It’s been a good week so far.
I have a new book that I’m reading in preparation for a workshop I’m attending next month (more on that soon). The book is Contemplative Practices in Higher Education (Barbezat and Bush, 2014)–I’m pretty stoked about the topic and really want to get the book read quickly, so I’ve dedicated myself to reading a chapter a night as soon as I get home from work.
Because of that, I’ve also FINALLY started doing a super short daily meditation after I finish reading. I’m talking 5 minutes, six on a good night. I’ll build up the time as I get used to it, but I’m starting slow. But I had to get started… Lesson number one from the book is that I have to have a solid practice of my own in these practices before I can try to integrate them into my class and work. (Insert a massive sigh here, because if there’s anything I’m not, it’s patient–and all of this is clearly going to take some time.)
Good news? After four days, it’s going really well and I’m feeling really good about that hour I’ve carved out of the day for taking care of me and holding myself responsible for doing something important to me. Tuesday I came home in a terrible mood after a day of just not getting anything done. Long but necessary meetings followed by a total lack of focus and motivation to work on the projects covering my desk. I told Clint my soul hurt when I got home last night.
Then I remembered that I had that “me” time planned into my evening. I had promised myself that I’d stick to it, and I did. And it made all the difference. Not only did I suddenly feel like I HAD accomplished something, but it also put me in the space to just spend 5 or 6 minutes in quiet, getting back in touch with myself. I felt totally different when I emerged from my quiet space. Calm. Focused. Capable of dealing with the night because I had quieted the noise in my head. That intentional time for me totally changed the course of the night.
The bad news? Apparently being a bit more mindful and quieting the noise in my head has left space for missing Katie to creep back into the front of my head and heart.
She worked late on Monday nights. Monday was the night she saw clients for individual therapy at the Women’s Therapy Center. She’d work until after 9 or 10 there, so, with the two hour time difference and the drive home, I’d start watching my phone around 9 for her text letting me know she was home safely and ready to give me a recap of her day.
This past Monday marked 5 months since we lost her. It was also the first Monday in 5 months when I looked at my phone around 9 and realized I was looking expecting to see a message from her. It doesn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. Not the kick in the gut I was anticipating. More of a moment of total reality. Of what reality used to look like and how it looks now. How the two feel completely different. How time has passed–somehow painfully slowly and yet so quickly that I haven’t noticed how long it’s been. It brings the emptiness and the loss back.
Since then, I’ve had many small moments like that–times when I catch myself thinking about telling her about something and getting excited to share something with her, times when I catch myself looking at my phone, times when I realize I want so desperately to talk to her. To lean on her. To share my day with her. To have her to help fill the lonely and hear the scared and the overwhelmed and hold the pain and the anxiety.
That happened a ton right after she passed away, but it had kind of stopped. I’m not sure if my new focus on clearing my head and welcoming quiet is allowing me to hear and see how those moments never really went away; I just stopped hearing them, or if, for whatever reason, the feelings and thoughts are coming back. My heart tells me that the voice and the emptiness and the loneliness have been there the whole time. I just let the noise of life overtake those whispers from my heart–the ones reminding me of the empty space that was left when I lost her.
I obviously don’t relish feeling lonely and sad. But the wise part of me welcomes those whispers and is proud of myself for getting quiet enough to allow my authentic self reemerge from the noise. While I’m not totally sure how, I know that those whispers have much to teach me if I’m willing to really deeply listen.