Lately, I hardly recognize myself and I’m trying to find me again.
Before, I didn’t relate to cynicism and, yet, here it is in my life, along with some anger, sadness, fear, emotions I thought were either not part of me, or something I’d moved past. I could say it’s one thing or another, this event or that, but it’s been going on too long now, washing over me in waves.
And I can no longer blame circumstances. These feelings are too raw, too deep to have come from simply one thing.
So what to do?
In my usual nerdy way, I turn to books, to words, to try to glean advice from those who have been there, those who have more wisdom than I do.
The 43rd verse of the tao te ching says “the softest of all things, overrides the hardest of all things.” So I spend some time with the tao, that thing that vanishes as soon as we try to name it, define it, the place where opposites come together as one, where duality doesn’t exist, only balance. And I see there may be some truth in this.
I’ve grown hard this past year. Things were not as I thought they should be yet they are exactly as they should be. What is, simply is.
The tao is hidden, boundless and the universe is perfect. And there are moments when I can give myself over to that perfection. Maybe having my life stripped away is exactly what needed to happen because in the past few years, everything I thought was me has disappeared.
I was a daughter. My parents died.
I was a mother. My children have grown and left.
I was a wife. Now I’m divorced.
I was a writer. Now my mind goes blank when I stare at the page.
But at least I had my career. I had an income. Then that disappeared.
Little by little, the person I thought was me has gone, the career being the final blow, and I haven’t taken it gracefully at all. I don’t want to talk to people or socialize. I’ve said and done things I regret. I go to work. I come home and read books, walk with my dogs, stare at the sky. Many days it’s an effort just to put one foot in front of the other, yet that’s all I can do.
And somehow I have to believe this stripping away of self is what needed to happen. Maybe it’s to make a place for my real self to emerge. But isn’t this something that should have happened when I was a lot younger? I’m definitely not young any more. Isn’t it about time to get it together?
And I’m trying to heal. My meditation cushion has become my solace. Without that I might not be coping at all. And, finally, after months of isolation, I’m reaching out, trying to become soft again, become the person who is able to bend, to override the hardest of things. I still don’t feel it, but maybe by pretending enough it will come to pass. I do try to appreciate everyday. I still have a lot. I realize that and I am grateful.
A while back a friend called me. “I’m worried about you,” she said. “I see no laughter in your face.”
When did laughter leave my life? When will it return?