This past week I’ve been feeling a bit unsteady and uneasy. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is but I do notice how it affects my ability to focus and remember little things. Every day of the week has seemed to be “one of those days” when I drop things, accidentally leave things at home, forget to get back to people, and have things break on me ( screen of my new laptop that is not under warranty). My life on the surface is going well in so many countable ways, but underneath is an unaccounted for layer of overwhelm and generalized discomfort. I haven’t analyzed it too much. I can come up with a couple of innocuous excuses and I assume it will pass. I have been unusually calm throughout as I dismiss each frustrating experience as it happens. It could all be so much worse and I frankly don’t have the energy to get upset about it.
That’s why I am completely caught by surprise when at the end of the week, as I am sharing an experience one evening with other parents, that I become emotional. My voice catches and I feel the tears welling. I have to take a breath and stop talking for fear that the flood gates will open and I will just sob. This is not typical of me. I rarely wallow in the mire and muck of negativity, and am usually pretty matter of fact about challenges I may be experiencing in my life, able to see the bigger picture, having faith that there is a greater design. And I certainly try not to let down my guard in public. The unexpected raw emotions really cause me to stop in my tracks. There is something bigger going on and I need to listen to it. But what is it saying?
I am pondering all of the above this morning as I am drying my hair. Suddenly, mid-dry, the hair dryer dies. Broken on the spot without giving even a wheeze of a hint beforehand. I am proud of myself (have you seen my long, thick hair?) as I just place the hairdryer down and think, with wet hair dripping down my towel, “Okay. It’s one of those days. I’ll just buy a new one later.” But then I also think, “This is getting ridiculous. What is the message the universe is trying to tell me this week?”
In this last week of the Jewish year, last week of summer vacation, I have been waiting for some revelation to come. This is usually a time for reflection and anticipation, that in the best case scenarios include plans for renewal and intention setting. I haven’t yet been able to concentrate on any of that and although I know this is my time to start assessing my life, making amends and resolutions, I can’t seem to take advantage of it. My state of forgetfulness, carelessness and frustrating experiences aren’t helping. Once again, I wonder, staring at the the broken hair dryer that seems to be taunting me: When will the inspiration come?
That’s exactly when I receive the text from a friend who is starting to heal from a series of traumatic events and is reaching out for connection. They are hoping I’ll forgive their absence in my life. It is my pleasure to throw love back at them and to celebrate with them their return from the darkness into a lighter, more empowered, healthy place. I write back immediately, reassuring them of my love, and making a plan to speak later today.
I then realize that I had forgotten to text back a different friend (I told you it was that kind of week) who had reached out last week because they are having a hard time with parenting issues; they know I have experienced similar scenarios. I reach out and we make plan to connect later this week.
Soon after that I read an email thanking me, from someone who turned to me at the beginning of the week, for advice about his teen who is experiencing depression. I had not been in touch with this family for a few years so it is a surprise to me when they reach out. After I speak with the parent at length, earlier this week, I end up speaking to the teen for a while, as well. The child has some “aha” moments during our conversation and I leave the call feeling grateful that they chose me, although I can’t imagine how that decision came about. After our connection, I, for one, feel like an unexpected gift was dropped on me. The gift of helping someone else. It fills me with purpose.
I then return to prepping for a workshop that I will be facilitating next weekend about Parenting Children who are on a Different Path than most. I have spent a good chunk of time this past week working on it.
There is definitely a theme emerging. I’m beginning to realize that this whole week has been wrapped a bit in being human, feeling emotions, connecting with others, sharing strategies and experiences, reducing stigma, learning lessons, overcoming struggles, and moving forward.
Until now I have been experiencing the week without processing it. I just go through the motions of each day, feeling a bit less steady than usual. Now it occurs to me that it might not be coincidental that as I am feeling vulnerable, that I am being given positive examples of people in need who are reaching out. Although I am used to sharing hard times I’ve experienced, after the fact, I tend to go inward while the struggle is happening. However, each time I lend my support to someone else, I feel stronger. And when I accidently showed my emotional hand last night, I appreciated immensely the support I received. It really helped. I truly felt and even commented as we said good night that I was so happy to be going into the New Year with these supportive friends by my side.
I think I’m being shown that alone I am not as strong and capable. That I need the connection of others to steady me and to really find my ultimate happiness. I need to reach out to others. I need to make time for the connection.
I now know that this Next Year I will strive to have a year filled with connection to others. One that includes regular sharing, helping, getting emotional at times, and loving. One in which it is just as normal for me to share a good cry with someone as it is for them to lean on me. And, most likely, these will be the people I share the belly laughs with also.
A quote from the book Relational Judaism by Dr. Ron Wolfson, really speaks to me: The image of God is within but the presence of God is found “in the between” in our relationships. Yes. That’s where I find the spirituality I was waiting for. Relationships are holy. Community is essential. Those who share with me are showing strength. When I connect with someone else in a way that is real and vulnerable I feel my heart expand and my body get lighter. I’m much more steady and find more relief when I’m sharing with others and others are sharing with me.
I am pretty sure these revelations won’t be able to bring back my hair dryer to life, but perhaps I can walk into the New Year feeling grateful for and more conscious of the presence of holiness in my relationships. The spirituality I seek is not something I need to await. It is waiting for me. And I am reaching out.