This summer held some big moments for me. Traditionally, I am opposed to summer, at least, I am opposed to summer in the south. It’s hot, sticky, miserable and this year seems to bring with it a plague of ants. I sequester myself inside for survival and then become restless because I really need to be outside more. I never expect much of summer, and so I’m seldom disappointed (there’s a lesson there as well, but I’m not unpacking it today.)
This summer came with its own boatload of challenges, from home to work. The funding crisis at the library wound over and around and through everything else as the juvenile posturing of our local governments meant the public library might be forced to close. Everyone handles stress in different ways, for me, I struggled, floundered and sank. The library situation was filled with emotional triggers relating back to the trauma and abuse I experienced in the years previously. I’ll just give a blanket apology right here to anyone who had to deal with me this summer: I was not my best, nor did I always process my very complex emotional stew in the healthiest way. I hate the term “hot mess”, because I believe people do complicated and confusing things, but they aren’t “a mess.” However, it’s possible the shoe fits in my case, at least in regards to this summer.
By the time our annual trip to the beach rolled around, I was a tangled ball of anxiety, grief and rage. Seriously, sometimes, I could barely stand myself. And then everything changed.
I honestly don’t know how else to describe what happened over the week. I didn’t conciously do anything beyond make the decision that I just couldn’t carry all that emotional shit even one step further as I sank to the sand. I was exhausted of “trying to be better.” Everything that current events dredged up inside me was a result of years of bad feelings which I stuffed and stuffed and stuffed but never dealt with. Over the past eighteen months, I’ve intellectually unpacked a lot, but emotionally, that baggage was still hiding out in the dark places of my soul. Waiting.
You know, there was this time, after my reconstruction surgery, when I developed an abcess under the incision. I didn’t know it was there; it never bothered me or hurt, but it sat there under the skin, long after the incision was well into healing. Until one day I brushed against the spot just the right way, and everything that had been hiding and building up underneath finally erupted. It was disgusting, and strangely fascinating. Afterwards, I felt a relief I didn’t know I needed. I have a weird little puckered scar where that abcess was, but it’s barely noticeable now, decades later.
Basically that was me on the beach, seemingly healthy but barely holding in all the junk underneath. Yet somehow, the hours of sitting, staring, reading, crying, thinking and loving my worn-out self on that beach unloaded all the toxic garbage I’d been carrying in my soul. Bit by bit, the poison in my soul drained away, and I was scoured clean, held and washed in wind and waves, emptied out to be filled again with light and clean, fresh air. I began to breath again, slowly, deeply, and to see my true, beautiful self against the backdrop of all the truly awful things I’ve believed about myself, been told about myself by people I trusted, and to realize that backdrop for what it is: bullshit. A bullshit picture, a toxic narrative, a lie, leaking its poison into me drop by drop even long after I stopped listening to the voices telling the lies.
I didn’t go away intending to deal with my emotional baggage, but sometimes the Universe puts you in the perfect place at the perfect time and says, “Love, this is the place. We are dealing with this. You might want to hold on.” I spent most of the daylight hours under the sky in the water and sand. I slept and slept (and slept) and ate and drank wine and good whiskey and loved my family and that Spirit of Love carried me over and through each rotting feeling and left them for the water to wash away. I can’t explain it any better than that.
One week changed everything, but the Universe wasn’t done with me yet. She had another surprise in store.
Since early this year, we’ve been looking for a different place to live. When we left church, we left quickly and entirely, and part of leaving was moving out of a property the church owned. Although we’d been given generous time to find a new place, we wanted the cut to be quick and clean. We found a big, lovely, isolated place within days and moved less than two weeks later. While there was a lot to love about that house, it only ever felt like a space holder to me: the right house at the right time but not a staying place.
But I’d made another decision while sitting in the sand, I was done looking for now, done with discontent and waiting. I can’t force something that isn’t meant to be and clearly, this was not our time to move. I made peace with the idea. I was ready to make my house my home until life shifted again. However, just a few days after returning I couldn’t resist one last look at Zillow, and there she was…our house. I never doubted it from the first moment, she had everything we needed wrapped up in sunshine yellow with a red front door. I found her on Thursday, walked through her on Friday, took my family on Saturday and put the first moving box in her Monday morning. We’d sleep there for the first time Friday night. One week after stepping through the front door for the first time.
Since I began practicing intentional living, aka minimalism, I’ve often said my goal is to be able pack and move in days. I’ve since proven I can, but I’m not sure I recommend it. What I know for certain is when a thing is right, the Universe throws all her doors wide, wide and then ignites a rocket booster. She does not play games with me. I’m always grateful in retrospect, but in the moment it all feels like being caught on the front edge of a huge and crashing wave, precarious and terrifying, utterly exhilerating and filled with the deepest most desperate prayers.
It’s been one month since we loaded up the cars in the early light of the morning and pulled out of a driveway where we no longer live for some long anticipated breathing space. I couldn’t have imagined or dared hope for whatever healing magic happened in my soul that week. I only know it did, and I am grateful. I couldnt have imagined or dared ask for the explosion of transition that would happen to us in one week’s time almost immediately upon returning. I only know it did, and I am grateful for this as well.
My understanding of god and fate and faith and humanity and Love and light and healing have all eluded firm definitions and understanding in my mind and my heart for some time now, but I know the Divine when I experience it, and lately I am swimming in Her, drenched and overwhelmed and so, so filled with joy that my soul often expresses herself with tears and a lump in the throat, which seems damn near perfect if you ask me.
Traditionally, I am not a fan of summer, but I think I’ll make an exception for this one.