Two weeks. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve written to you, and that’s officially how long it takes ya’ll to become worried about me.
I started getting “are you okay?” emails a few days ago. Then the “we really do appreciate you” emails trickled in, a few at time. When the “I’m praying for you, G!” messages started, I figured I’d better get back to the computer.
It’s interesting to realize that if you drop off the face of the Earth, a lot of people will notice and care. It’s a little terrifying to a roly-poly person like me, someone who likes to curl up in her shell and pretend she doesn’t exist. It’s scary to allow people to have expectations of you, to allow yourself to be needed. Once I got overwhelmed by others’ expectations and I decided that I wanted the Universe to leave me well enough alone. So of course the Universe said, Sure Sweetheart, Try It Your Way. I moved to a small town where no one knew or needed me at all. And it was wonderful – for about three months. Then I started dying a little. Being isolated from others, it’s like having your circulation cut off. You start to get numb, and then you start falling apart. It’s hard to be needed, but it’s harder not to be. So anyway, thank you for needing me. I need you, too.
While we’re on the subject, I must tell you that I’ve stopped replying to Monkee messages. I was losing even more sleep and worrying all day about to whom I’d responded and to whom I hadn’t – and whether my responses were good enough, helpful enough- and it got to be a little unhealthy for me. This blog is my big old thank you letter to the world. If you send me a thank you letter for my thank you letter I will be thrilled and delighted. But I won’t send you a thank you letter for your thank you letter for my thank you letter. Not right away, at least. I’ve never been big on etiquette.
What you do need to know is that your emails are the fuel for my writing. I read and save every single one and they make me cry and think and laugh and they are what propels my bottom back to the computer. I need your emails.I need you to tell me how you feel. And here’s my promise to myself and to you: I will respond to every single one, eventually. You and I may be eighty when it happens, but it’ll happen. Wouldn’t that be grand? Emailing each other as elderly monkees? I hope we’ll still be wearing our sassy hoodies.
Here’s what’s happening over here. I’m in a strange limbo-ish place. I keep swaying between gratitude and sadness.
I am grateful that my children and I are settling. I am grateful for my new community, my new neighborhood, my new church. I love my church. Church can be such a good place, done right. If you need a church home, you should come visit us. Sweet Loretta will welcome you and our pastors Elliott and Elizabeth will inspire you and we will all sing to you. You will be safe.
In my new community I’ve found several women whom I seem to need already, and who seem to need me, too. This is the kind of neighborhood where people expect a lot of each other, and that is good for me. People are all up in each other’s business and home and families the way people are supposed to be. It’s very small town-ish in that way. This small town way of life requires hospitality.
I have always yearned to be hospitable – my obsession with monasteries never ends, and I want my home to be like a monastery . . . to exist for others, to always take people in, to be a safe place to hide. I want this to be a home not just for my family but for my neighbors. Unfortunately, this sort of thing – hospitality- doesn’t come naturally to me. I have always felt terror at the prospect of having people over. But the thing is that I have a very narrow comfort zone, and so if I only do things that don’t terrify me I will spend my whole life in flannel pants on the couch with several bottles of Nutella and the Housewives.
So I’ve been practicing being a good neighbor, making myself open my front door and worry less about a clean house and pretty food and more about the people who enter. It’s been really, really, good. Letting people in is crucial for me. I can’t pretend that what I do here is enough. Letting people into my head and heart through my writing is not the same as letting people into my home and family. Gotta do both. And the more I practice hospitality, the better I get. I don’t mean the more Martha Stewart I get, I mean the less Martha Stewart I get. The less I concern myself with how my guest feels about my home and my food and the more I concern myself with how my guest feels. I can handle being that kind of hostess. And I am – I’m doing it.
My home has been filled with people lately. And I’m discovering a new side of myself, who actually likes this hostessing thing. It’s like when I got Theo and realized…Oh my God, I’m an animal lover! I thought I hated animals and now I’m ready to get naked for PETA. Who knew?? Life is like playing with those little Russian nesting dolls that pop out of each other one at a time….just when you think there can’t be any more versions of yourself . . . look! There’s still more!
And in the midst of all my gratitude, I’ve also been very sad because of the adoption. Still nothing definite, but all signs point toward not gonna happen. Last week I was sitting on my back deck staring at the stars and begging God for a miracle, and I experienced major deja vu, which is God’s way of saying . . . Focus up, Sister – We’ve Been Here Before. I was reminded of my twelve year old self, sitting on the back patio of my childhood home, praying for a miracle. The miracle for which I was praying was that God would allow me to meet and marry Sebastian Bach from the eighties band Skid Row. Now I’m sure Mr. Bach has had a lovely life, but I just can’t imagine that giving myself to this man in holy matrimony would have been good for my long-term sobriety.
Now I don’t really see how adopting an orphan from Africa and marrying a drug addicted eighties headbanger would be similar. I’m just saying, life is weird, so maybe they are, what do I know? Maybe I don’t have a clue what the hell kind of miracle I need right now. Maybe God’s saying –
I know better, Lovie, I can do even better. It’s just like I told you on Bubba and Tisha’s patio when you were twelve . . . G- Hold On. Mr. Bach isn’t the one for you. Trust me. In fifteen years you’re gonna meet Mr. Melton….
Even though my soul knows that all is well and always has been well and will continue to be well -my heart is sick and my head is panicking and grasping at straws, trying to fix unfixable things. My head is such an ass.
My head is saying . . Kay. Next PLAN. Domestic adoption? Pregnancy? Nothing? Decide, Decide, Decide! My head is always trying to cheat loss with replacement. It says to me: Skip the grieving, it’s too hard! Get busy, get distracted! Sadness and stillness are too uncomfortable, too unproductive . . . let’s get moving!
And my soul says . . . No, honey. There are no shortcuts. Let It Be. When you skip the grieving, you miss the blessing. More will be revealed. Just sit with this. Life is sad sometimes, it’s okay to be sad. Even if you are surrounded by more blessings than you can count. It’s okay to be sad.
It’s okay to be grateful and sad at the same time.
My new friend Beirne taught me that. It’s a long story, which I can’t wait to tell you in detail, but basically she taught me that things can fall under the and/both theory. Two things that seem contradictory can, in fact, both be true. I can tell my family and friends that I’m fine, that I’m grateful for what I have, and mean it. And I can sit by myself in the bathroom and cry for what I’ve lost, and mean it.
These days, I am full of joy and sorrow. I am blessed beyond what one woman could hope for and I am also yearning for more, different, else. I am content and sad. Full and empty. Both/and. It’s okay. It just is. I’m human, you know.
Probably typos in this one…not gonna edit. Children all over me. 1,386 hours till school re-opens. Sweet Jesus Have Mercy.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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