“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life – where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” – Miranda July
Shortly after moving to Austin, I experienced a “friendship breakup” with two longtime friends. This was a wrenching gut-punch that I did not want nor expect.
From one day to the next, my world completely changed and everything was imbued with pain. I felt misunderstood and discarded – my self-esteem shattered across the floor.
Every day felt like an exercise of floating through the world in my own muffled cellophane bubble, just trying to make it to the next hour. I clawed at the walls of my bubble, but they wouldn’t give. I screamed for help, but my voice just sounded like a garbled whimper beneath the plastic. Nothing would free me. Nothing would pop.
I was wide-eyed. Detached. My sentences trailed off in mid-air, in the middle of conversations my gaze would wander to a spot on the wall and just freeze there. My eyes welled with tears as a knee jerk response to anything, good or bad.
I stopped trying to make friends in my new city. I was caught in the muck for months, haunted by the notion that I was unlovable, and I needed to hang out in that muck for a while to find the lessons underneath.
What mattered was getting my body to work, to home, to making meals, to doing the very basics – making the daily routine happen. What mattered was taking deep breaths. And leaning on my spiritual teachers and practices. And really LIVING the lessons, breathing them into every cell, instead of just reading and writing about them.
* * *
When a crisis happens, you are allowed to stop. You are allowed to rest. You are allowed to momentarily sink into your cocoon.
There is so much pressure to keep performing, to keep circling along like everything is perfectly hunky-dory, like this crisis is just a sad stupid thing that doesn’t matter.
But if you’re upset… it matters. Your well-being matters, and your well-being is worth stopping for. Your emotions are worth paying attention to.
Hold a conch shell to your heart, and listen closely. How can you return to your fiery, vibrant self if you don’t?
Mother yourself. Lick your wounds. Take a break from the noise of the world so you can tune back into your heart.
Resist the urge to blame and gossip – that will only lead you down a small, cramped, bitter path. Own your part in the situation.
Ask for space. If people would rather leave than give you space – let them leave.
Wail. Rage. Cry. Journal. Feel it all.
Forgive yourself and forgive them… countless times a day. Let your forgiveness be a never-ending incantation that you chant between breaths. Let it carry you to unlikely spaces.
Wish everyone well on their journey. Vow to do things differently next time. Rise higher.
And when you’re ready… don’t skip this final crucial step…
Get back on the wagon.
* * *
I knew I would eventually bounce back… I just didn’t know how long it would take.
Here is what I do know: my partner and friends and family have kept me afloat. This entire time, as my blog has laid dormant, people keep buying my book. People keep visiting my website. People have been waiting for me to show up.
So I’m back because I believe in healing through Showing Up, and I believe in Life, and for feeling Alive while it’s happening. We don’t have to move in a linear fashion. We just need to find a tiny sense of momentum, and let that energy roll us to our next destination.
I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful for the lessons. I’m grateful for the friendships lost and the new ones that have come rushing into their place, breathlessly, like air whooshing into the vacuum.
I’m not sure what my next artistic endeavor will be… but learning how to be happy in the aftermath, how to be humbled and curious and brave and fresh, has been the gift of a lifetime.
Peace and Tattered Remains of Cellophane Bubbles,