And after the storm.
I run and run as the rains come.
And I look up.
A storm rolled in tonight. And all that remains now is a sky full of blue and grayish-pink clouds sprinkling raindrops. Serene. Beautiful.
Life. I am still. The winds blew over, leaving broken branches in its wake. Destruction. And ever so quietly, rebirth.
I typed paragraphs of thoughts, but I deleted each one. Deleted off the pages of this blog, but not the pages of my mind. What exactly am I trying to say in this post? I write blogs as I write songs – as I do most things in life – with this whirlwind of thoughts and feelings and emotions all jumbling and tumbling within me until I allow them to escape. That is the beauty of art. Not just self expression. Release. I’m learning to be more aware these days – to recognize feelings before they catapult into each other, join forces, and grow into this tornado of emotion that comes seemingly out of nowhere and surprises even myself.
My heart feels heavier this week than last week. I am fine. This is my response to how are you’s. Because I am. I’m as fine as I can be in this phase of my life. But fine doesn’t always feel ok. It just means this is my life, and I have to be ok with that reality. I am thankful – for my apartment and precious space to be free, for Europe 3 months ago, for little things. Like my adopted dog. And wine. And guacamole. For owls in trees. For friends, even though I don’t see them or talk to them nearly enough it seems – especially the ones who are so far away.
I know people who’ve seen my tornadoes think I must be crazy. I make jokes about it – “you know, that time I was normal, before my moment of crazy.” Sometimes they make jokes about it, which is a little interesting to process when you’re the presumed “crazy” one. But I think we use crazy to explain things we don’t ourselves understand. Your crazy might be my normal, and vice versa. The truth is, I have real feelings in response to real situations. We all have our stories, and we all carry pain, loss, sadness, longing. And we carry it differently. The fact that someone else might be able to handle theirs better does not mean I’m somehow failing because I appear to not be handling mine. Who can judge our burdens and the toll they take on us over time? Who can measure the support systems we may or may not have had to help us carry that weight? I’m carrying mine the best I can. We’re all doing the best we can.
Something I’m learning right now is to acknowledge my feelings, without judgment or guilt. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so everyone else has an advantage in that I can be fairly easy to read most times. Though I hide my feelings, my reactions to those feelings are out there, loud and clear. And sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. I’ve always preferred to let it all fly than to bury things – that just tends to eat away at you, but I get that my way isn’t always the best. 😉 So I’m learning to acknowledge these crazy elephants in the room called feelings. And through that acknowledgement comes understanding, and maybe through understanding comes a measure of grace for myself. My mind is a complicated and intense place sometimes. Writing helps lessen that intensity.
I feel LOST.
I feel like my entire adult life has been a balancing act on a tightrope of instability. Keep going. Try not to fall. Just get to the end. Wait, what’s waiting at the end exactly? Coming back to the place that should be my home – by birth and heritage alone – was unexpected. I am not sure I’ve come to terms with that yet. I appreciate so much of this city. But there’s a great big world out there. One more beautiful and wild than anything I could find here. My heart will forever be a little untamed. The heart of a wanderer. And yet, I am here. I have chosen it, for whatever reason. Perhaps I felt as if I needed to choose something – even if it’s only momentarily. Perhaps I thought if I went back to my original idea of investing in something beyond myself – the idea that brought me back to the US in the first place – then maybe I’d find favor there. Maybe the universe would see fit to add to my story the pieces I’ve been so desperately missing. But what if it doesn’t? What if I will never know stability? Or home?
I feel LOSS.
I talk about loss a lot. But the loss I feel now is beyond the loss of past experiences. Staying here was harder than I thought it would be. I’m not used to plugging into a place, or planting both feet on the ground – at least not without some sort of escape plan. All the years in Australia I spent working towards gaining permanent residency, and eventually citizenship. That goal kept me going through all the difficult moments, and there were many of those. And in the end, I came to love that country more than I thought I could love a place. The distance and oceans between me and the people I left there get increasingly harder to cope with each passing month. I’ve moved enough to know that the longer you’re away from people, the more likely they are to move on. I experienced this when I left American friends behind to live abroad. I experienced this as a third-culture kid. Life just seems to work that way – you flock with the people in your immediate surroundings. And that’s truly terrifying for me, because I don’t think I have it in me to keep starting over with people. I can meet new friends of course – but I need to hold onto some of the old ones. I need those relationships to ground me, like roots to a tree.
It’s hard to watch the lives of others around me move forward in directions I am not able to go of no fault or choice of my own. And the accompanying sadness isn’t just from the loss of dreams unrealized, but the chasm that keeps growing between my path and theirs – threatening to tear me apart from those I want to remain the closest to. What if we lose all common ground? What if my absence in their milestones and the lack of my own creates a barrier that cannot be bridged? I’m missing their weddings, the birth of their children. I’m missing the small things, and the big things. I’m just missing.
I feel LONGING.
I’ve never been so painfully aware of life stages as I am right now, and as I have been the past few years. I’ve watched these changes in my friendship circles since my early twenties. But 10 years later, I never would have thought I would still be here. Waiting. Wondering. I’m sure we all experience this feeling, as each one of us has hopes and dreams yet to be fulfilled. We all have things we wonder about – things perhaps we wished had turned out differently. I have friends who have struggled and are struggling in their marriages, friends whose marriages have failed, friends who are drained from chasing kids all day and never getting a moment alone to just breathe, let alone think. Friends whose dreams and plans didn’t turn out as they’d imagined. But their stories don’t make the longing in my own heart any less real.
I think when it comes to specific things like having kids, that longing is greater for women than it is for men. I mean, yes, there is this unconscious pressure in society that women’s great gift to the world is the ability to produce life, and if you’re not doing that, you’ve somehow missed your calling and purpose on this earth. But it’s not just about a ticking clock. When I was younger, I had two dreams: sing, and have a family of my own. Ok, maybe I wanted to be a jockey too (horses, not discs) – but that was a passing phase. ; ) And yet, I’m in my thirties and the last date I went on was in 2011. And to be fair, this is mostly okay, because 1) I rarely find men that interest me on that level for some unknown reason, and 2) I really hate dating – all that deciding what to wear, wondering if he likes me, blah blah blah – can we just skip all that drama and say what we’re really thinking so we avoid the nonsense of it all. Anyway, attraction is a mystery. But, I’m left to wonder if I’m ever going to meet someone who will see me – really see me, like the deep into my soul kind of see me – someone who I see at the same time. Preferably before I’m old and decrepit and have to wear dentures.
I feel LONELINESS.
With longing, comes this feeling of not belonging – of loneliness. I feel like the older I get, the less I have in common with my girlfriends who have families. The difference in life phases leaves you feeling like you’ve missed the boat somehow. Finding a place in that new world with your friends is really weird, and sometimes tricky. I’m sure it is for both parties. And how do you tell your girlfriends who are tired, stressed out, and frazzled how you feel about it all? Can they understand? And even if they could, they probably don’t have the energy of no fault of their own to understand. I’m sure some women think my independent, childfree life is like living a holiday in Maui. I have been told many times by moms how lucky I am – how I can do whatever I want in life because I’m not tied down. How I can’t possibly be tired because I don’t have kids and I don’t know what tired feels like. These comments may be well intended, but they are also alienating. No one’s life is perfect or problem-free. Nothing is as it seems. I wish we could somehow find a way to band together. Mom friends need to be reminded that they are their own person, apart from their kids – that they still have an identity that belongs completely to them. That their dreams are still possible. And I need to be reminded that mine are too – that my life is still important and unique and purposeful even though our stories have vastly different content at the moment.
I feel like people don’t talk about this subject much. It seems there’s so many resources and books out there that focus on marriage or parenting – but what about everyone else? I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard a church talk about the struggles that come with living life alone – which is odd to me since Jesus himself never married or had kids. I guess that would have confused the whole Trinity concept if he had. Still – I know the grass isn’t always greener. I get it – being alone has its advantages. I’m definitely not looking forward to being completely sleep deprived or needed 24/7. I’m not looking forward to tantrums or lack of personal space or messes. I’m not looking forward to worrying and disciplining and guiding, especially in this crazy world we live in these days. My parent friends seriously have my respect. And I know that my mom friends wish they had more time – I know that being a mom is all-consuming. I just wish I could share in that journey, so we could deal with the highs and lows together. I may be a romantic in some sense of the word, but I don’t desire fairytales – just gritty, real, everyday life. Each phase of life has its own challenges. But I would take a day of arguing if it meant I could have a day of love. I would deal with distance if it meant I could have someone to come home to sometimes.
I feel LOVE.
I wonder if some who read these stories think the reason I’ve been unsuccessful in relationships is because I’m closed off, find difficulty in trusting, am emotionally intense – or whatever else my “flaws” may be. Although I’m a little unsure that I would deem them flaws. This wouldn’t surprise me, given the picture I show people. But the picture I show isn’t always accurate. There is more to me than I what I let others see. I have always had so much love in my heart – so much at times I feel I could burst from not giving it away. But the little things, the big things, the love given, and the love lost along the way have left me guarded. My exterior may be tough, but my heart is tender.
Of course I want to be loved. This fact doesn’t make me needy, or dependent, or weak – it just makes me human. Our inherent nature as humans is to desire love for ourselves. But beyond that, I want to give love. I want to be able to carry the person I’ll love through the moments he is too tired and too weak to carry himself. I want to listen to his deepest thoughts, his darkest fears. I want to support his dreams, just as much as I will need him to support me in mine. I want to tell him every day how extraordinary he is, how kind he is, how valued he is – because he will be all of those things. He will also be a person that drives me crazy, or makes me angrier than anyone else can – a person I will war against at times because I’m a bird who needs flight and a lion born to fight. I am fierce, but I am also small. I love this quote from The Hunger Games trilogy’s final book Mockingjay, What I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. I feel a tad sorry for the person who ends up with me because I am not easy – I have plenty of fire myself – but I also feel like he’s kinda lucky, because easy is boring. And the one upside to being passionate and intense and fiery is that I love fiercely. And we all need a little more of that in our world.
And there will come a time, you’ll see,
With no more tears,
And love will not break your heart,
But dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
Right now I’m pushing “stuff” uphill. I’m avoiding more colourful language. But you get the gist. I’m not going to have a pity party about it. Unless there’s wine – then we can have a party, with wine, without the pity. Nonetheless, this is my reality, and I have to be ok with it. But I’m allowed to acknowledge my feelings. I’m allowed to feel them intensely at times. I’m allowed to feel weighed down by that intensity. My sensitivity to feel so deeply, as difficult as it is, is also a gift. It’s like my own private superpower. The trick is learning to harness that energy and insight so it’s instrumental for good. So it touches people. So it changes lives. I’ve acknowledged my feelings, but what do I do with them now? What would I tell you if you had those same feelings?
Lost. Plant your feet. Attempt home. Maybe in the process, your presence will help someone else not feel so lost in their own journey.
Loss. Trust that not all loss is endless. That not all good things end. That beginnings are sometimes disguised as endings.
Longing. Hope for the best. And if aging becomes a factor, avoid dentures at all costs. (Kidding. Sort of.)
Loneliness. Reach out. Build bridges. Fight for your relationships. And hold on to others who might need you in their life even when you don’t know it.
Love. Love others. Love yourself. Just love. Sure, that love might not give you the same warm, fuzzy feelings romantic relationships evoke, but love is love. And there’s a shortage of that around. And truthfully, love may start with feelings, but it ends with a choice. So choose to love, as best and as big as you can.
I am navigating unchartered waters. I am trying to find my way through this storm. I know that there is beauty after the storm.
One thing I know about myself though:
I might have great failures. But I also have great comebacks.
And that makes for a very interesting story in the end.