Sometimes when you’re lying in bed on whatever days that are yours to sleep in, between sleeping and waking, the mind draws itself into awareness. Done are the crazy roadtrips of the night; the events that make no sense and wisp away into the morning, or perhaps, like me, remnants remain for you to gnaw over. You are content and warm under the covers; floppy, sleepy. But the mind rubs its hands together, ready to take full advantage of your drowse. Little does it know that by opening up a can of worms, it could be presenting a moment of healing.
It was yesterday morning, the kids were home from school for yet another snow day which meant I had to stay home too. I had the extra hour or so in bed, and in my doze, yet with no will to do so, I cycled back to the summer of 2011. I’ve gone there before, drawn by how I felt about myself and how (I can see now) that was projected onto a woman I called my nemesis but who was probably a very nice person.
We still had our lovely restaurant and our kids went to a private school but beneath it all, our family writhed like chained prisoners. Ultimately, our efforts would prove fruitless but until the day of release, we were bound to keep trudging around on the wheel, grinding away, going nowhere. On a spiritual level, I was nowhere near the place I am today; whatever light that shone inside was shrouded in jealousy, fear, judgment, anger, and hatred. I judged myself against other people. And the prettier, the thinner, the richer they were, the more I could beat myself up.
My kids’ school, in particular my son’s grade, decided to hold their ‘Back to School’ parent gathering on the patio of our place. My husband and I were honored but nervous, and I recall, as I was deciding on what to wear from my closet of painfully old clothes, wondering what this other woman, this “nemesis” would be wearing, would she be there at all? It was a pernicious trail of thought; one that led to my choice of the dowdiest outfit I had which inevitably led to feeling frumpy, inadequate, and clumsy which then led to drinking too much at the table shared with the principal and his eye-poppingly skinny wife. I laughed too loud, I broke a glass, it was noticeable. And this woman was there; tall, blonde, very slim, in a lovely figure-hugging dress. She oozed serenity. I had been to her house for a birthday party; it was spacious and organized. She had three kids and she didn’t work and she was living the life I had wanted for my family. I admit that I was so filled with envy, I couldn’t see the good in anyone. I imagined she laughed at me internally; could see through my guise of smiles that covered up the “look at us, we have a restaurant and we’re as good as you but I know really we’re not and you’re so fucking lucky.”
This was played out to me in its entirety yesterday morning, and I let it do so. This other woman was beautiful and she had a grace about her, no doubt. But I remembered another time after her father had died suddenly. I passed her in school during a parent/teacher evening, and it was obvious she had been crying; her eyes were red and puffy, and if I had wanted to mentally scoff and say “Now she looks like shit!”…I couldn’t. In spite of the green eating away inside, I felt only compassion. I stopped and offered my sympathies. She looked me squarely and sadly in the eyes and thanked me. One soul connecting with another in a time of sorrow.
As I lay there, coming to the conclusion of the playback, the ego wilted a little. A stronger voice arose uttering the word ‘soften.’ So I did. I allowed myself to view the patio scene from a perspective of compassion, for the frayed person I once was. I saw this other woman not as my nemesis but as a beautiful woman with a lovely family. The memories softened and loosened their grip. I knew that all I had felt and was still feeling on occasion when she came to mind, was my torch to extinguish.
In that moment, with eyes closed, tucked up in bed, I freed myself a little bit more of the hardness around my heart. It helped me soften toward other things too, and I allowed myself to be open in their direction also.
Another step for my little light. I’m so grateful, I could cry.