It is common knowledge that even the best laid plans can take you on a journey that dramatically twists and turns much like a Jack Pine with it’s crooked branching, deviating from the original growth pattern or path. This past year, I took such a journey…
I sat wallowing in self-pity of my miserable life. I was seamlessly able to dole out advice to others and had used my blog to reach others in need, however, my own personal life was faltering. How did I get to this point? How did I arrive at a place where I was struggling daily to find any shred of positivity in my life? I was angry at my circumstance and found myself questioning every decision I had ever made up to this exact moment; my light was growing dim.
I had spent the last 9 years of my life dealing with my husband’s cancer, his platelet disorder, his 10 month recovery from a botched surgery, a bicycling accident that left him with a compound fracture and currently, the possibility of Frontal Temporal Dementia. All of this in addition to being a mother of 4 children. Somewhere between the platelet disorder and the botched surgery, I was experiencing my own crisis…I was spiraling into a major depression. Over the years my husband had ceased being a supportive partner, he was no longer capable of sharing in any decision-making process, and most difficult…he was no longer my lover. I felt an unshakable loneliness and resentment and I longed for normalcy. A diagnosis of Frontal Temporal Dementia would mean that my husband would suffer a slow, horrific death that would include disturbing behaviors. My husband’s doctors had recommended that I come in to their office and speak with their psychologists in order to help me process my husband’s potential diagnosis. I remember after a few visits one psychologist said to me, “Mild depression would be like having a cold, you wouldn’t feel very well but could get through your day. Moderate depression could be compared to the flu. You….you have pneumonia! You are suffering from a major depressive episode.” Really? This person was actually going to accept a payment from my insurance company for that diagnosis? I didn’t need a degree in psychology to know that I was struggling to cope with the overwhelming challenges that were facing me. I could guide others on how to find their light, and yet, I was seemingly no longer able to find my way out of the darkness.
I searched my soul for direction and made the decision to go “home”. I had left my small town roots 25 years ago and headed for the big city. I had found myself longing deeply for that irreplaceable, small town feel and the comfort of family and friends. I had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how strong that I was, I really could not manage alone any longer. We put our home up for sale and began to pack our lives into boxes; much like I had compartmentalized all of my heartbreak. Items were carefully wrapped up tight and the boxes sealed. If only my painful memories could be tucked away into a box and opened if and when I wanted to revisit them. Unfortunately, life does not work that way.
As aforementioned, the best laid plans can deviate from the path and anything and everything that could have gone awry, did. I found myself in complete and total confusion as to why, seemingly, every decision that I made crumbled like a dry saltine cracker. After a few major adjustments to the original plan, I found myself alone. Initially, I was shocked at the outcome of this major life decision, however, what I didn’t realize at that moment, this was not the final outcome; my journey was only just beginning.
As strange as it may seem, I have never been alone. I have always had a full, very busy household filled with laughter, teasing, arguing, pranks, continuous chatter and an incredible amount of love. I had never had the opportunity to sit alone with my thoughts for more than a day, and I found myself forced into a relationship with the stranger in my head. As the hours and days passed, I slowly began to peel back the damaged layers in my efforts to understand and coexist with this unfamiliar being. What I learned about this amazing spirit is that she has an overwhelming capacity to survive even in the darkest of moments, she values kindness and compassion, she recognizes that even the most seemingly terrible situation can bring strength and wisdom, she is intelligent and has a flair for wit and humor; suddenly the voice became very familiar…
This journey wasn’t about a relocation, this journey was about a soul retrieval. I was forced into aloneness to find my spirit and to learn to recognize my own voice. I consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity for discovery and self reflection as it has afforded me time to recharge and remember. I feel an amazing sense of clarity that had been lost for some time.
While the Jack Pine’s branches are crooked and twisting, the roots are strong and grow deep into the soil. Wherever the bend, there is always a way back to the beginning.
Photo courtesy of portraitoftheearth.com