Another Thursday evening, in the kitchen, shabby dinner, homework tending. This new life is so different from a year ago when all my days were mine, at least for a few hours. Just this week I passed a year since coming off of steroids, just over a year since the first 6 month follow up. I found myself really stressing last week and feeling all kinds of uneasy and will, so much so that I contacted my doctor and asked for an MRI (preliminary reports are that I’m fine). I’m not due again until July, but there is something about the comfort of the 6 month check points that I needed to keep me going. Talking about my anxiety helped ease it and that helped me remember that I had been told stress, fatigue, dehydration, poor diet, lack of exercise…all these things could lead to me experiencing symptoms again. It’s true. While a year ago I couldn’t go 36 hours without exercise before I started getting weepy and depressed, now I find I can go about 4 days.
I’m working too. Crazy hours and too many of them. While I imagined the smart thing to do when I went back to work would be to find something part time and close to home, I knew it wouldn’t pay the bills. And then there was this calling thing that urged me to do something else, something challenging, something rewarding, something that would help restore my soul-self. That urging led to something bigger than I thought about and yet it was the right thing. Now when I look back on how my life was 2 1/2 years ago I know, with some sense of conviction that I’m moving into a space that is more me-shaped, more fitted and fitting. I’m learning, growing, exploring. At the end of a work day I can feel the tired that comes from doing good work rather than the tired that comes from wallowing in the grief pool, struggling to keep treading the murky waters of pain and disappointment.
It is a new place. Hopefulness in the immediate future is a shift in the program that means I won’t have so many nights with long hours and little sleep, fewer hours away from the boys who miss me so very much that they ask for every detail of my job just to know what it is that mom does now. And a shift that brings me back into my residential community in a new role.
I am learning that time by itself does not forgiveness bring, especially when time occupies a place of hurt. Time, distance and occupation make a difference in healing the hurts. It’s the positive distraction that enables the mind to let go of the pain, piece by peace–the use of the skills, the learning of new things, the growth of new neural pathways. My mentor had told me that I would need something to move on to in order to let go of the past, and I find that is true. If the mind, or the heart, doesn’t have something to go to it will stay stuck in the old place, the place of last memory. I’m seeing it in others who grieve. There must be something to move toward in order to write the new future story, even if the new future story is only the next 24 hours. Holding on to the past does happen for a while in the grief process, but eventually the past does erode and pieces of it begin to slip away, wash away with the tears, and blow away when the fresh wind comes. Open the windows and doors, I say! Step outside and walk into the wind.
Today is Australia Day. The anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers /colonists on January 26, 1778. Not all who came were prisoners. Many came because the griefs of the old world were too much to keep bearing. They sought the red soil and fresh winds of the Great Southern Land. They sought, with hope, a new life in a new place that fit their hopes and dreams.