I’ve been away from the page.
I’d love to say it was because I was in the places of my heart, like the Grand Canyon or the magnificent mountain territory of Wyoming, or on a long highway under the wild Montana skies.
Nope. Those away destinations remain in my shoebox full of dreams called a “bucket list.”
I’ve been away from the page because inner nemeses I haven’t seen or felt in my life in a long, long time sideswiped me. They showed up unannounced, and overstayed their unwelcome.
They skulked around in my neck of the woods, stole my sense of things, and buried it in the manure pile behind the barn.
And the biggest mistake I made was trying to deal with these buggers all on my own. I kept my mouth shut and my head down and I got sideswiped, and all I did for a long while was focus on the obstacles in my life instead of the magic.
I can only describe my recent away by falling back to writings of how I felt about 20 months ago. There’s no sense trying to reinvent the wheel.
In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Bruce Springsteen said, “I have a metaphor [for life.] ‘I say, ‘You’re in a car. Your new selves can get in, but your old selves can’t get out.
‘You can bring new vision and guidance into your life, but you can’t lose or forget who you’ve been or what you’ve seen.’”
Springsteen is right on the mark.
A well-meaning friend said I was a “hurdler.” I wasn’t sure what she meant by that. Am I the type who meets life’s challenges with fortitude, or am I the poor sap who, despite best efforts, constantly is faced with challenging obstacles?
Hmmm. Maybe I’m both. Recently, though, I felt like the latter.
I was wearing that long, flowing black cape again. It’s at least two city blocks long and it was there all the time—double-knotted around my neck and complete with arm sleeves that prevented it from being mislaid.
My cape was there with me in the shower, it covered my pajamas at night, and lay around my feet at the kitchen table each morning during breakfast.
Even when I was driving in my car, my cape followed behind me—billowing in the wind. And as soon as I slowed down, it snapped to a stop and fell in around me.
I know this black cape to be one of the many faces of grief and regret. And as much as I wanted to rip it off, soak it in gasoline, and burn it, I still have much to learn from this unexpected bounty hunter.
Self-care is something I thought I knew about. I don’t use white sugar or salt, nor for the most part do I eat processed or fast foods. I have good sleep habits and I wear sunscreen.
But there is so much more to self-care that I still have yet to learn—like slowing down in life and giving myself more attention than the me, who is the caregiver of others, thinks I should.
Self-care also is asking for help, seeing a counsellor, or calling a friend when I’m lonely or sad. Self-care is about stopping everything I’m doing for everyone else and sitting down and taking off my mask and having a good cry.
Self-care is clearly about giving up control and allowing life to teach me what I need to learn. This unfolding Universe is showing me that over and over again.
I wonder why it is that those of us dealing with loss put ourselves on the backburner when we need help and recovery from grief.
To continue to recover from loss shouldn’t be any different or delayed than getting a car windshield repaired after a rock splits it.
You need that car to get you where you need to go—the same as you need your mind and your body and your spirit to get you where you need to go.
I was mouth shut, head down.
And then someone—a perspective-changer, of sorts—with a keen and wise sense of things asked me how I’ve been feeling lately.
Every story starts with that first word, maybe three.
I’ve been away.
I’ve been away from the page.