I have been in Arizona for just over a month. When I first arrived, I saw familiar faces everywhere I went. At least, I imagined that I did. In the grocery store, at a local bar and restaurant, I would do a double take and the face of a friend would turn into that of a stranger.
Days and weeks passed, and I seemed to float in a haze of cleaning, organizing, and what I might describe as domestic bliss of some sort.
Within this haze, I experienced moments of clarity, when the reality of this great shift would occur to me. I felt them in my stomach, throat, and heart.
A couple of nights ago, a wave of reality and emotion hit me suddenly and with great power. Tears began and images swept through my mind, so quickly that I could not quite put them into words when my partner gently asked if I was ok. Maybe, if I just let them wash over me, they would continue on their way and leave me in peace.
Images of dinners with my parents, performances, faces of friends, brick and stone, my cat sleeping soundly beside me on a pillow all washed over me and with them, waves of tears I had not anticipated.
They had been just beneath the surface. How had I not noticed them until they forced their way out? I have worked so diligently to become aware of my own mind and body. I suppose that decades of dedicated training to ignore pain is not unlearned in a mere year or two or even though.
“I guess the honeymoon period is over,” I whispered in a voice muffled by emotion.
“It’s ok,” came the calming response. “We are works in progress, and we have our whole lives.”
I marvel at his ability for patience and grounding. I am not a patient person. I want resolution for painful encounters to happen right away. I try to create am immediate resolution in the wake of an argument, however false. Just make the pain go away and let everything be all right.
Thich Nhat Hanh (1992) has written of damaging effects of the desire to eradicate parts of ourselves that cause us pain, suggesting that we “throw out what is unwanted and keep only what is wanted. But what is left may not be very much. If we try to throw away what we don’t want, we may throw away most of ourselves (p. 52).”
I do not wish to be a hollow shell of my self, and I recognize that each experience of joy and pain and everything in between blends together to build the person I am today.
Thus, I am trying to embrace the idea that it is healthy to wallow in my feelings. I may not ever make sense of relationships that have gone awry or be able to fix them. But I can try to practice acceptance.
When I explained my predicament to a friend, he offered advice.
“Perhaps, you need to give your spirit time to catch up with your body.”
I am certain he is right. The quick and seemingly easy path to perfection is likely more damaging than helpful in the long run.
So, I am listening to the words of wise friends and reading the words of wise thinkers.
And in the words of David Byrne, “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out.”