Full disclosure. It is 543 am and I am sitting beneath the bright full moon and this wind chime carrying the sound of the big lake, lulling the dog to lie down by my side. Sleep wont come to me. And so I come to my trusty keyboard to wrestle this restlessness that wont leave me alone.
I keep finding myself feeling like an impostor. Like, pathologically pleasant, friendly, and ” A-OK!”. But I can only maintain that act for so long and then I have to be alone, just so I can feel real. Im not trying to be fake, I just don’t seem to know how to BE with others and my feelings at the same time.
I should be way up north, with Mother (Lake) Superior and my sweet husband and the friends we have made through music and his passion for community, in the tip of the Keewanaw Peninsula, as we do each August. But at the last possible moment, I stayed home.
I seem to be straddling the fence lately, not sure which side Im on; choosing life in all it’s summer glory and resisting it at the same time, unable to settle into one or the other comfortably.
This year we built new flower gardens and let the milk weeds grow high and proud, providing the monarch a sweet little migratory pit stop. Tonight I see some that are nearly reaching my shoulders, the tallest I’ve seen since I was a young girl on a dirt road in a smaller town. I think of this now.
I used to love to make paths through the meadow grass, up the hill and build forts under old crab apple trees. I loved to watch my house from afar and the people inside and the shadows they made from the lamplights. But what I liked more was being alone– away from everyone, feeling the fullness of myself in quiet spaces, daydreaming of another time, pretending I was Laura Ingalls or Ramona Quimby–always a bit of a problem child, a rebel, a loner in my family.
As I grew older I became a social butterfly and tried my best to hide my sensitivities, so convincing was I that I fooled even myself into believing I fit in anywhere.
After high school I rediscovered my awkwardness and hid it behind a lifestyle of social excess and all the accoutrements that helped conceal my deepest feelings. I recall so clearly smoking pot and wanting to discuss the vastness of the universe and of my feelings and then alienating myself from all those around me who just wanted to have a good time, man… I tried to learn the social cues and contain my enthusiasm for such explorations, but would always step atleast slightly over the edge and be reminded of my “differentness”, only to turn on myself and feel like more of an outsider and then have to drink a bunch to try to act like everyone else.
I didn’t have words then for this chameleon like creature I had to conjure in an effort to maintain the status quo, and the relationships with those I felt gave my life value. And Im pretty sure the only ones who could see through it were my parents and older sister, who waited with baited breath for me to find my center, and who likely hoped and prayed, alot, that it would happen sooner rather than later, yet gave me space to find it for myself.
When Isaac was born, all of that dissolved. For the first time in my life I felt that I belonged. It was effortless. I did not have to surrender to it, it just filled in all the empty spaces. There was a clarity within about who I was. And it lasted.
Until… A very painful experience happened to me personally and caused me to feel shame which coincided with when Isaac started to become his own person, and I could sense again that old familiar namelessness that resided within me. Only this time, I could not withdraw from the world I had come to belong to in the ways I had before. This time, the stakes were higher, and I could not in good consciousness, as a mama, hide behind a buzz or poor choices. Nor could I sever the bond we had formed deeply and maintained even though he was growing up. I retreated instead into the depths of depression. It never felt like a choice, so much as a descent into choicelessness. And it wasnt until my life felt unmanageable because of trauma and depression, that I began to dig my way out from that self loathing, by making the choice to change my mind about myself.
When Isaac died, it was just past the one year “anniversary” of making that choice, of reclaiming my wholeness, of choosing to stop believing I was a doomed weirdo, of surrendering fully to “doing the fucking work”.
Isaac was my number one fan and cheerleader through that entire process. He stood beside me even when I abandoned myself. He reminded and inspired me to keep going when the muck felt too deep to trudge through. Even though he fell in love and had his own life during that last year, he held my hand and kept his faith securely in me as a person and always as a mama. I truly started to believe that I was showing him how to face challenges by his witnessing me overcome my own. How to start over. How to show up for life.
The work I did that year is likely the only reason I am still standing, bewildered, but upright. I have wondered at times if that work was in fact divine intervention, preparing me for this. And I have also wondered and withered at times if that focus on myself caused me to lose sight of Isaac.
I return again and again to this possibility, in agony. But when I do, I only have to close my eyes and remember how truly proud he was of me~ as well as learning at last, through that year and especially now, that I Belong To Myself.
I fight the urge to build a fort away from the people I love more than ever, now. Sometimes, like this weekend when I should be in the UP, I see that I am standing in the field, gathering sticks and daydreaming my escape. But I keep the footpath clear between here and home, where the light stays on for me still, where I can look up in the sky and know the moon shines equally upon me and those who love me and claim me as their own.