Upsurge of Unbelonging

Still feeling the effects of yesterday’s upsurge of unbelonging. This living at the mercy of others has made me realize how alone I am in a coupled world. I’d pretty much come to terms with my situation, but that acceptance has deserted me momentarily. Exacerbating the situation, I’ve been researching various possibilities of non-automobile trips to take if I don’t have my car back in two weeks, and all of a sudden, the thought of taking a train to Seattle and then an Alaska cruise sounded wonderful. (Anything to escape this intense heat.) And then came the reality — cruises are based on double occupancy. Couples.

WANDERLUSTIt astonishes me the breadth and depth of grief. Whenever I think I’m done with it, there comes I day when I didn’t sleep well, didn’t eat well, and the sorrow settles over me again. I thought I was okay being around couples — after all, this is a coupled world — but these days of vulnerability show me . . . well, they show me I’m still vulnerable.

I hope I don’t sound as self-pitying as I feel. There’s no real reason for feeling sorry for myself. I’m reasonably healthy, still have friends who welcome me into their homes, have dancing and blogging, and perhaps one day soon, I’ll have my car back. I bet seeing that rejuvenated VW bug will make me feel rejuvenated, and if not it will certainly make me feel free.

But free to do what? That still is the question, isn’t it?

I have lost the habit I once had of telling myself, “I am where I am supposed to be.” Perhaps it’s time to start reminding myself again of that simple truth (or hope?). Maybe I am where I am supposed to be. Maybe the unsettledness and unbelonging I feel are symptoms of letting go. I’ve had to let go of so much over the past few years. My life mate/soul mate. Our home. My brother. My parents. My parent’s house where I found refuge in my grief. I’ve even had to let go of my grief. It’s in the letting go that we make room for what is to come, so I can see that my current state is necessary but oh, why does everything have to be so hard?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Gift From the Universe

I’m continuing my experiment in sanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so as usual today, I went for a walk in the desert, following the same rocky paths I’d trodden the past few days. It was exceedingly hot, much hotter than yesterday or the day before, and I was drenched in sweat by the time I got to my standing spot — the spot where I stood the past couple of days and let myself just be.

The air was still. I heard the far-off whine of an airplane, the faint alarm of a distant piece of heavy equipment backing up, the buzz of a fly as it whizzed past my head. Today I saw no jackrabbit, no humans. There was just me, those few slight sounds, the desert knolls surrounding the area, the creosote bushes dotting the sandy expanse, the hot still air, the clear blue sky.

I quieted my thoughts, then after a minute or so, I spoke my new mantra.

This “mantra” appeared when I tagged my article Being Where I am Supposed to Be. I used the tags “being happy,” “being me,” “being where I am supposed to be,” and I had to smile at the sappy little ditty those tags formed. So today, out there in the desert, in the still of the heat, I said, “I am happy. I am being me. I am where I am supposed to be.” As soon as I finished speaking the word “be,” a cool current of air flowed by.

I stood there, blissfully comfortable, until the air stilled again, then I continued my walk.

I do not believe in signs or intentional gifts from the universe. The truth is, a small breeze shows in up the desert at about that same time every day, and the timing was entirely coincidental. (People think I’m silly for walking in the desert heat, but that mid-morning breeze makes the desert cooler than the city.)

Still, intentional or not, coincidental or not, that coolness was a wonderful gift, and it made me realize that once again, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It also proved my point, that as long as one is not indulging in self-destructive or insane behavior, sanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Being Where I am Supposed to Be

I was happy today. I didn’t feel giddily gleeful, just a quiet peace that came from knowing I was where I was supposed to be.

I’d been walking in the desert, ruminating over my petty concerns. I have no major problems at the moment — I have a place to stay and food to eat, and I feel no great lingering sorrow over the death of my life mate/soul mate — but there are small matters that niggle at me. I seem to have crossed some invisible line where I no longer attract people through my words, but am actually starting to repel them — people have been blocking me on Facebook, and often it’s because of a simple non-combative comment I made in one of my discussion groups. I also wonder how to entice people to read my books, and I still ponder the whole issue of my writing. Although I am coming to an accommodation with continuing to write despite lackluster sales, I still am not comfortable with the idea of being a writer among millions of other writers — never have liked being a face in the crowd.

So there I was, walking, thinking, talking a bit to my deceased mate, when it suddenly dawned on me that at that very moment, I was not a face in the crowd. There was no crowd — just me. I stopped and looked around. A jackrabbit loped by, but other than that, no creature made itself known. I felt the breeze cooling my sweat, heard the air whistling faintly as it passed my ears. I stilled my thoughts and simply stood there in the middle of the desert, deep blue skies above, sun-warmed soil beneath the soles of my shoes, desert knolls surrounding me and blocking any view of the nearby city.

A friend who has endured far worse grief than I have, told me that she is finding peace by telling herself that she is happy. Alone out there in the desert, I decided I was finally ready to take the next step in going on with my life, so I thought, “I am happy.” And I realized that was the truth of it. Right then, I was happy. I had no sense of longing for something or someone, no sense of waiting. My entire life — all the joys and pains, the learning and creating, the loves and losses — had led to that very moment, and I felt as if I had arrived where I was supposed to be. There was no reason for me to be there, nothing to for me to do, no task to accomplish. All I had to do was simply . . . be.

One cannot stand in the middle of the desert forever, so eventually, I continued my walk, still feeling the effects of that moment. There are few perfect moments in life, but that was one of them. (I’m smiling as I write this. Can you tell?)

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