Don’t push so hard against the world
You can’t do it all alone
and if you could
would you really want to?
Even though you’re a big strong girl
come on, come on
lay it down
the best made plans
come on, come on
lay it down
are your open hands…
-Deb Talan, “Big Strong Girl”

Last week, my trusty blue Mazda spent a few days at Murray’s AutoClinic, recovering from 3 years of neglect.  Juan had always been the one to take care of my car–to change the oil, take her in for those regular maintenance check-ups.  When he left it was so much just to manage the parenting, the bills, the house all by myself.  I just never had a moment to think about the car.  I was coming home late one night last week and she finally said NO MORE.  She stopped in the middle of a busy road, oil leaking at a rapid rate.  It was Juan who came out to meet me that night, armed with oil.  He got her started again,  and the next day she was in the loving arms of Steve and the rest of my angels at Murray’s.  It took them days to get her right again.  Not only did the oil leak need to be fixed but there was so much else to repair, so many hidden hurts.

I picked her up on Friday and immediately checked myself into what my dear friend Jen Lemen calls at the Soul Repair garage.  See I too am suffering from neglect.  And while I am proud to say I hadn’t broken down completely I was pretty darn close.    I guess I am not so good at self maintenance either.

I promised myself this weekend we would take it easy.  That Max and I would giggle freely and watch movies.  That I would take my beloved boots to have the heels fixed (boy am I hard on my shoes), that I would sit quietly and not talk if I didn’t want to.  That I would sleep as long as I wanted, and clean as much as I felt I could, and that if the laundry didn’t get done it would be OK.  I made a mix of music for my brave friend Jenni B — all songs recommended by those dear readers at Jen Lemen’s blog and each song lifted me up a bit, reminded me of the tremendous love in the world. 

This afternoon, I packed up my paints and went to Jackie’s house.  While the kids played and Jackie and Eric went about their weekend chores I sat at their kitchen table and worked on postcards for a Love-themed  postcard exchange.  I didn’t talk much but just sat and moved paint around and drank coffee and yawned.   The yawns reminded me to breathe more and so I did.

After hours spent in near silence at Jackie’s, Max and I left ready for adventure.  We went to the grocery store where Max ran ahead, using his new found reading skills to fill our basket himself.  There was nothing more lovely than seeing him bounding up the aisle dragging that big ol’ bag of catfood by himself. And then, he took my camera out of my purse and took photos of the store, decorated for Valentines Day, looking magical and beautiful in his eyes.

I am still feeling rough around the edges.  I am grieving over the latest news about my dear friend’s health.  With my divorce hearing looming I am grieving again over the loss of my marriage. 

There is much to be joyful about too.  Max has sent me love notes all weekend.  We have giggled and laughed and cuddled more these last few days than we have in weeks.  I want to just grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself and tell myself to “Get it together girl”.  But somehow the sadness is just wearing me out.  Holding it together all the time, proving to everyone how strong I am, is exhausting, even when there is so much good around to bolster me. 

Sometimes I wish I could just have a small breakdown so I could slip away, really and truly to the Soul Repair Garage.  So I could retreat into silence and paint and watch silly movies and eat popcorn and take pictures of blown up hearts at the Giant for days on end–not just for a weekend.  So I could give myself permission to stop being a big strong girl and just be.

But as my little Mazda will attest, we shouldn’t wait for the breakdown to check ourselves in.  I am glad I found the place to rest this weekend.  But I am staying here in the soul repair garage a bit longer.  I will make myself tea and be quieter than usual.  I may just allow myself some tears in the most unlikely of places.  I will breathe and breathe in and out and then I will emerge again.

This song, this sweet little video of it, captures the need to all give ourselves this resting place every once in awhile and to not feel bad about it.  To check ourselves into the soul repair garage long before we find ourselves broken down on a busy road with oily tears leaking like mad.

Hold out for the moon
Don’t expect connection anytime soon
Feel the light caress your fingertips,
You have just begun
The word has only left your lips
Maybe in time you will find your arms are wrapped around the sun

-Deb Talan, “Big Strong Girl”

3 Responses to “Big Strong Girl”

  1. bella Says:

    My heart resonates with your words here.
    There is a sadness these days and it weighs heavy and makes my heart ache. The tears alone are tiring.
    And we need to have this soul repair garage, and go, as you said for maintainence, not just when we break down. I am taking your words to heart today.
    Sending you love.

  2. Maggie Says:

    Why is it so hard for us to grant ourselves permission to stop? To be less than we told ourselves we were going to be? (Is this Oprah’s fault? I kinda think so.)

    Pretend you are a good friend of yours instead of you. What would you tell your good friend if you were her? Surely you would tell her she deserves peace.

    It is so much easier for us to be kind to others than to ourselves. And that’s so sad.

  3. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Meg, I adore this song, I just checked it out on Foxytunes. It made me cry a little but I loved it and I know you’ve put it on my album for me, thank you darling. Also I love this post, there is so much in it. I feel I am neglecting you lately my dear, I know you understand if I am but you know what, I don’t like it, I miss you, I have been too focused on myself lately. I will be okay soon and will have some of myself to give out again. I love you, take good care, yoursoulsisterfromtheothersideoftheworld xx