It’s a weird time of year, and it’s a weird time in my life. That’s just what there is.
Weird is not synonymous with bad; I don’t mind liminal spaces. I have some experience with them: death, illness, adoption, chronic pain all come to mind. But this one (cohabitating through the end of a marriage) is new to me, and I am new inside of it, so I find myself gazing about, examining the texture of the walls, the quality of the light, and my own reflection in the mirrors.
One of my best tricks when I feel a bit unmoored is to take stock of what I know for sure. The Great Inbetween may not be so excellent at providing comfort, but growth opportunities? Plentiful. I know it would be a mistake to put my head down and barrel through the coming weeks without pausing to inventory what I’m learning along the way.
So, in no particular order, and in the hopes that some of these might ring a bell with some of you, I present:
Shit I Am Grateful to Have Learned, Some of It the Hard Way
- Health is an integrated concept. There’s no separation between mental and physical well-being; it’s all one thing. Bodies carry so much wisdom, and we ignore that wisdom at our peril. For me, so much came into focus around these ideas in the past couple of months: my understanding of my journey with migraines and chronic pain, as well as an embodied knowing that I cannot be the person I want or truly feel I am meant to be if I do not take radical care of myself. I still have to fight against old messaging that to put myself first in this way is selfish and therefore wrong (hoo boy that stuff is cultural and also gendered), but I’m learning, with lots and lots of help.
- Speaking of help, it feels good to ask for help when you need it. There’s just something radically honest about saying I cannot get through this alone. This period of life has found me at my most wildly vulnerable, both literally and metaphorically prone on my knees, and reaching out has been an incredibly natural impulse, the way Shiv used to lift up her arms and say “Hold you,” when what she meant was Hold me.
- Related truth: my friends are worth their freaking weight in gold. For real life (another Shiv-ism). I am so powerfully blessed and more thankful than I know how to put into words. I know some rock-solid humans, and they are walking with me so beautifully right now. It means everything.
- I’m a lot tougher than I thought. In fact, I think maybe I had forgotten some things about myself, or come to believe some things about me that weren’t true. Feels good to remember myself, equal parts revelation and return. In so many aspects, I feel much like the person I was at nineteen, in essence. Sometimes it feels like the last twenty years have been about confirming the things I suspected were true back then but didn’t yet have the life experience to back up! In any case, I wish I could go back and tell that young woman what a badass she is. She had no idea, and I am so damn proud of her, of us. No regrets.
- Yoga, man. That shit is so good! I mean, seriously, if that’s the only thing my ancestors had contributed to “civilization,” they could have just dropped the mic and peaced out right then and there. I have gone through periods of my life where it’s felt like yoga has saved my life, and this is one of them. Yoga forever.
- I need spiritual community, conversation, and stimulation. I neglected this part of me for the years we lived in Phoenix, and all parts of me (health, creativity, vitality, energy, etc.) suffered as a result. Sometimes I think that I have to solve a problem all on my own—this is a recovering overachiever issue—and then someone in my life will remind me that I can ask for help (see above), which can also include prayer. For me, prayer is often about asking for help to a force or forces that I cannot see, which some people call “speaking an intention out into the universe.” That may sound woo-woo as shit, but, in my experience, it works. What, I’m going to manifest a spiritual community by holding that desire tight inside my own brain? Probably not. Instead, by sharing that desire widely, I am much more likely to find places to match up to my need. I did, and I am grateful.
- My impulse to judge how others move through life is so much more about me than them. You know, I knew this, but this lesson has been powerfully repeated of late. I used to be arrogant about what it meant to be in a long-term relationship, judgmental about what caused marriages to end. I really had no idea. You never do, right? Each human life is full of more pain and complication than we’ll ever know; when I am tempted to think “I could do better,” it’s because I’m afraid I could not. Ah, irony. Humility is such good water for me to swim in right now; it makes me a better-rounded omnivore of the human experience.
- I’m a big dog person. My life is better with a big dog in it. I went too long without a big dog in my life; I won’t make that mistake again.
What did you learn (or re-learn) about yourself, or life, this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!