Saturday, September 19, 2009

Keeping On

If you ever need to track me down, chances are that between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, Monday to Friday, you'll find me at Bridgehead (corner of Bank and Albert). That's where I spend my lunch hour, when I try to squeeze a little more writing time into my day. This past Thursday, sipping a coffee, I wrote a sentence or two and then closed my notebook.

I surveyed the coffee shop and saw many familiar faces, faces that were nameless. Each day our lives intersect at Bridgehead but we don't know each other, don't say hello but yet there's still something communal about the experience. And that set me to thinking about my life — where I've been, where I am, where I'm hoping to go. There has been, for some time now, an "uneasiness" gnawing at my heart, this muddled sense of belonging while at the same time a strong feeling of being à part. I have been trying to live with, to borrow the title of Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir, "an unquiet mind".

As I contemplated my life I was, for the first time and finally, honest with myself ...

By all accounts I have no complaints. I have my health, a loving and supportive circle of friends, a [good] job, a home. That being said, I realize that, in a way, I have been on autopilot, surviving as opposed to living. I did not know how to grieve (and I'm not sure if grieve is the right word, or celebrate?) the end of an eight-year relationship. It was a relationship that had ended as qucikly as it had begun. And the ending, just like the beginning, had felt so right.

As the relationship ended, I left a job that was taking a considerable toll on my mental health for one that I thought held the promise of a bright future. Here I did not know how to handle the disappointment, how I ended up being a total mismatch with my new colleagues, and how, within just weeks of starting in my new position, I was desperate to get out. Add to both of these events the stress of finding a new place to live, movinig, settling in — striving to make a new home.

My life had been, for all intent and purposes, completely turned in on itself and I had (or so I thought) carried on as though life was normal, stable, calm. (Hindsight: such a beautiful thing!)

As I look back I realize something unexpected happened. I had lost confidence in myself, I had lost sight of my self. I may have shown up every day at the page to write, but I stopped submitting my writing. It was, very quickly, collecting in a file folder on my desk. Having sold a number of paintings the year before, I stopped exhibiting my work. Not wanting to rush into the world of dating, I let my heart freeze over. I didn't "trust" myself, doubted that I had talent, that I was lovable or that I could love again.

Slowly but surely, like "The Little Engine that Could" — I think I can, I think I can — I'm getting back on track. I'm submitting my writing and paintings, I've renewed confidence in myself. The unexpected presence of a kind-hearted, handsome and caring man in my life has certainly helped to edge that along.

As I write, the sun is shining. There's a gentle breeze, the air is cool. I'm by myself at a table on the patio at the Bridgehead in my neighbourhood but I am not alone. I am laying track again and today, as I did yesterday and will tomorrow, too, I keep on keeping on.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,M! I hope for more sunny days ahead for you. You are a sunbeam in our lives.