(I’m not one for long drawn out stories, but this one poured out)
For months we have retreated (isolated) in the name of a public health emergency. During that time, I have stayed home for the most part. I was ill with a severe respiratory illness. The days have been long and tedious, with continuous remote learning and homeschool instruction. Being a ‘nana,’ I wouldn’t have signed up for this, but the kids are in my care. I did what had to do.
When the kids finish their lesson, they run out the door to play in the sunshine. Once I am alone, my thoughts scatter, and I find things have mentally shifted. Gone are the worrying days of raising my kids. They are grown and living in their choices, be it good or bad. Now, I work to stay calm in patience in raising grandkids. How did I get here, and am I suited for this task?
I have been a champion of living outside of feelings. Lately, it seems I am feeling more than ever during this trying time. Losing my routine was a loss I was ill-prepared to handle. I experienced anger, sadness, and frustration at the stay at home order. We all love vacation. But this is no vacation.
Thrown into long-term forced isolation shut me down. I prefer a quiet and quaint cabin, away from everyone and everything. Being stuffed into close confinement with a group of people, even my family has been difficult. The irritation of accepting personality differences weighed on me. Tolerance faded fast, and silence became my norm. I allowed myself to retreat into my soul. While it wasn’t quiet, it was safe and thought-provoking.
Self Searching and Reflecting
The joy of floundering in the center of my being is that I am free. Unrestricted, I leave this world behind. My thoughts focus on home, and for the first time in a long time, I reflect on my life and nothing else. It sounds selfish, but this reflection is imperative for personal growth. I rarely stop and consider deeper aspects of myself, so it has been refreshing. Unfortunately, these single moments have also been eye-opening.
My journey has led me down a rabbit hole. Chasing disappointments that have plagued me for years now, I am somber. There is a sense of grief for a person I desired to be. My sheltered dreams seem unattainable. Life is more about everyone else than me. I have grandkids to raise temporarily, kids to see through and out of addiction, and one last child waiting to fly the coup. Maybe our little house on the prairie is feeling more like a compound in the desert. The truth is, I am dying to escape.
Years ago, my husband took a job transfer to Florida. I willingly accepted the move and challenge. Falling in love with Florida made it hard to return home only a few short years later. Again, I took the assignment and drove with my mom, kids, and dogs back to Colorado. I left my dream house behind. Each mile toward my home state, I felt the tension rise and hope sway. I knew it was a bad idea, but I quietly succumbed to fate. Tears rolled down as I saw the house my husband chose. (note to self, never hand over house picking to your spouse. Stay involved.)
However, after the shock subsided, I found gratitude in knowing he still had a job, and we had a home. He slowly built our current house into a beautiful piece of property. It feels like the restoring will never end. Yet, he works hard to make it something I enjoy. With every upgrade and detail, his effort is endless. I wish it fixed the empty hole in my heart. I am left grieving a life we left behind, and a peace I’ve not found again.
There have been joys while back in Colorado. I now have four grandchildren. The apples of my eye are everything. In all the turmoil we experience, they are the love. God powerfully blessed us. We have both been employed and do well financially. We have vehicles, food, and luxuries of everyday life in the U.S. Material gifts are nice, but they don’t comfort the heart of a simple soul.
Pursuing a lost life.
While I swirl in the sorrow of a lost life, I grasp for something tangible to pull me in. I always thought if I threw myself into my family and kept busy with them, I would find fulfillment and content. It turns out life revolves around living, not people. If my focus is sharply on everyone’s success, then who is looking out for me? In my life, I roll aimlessly along while others do what they do. I am not living; I am merely existing. I am inserted into a piece of their story, while never writing one of my own.
For years, I contemplated the concept of lost identity. As life continues to bombard me with junk, I lose track of time. It baffles me that young girls in their 20’s find themselves lost when they have yet to begin the game. I find it sad that the end of motherhood so railroads women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s (like me), that we are left floating along with no real place in a life that appears foreign.
I resigned years ago to my failure. I signed up, and I stayed, I chose, I settled, I made my decision. It is what it is. With no vision of what the future holds, all you can do is strap on the parachute and jump. The free fall is exhilarating and breath-taking (in good and bad ways). The journey has been less than gratifying. Being in isolation has forced me to look at the outcome of all my choices, and I am disappointed. Maybe this is normal, and there shouldn’t be guilt. However, I feel guilty about those I let down and myself.
I want to be different than I am. I want to take all my experiences and summarize some fantastic stories of survival and belief. That is not how I see it. Though there has been survival, and my life reflects faith, I remain void of satisfaction, contentment, and peace. I long for something I can’t quite put my finger on- other than more.
Wrapped in all these feelings about life, I learned that I don’t feel anymore. Everything in me has changed. A smile is a rare treat, laughter has faded, and my tears are dried up. Gone are the glorious light and love that used to penetrate those around me. Where did I go? What created this barren space within a saved soul?
Is it possible to get it all back? Can we take back what we willingly let go, and will it ever be the same? The story continues..