“I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”
― Anne Lamott
The other night I woke around 2 a.m., sweat dripping down my back and chest, which I speculate is due to fluctuating hormones as the temperature in my yurt is rather cool in the middle of the night.
I woke from a dream. I was surrounded by my childhood friends and their husbands of years and there I stood, completely encircled yet utterly alone. I lay there in the pitch black of night ruminating on the length of time each of them had been with their spouses and comparing my constant singleness with their holy matrimony. Then it came, pangs of envy crept up as the self inflicted judgments I’d been stuffing down with affirmative pleasantries surfaced.
How am I still single? What is so wrong with me that no one ever wants to stay? Why do I keep attracting men who don’t really want me?
Another recent relational “ending” has my childhood abandonment issues fiery hot and the sadness that had been empaling my heart for the last few days finally starting to loosen and bubble to the surface. The old and deeply engrained beliefs flashed in front of my face in the dark of the night.
They all leave. Every one of them always leaves.
This belief, deeply buried in the pits of my subconscious mind, has been on repeat since I was a child and has been the driver in most of my relationship choices. My father, although physically present until my teens when he wasn’t gallivanting around with mistresses or spending his time at the local bar numbing his own emptiness with Bud Light or Vodka, emotionally and mentally never really was. This taught me all I was worth was emotionally disconnected men. Or men who loved other women. Or men who loved other shiny objects more. Or men who liked to energetically steal everything from me until I was frail and weak and lying on the floor as they finally walked away. Or, Or, Or….
At one week shy of thirty-nine, this storyline is getting really old. However, the depths of it’s roots is only now obvious to me.
And it’s accompanied by silence.
Silence, can be mighty painful. But so can sitting in a room full of people.
A conversation I had with my mom right before I moved comes to mind as she shared the worries of my family with me. “Honey, we think it’s great. The only thing we are just a little worried about is how isolated you will be.” I listened as she shared her concerns and thought about the irony of what she was saying. If only she knew just how alone I’ve felt in a room full of all of them.
And I am reminded, combating aloneness, is an inside job.
I’ve been in enough settled relationships to know that the void is full only until it no longer is and the unhappiness and abandonment we are often running from eventually starts to resurface.
At some point I fell back to sleep and woke later feeling a bit better. Another day, I think as Baker slowly inches his way towards me from the foot of the bed. I’ve always been a morning optimistic. A new day means a chance to get it right. My sadness doesn’t creep in until the sun sets and I reflect back on the days failed promises to myself. This is mostly due to overcommitting and thinking I can do more then I can in a day. Something I am working on.
Baker and I both eagerly escape the clutches of the warm comforter and begin our morning routine. I’ll never know who is more excited about the break of a new day, Baker for his breakfast or me for my coffee and a chance to start over.
After Baker’s belly is full and my coffee is pressed, I stand staring out my back french doors at the vastness that is now my backyard.
Sometimes being alone hurts I think and other times it doesn’t. It’s that simple. That’s the ambiguity of life. The conundrum. And often it can fluctuate throughout the day.
The lyrics from a song. The change of the wind bringing a reminiscent smell of longing. A quick wondering of thoughts wondering what they are doing right now. A deep missing of someone long gone.
It can creep in and twist the emotional dial just a bit until your loneliness is present once again.
Sometimes I relish in the silence and other times it’s as if someone is stabbing tiny needles into my skin over and over and I would do just about anything to crawl out of it and not have to be alone with myself for one more minute.
Other times I imagine what the inside of my loneliness looks like. Slices of Swiss cheese. Full of many holes desperate to be filled.
There are times when the idea of having to fill all those holes myself seems daunting when it feels so much easier to stuff them full of insignificant and meaninglessness like I use to. The downside of growth is it’s just so hard to go back when you now know better.
So I don’t stuff and I just sit. I sit knowing it will rise up and out and pass, often, like a painful kidney stone. But pass it will and once it does it’s gone. And that hole, that hole is somehow magically filled. With what I still don’t quite fully understand but I think it’s called God’s Grace and it looks a little something like peace.
Peace and love and grace.
And sometimes things like sugar and spice and all things nice.
And it’s new to me, God’s Grace and peace, but I like it. I like it better then the suffering and the stuffing of meaninglessness.
I like it so I don’t stuff anymore.
Instead, I wait.
For the peace and the love and the grace.
I just wait and stare out my french doors and sip my coffee.