As is often read, time heals all, and I’m slowly becoming accustomed to being out in the working world again. The adjustments I’ve had to make are minor compared to what others may have to experience under similar circumstances because I haven’t had to worry about finding childcare, or trouble anyone about taking over the few responsibilities I’ve accumulated in the past two years such as car pool. My pets are relatively trouble free now, and there’s no long commute to plan for. Surprisingly, most of my work clothes still fit, which is a sort of accomplishment, I guess.
No, that hasn’t been all that difficult. What has been troubling is the loneliness I’ve been feeling. It’s severe at times — so much so that I’ve been reduced to tears, surprised, and a bit unsettled about my unexpected emotions. Although I’m thankfully past the worst of it, I sense a void that reminds me of a similar feeling I’ve experienced before — that of leaving something behind unwillingly, of loss.
It’s fairly painful.
For days, I struggled to think of pleasant things, and to busy myself with activities I enjoy, but wasn’t as successful as I’d liked. I fell easily into my old habit of thinking of others less fortunate than myself. Of so many who now find themselves without work and struggling to keep their homes. And I tried to understand the uncomfortable pressure on my chest that all but screamed I was making an enormous mistake.
To help focus on the positive, I sat down with the MoH and we made a list of all that I’d like to do with my income over the next year: repair the lighting and drip system on the patio; replace the fencing; install an energy-efficient hot water system, put organizers in the closets, repair a few old dining room chairs, have two other chairs reupholstered….Not quite as glamorous as others may think, but concrete enough to allow me to see that a year of my time at this point in my life counted for something.
I’m a strong believer in the idea that things happen for a reason. That opportunities are placed before us all the time, and the extent to which we allow ourselves to see them determines whether our lives are rich and fulfilling, or mundane and guarded. The ironic aspect of it all is that when I take the steps I do in new directions, I rarely realize whether it’s the best decision for me and those I care about. Instead, it’s more an unknown, a tentative decision at best, and I attempt to keep my mind open to whatever may lie ahead truly believing that a unique experience is just over the hill.
All the while, I’m chastising myself, shaking my head over maudlin thoughts and pathetic self-absorbtion. It’s grossly embarrassing, yet I can’t prevent it. So I heave with countless cleansing breaths, and try to relax. I give in to the sadness and then try to snap out of it. I count what I should feel fortunate about, and move ahead. I look for beauty in small things, and count stars at night. I wonder how on Earth something so good could feel so wrong.
Only those with common experiences seem to understand how closely lives can be linked, how much one can grow to depend on community, on friendship and camraderie gained while sitting in front of a computer. Over the past two years, lovely people who live a state, a country, or even an ocean away have truly and unexpectedly become part of my small world and enriched it more than I can describe.
Sadly, I’m missing all of them right now, and no amount of organizing my garage, digging in my small garden, or cooking the next recipe on my endless list will make that feeling go away.