A Fall and my Relationship to Loneliness.

I fell down a set of concrete steps last week. And as the bruises start to surface and the scrapes reach that ugly scabby stage, I wonder if these outward wounds are a representation of something deep inside. 

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When I tumbled down those stairs, I landed at the bottom with my skirt up around my waist and as one of my friends would have delicately put it, tomorrow’s laundry in plain view. No one was around to see me in this undignified state, and I was deeply grateful for that. Yet, there was a certain loneliness I experienced as I arranged my skirts and gently picked myself up off the ground while trying to assess the damage. Though most people would have felt like intruders in that moment, there are a handful of people that I would have gladly fallen in front of in order to hear them ask me if I were ok as they rushed to my aid and made sure I was presentable and whole before helping me to my feet.

I posted later that day about the incident and I mentioned that my internal angst had manifested itself externally. I didn’t mean that flippantly. Lately, I find myself juggling the deep gratitude I hold for my own internal strength and the desire to have someone notice that I am not ok. Sometimes it feels like it has to be either/or. But, as was mentioned in a beautiful sermon I heard on Sunday, oftentimes it is actually both/and. It’s ok to want someone to help you up even while knowing you have the strength to do it yourself.

I feel like to a certain extent this has been my internal struggle for the past five years. Five years ago I began a journey of self-discovery. It included a major faith shift, huge life changes, and lots and lots of processing of who I have been, who I am now and  who I am becoming. It’s been a rewarding process. And I’ve grown really strong through it. The external circumstances that have been a part of this process have required that strength in order for me to survive them. In my husband’s words: I “have gently but firmly held things together against what often seemed like overwhelming odds.” When the therapist I had near the beginning of this process helped me realize what exactly I was doing, she warned me that this is a lonely process. There has been a lot of separation from those around me in order to discover who I am. Separation from family, from friends, and even in some ways from my husband. I am glad she told me that then, because it has helped my extroverted, community-longing self hang on through a time when past connections were slowly dissolving.

That separation has been hard for me. I hold wounds from the past 5 years that are still not completely healed. And I think most of the time, I keep those wounds to myself. Yes, I have held things together, but sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I want to let it all go and let myself fall just to see if anyone will be there to catch me.

Now, more than ever I want friends. I will never be done discovering myself, but I am hopeful that I am ready now to both reform connections and make new ones. I long for connections that are not shallow, but deep, real, raw and vulnerable. I am ready for a friend who not only can pick me up when I fall down, but who knows me well enough to notice that I’m in danger of falling before it even happens.

This is not to say that I haven’t had deep, strong connections the last five years. I have found very rewarding friendships over and over again. But our transient life the last few years has meant that what I feel I am missing is those friends that are physically present in my life. I look back with loneliness and grief on periods of time when that has been true for me, even if it was only for a short time. Even as I list out these relationships to myself, I realize how few of them actually reached a level of complete vulnerability and how very few of them have maintained it with distance. I long for intimacy, to have friends that I can feel completely safe and open with. My husband and I have discussed this often, our longing for friends and community, and our fear that it will not happen.

When I fell, I was on my way to have coffee with a friend, someone who had offered to have coffee with me should I ever need it, and I had finally taken her up on the offer. I walked shakily into that coffee shop and she bandaged up my elbow without a second thought. I know that there are people around who are ready to step up and stand beside me were I to give them the chance. But in this time of transition, I hold back from engaging too deeply, waiting rather impatiently for the next stage and hoping that it will bring with it a feeling of being settled and the courage and capacity to open myself up to be vulnerable with new people. 

Anchors

We live in a world in between. A past that we have known is soon coming to a close and an unknown future looms darkly ahead of us. How do you stay anchored in a space that has nothing to hold on to? Or is it an illusion, this idea that there is nothing certain here in this space?  

My past self whispers that here, even here, especially here, there is God. But God is not who I thought him to be. He is not an all powerful being whose unseen fingers are holding the pieces of my life, putting them together, building the puzzle of good things that have been promised me.

My head reminds me that I exist. That in the midst of uncertainty I still stand. I hold within me an image of myself that I wish I had the artistic ability to recreate. She stands holding out her hands with the palms up. In them she holds pain, pulsing, beautiful pain. The wind whips her pink hair behind her like a cape. Pure bright light bursts from some unseen point behind her, lighting up the pink streaks like flames, highlighting the beauty of her curves, the strength in her legs and arms. The pain seeps between her fingers, but she stands strong, holding it out as a sacrifice, her piercing blue eyes staring ahead into her future, not blindly, but with hope. There is a fierceness in me that will not give up. Is this enough to cling to?

My heart tells me that I cannot exist alone. It reminds me that I also hold love in those blue eyes because of those people who have stood within their gaze. It reminds me that I am anchored always by the invisible connections that extend from my chest reaching out to touch those who mean so much to me. It reminds me that my best words are written when I have felt those connections pulse about me. It reminds me of what I have always known, that life is not worth living without the fellow souls who live it with me. As I lie my head on my husband’s chest and link my fingers with his I wonder if this is my anchor. We live this unknown together. He knows perhaps more than anyone else the uncertainty that haunts my soul, because he shares it.

My feet remind me that they still long to dance. Any music that fills my head, my ears, my soul, finds its way to my feet and they dance. They teach me, remind me, that joy lives within my soul. Never has it been completely quenched, never has it been lost forever. Every dark night has ended in a sunrise. Every painful emotion has been linked inexplicably with deep, passionate, meaningful joy. Joy of discovery. Joy of friendship. Joy of love. Joy of beauty. Joy, unabashed, beautiful joy. This also anchors me. I have known enough of joy to know that it will continue to find me even in the darkest of places.

My hands remind me as I type these words that they create their best work when filled with pain. My arms are strong, they hold not only my pain, but many others’ as well. And in that work that I am called to do, creativity pulses through my fingers and I find ways to express myself. Words to paint a picture of the woman who lives within. I create in other ways too, make beautiful things to wear, but when the strongest passionate emotions fill me, it is not the sewing machine that I turn to, but the pencil. Words are my greatest passion, the thing I must do when there is nothing else left to do. Is this my anchor? The call to write, to pour myself out on to paper so that I am not lost inside myself?

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Each piece exists, and therefore each piece works with the others to anchor me. And in the interplay of the pieces together each piece gains even greater strength. A circle of energy surrounds me and allows me to survive when everything around me falls apart. It is the relationship of each piece to the others, the energy found in the connections, that speaks to me of God. If God exists, she is not out there somewhere laying a path ahead of me, but rather here inside, around, above, below and behind me. She is the source of the light behind me. She is the energy that connects souls together. She dances with me and feels the joy I feel. She pulses within my veins, bringing the words to the surface, rejoicing in the beauty I create. She is the love I feel, the hope I cling to, the energy in my dance, the strength in my arms. 

Pink = Passion

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This pink in my hair is more than just a fun experiment. It is a symbol. That doesn’t mean it isn’t also fun. 🙂 It most definitely is, and I am ok with that being what other people see when they look at me.

But for me it goes much deeper. When I look in the mirror and see these pink streaks, I am reminded of pieces of myself that are sometimes hidden. The pink actually symbolizes a lot of things for me and I’m not going to go into all of them right now, but I’d like to share about one piece of it that has become incredibly important to me right now. It is almost as if I knew that during this period of my life I would need the visible reminder of pink hair.

Pink is not practical. Pink is passion. Running deep within my soul I have discovered a woman who is strong, brave and a little bit wild. That woman is me, even though it seems easier somehow to label her as someone else. But that deep core piece of who I am, the one who makes choices based on passion rather than practicality, is the piece that has carried me through some of the most difficult years of adulthood. And I haven’t been merely surviving. Most of the time I’ve been thriving.

And as the work of the last five years seems to be all coming together, and everything feels like it’s about to burst at the seams, it is not practicality that is getting me through each day, but rather passion. In fact, practically speaking, things are pretty much a mess. The budget is all but forgotten. The house waffles between messy and barely passable. And all sorts of “practical” things are just pushed aside right now. My physical surroundings in some way mirror the internal jumble of things. John says this is a liminal space. A space between. We are nearing a threshold, about to step into a different future. We are nearly there, but not there yet. And as we hang out in this weird in between, uncomfortable space, we sometimes struggle to make it through the day to day stuff.

In particular right now the stress of everything, the unknown future, the endless to dos, the responsibilities I feel like I am shirking, the individual struggles of each of my children, and the need to constantly weigh different possible options in the never ending job search is getting to me. I feel as if I am walking along a precipice and one big gust of wind will knock me right over the edge. In fact, several times the last few days I actually did feel like I was falling. But then this passionate, no nonsense, crazy energy pushes its way forward and laughs in the face of danger. She not only walks the narrow path, but dances across it on her toes.

There is a piece of me that has always been ready for an adventure. There is a piece of me that has always made decisions based on gut and passion. I am relying on this piece to lead the way right now. And it is this piece that I am reminding myself to speak out of when in conversation with my husband. Because I do not want a safe and practical future. I want an adventure. I want a life filled with joy and passion. And I will fight hard to remind him to not settle, to remember that he married someone a little bit wild, who is not afraid to try something new, to risk it all with the hope that something amazing could possibly happen.

This pink in my hair is not all fun. It reminds me that I can do amazing things. And that, my friends, is a a dangerous and supremely wonderful truth.

Disappointment.

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Disappointment. It’s a long and stringy word, like a rope. It tends to tangle itself around our limbs, clinging on as if it were a living thing every time we try to drop it. It is one thing to cognitively adhere to the idea that gifts should not be obligatory or transactional, but it is an entirely other matter to make it through a birthday or other special event without disappointments of one kind or another.

I can do my best to just keep uttering the words, “It’s ok, it’s not that big of a deal,” but that is not enough to shake loose from the cords of disappointment that slither out of a well of never-ending hope and expectations. Like a snake, they quietly find their way into the room where my attitude sits.

It is not maturity to ignore them, any more than it is to throw a tantrum with them. Instead we must notice them and learn to sit with these additions to our attitude. To tame them. Disappointment is not foreign. Since our early days we have found the cords entangling us. Sometimes we have fought against them, other times we’ve joined forces with them and used them as a weapon attempting to strangle those around us. It is time we made peace.

When we learn to sit still next to our disappointment, the struggle ceases. The rope, though still attached to our wrist, lies still. And in that moment we notice that it is only one thing, not the entirety. We look around us and see that we are surrounded by many things–beautiful gifts left for us not just on this day, but on all the days preceding this one. Expressions of love, bright points in dark days, smiles of friends, words of appreciation. The disappointment may never disappear, but if we learn to accept it and give it just the space it needs, no more and no less, it will not overwhelm us.

Voices in my head.

The last two days I’ve been angry. Angry about a lot of things actually. My therapist has reminded me that anger is not wrong. Anger is a signal pointing out to us something important. I struggle to admit when I am angry because it doesn’t fit into the persona that I like to cultivate about who I am. I’m not an angry person. Therefore I am not angry. I’m frustrated, or a little emotional, or . . . No. I am angry.

After naming the anger, I am working on identifying what it is pointing to. Why am I angry? One of the most important things I learned from Dr. Bailey’s book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline is that we are rarely, if ever, angry for the reason we think we are. “You are making me angry,” is said so often, but never, ever true. Anger is our stuff, it stems from our internalized messages or wounds that we have or insecurities or fear. If I am angry at you, it is never your fault. I might need to address something hurtful you said or did, but you didn’t make me angry. I got angry because I have an issue that I am working on.

So, why am I angry? I’m working on that. Some of the anger I can tell you where it comes from, some of it, I am not sure. I have a feeling that deep inside I know, but I’m hiding it even from myself because I’m ashamed of it. So, I’ll keep digging.

But even after recognizing the anger and identifying where it comes from, it is important to know what to do with it. Do we let it go? Do we speak up? Do we confront? Do we forgive? Anger is powerful. But that power does not have to be destructive. It can be constructive. So, for now, I wrote a poem. I took my anger and tried to give it a voice. There are wounds here, but also hope, hope that I can rise above those wounds and choose the non-violent path of peace and love.

 

I don’t need your voices in my head.

Don’t you know they already echo in the dark recesses of my soul?

Your expectations.

Who you think I’m supposed to be.

Don’t you realize that I step out of the box in order to dismantle it?

You tell me God loves me, but what I really want to know is, do you?

Even more importantly, do I?

Do I love myself?

Do I love you?

Can I experience the love of God without saying the name of God?

Can I be the love of God without your permission or approval?

Can I create a space in this world that is truly mine. 

Can I be who I am created to be, or do I have to be what I am told to be?

Your picture is not the only picture.

Your path is not the only path.

I wish to be free.

I wish to put on wings and fly beyond the words.

Maybe up there, above everything, it will all be clear. 

Maybe up there, I will see the energy and the spaces and the connections. 

Maybe up there I will see my space and know how to fill it well.

And I will see you and how you are connected to me.

I don’t need your voices in my head.

But maybe, if I truly saw you, touched you, felt you.

Who you are. 

I would understand your place and how it connects to mine.

And I would love you.

And there, and only there, in that love, do I want to find the face of God.

It’s a New Year. 2019.

When you tend to process things in writing and you also like to be vulnerable and post about such things publicly, you will find that when the New Year rolls around Facebook will present you with undeniable evidence that you tend to exhibit certain trends around this time of year. Healthy eating goals, exercise, hopeful schedule changes. I tend to reset around this time of year. This year, my reset has as much to do with attitude as with any of those things. And as with all of those intentions, this one will also need to be revisited throughout the year to maintain.

My husband has a birthday at the end of December. It is, without a doubt, possibly one of the worst times to have a birthday. Right smack between Christmas and New Year’s, his expectations are somewhat low for a special day devoted to marking his start of a new year. This year we had a communication failure that ended up in him having a pretty lousy day. This coupled with the depression that was already quite low, meant the days leading up to New Year’s Day were quite hard.

John’s birthday is the 30th. On New Year’s Even I woke up without hope. It was so hard to envision any sort of future as I look into a year that will have to include a lot of change. We can’t just sit back and maintain the status quo. It isn’t that the status quo is that great right now anyway. The last year has been rough. There are lots of positive highlights, but just as many, if not more, really sucky things. And right now, even though we are technically in the middle of a job search for a priest position starting this summer, there are days I cannot picture a future at all.

I wrote the following words in my journal that morning: “This year is hard to hold hope. There is so much unknown. I can see clearly the pain that lies ahead. I want to be able to face it with courage, to remind myself that the pain is the shadow, which means there must also be light. But right now I am afraid. I do not know how much will be asked of me this coming year. Will I have the strength to meet it?”

Along with the fear that I was feeling, I also recognized anger. Anger at circumstances and situations that have robbed me of things. And in my journal I allowed myself to express those things. But afterwards I wrote gentle words of encouragement to myself, ending with “It’s ok to be angry. But what you do with it matters.”

That night, we lit a fire in the fireplace and gathered around it. Being all together as a family is important, but I’m going to be very real with you and admit that it is hard right now. The kids ages and all the stress that we have all internalized the last few years mean that peace and calm are never long-lived, and even meaningful connection is punctuated by frustration, tears, and misunderstanding. So, it is important to focus not on the negative parts of that night, but the positive. The light reflecting off my children’s faces. Their smiles. Their laughter. Seth had written a letter to Emma and had asked if he could put it in the fire to let the message go up to her in the smoke. So, we lit that fire, and all together, we watched the note burn and crumble and the smoke rise. This was true sacrament. 

I asked my kids what their favorite memories of the year had been and I asked them what their hopes for the new year were. Some answers were expected, some took me by surprise. All showed my kids deep inner selves.

After everyone but Elise, John, and I had gone to bed, we sat and talked. We laughed and teased. Regrets were shared. Hopes and creative ideas for the future were discussed. Eventually Elise also retired and John and I sat and dreamed together. We painted a picture of what life could be like this year. We talked about job opportunities and we talked about logistics. I don’t know if the specific plans we made will actually come to be as obviously we don’t yet know where he will get job offers to, but what we envisioned was hopeful and exciting to the both of us and that was something that I hadn’t felt in awhile.

I woke the morning of January 1, 2019 full of hope. A song by George Ezra ran through my head:

“If it’s a new day,

Why don’t we invent a new world to explore?

Why don’t we create a moment to remember

In five years?

Winner’s just a word,

Loser’s just one too.

Oh, forever dreaming

Lullaby.”

 

The song is called “Only a Human” and the chorus goes like this:

“You can run, you can jump

Might fuck it up

But you can’t blame yourself

No, you’re just human

Come on, come on

No, you can’t blame yourself

You’re just human.”

This is my song for the year. I step forward choosing hope. I will take risks this year. Risks that open up possibilities for a healthy future for me and my family. But I will also hold gentleness. Gentleness for myself and for others when things inevitably fall apart. Because life is not perfect. In the light, there is pain. In the shadow of joy, sorrow lives. I choose it all because it is beautiful only in its wholeness.newyearseve2018

Three Paths to and from Relationship.

On Mondays I go to therapy. This is a new addition to my schedule, so my relationship with this therapist is just beginning. But despite the fact that I’ve only had two sessions so far, there is a sensitivity to the undercurrents in my life that has resulted from my openness to delve deeper into my soul with someone else. The intention to do this work has been enough to initiate it.

This week my focus has been on relationship. My mind has been turning that word over and over and looking at from all different angles. And it was all a result of one question my therapist asked me: “Is there someone in your life who you’d be willing to take a risk with and go deeper?” This simple question has led me down several different interesting and unexpected paths this week.

A story, in which I recognize that I don’t like to be alone.

Before I take you down these paths with me, let me tell you a story. Once I was a little girl growing up on a farm in a house heated by a wood stove and the bodies of six healthy active children. I was rarely alone, and as one of the few true extroverts in my family, I never saw that as a bad thing. 

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Even at night I shared a bed with my older sister. Sometimes she would force me to lie on her side of the bed for 10 minutes while she lay on mine so that when we switched her side would be nice and toasty. It doesn’t make a lot of sense in my adult head, but at the time we were both convinced that I was so much warmer than her that I warmed up her spot more than she warmed up mine. But it didn’t really matter that much to me. To have companionship even while sleeping was enough to put up with any sibling tension. If I kept her physically warm, she kept me emotionally safe.

I don’t think I realized how much I relied on her until the day she went on a two week trip without me. For the first time in my life, I was forced to sleep alone and the prospect was terrifying to me. I was so used to her protective presence that I slept with our large stuffed bear at my back each night to keep myself from feeling exposed to whatever dangers lurked outside our dark windows.

Path 1, in which I unexpectedly cry over unhealed wounds and loneliness.

So, with that little peek into how I tick, let us proceed with this week’s journey. Monday I went to therapy. During my session we touched briefly on the need for healthy supportive friendships. And my therapist asked the above mentioned question.

On Wednesday morning I sat at my table in my patio visualizing my relationship with a particular friend, practicing the ability to sit with and then let go, as I often cling to people. As I let that friend go, I was suddenly aware of so many other people. The names of my family and other people I love, as well as the general sense of the community that we are physically surrounded with here on campus, filled my head, one after another. I was aware of an interconnectedness that left me with an actual physical sensation of tingling energy. I felt joy and peace as I sat with these people.

But it didn’t end there. As is my morning practice, I picked up my journal to record my experience and see where it led me. That path should have been full of light, but it got dark surprisingly fast. With my mind full of these people I thought about the question my therapist had asked. Which of these people could I go deeper with? There are several that I am already doing that with, but as I pondered my present community I was hit with grief. A past event emerged and a wound reopened and before the morning was out I found myself sobbing in the car after I dropped the kids off at school. 

I am not at liberty to share the details of that event because it would trespass on the privacy of others, and that is part of the problem. It is hard to know how to navigate a painful situation with transparency and sensitivity. How to keep private what belongs to others and still process the pain that is mine. There is a lot of perceived rejection surrounding this event. Rejection that I recognize is mostly in my head, but the pain I internalized is still very real. And as I cried tears of pain and anger and grief, I realized that because of this event, I chose to start looking at my present community as temporary rather than essential. I withdrew. And therefore I have experienced loneliness as a result.

Path 2, in which I remember that loss is part of life.

I pulled myself together, made a mental note that this would probably be something worth discussing in my next Monday session and headed to work. It was a good day. Work went well, and there was an interaction with someone that was significant to me. Someone brought up Emma, and in our brief conversation, even though I had tears in my eyes, I appreciated the connection this friend initiated and the connection to my daughter that it allowed me to reinforce.

I didn’t think much more of it until Thursday morning when I woke from a dream in which I was pregnant. This is sort of a recurring theme in many of my dreams, and as I usually do, I wondered where it came from. What is it that lies deep within me that brings this out? 

I was exhausted, and I was facing one of the hardest days of my week, so I put the dream aside and continued with my morning routine. There were no fascinating events in my quiet time and my journaling was filled with recognition that the day was going to be hard and I would need to be aware of self-care.

It wasn’t until I sat on the bus headed to work that I found myself on this second path. Deep sadness hit me. It was very real, but very comfortable. The kind of sadness I don’t mind inviting in and sitting with. I thought of Emma and of loss, and I held the sadness close. And I realized that this was also a story of relationship — relationship lost.

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This path is very familiar to me. This particular journey down this well trodden path began last week. One of the reasons relationship came up in my therapy session on Monday was because of a conversation I had with a friend about the need to hold people loosely, with an open hand. The authority in which I spoke to her was experience. The two examples I used were the loss of my child Emma and the journey over the last two years to see myself as separate from my husband, a journey that has allowed me to love both myself and him more fully. It is in fact just a deeper and more serious version of the lesson I learned as a little girl learning to sleep alone. The words I wrote to her were these: “You see, in order to really help others, we need to reach out to them from a place of centeredness in ourselves. When we do that, we are actually able to offer them a place of stability and safety. If we are reaching out to them because we are defined by them or because we cannot imagine our lives without them, then we are not safe and it is hard for us to help them be safe.”

I’ve walked this path before, and I feel comfortable on it. I may be noticing new things along the way, like the fact that my pregnancy dreams perhaps relate to the death of the  relationship with my daughter, but I sort of feel like I know where this path goes.

It is of course when we think we know where we are going that we find ourselves somewhere completely new and unexpected. Path 2 was actually very much a shadow of path 1, but I didn’t make that connection until I had walked path 3 and then taken the time to write the journey down.

Path 3, in which I am humbled in the realization that I have barely begun to know how to love.

Thursday ended with a long talk with another friend via phone. The connection between us is strong and vibrant and fills me with energy. Which is why I woke early on Friday morning with my mind and body still humming with that energy. But this is a person that I tend to cling to, and my time in silence Friday morning was spent reminding myself that I am separate, but connected. To hold him with an open hand.

I envisioned another connection that morning as well. Still, strong and stable, a cord stretched between my heart and my husband’s. I was comfortable in those feelings, but something niggled at the back of my mind. I had used my relationship with John several times over the last week as an example of holding someone with an open hand, but something didn’t feel quite right. As I pondered my hesitancy to envision this connection with a pulsing vibrant power, rather than the still quiet strength that I was feeling, a thought surfaced in my journaling. A relationship is made of two people. Both must hold each other loosely. A truly healthy fulfilling relationship is one in which each person is there because they want to be there, not because they need to be. And so I started wondering about the possibility of holding someone loosely while they held on tight. What would that connection feel like? Humbled, I realized that the more important question is how do I respond if I perceive this to be the case? I like to be needed. It wasn’t hard for my sister to convince me to warm her side of the bed because deep down I desire to fill someone else’s needs. So, it is not enough for me to recognize that I exist apart from the other person and that without them I will survive. I must also recognize that they exist apart from me, and without me they will also survive. To truly love someone is to desire them to not need me. And that hits me hard. Because my true fear is this–if they do not need me, will they still want me? 

And so this path ended up circling me back to the first path. I have experienced the loss that comes through death, but that is not the only type of loss that we can experience in life. Loss can also come in the form of rejection. And that type of loss I am a whole lot more uncomfortable with. 

A Dance, in which it all gets mixed together and I experience a metaphor of life.

Friday night was Advent Affair–a night of revelry and dancing for the students of VTS and their significant others. John and I have always gone, partly because once I realized that I was expected and encouraged to dance in public at this thing, I don’t like to miss it. This year, both John and I approached this day with a bit of hesitation. Despite being a part of this community for 2 1/2 years, we both feel the struggle to find our true space within it. John’s stress and depression affect his willingness to interact with people and the pain that surfaced earlier in this week for me colored my perspective as well. I went for the dancing and I think my husband went for me. And so we walked in that door, full of our insecurities and pain, but there. Present. And I danced. Two previous years of Advent Affair have loosened me up and given me the permission to let go on the dance floor. Sometimes I danced alone. Sometimes I danced with a partner. Sometimes I danced with everyone in that room at the same time. Some moments were awkward. Some were full of confidence. I smiled and laughed and eventually lost myself and found myself in the chaotic abandon of full body expression. I’m still learning to dance with people. Since I was not raised in a tradition that valued dancing, I have learned to dance alone. And in my few experiences of dancing on a crowded dance floor, I am surprised at how easy it is to still be dancing alone. But that’s ok. I’ve worked so hard to learn to be safe alone, that I don’t mind taking a bit longer to learn to dance with others.

My night ended with a rare dance with John. Rare because he has not yet learned the art of abandoning himself to the dance. Our steps are not very synched, our energies so very different, but I still found extreme pleasure in being in his arms, being together with him, letting it be whatever it was. This is life–sometimes awkward, sometimes graceful. A beautiful attempt to connect with those around us. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we get it right. Our best attempts flow out of the security and confidence we find in ourselves. But even our shy inexperienced steps are rewarded because we are all in this together, and our energies interact to fill and empty and play and learn and dance with each other.