No phone, no Internet, no television. No friends to stop by. No family to warm the endless days. No one to talk to but myself. No distractions but the sun to indicate it was day and the moon to remind me the sun is still shining, even when I can’t see it. That’s how I spent the last two months of 2014.
I hated it. I felt like life backed me into a corner and was squaring me off against my worst nightmare…myself. I was being forced to turn and face my shadow. That thing that is ever following me around but never sees the light of day.
I don’t like shadows and I certainly didn’t like my own. Shadows distort the shape of objects standing in light. They show us that something is there but only hint at the true shape and depth of the object it’s connected to.
And so my mind was desperate for the company of others. Because when I am around others I can’t help but take care of them, to serve their needs. And when I’m taking care of others, I don’t have to think about myself.
I hate thinking about myself. I work so hard to make myself into a package the world is willing to accept. The last thing I wanted was to do was dwell on the shapeless blob that I felt like.
We don’t always get what we want in life but sometimes we get what we need. Especially when we aren’t strong enough to know what we need for ourselves.
I had spent my life feeling guilty for doing what comes natural: thinking for myself. How will other people think of me? How will my words affect other people? How will my chaotic emotions toss people around? How do I control feelings I don’t understand? How do I know which feelings are mine and which are a product of the environment I am in? On and on my thoughts have always swirled. And now I was left to ask myself those very questions I was desperate for Someone to answer for me.
I raged at the world for leaving me alone to ask questions about people who I felt didn’t care enough to be around me when I was at my weakest. I raged at those closest to me for not understanding. I raged at myself for everything. I raged.
Since my breakdown, bottling up the emotions doesn’t work like it used to. I start doing crazy things that I can’t control. I say things I never want to say. I hurt people with too sharp words and below the belt reactions that are over before I ever realize I did them. I affect people in a way I don’t like. So I channeled my rage into work.
I took the shack I had been imprisoned in and threw my heart and soul into making it a home. I painted. I cleaned. I organized. I arranged. I rearranged. I created. I decorated. I rearranged some more. I put myself into my work and channeled the rage into something positive and worthwhile.
As my body worked on the house and worked off the rage I suppressed for thirty years, my mind was free to wander where it wanted.
I was free to question things I never had time to think about. I was free to think about things I needed to think about. I was free to be who I needed to be, exactly when I needed to be, and do exactly what I needed to without concern for harming another person. I was free to rest my weary body, mend my broken spirit, and finally understand the fire in my soul.
But just like every story that has ever been told, when freedom is granted – time and money seek to strip it away.
While I toil away in my own little world, desperately trying to put the pieces of my puzzle back together, desperate to put the pieces of my life back together, a whole different world is going on with little concern to my epic struggles.
Rent still needs paid. Utilities. Food. All of these things the outside world demands to be taken care of. Thankfully I have a loving husband who works to his best capabilities to give me what I need. But even still that isn’t enough.
I need time and space to reorder my thoughts, understand my feelings, revaluate my processes, and make sure I stay alive to get the job done.
But time and space cost money. And money means suffering. While I am suffering to figure myself out for the sake of myself and the ones I love, they are suffering as well.
To accommodate my need for solitude, they are living with another family who has generously opened their home to help a family going through a rough time. They are having to live away from the comforts of a house filled with my love and warmth.
They are having to live without me attending to their every wish and desire. They are having to live without me making sure they know I love them every second of every minute of every day. They are having to live in a house without their mother to make it feel like home.
And that is just what my family is struggling with. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for the family choosing to take care of mine while I cannot. While I cannot fathom the weight of struggles they carry, I appreciate the effort and the concern they show while I am unable to handle my own responsibilities. I appreciate them carrying the weight of my burden that is too heavy for my puzzled mind.
It is a struggle for me knowing that I am the cause of so much suffering. I very easily fall into the “Ifs”.
If I had not suffered a breakdown, my family would still be together, two families would not be suffering for my sake. If I were a stronger person, I would not have had a breakdown. If I were a better person, I would feel better quicker. If, if, if.
But I’ve noticed a pattern to my ifs. They all start with me and end with how I made a mistake. My natural inclination is to believe I am doing everything wrong. They also focus on the past I can’t change.
Why? Why do I feel wrong for being me? What is so wrong about me? Why is my overwhelming concern for others so often the reason I am alone?
Why do people not see my intentions? Why do people not feel my heart? Why do people not flock to my soul?
Why do I believe people should want to flock to my soul? Why do I believe my soul is so special? Why do I want people to feel my soul is special? Why do I want people to love my soul and not just the body I am in?
Why does my soul crave love? Why am I as desperate to share love as I am to receive it?
Why do I believe I was meant to save the world? Why do I believe I was meant to connect the world together? Why do I believe it starts with me? Why do I believe that this worthless shell of a human is worthy of saving the world? Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I want what I believe?
Why do I believe the world needs saving? Why do I believe the world deserves to be saved? Why do I care about those who do not care about me?
Why do my beliefs that feel so real have to be so crazy?
Why am I so narcissistic to believe that my actions have control over other people’s lives? That my choices have the ability to shape other people’s reality? That my flaws are enough to affect other people’s ability to live happily?
Why am I me when I don’t even know what it means to be me?
So many questions. So few answers. And each time I answer one question I feel like I am rewarded with a million more to follow it up.
How do you put together a puzzle when random pieces keep falling into your lap? How do you put together a puzzle if you don’t know whether you have all of the pieces? How do you put together a puzzle when you don’t know if all the pieces are to the same puzzle?
How do you know when an invisible puzzle is a complete work of art?