Last Saturday marked the third year anniversary of this blog.
It also marked the day I formally divorced 4 years ago.
The two share the same anniversary because I started this blog the following year trying to do something redemptive, reinventing, and resilient with that auspicious date. Starting a blog as a way to process and share my experiences seemed the thing to do, so with both hands waving at the giant black hole of cyber space, sunshine in winter was born.
I also saw the movie Brave that day. I thought seeing a movie about a free spirited, wild child princess who takes the road less traveled would be a positive thing, but instead I found myself bawling in the the middle of a packed theater filled with families, children, and me- one red eyed, snotty nosed, ugly crying, single girl, one year divorced and bravely foraging ahead on her own road less traveled. I realized a couple things on that day:
1. When you start projecting yourself into Disney movies and find you are over identifying with the animated heroine you are either a) A Disney princess in disguise b) A victim of severe hormone induced mood swings or c) In need of some serious time spent reflecting on exactly why you are over identifying, and what unexplored parts of self you are seeing displayed in your on screen counterpart, no matter how fantastical she may be.
2. Just because a movie features computer animated characters, does not mean it doesn’t have the power to tear your heart out.
3. Never bring just one tissue to a Disney movie. Ever. Heaven knows I should have already learned this lesson from Finding Nemo and The Lion King.
Bawling through Brave was 3 years ago, and evidently I still had a lot of grieving to do. Princess Merida helped me do that. Writing helped me do that. Climbing to the top of a mountain and releasing balloons to symbolize new beginnings helped me do that. The passage of the tides and changing of seasons helped me do that. Art helped me do that. Solitude, books, journaling and meditation helped me do that.
It’s been 4 years and last weekend the day passed unnoticed. I was out in the mountains tearing up the muscles in my legs instead of tearing out the muscles of my heart. I was preoccupied with life and physical exertion and nature and beauty and training with My Guy Oregon on the green crusted ridges of the Chugach Range. It was a day so full of the moment, I forgot the past.
It’s funny how there are these things, where, in the moment, we do not know how we will survive. Sometime we do not know if we will survive, let alone what we will do after. You can become so stuck between the wreckage of the present and recounting the moments that got you there, there is little room left to imagine what comes next. Wrap all that up in a giant package of what if’s and it wasn’t supposed to be like this, and you too may find yourself sobbing quietly in a crowded theater as the princess plays on.
Back then, I couldn’t see a day where I wouldn’t remember that date as my personal d-day. A day where I would feel well and whole. Where life would have moved on enough that I no longer needed to save so much space for my past, that it became a constant companion to my present. The day where I didn’t need Princess Merida to help me process my grief.
The day where it would be just another day passed in the mountains, offered to the trees and the peaks and the wind and the sheer NOW of it all.
Earlier this week, I was talking to somebody about some pretty significant losses they have experienced, and they asked me, “How do I get over this?” And my response was, “You don’t.” There are some things you just don’t get over. Nor should you expect yourself to. Things that are egregious to your soul or insulting to your heart. Things that wake destruction to the life that you knew, as you are forced to change and evolve into a different creature entirely.
Stuff like that, you don’t get over. At least not right away. You just learn how to carry it. You learn to take the weight, square your shoulders. put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Even when your heart feels it will collapse from the exertion of it all.
You learn to cry in the movies when the mood strikes and release as many literal and metaphorical balloons as needed to symbolize your own desire to let go. You begin to carry the desire to let go alongside the burden of memories that fill your backpack. You learn to tote both at the same time, and life begins to move and laugh and unfold and go on. Even if the past still plays companion to your present.
You get better at the carrying, and, as the tides come and go and your relationship to time changes, you begin to change. You realize you don’t need to save as much space as you once did for that particular load. Maybe you finally decided to lay it down. Or maybe you realized it never was as big as you thought it was. Or maybe you’ve simply become so damn strong along the way, as you walked all those heavy miles, that the muscles in your tough legs and the soundness in your conditioned heart and the spirit in your authentic soul have all begun to effortlessly carry, what you once thought you couldn’t bear.
Maybe you find yourselves in the mountains one June day and realize the only thing you are carrying on that particular day is the snacks in your pack, a bottle of water, the love in your heart and the ability to get over that gorgeous, forested mountain standing right in front of you.
Maybe you realize that what is BRAVE, is your capacity to carry whatever is needed, so you have exactly what your soul requires to take your road less traveled. Just like Princess Merida.