This weekend, I was with some dear friends. Friends I’ve known most of my life, but haven’t seen for a while. I’m in a state of transition. Who I am and what I do is in flux. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m trying to strip away the many overcoats of shame, definition and responsibility I’ve put on and uncover who’s hidden beneath after all these years. I don’t expect that person to be the same girl that started donning coats of shame at 15. God, I hope not! She was messy and needy. She was a whirling dervish of emotion and hormones and substances.
Ya, I don’t need to be her anymore. The amazing thing about old friends is that they can see who you are and who you WERE, and help you reconcile the two. Such a helpful perspective.
I know that beneath all of the crap, this girl had dreams and a passion for life. Then a veil of insanity settled over her heart and she just got lost. She made, if not terrible decisions, the expected decisions that kept her pushing forward. She operated in survival mode (and side note: I need to thank her for that) Now it is time for college, now it’s time to get married, now it’s time for a job, now is when I divorce, now is when I get the promotion, now is when I play the lead roles, now is when I find my true love. The list goes on. All of her moves seem safe and predictable in hindsight. Filled with ego and a drive to be great.
Midlife crisis comes in many shades. I guess this is mine. I question everything. What I know is that almost all of the ways that I’ve defined myself for the last 30 years seem to have disintegrated into thin air. The losses have built up, some gradual, others sudden and unexpected. For example, when did I lose the moniker “actor?” I didn’t see that one coming at all. I just turned around one day and realized I had lost my tenuous grasp on that world.
Two jobs gone. Not an ego booster, but definitely necessary. Neither my choice, but certainly what I wanted in the deepest places of my heart. The universe kicking me in the butt.
Other losses seem unnecessary. My aunt – well, a woman I considered an aunt – dies in the early part of the year. Such a loss, such a wonderful woman. My uncle – the man that served as my father for most of my life – died in November. He was well – he’d gone into remission – just a few short months later, he was gone. I had about three days to prepare for that. NOT that I think it’s all about me, but put into context it seems pertinent. It was a gut wrenching time.
Then there was Zeta. Listen, you can think what you want, but losing a dog is losing a family member. 12 years old and a puppy at heart. First dog I ever lived with. She was my husband’s dog, but of course we all loved her. She seemed off for a few months. Couldn’t poop. We tried all of the remedies, but nothing seemed to work. She’s an old girl, we said. That sort of thing happens. Eventually, I did take her to the vet. When I did, the news was horrifying. A gigantic tumor on her colon had all but blocked her digestive tract. It was inoperable.
She was literally full of shit. I cannot imagine how painful this was for her. All these months, straining, getting sicker, and no one figured it out. I should have seen it, but my mind was elsewhere. I was busy worrying about someone else and busy transforming. Would it have changed the outcome? We can’t ever know, but the coat of shame I wear says yes. If nothing else, she would not have been so miserable for so long.
Her death was both peaceful and traumatic. It was incredibly sudden. Just a few days to prepare for it. Home euthanasia is a beautiful thing. It is so much easier on both the animal and the humans to be in their own environment. But she trembled so when the vet arrived, as if she knew exactly what was happening. There were moments of terrible dread for all concerned. Daddy calmed her down, whispered sweet nothings to her and we cried as she very quietly slipped away from us.
But the worst was yet to come.
Loss is a breeding ground of change. Each loss brings a new perspective, shows you something different about yourself. How important was that job if you don’t even miss it? Why didn’t that relationship work out? Did you not try hard enough, or was the original decision flawed? What does that say about you?
More than that, each loss brings possibility. Growth. What does the Universe have in store for you? What new reality am I creating for myself? What layers can I take off, and how can I become myself again?
This is where I am. Peeling off the layers, finding out who is hiding under there. She’s peeking out at me, but has not shown herself fully yet. I’m anxious to meet her but I know I can’t rush her. It would scare her off, put her back in the Zone of Safe Decisions. So I wait, trying to stave off all the thoughts about what I think I’m supposed to do right now. I *should* be doing this, I *have* to do that. The more I listen to those voices, the farther away from myself I get. But mostly, I feel…. hope. Maybe a touch of excitement or anticipation. Like something wonderful will be there when the shit clears. When I am done taking off all of those unnecessary layers.
Three amazing ladies have seen this too. Reminded me about who I was – the good parts that I carry with me today. They’ve seen hope, and encouraged the tiny little voice of the Real Me. Come out and play! Let’s figure this out and see what beauty awaits us!
Today I have renewed faith in the process of life, and a growing, glowing flame of hope burning inside me.