Almost two months ago, I sat by the crashing waves on Cress Beach in Laguna Beach, California. The hypnotic rhythm mesmerised me and soothed my soul for the first time in many moons. I had just watched the sun set and the horizon seemed endless. My turbulent mind was calmed, my breathing became deeper and healing, my spirit lifted. I felt more and more like the real me had resurfaced again after a long turn of tossing and turning in the seas of life. My health was the best it has been in years. I was so excited I could actually move about for large periods of time that I tended to overdo it. But, I was happy. Genuinely happy.
That lasted about three and a half weeks. Yup. Bummer. Crash and burn was more like crash and drown. I returned home to Seattle so happy and within the sum of three weeks, felt my heart had been ripped apart, my body drawn and quartered and my spirit slashed and burnt. Friends I trusted with my life – with my heart – ignited the fire of self doubt and fear. There were moments where I felt I was trapped in an old New York apartment building, in the top floor, as it stood burning. The window to the fire escape stairway was sealed shut. There’s no way to get to the front door without major harm. Looking out a small window where I was trapped, recognising the smell, the now almost faint memory of fresh air, oxygen as the whole building is slowly engulfed in the dance of flames and the crackling of its consumption. And there were no sirens in the distance heralding the arrival of fire engines. My parched throat tasted the bitterness of fear.
The authenticity and vulnerability I speak of often seemed to be a cruel joke suddenly. Maybe I was wrong and they were right. Maybe, just maybe, this whole business of being real and authentic about how I feel is actually a weakness, a thing only a fool would find valuable. That was a word I remember calling myself very often in those days after I felt I had been so wrong in my approach to life: fool. A dumb ass fool. A stupid fool. A naive fool. Fool. Fool. Fool. A fool for trusting. A fool for believing in another. A fool for caring. A fool for ‘investing too much in others’, whatever that means. Labels and accusations thrown at me blasted the fragile scaffolding of myself I was rebuilding. The very ones who had helped me initially in its building were now the architects of its demolition.
That was how it felt at the time. I had attempted to reach out for reconciliation only to be rejected outright by more judgment and doors shut in my face. Someone once commented on an internet meme riffing on the saying, when one door closes, another opens. This one advocated that when one door shuts, make sure it stays shut. Her comment was make sure to nail it shut! That may work in some situations.I suppose. I however struggled with that notion. How does that make me authentic to who I am? Even in my bruised spirit state, I could not bring myself to hate those people. I could not. How can I love them and then turn around to despise them? Yes, some space was needed and every time I hear something disparaging they said about me which eventually comes back to me, my carefully mended, Band Aid-ed, urgently stitched up heart breaks a little again. And I retreat. I cower in the shame of being the fool yet again. I question what I did to them that would illicit such animosity. I retreat so I may think it out. And at the end of the day or days, I realise all I did was love and respect them and had hoped they loved and respected me in return.
When I have unusual emotions, I try not to avoid them or numb them. I dive into them to know why I have those emotions. As Dr. Brene Brown says in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, ‘When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.’ I full well admit, I did try to run away from some strong emotions I was not at all comfortable with in one of the relationships. I do wear my heart on my sleeve, to the chagrin of some, yet resent myself for it at times. At the same time I also know who I am. I am strong and resilient. I know even though I feel so much pain right now, I will bounce back again as I have done many times in the past.
I am going through an extremely difficult time in my life and transitions are not ever easy. My endocrinologist repeated something I heard after I first arrived in the U.S. when I got married and had an Addison’s Disease crisis. She reminded me that these life altering transitions are extremely stressful on anyone, let alone a person without the physical ability to cope with them! I have questions at times. I expect a discussion as one adult would expect from another. If you are rude, and those who know me well, know how huge a deal that is, I will stand up to you and ask for the reason behind such rudeness. If you try to be evasive and try to blame me for something I did not do, I will of course, defend myself. Needless to say, it was not well received. Maybe I need to work on my delivery!
As with almost everything, there is a lesson. I am still in the process of learning about this one. I clearly do not have all the answers, none of us do. I am learning that although this is truth, there are people who seem to believe they do have answers to everything under the sun, rivaling Solomon himself. Do I still hurt when I think of certain things those friends said or did? Absolutely. But I also am able to laugh at the memory even as my heart feels heavy at the loss of friendship. I just happen to be stubborn and refuse to believe they are mean or bad. No way, not at all. I chose to remember the good, the very good, I saw in them. I chose to remember the good memories that are slowly taking the place of the anger, the hurt, the disappointment and the grief. I chose to believe that one day, we will return to being friends again. In the meantime, I shall go on my way, on my path with gratefulness that I was privileged to know people like the friends I know and knew. I am not one to nail any closed door forever shut. I believe in turning the knob of said door so it opens. Is that not what doors are for?