Today is my 38th birthday and I am ready to blog again. There I said it. I put it out there to all of you. Now I am accountable. Now I am about to get my creative ON.
And I am ready because of two miracles that happened today which I will get to later in this post.
I’m sure you can imagine why I have stayed off this very public forum. This space is for me. It has been a safe place to document, to reflect, and to share. I write about what’s going on in front of me. I have found that this makes it very freeing and less about what I think people want to read about. I tried blogging about parenting only or homeschooling only or creativity only. But I am all of it and none of it. I write for release. I write for the me now. But what happens when what is in front of you is very private and very raw? I have two teenagers, a pubescent, and two children who are old enough to play on their own but still young enough that they need me to read bedtime stories to them. We are making some dramatic changes to our life and to some they have been abrupt and unwanted.
Shit is getting real here.
I have been holding space for all of us. There have been outbursts, freak outs, and full on biblical lamentations. I have held children in embraces in the middle of the hallway, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a song. A dear friend called me last week asking who was holding space for me as I talked about giving my kids room to feel it all. I burst into tears. I realized that as I held the space for my family, I had to hold it all in. Hold back the tears, hold back the emotion, and hold my breath. I needed to put it all on hold so I could stand and be what they needed me to be. There were times that I folded into my husband, collapsing to take a small reprieve. But even then, I held it in. There was just still so much that I could not let out.
And in that moment, I understood “how I was.” I finally could put a name to the all encompassing feeling that filled me but I didn’t want to give space to because there is so much to be grateful and happy about. But here I am, steeped in this unfamiliar emotion.
Here is what wikipedia has to say about sorrow:
Sorrow is an emotion, feeling or sentiment. Sorrow “is more ‘intense’ than sadness… it implies a long-term state”. At the same time “sorrow — but not unhappiness — suggests a degree of resignation… which lends sorrow its peculiar air of dignity”.
Moreover, “in terms of attitude, sorrow can be said to be half way between sadness (accepting) and distress (not accepting)”.
This completely defines how I have been feeling throughout the spring and into the first bit of summer. As much as I have felt grateful for it all, there has even been a tinge of sorrow in the gratitude because it has a lot to do with saying goodbye and moving on.
And looking at the etymology of the word, I find this:
Old English sorg “grief, regret, trouble, care, pain, anxiety.”
Grief. Another piece to the puzzle.
Grief is another can of worms I can open right now. I know it’s there. I know there will be more especially in September. But simply acknowledging and giving a place for sorrow and grief to mingle is already helping me exhale. I am sure, if you continue to read this blog for the next 100 days, there will be plenty of reference to grief.
I have been sad and distressed before but this is not what it is. It is exactly somewhere in between that I have taken up residence. And sorrow does have a “peculiar air of dignity.” It is almost romantic. An ode to an age where there is a beauty in staying still in sorrow instead of distracting ourselves out of it or numbing the feeling all together.
An underlying sorrow has tinged most of my emotions. Like a thin layer of dust settling on undisturbed furniture pieces in an abandoned home, sorrow blankets the things I have not faced yet.
Accompanying the Wikipedia entry on “sorrow” is Van Gogh’s aptly-named sketch, Sorrow:
I love this sketch. And to be honest, it looks like me. Sagging boobs, paunch belly, unbrushed hair, and all. But in a strange way, it gives me comfort to look at it. It’s as if she is saying to the world, “Leave me be. I am going to sit right here stripped and exposed, feel both beautiful and disgusted sitting in my shit, and I just don’t give a fuck.” YES.
Which brings me to my 100 day project. 100 days of love notes. I used to write a love note for my oldest daughter every day and put it in her lunch box when she was in school. They were more for me than her. I see that now. I needed to know that she knew. I wanted it written down to make it official and so that she knew I took the time to record what I loved about her. For the next 100 days, I want to give space to what I love that’s in front of me – the big and the small because this is why I have felt the sorrow. The sorrow of anticipated missing. The sorrow of looking back. The sorrow of letting be. The sorrow of loving across distances. These love notes will be my way of giving a place at the table for sorrow and grief. It is my way of disturbing the dust just enough to shift things around. Letters to write to make enough space for miracles.
As I wrote in my journal today, two miracles occurred to get me here again.
- My daughter sent her flight info to us and is not returning on July 29 as we had thought. She is returning on July 28 which means we can say one last goodbye to the house as a family.
- My friend, Ulrike, commented on an old post of mine, expressing gratitude for having this blog as a reference.
These two things happened one after the other. Two tiny miracles that made me shift a touch. (And reading last year’s birthday post helped a little too. Making those birthday intentions led to a year of unbelievable adventures and life changes.)
And the third miracle is that I found my Book of Hours. I had lost it and didn’t have the heart to start a new one until I found the old. I was also not in the creating place I was in last year at this time. But I am going to return to it. The last page that I had touched was a page full of the warmest colours. We were in Costa Rica and the kids were getting a lesson in natural paints from a German botanist we had met. We had used different tropical plant material including turmeric, hibiscus, and other flowers to paint the page. And here is my entry today:
Today’s letter is a love note to myself.
Oh sorrow. To give something a name begins the story of it. Now that I have found a name for this place, I understand it. Sorrow prepares you for joy. Let the sorrow carry you. Let it move you deeper into life. Let it tug at you when you least expect it. Let it violently sweep everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. Curl up and hold yourself as the housecleaning dispels the dust bunnies you’ve made friends with. Allow yourself to sink just this once because I guarantee you won’t feel like you’re drowning this time. Because guess what my love?
You are a motherfucking mermaid.
With love and forgiveness and the most gentle embraces,
The Love of your Life – You.
If you wrote a love note to yourself, what would YOU say? Would you be kind? Would you accuse? Would you give comfort or criticize?