Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose.
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins
When I was a teen I wrote this list of things I wanted to do in my life, it even had a timeline. I think it was for a school project, but I’m not 100% on that. But I remember, vividly, writing it on the yellow legal pad.
I was going to go to college for history, backpack across Europe, and then decide to teach or go to law school, and start writing my book – because by then I would have lived enough to have something to write about.
Now, twice a lifetime later, I wonder where that list went. More amusingly, I look back and see what I did, and didn’t, accomplish form that list and appreciate my sweet 16 year old self for her naïveté & hope.
I have never left the continental United States, unless you count some very nauseous whale watching off the New England coast. My Ehlers-Danlos riddled body only managed small sections of the Appalachian Trail. And I never did finish an undergraduate in anything besides being sick, though, I’ve earned an honorary doctorate in medicine thanks to that according to my GP.
Then there’s the writing thing.
I wrote most of that book, and on time too. Then I went in to remission, and set it aside like my body did disease, and moved forward, chasing the dream that had haunted me since I was a teen, creating a business with every ounce of my being. Where I succeeded, and failed, disappointed people, and changed people’s lives – and bodies – with my deep passion for happiness and the certainty that there is a silver lining to every situation.
During the years that I ran & built Felicitea full time, checking in weeks of work with hours in the triple digits, I did some pretty awesome things. I also failed a lot. But on the whole, I think I did the world more good then bad, and I am deeply proud of the work I did. I was really good at being a healer with my hands, an extension of my deep desire to bring comfort to my patients & customers, whether that comfort came in the form of tea or massage.
Until I burned my body out. Then within a year I lost use of my arms & got diagnosed with allergies that make tea blending impossible. Today, two years ago, I had a physical because I hadn’t been to the doctor in so long I needed one – what felt like a major accomplishment – and ended up being the front slide into a tailspin of pain, misery, and depression so deep that it would shatter not only my business & career, but many of my relationships, my sense of self, and put my life at great risk.
I look back at the last two years and I am shocked to be writing these words.
Of course, had you asked seven years ago, I don’t know what I would have said, as I was marrying the man who would later become my ex-husband. Talk about a quagmire of wrongs & rights; the more distance I gain from my divorce, the less certain I am what happened. The only thing I do know for sure is I once loved a man, and we married, and then something happened, and then we weren’t in love anymore, then we weren’t married anymore.
My 24 year old self would be as shocked at these words as my 16 year old self might be at the dreams that never came true. I had no conception of the future to come.
Today, at 31, I don’t pretend to know. I plan, and prep, and say “I love you” when I feel it because I really don’t know what tomorrow brings. In the six and a half years I’ve been at home here in Charlotte, my life has shifted dramatically over time, and I know that it can again. I play thoughts out in my head, considering my health, my life, my writing and how to make it all fit together – if it can.
My health is worse, my heart is stronger, my hope is tempered.
I am loved and in love and that is all very complicated, in ways I would really prefer it not to be. My depression is much better then it’s been in years, my anxiety lower, but it sits there, waiting, for it’s chance. I felt it tonight, creeping in the back of mind as I drove home from the fifth grocery store, whispering risks and nonsense in my head, old paths to drown out fear and pain, ways to avoid dealing with real, complicated emotions I feel in my day-to-day life. The therapy, the drugs, they all help keep the deep complexity of human emotion manageable but that doesn’t stop the monster from wanting to bury it beneath a pile of mistakes and false starts.
I have lost loves, friends, family, and myself along this very winding path.
Yet, there are a few constants, and they make me think.
I am, now, a writer, in my way. I am still a healer, though now with words & quiet listening rather then my hands. Pieces of my soul still ring true & in tune with others, something that seems it will never change, despite all time, distance & relation. I am still unsynced from people who I wish could show me love, but I know can not, just as cows can not jump over the moon.
I do not feel lost. But I am most certainly not found.
I feel like a grownup now: no longer a child lost in the body of an adult, fearing I will be found out as an imposter. I watch childish thoughts flicker through my mind, and grasp the ones full of love, playfulness and joy, and try to let pass the ones of fear, worry, and downright foolishness. I count it among my blessings that I can tell the difference now.
I feel, mostly, peace and not fear. I am waiting. But I do not know for what.
I feel as if I have reached the bottom of that page, a list of life tasks to do, complete or achieve and having done them – or not – i have reached the end, and should flip to a new sheet. But I haven’t a clue what to write there, and looking back, it seems foolish to try.
So I wait.
And I wonder, what am I waiting for?