On the road again...

Photo by  Steluma  (under  Flickr Creative Commons )

I’ve been pensive lately, friends. Not so much “here,” but in real life. I’ve retreated. I’ve stayed home. I’ve stayed put. I’ve stayed quiet and reflected

I was doing well lining up the dominoes (so to speak) through the fall. We had schedules set, we had our routines. School, Taekwondo, gym, soccer, etc. Once the holidays hit, and the move was upon us, all hell broke loose. We were up, down, up, and down again. We got busy, and off balance, and I burned out. Before I knew it, it’d been more than three months since we’d sat tight for a whole weekend. “Life tired,’ and just plain old tired, I chose to step away from the world for a while to get my soul right. It’s something I tend to do on occasion. It’s not because I’m depressed, or because I don’t want to see people I care about; it’s a self-care measure I have learned to harness when I realize I’m becoming overwhelmed. It helps me make sense of things, or at least deal with the fact that some things just don’t make sense. It’s worked well for me in the past, and this time was no different. After some serious soul searching, some honing in on what was really “ailing me” as my mother likes to say, it dawned on me what was throwing me off. 

I’m about to say something so foolish, that I can’t believe I’m about to say it. The thing about experiencing what I did last year is that I think, on some level, it fooled me into a false sense of bravado. That’s not to say I’m not as tough or as strong as I “think” I am—because I know I am, but somehow I’d convinced myself that because this shitty thing happened; this nearly unbearable, awful, terrible thing, that somehow I was going to be impervious to the pain of every day life. I’d somehow made myself believe that almost nothing could hurt as bad as what I’d already experienced; and while that may still be true, I overlooked the fact that nothing hurting as bad does not equal nothing hurting. Nothing earth-shattering has happened. No giant, life altering thing, for which I’m grateful; just normal life things (yes, multiple things) that happen to people; that confuse people, that disappoint people, that hurt people’s feelings.

At first, I have to admit I was baffled. People have been handling me with “kid gloves” for so long, I think I genuinely forgot what it felt like to be a “typical” person among the masses. Part of me felt mad. I mean…doesn’t the world know I’ve been disappointed enough? But after taking that time at home to get myself back to center, it dawned on me…isn’t this what I asked for? 

Not to be disappointed or hurt, of course, but I mean, to live “normally?” To be just another mom, just another woman, just another friend? The thing about that, is that when people aren’t being delicate with you because your husband is dying, they’re just people. They’re just humans, like me, with feelings, and fears, and shit that happens to them that alters how they treat people: good, bad, or indifferent. Just like my life experience has altered how I treat people, how I treat life

Which brings me to my second most foolish statement of the day: while I know that having bad things happen doesn’t save you from other bad things happening, having my own health being brought to the spotlight recently really grated on me. It was irrational. It wasn’t the most clearly I’ve ever thought about things. I’m beyond fortunate to have found an incredibly thorough high risk doctor (ICYMI: I’m at high risk for breast cancer. Not what you want to hear when you’re just less than a year out from being a widow with three kids, one of whom just started talking in sentences.) However, the notion that I was “up shit’s creek without a paddle” should I get sick anytime soon wasn’t lost on me. Considering the network of superwomen in my support system, I know I’m not totally on my own, but it wasn’t comforting to hear, nonetheless. On the flip side of the coin, having been where I’ve been, I know that knowledge is power. I know that no matter how scary some things sound, lots of options are a shit-ton better than none. I also know that being proactive is better than waiting for the one-two punch; which knocked some serious sense to me when the doctor offered me great insight on some preventative measures. 

So while none of this was what I had in mind when I said I wanted a “normal” life, it is all part and parcel, isn’t it? Normal doesn’t mean “easy.” It doesn’t mean I’d move into my pretty house and feel all better, and no one would ever say something mean about me, or treat me in a lousy way. It doesn’t mean I’ll never feel scared again, or hurt again, or feel stupid again. In fact, the one thing I’m sure of after this whole drawn-out experience is that maybe there really is no such thing as normal. Maybe there’s just life, whatever that means. All of us driving the same road in different cars, at different speeds, with different dents, and to different destinations. After my little detour off onto the side of the road these past few weeks to get my soul right, I’m feeling pretty good. In fact, I just got a new car (to replace my van that up and died on me!), so I’ll be pulling back into my lane any minute. You’ll know it’s me by the windows down and the Bruce Springsteen blasting on the radio. Beep, beep, friends!

Megan Courtney