop hiding from this deep unknown inside me. I think there is wisdom in this. Gifts in this. This, I believe, is where the healing will begin.

I won’t of course be able to heal from this loss. I won’t be able to turn back time and change the past. I can only try to be here now. To make this better. I started this post thinking I would write about my plan for health, for my physical health for the near future, the next seventeen days actually. And somehow it turned into this. But I think I found something here that I needed to see, maybe needed to hear. Maybe if someone else ever reads this, they will find something here for them as well.