Muse

Not many will appreciate what I have to say about my state of mind right now. I’m not writing to please any audience, even one that is quite small. If I piss you off and you’re done with me, so be it. Read on if you are curious, and remember – don’t judge, don’t fix, just read. Thank you.~P.

You are welcome to enter my world, but I will warn you, time moves differently here. I see things through a lens that is influenced by Grief. Let me remind you that Grief is at my side. May I also introduce you to Grief’s children: Failure, Compassion, Rage, Love, Persistence, Agony, Kindness, and Truth. I spend my time talking, cycling, and living with each of them. Existence is the father of Grief. While I was sleeping very briefly one night many months ago, Existence laid a new Timeline by my feet. I awoke to find it crumpled a bit and kind of hanging over the corner of my bed. 

This Timeline is a dark grayish blue, kind of like fresh, field-picked blueberries. I sat up and refocused my eyes to see it more clearly. It’s surface fluctuated between being smooth as glass and then would change to the fathomless depths of a starless sky. My hands instinctively reached for it, and I cradled and dragged it up, pulling it closer to me, smoothing out its form. I see there are a few frayed ends that are loose. This reminds me of my Timeline of my previous journey. The wispy threads make me nervous, I am trying to tuck them back into the simple weaving now, hoping they won’t keep popping out. In my impatience, I decide that the loosest of these threads won’t work, so I pull them out. I’m too tired to get out of bed just yet, so these I drop to the floor over the edge, and I see them float motionless in air for what is one of my deep breaths, before gravity took over. 

I remember that I stayed in bed that morning, a little longer than I should have, and I half-dreamed that I was stuck in a time-loop. Every day from here forward, I would wake to the same empty stomach, eyes wet with tears, and my body cold to the touch. No reprieve, and now this Timeline I hold is only adding weight to my situation. It does not embrace me or offer kind words, it is just there, in bed with me. Existence may of thought of it as a gift, but to me it is a burden. 

Every night is now the same. My Timeline takes me to bed, teases me with its possibilities and lets me think that I am in control. It feels light on top of me for brief moments, and then it squeezes my wrists and presses me against my sheets. At that point, I cannot get up, and I know any sound that escapes my mouth or body will make it feel even more real. The only thing I can do is close my eyes, and the darkness inside of my mind is interrupted with bursts of color from the pain of it all. 

In the daytime, my companions have been Persistence and Love. They are helping me find ways to heal myself and sort out my thoughts. Sometimes Rage joins us, but Persistence doesn’t let him stay for long. Yesterday, just the three of us had a long talk. I want to share with you what we talked about, what’s been weighing on my mind. 

First I turned to Persistence, and burst out, “I will never choose what is convenient or easy. I’m that person who picks the longer route to ride, maybe because it goes by an interesting rolling field or maybe it’s just because I fucking feel like it. I will attack any number of steps needed to achieve a goal. I’ll play it out like a game of chess, three moves ahead. You won’t see my face contort in pain if I’m trying to speed up on my last lap of a run at the gym, I’ll push that energy back inside me and straight to where my legs need that final push.” Love replied, “Do and be all these things, but remember to love yourself in the process, dear.” And then Persistence jumped in, “If you are all these things, then you are strong enough to push your Timeline away when you want to.”

I sighed deeply, and then I let out my next thought, “I can’t help it that I’m showing signs of my impatience with people and the world again. I’ve gotten to this point of feeling tired of being disappointed with meeting new people. Every time so far, it’s the same after I let them in. Initial interest, some life stories peek out, funny shared moments. Then, there is this wall that we run into, me being on one side wanting to ask some bigger questions that really matter about life, and how we fit together as friends or otherwise, and on the other side, that person seems to walk away to continue with their full-life pre-meeting-me. In the end of it, I feel left out, like I didn’t belong or fit into any equation in the first place.” Persistence calmly said, “You keep finding new people to reach out to, that’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t always work out. I’m proud of you for trying.” Love chimed in, “Exactly, and you felt that spark, and it was nice, right?” Me being me, I couldn’t help taking that in for only a second, then I had to ruin the moment and said, “The other person didn’t lose me, the fact is, they never had me and they never really wanted me in the first place.” 

I continued my rant full-on, “I need to be around people who can give me what I need and who make me happy. If someone makes me sad, I have enough of that, so I choose to put distance between us or let them go entirely. I can’t lead in a budding friendship, I just don’t and can’t do that. I know what I have to offer, it’s up to them to show me what they have to give me. Is it that hard to commit already to having someone like me in your life, is it that much of a chore? I am afraid of very little these days, but I see others’ fear or inability to open their capacity for more friendship, new ideas, and love, and it frustrates me. Is it something about age, me being 48, and those others out there are just set in their ways, with what’s easy and comfortable?” 

Love and Persistence knew I had more to say, so they both just smiled, and let me continue. “I am anything but comfortable. Every day I am doing things out of my comfort zone. This is my new normal. The hardest decision ever made was letting go of Jon in both mind and body. All decisions now are easier than that. I think people don’t get that about me. All of these decisions are black or white, it’s just the people in between that are all shades of fuzzy grey that I can’t see clearly and mess me up.” Love leaned in, “Only you know what you have been through and the loss you carry, there will be others who understand that. Not many, but those who do will love you more deeply, they will cherish your friendship and be there to wipe your tears.” Persistence gently took my hand and patted it, “Waiting is so hard for you, honey, when you see a path that feels right, trust your instincts and take it, no path is wrong, it will only lead you to the next one.” 

Tears are flowing down my cheeks now, dripping onto the hand of Persistence holding mine. I think out loud, “Maybe I’m putting the blame on other people, when it’s me with the problem. Nothing can contain me. I feel like my mind is a world traveler and I don’t have borders or a place that I lovingly call home. I think my lack of solid footing may be unsettling to people, I haven’t exactly lived life in a straight line. It’s back to the idea of those boxes, I don’t fit in any of them accept ‘widow,’ and not many want to touch that with a 10-foot pole. Maybe I’m just that person who is the perpetual muse, that inspiration for others to find their happy and reach their goals. I have nothing as my own accept that silent knowing that I helped another person I deeply care about when they needed someone to push them in the direction they needed to go.” Love said, “Yes, you have been a muse for many throughout your life. Please see this as your strength. Offering it to others will bring you great joy.” 

Persistence was now grabbing each of my shoulders, staring directly into my face, it was hard to look directly back. She said, “You were born to give to others, when you do, you will receive great gifts in return without expecting them. You are so much more than ‘widow’, and I will remind you every day to see yourself being all of the Paulas.” Love put her hand on my back and gently rubbed in small circles. She whispered in my ear and I felt her warm breath, “Not many people love the way you do. You need to show as many as possible, and keep giving, for the sum of all those you love will make a beautiful whole. Your life will be overflowing as you never imagined.”

I leaned my head back, my eyes squeezed tight shut, these words are hard to hear and more difficult to understand how it’s all supposed to work out. I exhaled, and as I did, I felt the hands of Persistence and Love release me. I think they did not go away, but rather lay softly now on my skin, like having a silk sweater on, they are just the right temperature and feel so soft to the touch. I found myself standing there, with my arms embracing myself, rubbing my arms and feeling this comfort. I only hope that in the near future, there are those who will want to touch me, so I can share how wonderful this actually feels. ~Paula

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