I fell asleep on the couch yesterday in the late afternoon listening to an interview with Anne Lamott on C-SPAN. If that doesn't say mid-life, I don't know what does.
Just before I dozed off, I nodded in agreement as she talked about how it often takes pain in our lives to move us to change. It's not the first time I've heard that. It's so uncomfortably and sadly true. I once had a friend tell me when I was in a transition period in my life that it's really only how much we want to endure the discomfort before we give ourselves permission to give in and make change. Some of us despise change so much and the feel of it crawling in our skin that we say, "Enough!" pretty quickly, perhaps missing an opportunity to explore what's below that itchy, crawly feeling. Or maybe, wise to know when enough is enough and allowing room for something different to enter much sooner. Me, on the other hand, I'm a lingerer in misery. I want to go to the depths of my pain, look at the stories that unfold beneath and see what they have to tell me and teach me. But this last time around, something a little different happened. I fell completely into my pain, every hurt, every bruise, every single tear of it like I have never imagined I would. I let it wound me like I've never been wounded and I let it sting for what seemed like forever. In a way it seemed I wanted it that way, to feel, to feel anything even if it was this disappointment, this sorrow, this depth of sadness I had never known. Because the beauty of that darkness is that it eventually leads to light. Anne talked about twilight and how there is twilight just before the evening ends but also just before the sun rises. We get to experience and interpret the same phenomenon in two different ways but it's essentially this beautiful moment of transition from one thing to another, ripe with hope and possibility no matter which end you meet it at.
After losing my father, my job, my friends, my life, what I thought was my entire identity I kept going, determined to come out of it alive and kicking, swinging at it with all I had despite every single misstep and setback and rejection. I second-guessed myself. I lost hope. I felt defeated. I thought I had lost myself. I mourned the good life I had and secretly daydreamed about dropping out of my current life's existence and making a fresh start as a brave stranger perhaps in a foreign land. There were days I shut the blinds on the world quite literally maybe hoping to make time stop, but really knowing change was there waiting on the other side when I was ready.
It's been percolating in my mind a lot lately as I go about my day, and oh, how my days look so different now. I am still in transition, not as solid and stable as I would like to be, but I am moving, I am becoming a vehicle for change, I am becoming change. I dipped my toes in and it wasn't half bad so I waded in a little deeper. Most days, I am really quite floored at how I've gotten to where I am today. There were so many days before when I didn't trust, I didn't believe that I would make it. Everything coming back to me was exactly what I was sending out, negative, dark, bleak, sad, wrong for me. It was like this existential boomerang. But what a beautiful boomerang because life really does keep sending you the shit you need to see until it quite literally comes so close to your face you can't miss it. I keep making some dumb mistakes because sometimes, "the heart wants what the heart wants," but I can forgive myself these faults and flaws because that is me, the true me, the part that was always there and that will always be. And I keep going, but now just with the wisdom of what the darkness taught me and there isn't a day when I don't hold both the dark and the light up to one another and smile for what it has brought me.