It’s funny how things in life always seem to come around in a full circle, especially when it comes around in a full circle at some sort of regular interval. A year ago I wrote Waiting. I went back to look at it last night, amused that I find myself waiting again in the same sort of way and yet not.
A year ago, I was homebound with home health care coming to take care of the wound I still had in the incision on my amputated left leg. I was past needing IV antibiotics but I still couldn’t do much of anything. I could drive myself to the doctor and back; it was an exciting day if I left the house at all, and an exhausting one. I could lie in bed and suck down oxygen all day after spending too many spoons the day before going to the doctor or too many spoons that day doing something simple like, oh, taking a shower, doing a load of laundry, or doing something simple like heating up food for myself. I did my best not to sleep all day in the hopes that I would sleep at night.
But I wouldn’t sleep at night, not most nights anyway. Nope… I’d lay awake waiting for the pain to subside, waiting to be able to get comfortable, and waiting for the sandman to come sprinkle some of that magic dust. Every night was the same. While most of my friends were blissfully unaware of my complete lack of normal sleep, there was one person who was keenly aware of it. This friend would say goodnight to me, imploring me to try to get some sleep, I would fail at that task, and then I would still be there to say good morning after their night’s sleep but before I had fallen asleep myself. That became such a powerful habit built upon years of painsomnia that kept me from restful sleep that I still struggle to sleep at night.
My point is, a year ago I was waiting for everything…
Waiting to heal…
Waiting to be able to have a prosthetic…
Waiting to learn to walk…
Waiting to pirouette…
Waiting to be able to move on with life after…
Waiting for words…
I’ve done so much and come so far in the last year, and I have learned one of, perhaps, the hardest lessons one can learn:
I have finally learned to be patient in my waiting.
I’ve learned to let my body heal and to take each step of this recovery one step at a time. I’m a tortoise and that is fine because my journey is my own.
I have learned that I don’t have to do things a hundred times because I will get it… eventually. Can I walk without crutches or a cane? No, but I will and I can walk with beautiful posture and poise!
I have learned that I don’t need to solve every problem right now, today, or even next week, because I only need to do what I need to do right now to make it through this day. My Rubik’s cube of life cannot be solved in one day.
I have learned to wait for the next surgery until we have tried a few other things.
I’ve learned how to wait and while in a way I am still the child that wanted to peek at the gifts before Christmas, I’ve learned to relish the season leading up to the reveal. The excitement of wondering, the speculation, the hoping, the warmth of knowing that whatever that box holds will be the best gift for me. I enjoy the suspense now when before I would have been more satisfied to have the answer now. A year ago I said that waiting and I are like oil and water: it takes a severe beating to force us to mix only to eventually separate again and it’s just not pleasant for me because then I need another beating.
I guess I’ve finally been beaten enough in this life to embrace that which I used to feel repelled by and against which I used to struggle.
It isn’t that waiting for my next big journey in life is no longer difficult or that it is any less challenging for me to sit with my emotions facing the unknown with no clear end in sight.
I still don’t want to just stand on the precipice waiting… I still want to jump.
Yes, my chute may still fail to open when I do finally jump, but somehow along the way I’ve found a reason to hold my patience before I do take that step.
I used to find that when I tired of a book, I found a reason to skip to the end of a chapter or even the entire work. Blah, blah, blah, I find this unfulfilling and I am ready for the next part. Skip a conversation, skip to the next paragraph, the next page, the next chapter, the next volume, the next and the next and the next. With books and movies it is easy to skip to the next exciting part but when we are unfulfilled in life is it that easy? What do you do when you’re unfulfilled in the chapter you’re in, because I think we all feel unfulfilled in our own lives at times and what we do when that happens really defines our character. So what is it most of us do when we get tired of our book and we long for the next one?
The truth is that when we are tired of the book we are in, we try to escape the book if we can’t find a way to ignore the black hole we feel we are being sucked into.
But we can’t just escape it.
We have our hobbies that give us something to do to escape from whatever it is that is making us feel… unfulfilled. We workout, read interesting books about fascinating things, fix cars or go for long drives, take lessons for something we always wanted to learn as a child and for those moments we are engaged we feel less empty and unhappy. Until they don’t work. So we find something else more exciting… and more… and more… until we are in the place of unhealthy excitements as the only way to cover up the emptiness:
Shopping for the next big thing ~ the next most amazing haircut, sweater, shoes, jewelry, car, house, job
Drinking and drug use
Dangerous thrill seeking ~ driving too fast, having multiple sexual partners often without protection, infidelity and increasingly public trysts, extreme sports
We long for a different story than the one we are in and we discover that all we are doing to cover up the emptiness or unhappiness we have in this story doesn’t actually work to fix our lack of fulfillment so we decide we will just be done with our story. But the problem with wanting a different story is that we cannot just abandon the story we are living in now the way we abandon a book we don’t like.
Books are tricky in that no one would buy a book by an author that just gets tired halfway through and doesn’t do the work to resolve the conflicts between the characters but just randomly drops or adds characters, doesn’t address the problem present in the main plot, and doesn’t show a character growing and changing over time.
We read books that show us the flawed human nature of someone who finds something to overcome because they speak to us about our ability to overcome. Likewise, we don’t read books that show us someone who cannot or will not change or grow as a human being because that isn’t compelling.
Dear friends, we are the authors of our own stories.
We cannot just skip the conflicts that drive our plot forward.
We cannot just drop or change characters willy-nilly.
We cannot skip important conversations and the seasons of waiting.
Every challenge we face has been sent to teach us something and avoiding those lessons keeps us from growing as human beings and from becoming the best versions of ourselves ~ the ones those who love us most somehow always see. We can’t just drop or ignore characters that leave us feeling flat or that challenge us, we have to find a way to get that character to engage or to engage ourselves with them to learn from their wisdom or the conflicted experience. If we do not engage, we leave cliffhangers that will come back in our next books in some form or another like characters who appear just before the dramatic music at the end of a telenovela: maybe they’re alive and we thought they were dead, they really are dead and it’s a ghost, they’re just inside the main character’s head, or some character didn’t really have resolution and they come back with all their drama. The jilted characters always have the potential to cause mayhem no matter how many seasons have passed.
If we do not find a way for each character’s role to be congruent to where our story is going than we must find a healthy way to write those other characters out of out story if we want to avoid the telenovela drama in our own lives. To do so requires fierce conversation and honesty because unlike a book book, the characters in our stories have the choice to be a part of our story in a way that fits into our vision, our values, and our best hopes and plans for our future. If one of the main characters in our current story doesn’t have the same values or vision and our story lines are diverging, should we hold onto them in our story or let them go tell their own? Think of the metaphor of being unequally yolked:
My point in all this is that in the inner work we do along our journey through life, we can choose to remain in the unfulfilling and unpleasant story we are in or we can choose to begin a new one. If we choose to begin a new one but that one cannot begin until we have done the work to resolve the plot and problems with the main characters from our old one.
That takes time and it doesn’t all just happen on our timeframe.
It takes patience.
It takes the willingness to learn to wait.
It takes a willingness to take the time to heal.
It takes a willingness to have and wait for the right time to have the fierce conversations.
It takes the conscientious choice to tie up all the loose ends in the unpleasant story so that when you start the new one those unresolved issues don’t just pop up like plot twists from a telenovela.
Waiting for the resolutions doesn’t mean that nothing is happening, it means there is a mindfulness and purpose in the patience that knows that when the time is right, that new book will begin and that knows that the inner work to finish writing the one you’re in is essential to having a clean slate to work with in the new work.
I am still waiting, as I was a year ago, but I know now that my waiting is more than just waiting.
My waiting is a work of will and mindfulness in closing the book I’m ready to be done with so that I can start a new one when the time is right.
© Gwendolyn Raczkowski, 2018, all rights reserved.