I forgot how much of a bleeding heart I was, until I am driving home, sobbing a little and delicately picking my way around potholes, so as not to jar the cat box in the passenger seat. I’m doubting even the obvious choice to get a cat spayed, now that I see her confused and swaying coming out of anesthesia. As I poke a finger through the grate and rub her neck and she pushes into the weight of my touch, I frown to see the little spot on her nose that she’s rubbed raw on the side of the box. How I took this sweet, wild, trusting creature and made the choice to have her cut into. Who am I to decide that that’s what’s best for her. Oof, I sigh as I rub away a tear. I’m too sensitive for pets!
I forgot how much conflict affects me. How much it can overshadow everything else. How bad I am at compartmentalizing. Until I’m wrapped in a commitment, and it gets tricky. Friends and family and business partners, with all their vulnerabilities and considerations. The years alone sure were simpler. Maybe I am too sensitive for relationships.
I forgot there were parts of me that still needed a lot of work, until these situations bring them out, from where they laid sleeping so soundly…as long as I gingerly tiptoed around them. I notice my solution to challenge always involves setting out alone again, moving on, shedding another skin. I’m good at justifying fresh starts. They seem brave and noble and adventurous. But I’m noticing a trend. And the merits of staying.
Because alone I forget other things. I forget that I can wake up at five to feed an animal, and be happy to do so. That I can be selfless. That I can feel exhausted but loving at the same time.
I forget how excruciating conflict can be, but also the utter relief of resolve. When I shut down, and run away, I don’t get to see how calm and fair and loving I can be in a disagreement. How forgiving I can be with an honest explanation. I start to assume I do not have these skills, when I don’t witness myself using them. Alone I lose respect for myself.
Alone I don’t have to feel insecure. I don’t have to wonder if my story is interesting or if I should find a way to duck out early. I don’t have to wonder if I am fun enough, or if maybe I should have a drink or two.
But alone I forget what friends can stir. I am suddenly surprised by the pieces they pull out of me, from vaults I don’t even know how to access. I am relieved to see all these artifacts that survived the solitude. Just sleeping, waiting. These different facets of myself.
Alone I have all the time for self care. I can luxuriate. I can ‘honor’ myself, follow my own rhythms. I can dance around any bump that might challenge me. Alone I don’t have to work, don’t have to adjust. Alone I can be a pleasure seeker. And that is luxurious. Surely I could find a way to do this forever.
But then I forget if I even know how to adjust. If I know how to connect, compromise, empathize…love. I forget the feel of those tools in my hands. My skills get flabby, my technique soft, and I don’t like the craftsman I have become.
Alone I rejuvenate. I reflect, integrate, and intuit. Together I break, heal, grow, and expand. Both are necessary, both have their merits.