"My fingers feel as if they are bleeding, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel so much just hoping and praying to God that there is even a drop left soaked into the tin."
That was my response when anyone would ask how I was doing last fall. And not that many asked because I had almost literally, entirely cut myself off from most of the world. I would peek through the key hole to see the outside just long enough to make sure that life and humanity were going on in my absence.
The phone would ring and I wouldn't answer it. I had literally thousands of emails I hadn't returned. I would open my laptop, see the messages, the emails, the notifications and my breath would get short, my heart started to hurt, and so I closed it for another day. I wasn't ready.
I wasn't anywhere near ready.
Sometimes even my mom would call. No matter what was going on, I answer her call. Or she is the call I make when hell is swirling around me ready to sweep me up in it's power and destruction. She is my life line and last fall was the first time in my life that I remember I looked at the screen and couldn't do it. She would see through me, or want to care for me and I couldn't do even that.
It wasn't even that I was empty, which I was.
It's not even that I was lost, which I was. Terribly terribly lost. Not like, "Oh I took a wrong turn, I can correct myself." Or, "I've been in these woods before, I can figure this out." It felt more like someone stuck me in a country I had never visited with people who didn't speak my language and I somehow had to figure out how to eat and live and create a new life in a new world that was overwhelming strange to me.
And the thing is, I couldn't even articulate my confusion or exhaustion or isolation to the people around me. I wasn't proactive in my break down. "Oh hey, I've been going full force these last few years, and I think I'm gonna need a break. I'm starting to melt down and simple tasks like making dinner or having drinks with you is causing me to have an anxiety attack. I don't have anything to give right now, could you please be patient with me as I figure myself out again?" Oh no. I just left my relationships. My dear friendships that mean the world to me. The one's I have spent years cultivating and being present in and investing in. I have some of the worlds most ridiculously amazing people in my life that I am so honored to call my tribe. My people. My friends. My family.
And I just left them. I didn't answer their calls. I couldn't be me for them. So I hid. Under my covers. Partly in my work. A lot in my children. And I quilted. Slow work, but it's all I could handle after the frenzy in which I normally live my life. I didn't have words to describe it. I didn't have the follow through to actually know what was going on. I simply knew I was tired. I couldn't say yes. To anyone. For anything. I was barren.
Looking back it's interesting to me, because I wasn't taking care of myself in this reprieve. This wasn't a planned sabbatical or time off or reinvention of myself. All of my baggage and false expectations, and deeply rooted identity issues physically wouldn't let me continue. The words couldn't come. The feelings weren't there. I couldn't move forward and continuing on as I was wasn't possible anymore. My only choice was to face the demons of my past, the ghosts I cling to and the monsters under my bed. (Seriously one of my favorite songs ever). I don't want to do this, and somehow at the same time I am more than ready to make peace with them, make amends, let them go, throw them a party, I don't know. They exhaust me. But more than anything, they are keeping me from my future.
For those of you who might not have lots of baggage, and you look at those of us who are mostly dark and isolated on the inside, I am jealous of your bright life. A life that isn't haunted by ghosts and demons and monsters. I haven't met any of you yet, you're kind of like a unicorn to me, but in my mind, there are many of you.
To my people, I am sorry I am not all I want to be for you. I am sorry for shutting you out. I am sorry for not being there in your times of need. For joy and sorrow. For love and for struggle. Part of my identity is being able to be there for you, so that has shaken up a few things for me. You all are my heart and light and guides to the north star. I am so incredibly thankful for you, and I long to return to a depth and conversation where we are in it together. (And I get I probably shouldn't apologize, but I do. All the time. I am working on other dark horses, so this one stays for now. We'll deal with my need to apologize for living later.)
To those who read these words in this little part of the online world, I used to try to craft blogs that would sound good, or promote well, or could be inspiring enough to be shared around the world. That's a lot of pressure. Good grief. So much so that I couldn't even do it but attempt to try once every couple months. You want to know why that's total crap? Because I can't please everyone, and I have a severe need to, which I hate by the way. But also, it stops becoming my truth because your opinion of me sensors my expression of my own life and heart and experiences and art. I can't do that anymore. This space is now where I write raw and not for the intended purpose to be discovered or shared. This is now simply a place where we do honest living together.
Which was what it was originally intended to be.
I remember reading "Nice girls don't change the world" by Lynne Hybels years ago. In it she said something along the lines of, "I just stopped. I sat at my window and just stared out to the street for days. I wasn't praying or reading or meditating. I was empty and I simply sat." That makes sense to me in a very profound way now. When you have been so full and information bombards you and your past catches up to you and there are so many tangles that you have made out of your life, sometimes you simply need to sit. In silence. Because sometimes there aren't words for prayer. It is the slow seeping out of all the noise that needs to happen first.
To simply be. To sit. in the empty and respect it.
if you feel that way, trust me, you are not alone. Even if you want to be, or you feel lonely or isolated, I understand some of those feelings. I get it.
We are in it together.