finding happy

one mile from my front door

I sit here in the livingroom, cool air running over my bare shoulders through the open window. The only noises I hear are the clicking of the water pump while it fills the washer full of cloth diapers, the whoosh of the occasional car that drives by and the breeze rustling the rhododendrons outside the front window. This is the first time in over a week the windows have been open during the daylight hours. Until today the heat and humidity has been utterly oppressive (so cliché, but really the most appropriate word for it). As soon as the temperature outside creeps over the temperature inside, I’ve been battening down the hatches to preserve every molecule of cooler air I can inside the house. (In case you haven’t figured it out, I don’t have AC). The weather gods say the rest of this week will be more of the three H’s so well known to New Englanders – hazy, hot and humid. This makes today’s weather truly a precious gift.

The start of this week was more rocky than I expected. The Man ventured off to place more paving stones on the path towards his dream while the older kids went to the ex’s for their week with her. This little nest feels quite empty with just the baby and I in it. The times in my life that I’ve been single I’ve really appreciated the solitude and what it has offered me. But this feels like someone pulled out the table cloth from underneath the dishes; a little exciting, a bit of awe, and fairly unnerving all at the same time.

One of the things I’ve been feeling this week that has surprised me may seem a little odd to some. Even though I feel pretty anxious about being alone in the house with just the baby, I feel a really strong sense of peace. And today as I sat here finishing my lunch of roasted chicken, garlic kale and potatoes, I felt deeply happy. This might not seem unusual to some people. You know the ones I’m talking about, they exude positivity even in the face of tragedy – so much so it almost seems false. Or at least it feels false to me; I’ve never quite been able to believe anyone can be that happy all the time.

For me to feel happiness, at this deep of a level, is very new. Most of my life has been woven with a thick vines of depression and anxiety. They peaked when Pip (the Eldest) was born; anxiety and depression dug deep, sinewy roots into the soil, refusing to be yanked out like the choking, invasive weeds they were. There were a couple things that finally allowed their grip on my mental health to be loosened and uprooted: ending my relationship with my ex and changing my relationship with food, namely corn. Both the ex and the corn got evicted from my life. The change in how I felt was remarkable. I told my therapist at the time that prior to removing corn from my diet, things had shifted a little, like turning the thin plastic rod on the blinds to let little bars of light into the room. But when I removed corn it was like ripping open the drapes and yanking hard on the pull cords to let the full, streaming sun in. Profound. Yet I still have never felt quite settled in myself, something was still missing and I often feel sadness over it’s absence.

If I were to outline my current circumstances, you might wonder how I’m not depressed. Financially things are a little more than tricky right now which is the ultimate stressor. The venture that the man is on is his first paid work since December, the first income we’ll have had since March. He’s guaranteed a week of work, we’re hoping for longer obviously. I’m nearly certain it will be.

Today I feel as though I’m tapping into some little inner place of knowing. It’s a place I’ve bumped into in the dark before, but today it’s looking me right in the face – here I am, you can’t ignore me anymore! I know that things are going to work out. The past few months have been fraught with worry for me; our lives propped up on rickety, rotten boards on a rocky shore, bracing myself for the ruinous crumbling at every strong wave that licks the algae covered stilts keeping us above water. Last week sometime a shift began to happen. The Man was asked to come to where he is now and he surmised he may be asked to extend his time away, perhaps going further away until the middle of August. When he cautiously broached the possibility to me and asked what direction I felt he should go, I found myself literally flinging my arms wide and saying with genuine enthusiasm “YES”.

If you knew me like I know me, you would know how significantly out of the ordinary this is. I like plans, I like predictability (that little Aspergerian apple I have does not fall far from the tree). For a long time, I’ve been a quiet passenger to where the Universe has directed my life and mostly this has worked out. The stagnant times where it was unclear where I was heading next were short and there was usually an inkling here and there of what would be coming up as I crested hills. Enough so I could trust that there was an order or reason that would be clear to me soon. Recently though, and perhaps exacerbated by the weight of a new baby in our family, the uncertainty was maddening to me and I, in turn, drove the Man crazy with my worrying. He kept assuring me that he was setting up scaffolding for our future, but what I couldn’t see scared me. I was afraid he was fashioning the Emporer’s New Life for us and when I crested the next hill, he would be the only one who believed in it enough to actually see it.

In the last week a slow cohesiveness has been happening not only for his dreams, but for my own. Instead of just waiting for the Universe to show me the way and trotting along behind it while it led me places, I decided to take hold of the reins a bit. I could never quite decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’ve tried on preschool teacher, receptionist, cashier, at home sewing business, doula, reiki teacher and social worker. I almost became a massage therapist but got pregnant and would be due in the middle of the schooling so that got tabled. I also considered midwifery school at one point. None those things felt, or feels, exactly right for me. So I am finally taking myself seriously as a writer. This is huge and it feels so incredibly right. Writing has always been a part of who I am, part of what makes and keeps me sane. The decision to try to make being a writer paid work: blinding flash of the obvious. Embracing this journey, working to make this happen, feels like exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Exactly. I should be doing nothing different right now. Inhale. Exhale.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this kind of clarity before. I’ve always felt like I was on my way somewhere (just never quite sure where) or coming from somewhere (and wondering if that was the right choice). I let little doubting voices that sound a lot like my father and grandfather make me believe that there was no way that you could make an actual living being a writer.  And yet in the last few weeks I’ve stumbled on women, mamas, who write write write like it’s their job, because it IS their job.

I can see the same thing happening for the Man and even though we are physically apart right now, I am so grateful to be sharing this shift with him. Good things are coming, big things are coming, soon, very very soon. I’m still scared, I’m still anxious, I still need to pay my bills, but at this moment, here in this place, the water is calm. The breeze that licked the ocean a mile away carries the salt to my nostrils and I breathe, deeply, and know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, this is the reason for everything before it.

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