I don’t mind telling the 6 or so of you who still pass this way that I have a lovely family therapist. I started seeing her when Juan told me he was leaving me and she eased our family through our various transitions along the way. She is a resource for me on parenting, a partner who has helped me reframe my thinking about our experiences, a guide to understanding how hearts and lives break and heal, a problemsolver who helps me tease out solutions that work and a teacher who has helped me learn to build fences where they are needed and knock down stone walls where they block out the light.

She recommends books for me and sends me to go see movies. And she buys me nail polish with wonderful names like Abundance and Brand New Skates so that I may always look down at my feet and know where in what space I am planted. At the end of each session we hug tightly, giggling as the rest of the office looks on in shock. I am not sure that we are behaving properly for a therapist and her client. We don’t care. Its much more fun this way.

Today I walked to therapy feeling glorious and full. The air was warm and humid–the kind of air in which smells are intensified as though put through an olfactory microscope–blown up bigger than life. The light breeze that blew brought in all sorts of wonderful intense smells–the mulch from the garden beds, sweet spun sugar from newly baked cupcakes at the bakery, jasmine and peonies and hamburgers and Thai food. Car exhaust. Sugary soda spilled on the sidewalk. More mulch more heavenly mulch. As I walked, I honestly considered whether my visits to her office were needed anymore. I am doing so well, everything in check. Its expensive to keep coming, even when the intervals are so spaced out, even though its covered. And I am so deeply happy, even as I am frustrated, angry, sad, lonely and broken sometimes. I am healthy now. I feel whole.

It has been a long time since we last met. She asks me how I have been and all I can say is fine. How do you capture 6 weeks of heart work in a few minutes. So I tell her fine (honestly)–even as I know I am lying (honestly). I feel a storm, swirling like a thunderstorm developing suddeny on a hot summer day. I feel it rising up from my gut–a breaking open in the safety of my big comfy chair.

Actually…there are moments when I feel so unsupported, I tell her. Moments when I feel so terribly alone–when I am doing this all, keeping it together, being healthy and good and strong and it costs me so much to not fall apart. I am a levee constantly in danger of being breached, straining but still strong. It is exhausting and hard to focus when I am working so hard just to maintain–to get lunches made, and beds made, and homework done and baths drawn, and dinner cooked, and cupboard stacked and boo-boos kissed and litter boxes emptied and trash cans left at the corner. The laundry never stops piling up, no matter how much I do. The dust builds up causing me to sneeze before I am there to do it again. The fridge is never cleaned because while I start I never have time to finish. I never have time to finish anything because I only have time to start. Everything is started and rarely finished (I rage). The to-do list is too long and everything is twice as complicated as it seems and stuck–it gets stuck. I have so many dreams…so many things I should be doing to move those dreams forward…I know what I need to be doing but I can’t do them. No one can help me with these things–they are my path and my journey and I am alone right now–I am supposed to do it alone. I can’t do it on my own but I somehow keep managing to do it part way–to almost do it on my own. Because its so much and while I have long given up on beating myself up for not being able to do it all–the fact remains that when you don’t do it all–a lot doesn’t get done. And it costs so much for it all not to be done. So much is sacrificed. And I am so so tired. And how are you?

I pause for a minute, surprised.

I am surprised (I say) because I am really really grateful. I am grateful for the help that I have–for my dear friend who covered for my babysitter who needed to go to the doctors today and for the people who drive Max here and there while I work. I am grateful that Juan shows up two nights a week so I have time to work late, and write, and do errands without a fight. I am grateful for my job, a place where I feel so exquisitely loved and appreciated, even though I no longer feel passionate about it. I am grateful for my home, my community, my old cat who wakes me up every morning at 6 with kisses unless I ask her to wake me at 7. (She really does). I am grateful for my friends who cook for me and pour me wine and invite me to the most delicious conversation. And Oh how I am grateful for my son who is healthy and kind and growing up into such a lovely young man with opinions and interests and an awareness that is inspiring. I am grateful for all the beauty in the world for the smells and the flowers and the snow and the yummy yummy food so WHY do I feel so f**king ungrateful and resentful?

There is nothing left for me to do. (I am almost yelling now through my tears). I have grown so freakin’ much–I am so strong now. Most of the time I get by just fine. I breathe. I check the evidence. I don’t globalize. I see each situation through three or four different lenses. I reframe. I see the positive. I count to 10. I lower my standards. I prioritize. I count my blessings. I accept. I love unconditionally. I let everything go except for that which is right in front of me.

But it doesn’t change my circumstances.
THIS IS MY LIFE. (I am almost out of breath). I am a single mom with a busy job and not a lot of resources.
THIS IS MY LIFE. I am in the middle of a transition which is unfolding painfully slowly and my not unfold at all because momentum is something that just doesn’t seem to exist in my life.
THIS IS MY LIFE. It is not changing and I don’t know how to change it anymore. I don’t know how to fix it because I don’t think it can be fixed and honestly (I say accusingly–to whom I wonder?) I don’t think its needs to be fixed but this life, my life, my sweet gorgeous, messed up, totally rotten, joyous life–its exhausting and hard and too too too much sometimes. It comes too fast. I don’t seem to have time to enjoy it even though I savor it so sweetly–it is gone before I can truly process and metabolize its taste.
When I sleep–it costs me dearly. When I play, it costs me twice as much. When I try and move in a new direction I feel blocked, stuck, lulled. (Where is the girl with the bowl I wonder?)

You’re right she says. And we sit for a few minutes.

And as we start to talk I am at peace again. At peace because I rode out the storm in a safe harbor. At peace because I let it just wash over me and didn’t fight it. At peace because at the end of the day I AM right–on all counts. At peace because I know I have just spoke the universal rant of mothers who are trying to hold it all together and who are tested, challenged, called to learn through our own unique sets of circumstances. At peace because at the end of the day, I know deep in my heart that this is my path and there is no other place that would be better for me right now.

I wish I could tell you that she had magic words of wisdom that knit me back together. If she I would share them with you, I promise. But she offered me a space where I could break myself open and simply be imperfect and broken and resentful and full of rage, angry and tired and lonely despite the blessings in my life. Where I could be without worries that I have hurt her or alienated her or annoyed her or simply brought her down. That is a gift. It is exactly what I needed: to come unglued and then the gingerly rearrange myself again.

Tonight I am working late, sitting at my computer as the sun starts to fade, sitting here in the knowlege that life is hard, exhausting, and challenging even as it is fascinating, beautiful and holy. There is no way around it. Life is something we must bear–its beauty and its pain. And we bear it breath by breath

In this quiet space with no ringing phones I can hear my heart whisper to me that this grind, this exhaustion, this holding it all together, it is part of my curriculum, my perfectly planned journey to learn what must be learned. And what must be learned (for me at least) is this.

Step 1. Go to the mountain. (Make the world my mountain)
Step 2. Pick up your bowl.
Step 3. Breathe. Trust. Surrender.
Step 4. Repeat

4 Responses to “Falling apart and coming back again”

  1. tracy Says:

    i read your post yesterday, and that image, of the big bowl, stayed with me, all day, until the very end of the day when i was spent, my eyes sore and red, having been shown a part of me that i didn’t want to see, feeling so very alone then in my passion and drive, and frustration at not *being there yet* and then remembering my word for this year is Surrender.

    today’s post, ah, Meg, thank you. i am not quite there with *knowing* that i am right where i am suppposed to be. but trust. holding the space. i am not alone, and neither are you. in honor of Surrendering. thank you.

  2. giftsofthejourney (Elizabeth Harper) Says:

    I know this won’t matter much now and you probably won’t want to hear it, but I have been where you are and there’s an expiration date. As much as it looks like this is your life and will always be so, there’s a secret, unknown date that will when you least expect it, quietly or maybe loudly arrive, and shift almost everything that holds you in the place you are now.


  3. Eileen Says:

    Love ya Meglet – and I still pass this way 🙂

  4. Trish Says:

    Bits broken, tears spent, rage fumed, frustration vented, peace felt, joy embraced, calm then centered. The lovely world of therapy where all can transpire in under 50 minutes. So worth the investment six weeks spread out or less. You are unearthing all the is under the layers and surface of the human epidermis. You are releasing the toxicity and reaffirming your lovely humanity. I stroll by her thrice weekly girly girl. You keep writing and I’ll keep reading. By the way I’m planning a trip to your neighborhood before the dates you mentioned.