As sentimental as I am about libraries, I confess these days to feeling really outdated reading library books in public as people open e-readers and tablets. I think – aren’t I saving trees too – re-using a book rather than buying one? In my book club of more than 20 years, I’m one of the only remaining members who still checks out library books.
I have suffered for years. I have endured betrayals and job losses and the pain of love and the absence of love. Seeing what others need and taking care of them comes naturally to me, but it doesn’t come as naturally to nurture my own needs. I have not been very good at being there for me.
Each time a big change comes in my life, I have a tendency to focus on loss instead of gain. The loss of time, the loss of comfort, the loss of mental space.
Maybe that’s why I clung to my name. I needed some daily reminder that here I was, that no matter what I was doing or not doing, it was me, me doing it.
Differing views and values, past grievances and loss, can strain the best of us. It’s no wonder that some people stay estranged rather than try to understand, or to forgive. In the end, people can only decide this for themselves.
As I returned this week and picked up where I’d left off at home, I realized that the dichotomous nature of my life on the road is mirrored elsewhere. I feel caught between two selves – the capable and more present one needed by my aging parents, and the increasingly separate and less capable one in my kids’ worlds, especially their digital ones.
Friendship, she said, can be life altering. It’s what gets many women out of bed in the morning, brings them laughter, affirms their choices – allowing them to move on after the death of a spouse, their own illness, personal loss, or family strife. There is no one circumstance but there is one fact: Friendship means survival.
So we talked about how quickly we assume that another’s adjustment to newness and change is easier than our own. An adage came to mind that I’d just read recently: “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”
Like so much we inherit, phobias come along for the ride and it is hard to shake lose of them. From my own experience and from observing family, I know how limited my life could become if I have to stop flying (my mother hasn’t been on a plane in nearly 20 years). I am determined not to let it happen.
If thousands of these wondrous flowers could be their perfect selves, there was hope for a broken twelve-year-old girl.
It’s time we let them go, I said. And I really meant it. I felt as if I were saying this for the first time. It wasn’t easy – as obvious as it seems. But it felt honest, and okay.