I’m curled up in bed reading a book about a woman who finds herself when it strikes me, this crazy notion. The book isn’t so different, and certainly no more entertaining than the umpteen books I’ve read about women finding themselves, but this one, perhaps by its very lack of interest, causes me to pause. I put the book down and think about writing for the first time in months.
I used to write because there was some momentous shift in my personal world and I needed to document it, to share it, to mourn it or celebrate it. I wrote when I was feeling lost, or torn, or sad or deliriously happy. I wrote about things in the past, things in the present and things I hoped to God were in the future.
But if I were honest with myself, I wrote mostly when I was lonely, which was every time I was alone. See, that’s what they never tell you about motherhood, especially young motherhood, is that you forget how to be alone, and I am certainly guilty of that. So I wrote. And I say wrote in the past tense because it is very true.
As I thought about all those pages of vomited feelings and logs of my tumultuous thoughts, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt the need to write. It was then, sitting under the electric blanket and letting my mind wander, hearing each and every wind outside and the bubble of my soda beside me and the race of my blood behind my eardrums, that I realized that a momentous shift that had occurred tonight and without me even noticing.
It’s been a year since the big bang. A year since the split and almost two years since my oldest moved away from home. When you’re considering a year of cable service, it’s not a big deal. However, a year in your life can be more telling than the decade before it. Such a truth has been very evident in my own life.
But, I digress. A year has passed and in the beginning I wrote every day, multiple times a day. I had blogs. I had journals. I had paper napkins written on with runny gel pens. But I always wrote. One could suggest that I’ve just been busy and that’s why the words have stayed in my head rather than on paper or print, but tonight … tonight, it was evident that there has been a shift.
I worked a normal eight hours and arrived home on time, which for me is rare. Even more rare, the house was empty and quiet when I arrived. My first reaction – a sigh. This means it is me who picks up the trashcan from the curb, me who lets the dog out, me who moves the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Though I did all those things, and got the mail additionally, I could not bring myself to waste the quiet.
I ran a bath and finished a book. Once upon a time, that wouldn’t be cause for exclamation. These days, it is a semi-annual event at best. I took a bath and finished a book and sang a song to the dog, who nervously paced outside my porcelain chaise. I rose, dressed and made a dinner for one. I turned on the electric blanket, grabbed a book and the TV remote controls.
I felt accomplished in my lounging. I’d managed the near impossible feat of finishing a bath, a movie and a book in one evening. I listened to the sounds as evening fell and watched the sun set through the louvered blinds.
But it wasn’t until I sat down to start this new book about a woman finding herself through a journey from trauma to enlightenment that it hit me. I didn’t write. I didn’t even think of writing or desire it or miss it. A whole night alone, and I hadn’t written – I had relaxed and been alone and survived without a dose of melancholy.
There it was - my big realization. I’m not sitting down each night to write. I’m not pacing in my bathroom sobbing over the complete lack of direction in my life. I’m not pining for lands and people that I’ve never met or seen, or wishing I were anywhere but here. I’m. Just. Living.
The story in the book continued as the woman pressed her forehead to the bathroom floor and recited one of those mantras I’ve used myself many times over the years. “I don’t want this life/ marriage/ job/ house/ town/ etc.” I realized in that moment that after years of forehead pressing of my own, of repeating the mantra to myself over and over and screaming it silently in my head, of tears and fights - my head and heart are quiet. Somewhere over the course of this past year, I’ve forgotten to be miserable and wallow in my own literary depression.
I’ve found peace, acceptance and love, and as cliche as it sounds, it has changed my life. So, what you may ask, is my momentous shift? I daresay I’ve discovered how to just be happy.