Yesterday I decided not to wear eye make up. I didn’t want to end up looking like a raccoon. Although some of the students I see might have found that funny, I just wasn’t in the mood. And I admit it, each time I had the isolation of being in my car, I did cry.
The past three weeks brought three different things that have, for lack of a better way to say it, made me sad. The first of my aunts and uncles, my father’s older brother, passed away. One of my dearest friends left to move to another state to be closer to family, and I learned that my special cat, Smokey, likely has cancer.
There is a gaping hole in my heart that wasn’t there before. Again I am reminded how short and fleeting this life is, how little time we really have to be with those we love. I hate hurting like this. I don’t like waking up in the morning with a gnawing in my soul. But yes, love is worth it.
I don’t like goodbyes. I think I have written about that before. In fact, I dislike goodbyes so much, that for years when I would leave places, such as going off to school, changing jobs, leaving after I visit, I would attempt to leave without saying goodbye. I would try to just quietly slip out unnoticed. It was easier that way. I learned over time that this did not sit well with other people, and slowly, slowly, began to make a conscious effort to say goodbye. This took years. Even longer was the goodbye hug. If you know me, you know I am not a hugger. But other people are. So with more years practice, I learned to give the goodbye hug. I credit a dear TX friend with encouraging the hug. Not just the goodbye hug, but just the hug. She should be proud.
I am also very sensitive to change. I live with an unresolved split of the soul, I crave change and new experiences, and I love stability and routine. Perhaps all of us live with that to some degree. I get bored with too much stagnation, but also find comfort in the familiar.
And, as I have said before, for years I lived a charmed life and didn’t know it. My parents are still married (45 years). My paternal grandmother, Nana, lived to be 98 (I never met my paternal grandfather as he had died of colon cancer in his 50s). My maternal grandparents lived to be 86 (grandmother), and 99 (grandfather). I lost no other family or friends early. My family did not move around growing up (moving 20 miles away but staying at the same private school doesn’t count). I am still in touch, thank you Facebook, with most of the people I was friends with in high school, college, graduate school, and in the other places I have lived (OH and LA – the state not the city). Add to that that for years, because in my early adult life the craving for change part of me won, I was the one who left, I did not have to feel the pain of loss. Perhaps part of me always knew it was there and moved around so much to run as far away as I could from it. And then, as it would have to be, it found me. Because I finally found a place where I belonged, and where I have stayed.
When I look at myself, I must admit I have known for years that it is difficult for me to let someone in. Yes, part of that is just me being an introvert, and truly enjoying being by myself. Truly needing a lot of time to be by myself. But part of it is a profound fear of pain. The pain of rejection if I let them know me too well. The pain of loss when we go our own ways, for whatever reason that might be. I feel things very deeply. Have ever since I was a little child. I have known this for years. It has only been recently that I have come to find that this is true for me not just emotionally but also physically, courtesy of fibromyalgia and a body that I can best describe as having too many nerves, and nerves that are too sensitive. (So glad medicine is finally backing me up on this knowledge.)
I fear pain. I think if we truly look within, we all do. But my fear is more than just being sad. It is being depressed. I have long lived with that ugly monster. Thankfully, in recent years it has not debilitated me. But I know it did in the past. So badly I thought I could not go on, and every step I took hurt. Where one minute at a time was all I could go through. I fear that sadness and grief will cause me to fall in that pit again. Grief, at least as I have come to know it though, is not the same as the monster depression. The monster depression was, to a large degree from a combination of my biology (this I can’t change), and my not letting love in. Thank you to the Christian counselors, family, friends and a loving God who finally helped me see that. Who helped me to see that yes, love is worth it.
Some people live in the past, some in the present, some in the future. It is the lucky ones who have the ability to live in the present. I have struggled for years to do this. I have lived life in the future. Planning for things to come, waiting for things to come, worrying over things to come. I partly live in the past, reflecting over what was. But I have the darndest time living in the present. I wish I knew why it was so hard for me. But it is. It is hard for me to enjoy the now. As a younger person (yes, I know I am not that old) there was much to look forward to in the future. But now, as someone who is 40, with no children, I struggle with what is in the future for me. I struggle thinking that most of the rest of my life will just be loss. Loss of most of my family, loss of many of my friends (I tend to be friends with people older than me), and loss of my beloved furry friends. I struggle because despite a big fight to be more positive, my underlying nature tends toward pessimism. I struggle because I tend to fear the worse. And yet, I struggle to not let my fears get the better of me. And I try to remind myself that there are goodbyes, but there are also hellos.
I am ever grateful to God, who was gracious enough to provide me a 43 pound, 5 month old, bouncy happy crazy puppy reminder that there will indeed be more hellos in my life. That life is a combination of hellos and goodbyes. Not just goodbyes. That although it takes me longer to trust that hello than others, when I do, I get the privilege of holding on a little more tightly. My Maggie, a reminder that hellos will be there, right along with the goodbyes.
I wish that it did not take goodbyes to realize how much love I actually have in my life. How many blessings are already right there, under my nose, everyday. So to the three of you who left, and will leave me, I make this promise. Today, yet again, I will remember that every day is a gift. Even when I am sad, and the tears flow down my face, feeling like they will never stop. Even when I am grumpy, and don’t want to go to work. When my chronic illnesses kick in and life frustrates me. When everything slams down right on top of me and I feel like I can’t go on. Because, yes, love is worth it.