Friday, November 7, 2014

The Hallway

You know that expression, the one that says "God doesn't close one door without opening another one"?

I've never particularly liked it - it felt too much like a Band-Aid over a bullet hole, like plastering a bumper sticker over an openly bleeding wound.

Of course it's true, like most over-used sayings.

The part that isn't mentioned, though, is the hallway.  The one I find myself standing in right now,
one door firmly shut behind me, but the new door remains out of sight, at the other end of a shadowy journey I can't define.

I spend a lot of time by myself. I can't drive, and so I leave the house only with help, and only when necessary.  It's amazing how much of my identity was wrapped around the woman-who-did-stuff.  I used to go non-stop, all day - rushing to and from appointments and errands and business engagements and housework, and making dinner, and activities ...and, and, and.

What I have learned is the vast majority of all that rushing around was unnecessary.  Life just felt more comfortable when I didn't stop moving.  I would never simply sit and think, or pray, or breathe.  When I did these things the feelings would start to come -the fear, anxiety and uncertainty I felt at the core of my being - and so I'd go someplace.  Like Target. Or Michael's. Or Stop & Shop.  I would lose myself in the mundane hum of normalcy, mindlessly pushing my cart up and down aisles, making hundreds of tiny decisions so I could avoid thinking about the bigger ones.

What happened, when I stopped - well, let's get real .... when I was forced to stop - was all the feelings came to the surface.  I could no longer dodge the reality of my fear.  I don't numb it from the inside-out with alcohol, and I don't numb it from the outside-in with labels I affix to myself to validate who I am.

I am slowly peeling away all those labels, and its scary.  I pick away at their sticky edges - Wife, Mother, Writer, Daughter, Blogger, Alcoholic, Cancer Survivor, Sister, Friend.

Every major way I defined myself has changed.  I no longer lose myself by slipping into the characters I assembled to feel better about myself through your eyes. 

Now, when I push the cart up and down the aisles, I don't feel like I fit anywhere, and it's uncomfortable.  The Moms I talk to jostle about, clutching their car keys and dashing off to the activities I can no longer take my kids to.  They talk about the husband I no longer have.  The family dinner I am no longer preparing.  Planning the family vacation I no longer go on. 

All of the major relationships I have in my life are changing, evolving. I have taken a giant step back from everything that used to define me, before.  My work. My family. My marriage. My social life. My writing.

I long, sometimes, for the way my life used to be, before the weight of all those self-affixed labels crushed me.  When my biggest problem of the day was how to fit it all in - get one kid to soccer and the other to CCD and get to the grocery shop and start dinner.  When my brain was so crammed with my To-Do list - my businesses, my family, my husband and friends - that I didn't have to think about myself.

I know I can't go back there.  I know this hard stop is in my life for a purpose.  I squirm in the silence, in the calm.  I'm great in a foxhole.  It's the lulls that scare me.

I suffer when I resist the reality of what is, as opposed to what was or what might be.  I am in the most pain when I scream and kick against all those closed doors, those maladaptive coping mechanisms - my people pleasing, my co-dependency, my self-medicating with alcohol or work.

I can't even hide from myself in my marriage anymore.  I am not Mrs. Anybody.  I am just me.  

When I can let go, when I can just stand still in this dark hallway and just be, I feel fleeting moments of peace. 

I am mourning the loss of the blueprint, though.  The one I so carefully drafted for how my life was supposed to look, like a perfect holiday card.  The one that made me feel as though I was in control of my destiny, although of course I never was.

I don't have any blueprint anymore.  Every pre-conceived notion I had - every label - is torn and tattered.

Now I stand alone, peeling back the labels, feeling naked and vulnerable without their papery armor.  I stand shivering in the Damn Hallway, waiting for God to crack open the next door.   So far, He hasn't.  He is making me wait. 

He is making me put up boundaries, ask for help, sit with myself awhile.

And so, I do.


 

20 comments:

  1. This was very powerful. It reminded me of when I used to travel by plane and the waiting that was an airport in a city that was not my origin or my destination but was one I had to wait in to get where I was going. I used to mentally put myself on hold in those airports, suspended animation, not wanting to breathe again until I could get on the plane that would take me where I wanted to be.
    Wishing you peace.

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  2. I am only in the beginning of my sobriety journey. Three weeks ago was my first introduction to all of the wonderful online resources, blogs, podcasts, etc. I have been getting caught up on your story and want to thank you for sharing it and tell you what a strong, brave and amazing person I think you are!

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  3. Remember ... God is in the hallway with you ... and so are "WE" ...

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  4. I tried commenting before but couldn't get through my firewall at work (yes, I'm allowed to go on FB for 15 minutes a day there...) So here is what I put on FB, but I'm also a blogger and I know how nice it feels to have someone comment on the blog itself. ;)
    ~~~~~~~
    Thank you for rigorous honesty, Ellie.

    I can relate to the feelings you are feeling, to the process of self-discovery you are going through. I went through a huge transformation about five and a half years ago and what you are going through now is part of that same kind of transformative process. The one where you are learning who you really are instead of what all the masks are that you've been wearing. I know those masks. Very. Well. They kept me from living life to the full.

    It's been my experience that getting used to the hallway, being content with the door not opening, and enjoying the process of getting to know myself - and God - better, is foundational. When it was ENOUGH to rest there, that's when He opened that door and led me through. Before then, I wouldn't have been ready for what lay ahead of me. In fact, given the events of the last year and a bit, I likely would have run screaming the other way. But on the other hand, waiting and getting to know me and Him, accepting myself and looking after myself also prepared me to receive love when I needed it most ... and give it back. My life is much fuller than it was. It DOES get better.

    Keep doing what you're doing. You're in the right place.
    And you're not alone.

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  5. That is one of the most beautiful things you have ever written in a vast sea of all of your beautiful writing. I know that God will open a wonderful door for you. It may take a little time. Time that you need and are using well. When that door opens you will see how it all comes together. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability, your honesty and your strength. You are helping lots of people. Love you!

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  7. Muna H. BilgramiNovember 7, 2014 at 11:16 PM
    Your raw honesty speaks to me and touches me. And your intelligence - searingly real and honest. There is a beautiful passage from Rumi where the voice of the Divine explains to the seeker knocking on the door trying to get in that he is already inside. That 'inside' is a pasture of light and love and grace and where the nothingness of the self merges into the everythingness of What Is (labelled variously as universal consciousness, Beingness, God, Allah etc ad infinitum). Your humility and openness will let you taste that and the price is letting go. You have been forced to let go of so much already. All otherness is false. But it has a contingent reality to our waking consciousness nonetheless. Attachment causes our suffering - trying to fix things. When you lose your self you will find your soul. The two overlap but do not define each other. The soul is already perfect, whole and eternal - for it is a 'breath' from the One Source of all existence. Deep down in our consciousness we know that and so we try to make our lives reflect that. But that perfection lies in the field of light, not grossified matter. We see sunbeams from it, but cannot capture it. Only in the stillness can we see it and touch it and feel it and then know: we are it!
    May you know and delight in it.

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    Replies
    1. This is beautiful Muna, thank you.

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  8. This is so beautiful, Ellie. I'm grateful that you are sitting with what is. I often have a hard time sitting with that on the most mundane of days. You are doing it during life change. This takes great courage. I love you and am so proud of the hard work you're doing. Go wth God. xoxo

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  9. I always loved what Maria says in The Sound of Music. When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. The implication being that the opening you're looking for is smaller than the one you came out of... but it's still an opening nonetheless. X

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  10. I remember when it all came crashing down for me. I lost my license and was not able to get my daughter her activities, piano, soccer, girl scouts. And she is the sweetest child, but she very honestly, without any malice, said, " How come you messed up but my life is wrecked?" That is one of my biggest thought stoppers

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  11. Thank you for posting, Ellie. Think about you all the time.

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  12. You are not alone. I am there too. Instead of a hallway I visualize my space as a dank sub-basement where I am sitting on the floor with grit under my palms thinking "Surely there is no place lower than this." In my case the cause is a child with serious mental illness. My blueprint of my life as Super Mother with Healthy Kids has been destroyed for years, but I was keeping the fear, the grief, the awful restlessness at bay with alcohol. Now that I am newly sober (five months) all those feelings are with me. It's torturous. Your journey on the blog and your work on "The Bubble Hour" have been such a big help to me and I wish you didn't have to go through all of this. Just know so many people are thinking of you. There *will* be another door or window if you just hang on...

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  13. I feel so fortunate to have had an alcohol abuse issue because it made me look at my life. And look at me. I had never done that in 48 years of life - I ran, like you did. Now, as a sober artist, I work on looking at who I am in my life, not the labels I and society have put on me. It is a blessing, and I am very grateful because I think most people live "the unexamined life." And I no longer do.

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  14. HELLO EVERYBODY AM LIZZY FROM IRELAND I AM FULL OF JOY FOR WHAT DR AGBALAGBA DID FOR ME, I NEVER TAUGHT SPELL CASTING WAS REAL BECAUSE I HAVE CONTACTED ALOT OF SPELL CASTERS AND THEY ALL COLLECTED MY MONEY WITHOUT GIVING ME RESULT, SOMEBODY TOLD ME OF AGBALAGBA SO I GAVE IT A TRY, BEHOLD! I WAS SUPRISED OF EVERYTHING MY HUSBAND LEFT ME FOR 11YRS BUT AGBALAGBA TOLD ME NOT TO WORRY THAT HE WILL RETURN HIM BACK TO ME . TODAY AM THE MOST HAPPIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD BECAUSE AGBALAGBA RESTORE JOY BACK TO ME BY BRINGING HIM BACK, AM GREATFUL FOR EVERYTHING BECAUSE I NEVER TAUGHT I WILL EVER FEEL THE WARM TOUCH OF MY HUSBAND AGAIN, I PROMISED HIM THAT I WILL ALWAYS SINGS HIS PRAISES EVERYWHERE I GO AND TELL THE WHOLE WORLD OF HOW POWERFUL HE IS.... CONTACT HIM THROUGH THIS EMAIL FOR ALL THOSE OF YOU WHO WANTS TO BE HAPPY LIKE ME AGAIN.. AGBALAGBATEMPLE@YAHOO.COM

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  15. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete