Here's something I wanted to put out there publicly. I'm not sure why. Maybe for my own process of changing. Maybe for somebody else who's feeling alone right now. This is a long post, with a lot more to come. I'm not sure when those other pieces will come. But for now, here's part 1.
Today, as I stretched after my kickboxing aerobics class, I felt good. I felt strong. I felt hopeful. I felt confident. I felt at peace with myself. Tears came to my eyes because I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve felt those things. I’ve been taking notes here and there over the last year or so, trying to put into words what I was feeling, in the hopes that naming and knowing what was wrong would give me some direction in how to put it right. And now, now that I can see things coming back into focus, and can feel my burdens being lifted, I’m ready to share some of this story here. It is a story of anger, desperation, sorrow, and hopelessness, but also of will, and support, and most importantly, of grace.
Just for some structure, I’ll give this story a starting point of about a year ago. We had recently moved to Massachusetts and my parents and grandfather came to visit us. I was looking forward to some help with the kids (since two was a lot more overwhelming than one) and I couldn’t wait to see my Grandpa’s excitement at exploring the history of Boston and Concord. Unfortunately, Grandpa didn’t feel very well, and after one beautiful day with him, he entered the hospital.
The next month was filled with ups and downs. Grandpa had surgery for a hernia and seemed to be almost back to normal, but there was a quick turn around and he ended up back in the hospital. My dear mother just had to take it one day at a time, and she and my dad managed to fit in fun and babysitting for us while still spending a lot of time with Grandpa and managing his care. It was during this visit, that I first noticed feelings of anger. I was angry that something had spoiled this grand trip I had envisioned. Then I was angry at myself for having anything but positive thoughts towards my sick Grandpa and my overwhelmed mom. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty even-keeled person, so feeling angry just shocked me, and I’m sad to say that I was less than thoughtful towards my family during a time when they really could have used some support.
After a month of battling, my Grandpa passed away here in Massachusetts, far from his loving brother and sons and grandchildren. I was filled with sadness- for my mom who had very suddenly lost her father in a foreign place, for my uncles who didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, for my own loss, and for the fact that I had harbored resentment in those final days.
I flew to Utah with Levi for the funeral and mourned with my family. When I came home, I expected for things to return to normal, to be able to feel patient and loving again, as I had after my Grandma died. And to a certain extent, they did. We got wrapped up in exploring our new home and library, and I found a lot of joy in my giggly baby boy who was just so good. Then came the holidays and all the attendant magic and happiness. But something nagging still just didn’t feel right, and I met January with a lingering feeling of inadequacy and bewilderment about what to do next.
After returning from Christmas in Texas, we got our first big Boston snow. We played in it and marveled at how deep and white it was. And then it snowed again, with even more snow. How fun! And then it snowed again and again and again. The freezing temperatures (around 0* for a long long time) kept the snow around and the plows didn’t have anywhere to put it. Entire days were lost in dull grayness when the sun didn’t rise till 9, and set at 4, and stayed behind the clouds all day. And we were stuck in our apartment. You’d have to have superpowers not to get depressed and lonely in a winter like that one.
Thankfully, my friend Claire suggested we start Joy School which gave some much needed structure to the kids’ week and gave me something to fill my time. I loved the other women and children who participated, and Anna did too, making her very first real friends. Anna was happy. Levi was still happy and becoming funnier and snugglier by the day. Sam was in the midst of very promising MBA applications and interviews. I was increasingly involved at church and meeting some incredible and inspiring women. So why, with all this good news, did I feel like I didn’t have any friends, like I didn’t have any use or purpose, like I was trapped, and like I was losing myself?
In the midst of all this, a book that had been on my to-read shelf for several months came in at the library. What I was expecting was an interesting memoir, but what I got instead, were the very first insights to answering my questions, and a whole lot more to be angry about.