If a person experiences too many changes they didn’t choose in life, goodbyes can incite an internal riot.
The day started peaceful enough. No wait, no it didn’t.
The sky looked different. The lighting was weird. Clouds threatened my glorious sunshine. There was a chill in the air. I was anticipating yoga but learned there was a pancake breakfast instead. I like yoga. I don’t like pancakes. Pancakes suck. Now I’m anticipating a cold rain instead of yoga.
I went to my friends rig and we had coffee. We talked about recovery and he offered sage advice as one who knows about these things. I went back to my van and downloaded support materials and reading for on the road. And it hit me. I was downloading support materials because as of tomorrow, I would have materials instead of people. I didn’t want inferior materials.
With a growing punched-stomach feeling, I robotically dismantled camp; with the undesired assistance of an incessant wind trying to hurry me with threats of a downpour. In my growing crankiness, I was sure I was being taunted, and sure I had inadvertently overstayed my welcome: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Vantastic”. That’s what I heard that freaking wind say. In an act of ineffective rebellion, I took my own sweet time, folding and refolding the tarp until it was perfect. Arranging and rearranging my basement like I was competing in the Tetris World Championship Finals.
I put on a little KC & The Sunshine Band in an attempt to drown out the Scared Child thowing a hissy fit inside me. The one who typically anticipates being forgotten at Walmart. And doesn’t ever get a double scoop, confident the top scoop will fall off because of some wrong she has done the week before.
My packing was particularly fastidious today. Everything that lives in the “basement” of the van went in first – the canopy, chair, picnic blanket, tarp, bundle cords and spikes. All the basement-y things. Things that are messy go the deepest. Things that are dusty and dirty and pointy.
Next, the bed went in, and the solar panels underneath it. Lastly, my art supplies and wash basin slide under with the panels. Only Pippa’s kennel on top. The water jug goes on the floor in the passenger seat area. Pip’s food is stored in her kennel. Everything in it’s place.
As I organized the front of the van I discovered a small bag of laundry I missed yesterday under the seat. Really, Kit? You’re such an idiot. Now my plans for the day were ruined. (I may, or may not have, been relieved (however) to have something to keep me busy for the afternoon.)
I begrudgingly went to town and put in the ridiculously stupid laundry to wash. I took Pippa to the park where none of the other dogs wanted to play with her, so I went and bought a new water jug. This example of cause-and-effect behaviour made total sense to me at the time. I’ve always disliked my collapsible jug. It never stays upright and although technically “square”, rolls around like a circle. It also has a drippy cap. Damn that water jug. I’m going to leave it in the middle of a highway and it can be punted by a transport truck for all I care.Take that, dumb jug.
I sat in the car for a while with my new water receptacle, but didn’t feel any of the desired retail therapy rush usually brings. Meh. I wished it were blue, not white. So I ate icecream in a cup.
I took my friend who helped me stay at the Magic Circle to Silly Al’s for dinner, to try to thank him for helping me stay in the Circle and being such a support to me this last little while. Mostly, I didn’t say much because I felt like I had something stuck in my throat. Like a heart.
So, I ate pizza until I was numb.
We went to a recovery meeting together and everyone in the room sounded like The Teacher in the old Peanuts cartoons. Muah wa wa. My ears were buzzy and my mouth watery.
I wanted to thank the whole group for being there for me, but all I could manage to do was hug the youngest girl there and wish her all the best as I was leaving. She knew I was about to cry and was confused because we had never even talked. That scared child in me can be a bit erratic in her affections. After the meeting I said a hurried goodbye to my friend, made no eye-contact with anyone else and went to the library parking lot around the corner for a shaky, restrained cry. What I really wanted to do was kick tires and break windows.
Referring to my safety plan, I call the Riot Squad.
Because I am a frequent caller and they have been unsuccessful with me in the past, they call the Office of Emotional Control, who sends their most experienced Mediator instead of a team in full riot gear.
She sits with me in the van and after a few minutes- after her mere presence has taken the “crazy” out my eyes- she does her work: she reminds me of the things I am forgetting. Things I already know, but sometimes don’t have access to when I’m not feeling well. When I’m “off”.
Her voice is quiet and sing-songy, but steady and sure.
You are not being abandoned.
She slowly (without sudden movements, because she knows how I hate sudden movements) hits “replay” on a collection of desert memories (complete with emotional recall) that illustrate that for the time I was here, I was safe and engaged and in the company of people I chose and who inspired me. And I did well. I made friends. I close my eyes and watch.
You did belong.
She reminds me that this particular leaving is of my choice. I am not a child. This is not Walmart. I am not alone in the world. I’m safe, and I know how to take care of me.
Once Ive registered that, she offers another.
Nothing in this life is constant except change. Change comes for us when we are moving, as well as when we are standing still. You can’t outrun change, and there is no reason to.
You’re just remembering other changes. Changes that happened before you were strong. Before you were able to protect yourself. Change is necessary for growth.
I think she is finished, but she’s got more.
You have everything inside of you to enjoy love and connection in this world. You are learning to trust that. Time passes and I almost fall asleep, sitting up in the van, in the parking lot of the library.
When I finally opened my eyes, I was sure she had left but no. She had saved the best one for last.
Don’t forget, Kit. You know just where to find your new friends if you need them.