Three months after the death of my husband, I came into contact with a widow that had lost her husband 5 years previous at the age of 32. She told me something that I believed with my whole heart...and when I didn't believe it, I wanted to believe it so bad. She said to me that there is a promise implicit in Life, that all things are made new. All Things New.
Almost 3 years past Joe's death, I can say that I reached that place in my mind, in my heart, and in my physical life where my state of being is in All Things New. And Mexico gave me that in the last weeks that I have been here. Sometimes the language of spirituality and even the psychological language of healing can feel a little bit mysterious...not always concrete and defined. This rubs up against my training in psychology where we strive to "operationally define" behaviors and events based on data that can be observed, measured, and interpreted. We want to be able to do this so that we can interact with behaviors and events in an authentic manner to promote wellness of experience. Whatever gifts of spirituality I have found in my life, my need to operationally define saves me. It pushes me to bring into the existence of language the things that I feel inside that are good, that are happy, that give freedom, that hurt, and that hinder.
I was laying in bed with one of my best friends one night. It was 5am, we had just returned from a night of dancing and a Vanilla Ice concert (seriously, no joke). Renee and I laid in bed, all happy. The day before I had purchased my ticket for my trip to Mexico. We laid in bed and I remember laying up against her and feeling so comfortable. And if you know me personally, you know that I panic at the thought of sharing a bed, and further, have been unable to do it. I have only been able to experience comfort and sleep in bed with two people since Joe's passing....Renee is one of them. I told Renee that I didn't know why I was so stubborn with my decision to go to Mexico right at this moment of my life. Why can't I just wait until December when other family was going to go and I could join them? Renee just laid in bed with me and said something like: "just go, Gabby...just go. you HAVE to go...and you have to go alone." She was so right. She is also an excellent school psychologist.
Mexico was the operational definition of All Things New. Mexico gave me Spanish 100% of the time, it gave me kilos for pounds, it gave me pesos for dollars, it took my phone and easy internet access away from me, it took away my car in exchange for my legs and buses, it gave me lunch at 2:30 and dinner at 9pm, it gave me an alarm clock with the song of golondrinas that nest outside my window. It gave me color, all the color that is everywhere. Mexico gave me All Things New. And I didn't know I was still looking for that...
But that was just the physical manifestations of All Things New. There are these two old parts that hadn't found resolution in me...that still lingered. One of them was depression and one of them was the fear of "staying put"...I guess a sort of instability and inability to go into a situation with a commitment to "stay". I have been entering all of my relationships from my job, to my home, to my friends, to the gentlemen I date with a sense of "this is temporary and it will soon pass". I guess that is a a natural response, a sort of wound, of losing the one person I thought was forever solid. Ever since, in my heart, everyone has felt temporary. And this has been comfortable to me. Because the alternative has been "commitment" and that would imply me "settling in". And why settle into anything that I will lose? These two wounds had lingered in me. Had lingered in me...had lingered.
I was experiencing a wave of depression about once per week up until the last week in May. I don't mean like I was sad from remembering. I wasn't even that I thought of Joe and his death. Often it was no longer related to a "state of thought"....it wasn't a series of thoughts that triggered the depression. Depression doesn't always work that way, sometimes it does (at it did for me at one point). In more recent times, depression felt like this dark cloud I would enter...sometimes at the most random times, in the middle of the day, after having a great morning. The two major features of my depression have been extreme exhaustion and an inability to feel connected to what I'm doing, like a wall that goes up between me and my desire for what I'm doing. At its heights, I would cry but I actually don't cry very often. It hurt me the most when I felt depression at work. I hated not being able to enjoy what I was doing..sometimes I would be sitting in front of a child and I would just look at them and think "you feel sooooooo far from me, I'm so sorry I can't give you the attention you deserve". And this is different from the days where I was just not that into my tasks for the day, a more normal disconnect. I could actually enjoy those. Depression and the inability to connect to what you are doing is a whole other ball game.
The other, lets call it the "staying put", is a bit more complicated. But this is what it looked like. I was unemployed when Joe died. I was offered a position as a school psychologist a year later. When I accepted the job I went into it thinking that this is a temporary position because its not in a location that I felt "I belonged in". At the time of Joe's death, we had been staying with my parents while we searched for a home. In fact, the day I signed the paperwork for his cremation was the day we had an appointment scheduled to apply for a home loan. I will never forget that day and what that felt like...I signed papers, but not at all what I thought I would be signing. When I rented my first place, I also went into it with a feeling of temporary. I didn't see myself there past the year the lease was for. Even my career has felt temporary for me. I have questioned my choice and desire to practice as a school psychologist since Joe's death. I have talked about changing this, doing that, returning here, leaving there....I'm sure I have been freaking annoying to my peoples. I know that I especially annoyed the man I dated most recently. About my decision for Mexico and Israel, he would tell me that I made his stomach hurt and gave him nightmares that he hadn't experienced in years. Why these dangerous places? He was really good to me, very patient, sweet, as understanding of me as he was able to be. But I was still temporary in my heart and that meant he was too. We ended our "friendship" that felt like a break-up, a relationship where he was probably my boyfriend had my heart not been where it was when I was there.
But the "staying put" thing....it went so deep that in one day, I sometimes worked from 3 different offices. I would start the day at a school site, in my office. About midday I would start feeling the need to "run", I felt anxious and contained in my office. So my gypsy heart would leave for my other office. I was there for a few more hours before I ended the day at a Starbucks. Staying was so hard for me...staying put has been so hard for me. I wanted to keep moving, keep moving, keep going, don't stop...don't stay long enough in one place to enjoy it because you are going to lose it anyway. Leave it before it leaves you.
One day I picked up some forms for a colleague psychologist. I went to her office but she wasn't there so I waited. I sat in her office and I could feel her in her office....everything that made her her was all over the place. It felt like she belonged there. And I cried because I hadn't been able to feel that, and what's worse, was that I hadn't wanted to feel that...it scared me.
Don't be all expectant yet that I'm coming back to the States and being all "settled in". I know well the process of Life and of a meaningful existence. I plan on taking my time of "settling into" anything...I plan on finishing my gypsy tour when my gypsy tour tells me its over. I plan on coming back to the States and waiting on my job and home search until I return from Italy and Israel. I plan on taking my time. Because although I look forward to belonging somewhere....I found that I belong everywhere.
Mexico gave me All Things New.