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Archive for July, 2010

on a lonely shore

Thank you to everyone who commented or tweeted or messaged me your good wishes and encouragement. I’ve been keeping my head down and trying to follow the advice of that WWII poster while coming slightly unglued at the seams nonetheless. The short of it is, my husband was laid off, so we’re scrambling to get one or both of us employed, and my son has some medical conditions that fortunately aren’t horrific but will require a long road of daily management. So, worry and relief in various measures vie for position on the scales of my frontal cortex, keeping me awake nights and running the daytime gauntlet in efficiency mode. That is to say, no room for psychological processing, rich as the factory floor could be with all the fatty trimmings. Though I suppose this is where I come to examine my emotional offal, and now that I’m here I may as well see what the last few weeks have netted:

When I’m not worrying that the sky is falling, I’m neurotically ping-ponging back and forth between the idea that human consciousness is nothing more than a weird, electro-chemical blip in an otherwise meaningless universe, and the idea that I personally was put here to learn or accomplish something specific, under the guidance of a deity or omnipotent whatsit. The two ideas could not be more oppositional than the Senate floor, yet they both occupy legitimate space in my inner narrative, taking turns fillibustering me into philosophical paralysis and putting tacks on my seat.

Because the idea of being a mere fluke in meaningless cosmic chaos is too dismal to contemplate right now, I’m currently more inclined to believe that I have a purpose. And given how many challenges, losses and disappointments I’ve experienced in recent months, I’m beginning to wonder if that purpose is to learn… something embarrassingly simple, actually. That life is hard, and so what? It doesn’t entitle one to mope or pout or be crabby at one’s family, or to navel-gaze excessively, or cease functioning in general.

It may strike you as a somewhat sad bafflement that a person is having this epiphany in her late 30’s. But then, I think I’m always having this epiphany, just in different shades of cluefulness and about various facets of my life. Right now, it’s mostly about letting go of self-indulgence and the idea that my suffering is noble or even interesting. I have a life I’ve chosen and that I want to love. I have children who need me to model strength and perseverance and compassion and optimism and joy, rather than the glum face of just getting by. I have a husband who deserves my partnership in every aspect of our marriage. I have parents who have given me boundless love and support my whole life, and their faith in me should count for something.

But somewhere in the worry and obsession over my son’s medical issues, I let go of my lifeline to life itself, surrendering to fear. Fear of what was wrong with him. Fear of losing him. Fear of losing other people I love. Fear of what took the people I did lose, what they lost of themselves, what we all eventually will lose. I know I need to re-engage with the world and with my life. I can see where I need to be, and it seems just a simple matter, getting there, yet feels more like swimming against a strong current, the shore receding with every stroke.

But the piece of it is, as my old therapist used to say, that every stroke has its value, measurable or not, and the point is to keep swimming. While the known shore may be lost to me now, a new one awaits. And frankly, the old one sucked anyway.

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