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I was on my machine at the gym, and by “my machine,” I mean the one that’s my favorite, by the windows, and I may or may not roll my eyes and send mental “hurry up and finish” messages to anyone on “my machine.” It was a little after 9am and the fog was thick. I could only see a handful of the trees I was used to seeing, the rest, I knew were there even though this particular morning the fog cleverly hid them. A mere 30 hours later I was back at the gym, on “my machine” and there was no fog. I could see all that I’d been used to seeing, tall evergreens for miles, vainly reaching to tickle the sky.
And so when he accused me of disappearing, and she accused me of giving away my most valued parts of who I am to those I knew weren’t worthy, I didn’t protest. I thought of my view from the gym. I thought of how circumstances and choices were obscuring the me, the pieces of me that I, he, and she knew were there. They’d seen them, they’d known them to be true, they believed them to still be intact, but knew a fog of sorts was setting in.
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When they spoke their words I wanted so very badly to refute them and offer a witty rebuttal. But the words got caught in the knot that had developed in my stomach, the knot woven with the threads of the daily rejection of who I knew myself to be. The fibers of the anxiety that comes with the stress and anxiety of hiding, smiling, nodding, and longing for moments of freedom, to come from undercover, removal of the masks, unlocking of chains.
So I held onto their words. And I still do. I mull them over. I want them to be untrue, which means I must make them as such. I must make decisions whose outcomes refute the words spoken. I must reappear. All the boldness, honesty, I politely and respectfully double dog dare you stares, the wit, the contentment with different perspectives, and the standing with unbowed back and denied inclination to bend to appease anyone. And in my appearance, return to the art of sharing what I have to offer graciously and to those worthy.
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I think this happens to all of us quite frankly. I think it’s part of life. Stuff happens- a parent dies, a partner leaves us or is in some manner unfaithful, we get laid off or scapegoated in our companies, the cancer returns, the incurable chronic illness diagnosis is confirmed, and the list goes on. Fog sets in in our lives. Yet it can be so easy to forget what we know lies behind it. We somehow manage to forget the trees, grass, animals, and windy roads that are there but obscured to the fog- to the current life circumstance. Somehow we lose sight of our resourcefulness, creativity, sense of humor, sense of wonder and adventure, thirst for knowledge, joy in volunteering. Everything becomes covered in a film of grey and we don’t see ourselves for exactly who we know ourselves to be.
Thank God for the folks that can remind us that the fog is looming above and we are acting is if we don’t know it will lift and the very core of who we are is in fact waiting for the fog to lift and resume residency in our lives. These are the folks that know us and will only let us hang in the dismal mist of our circumstances before they exercise the same honesty and bold they’ve observed in us and say” You’re disappearing.” “You’re giving up the best parts of you to folks who aren’t worth it.” I am so incredibly grateful for the people who know me and will remind me of me of the things that are inherently me. In fact it’s with those reminders that I am encouraged and emboldened to do what I can to move the foggy situation in my life along and get back to who I am.
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I’d never want to trivialize the challenges anyone faces in life. Not the death of a loved one, infidelity in the relationship, lay off, trauma, sickness, etc. I do however want to absolutely maximize the notion that the pain of it and the person you are in it does not last forever. Like the fog, it does roll out and there can be the resurrection of and the return to the beauty and joy of the person you were before those things happened in your life. I also want to maximize the reality that you may not be exactly the same when the fog rolls out; but what makes something core is that it is essential but can take a different shape when it needs to. Your creativity may not return in the form of furniture design but may show up in the form of interior design. Maybe you don’t resume your counseling practice but you take up leading a free support group in the community and teaching the next generation of clinicians at the local university. Maybe your thing for world travel becomes more local to the country or continent you live in. Perhaps your passion for activism leads you to start your own nonprofit never minding the one that just laid you off. The core parts of us don’t go anywhere. Get knocked around, suffer some bruises, get buried- sure. However, because they are who we are, they only truly cease to be nonexistent when we chose to be nonexistent.
If the fog has rolled in in your life my prayer is that you see it for what it is and fondly and confidently know what lies behind it, you, despite the challenging visibility. My prayer is that even in the deepness of the pain, discomfort, or depression, that you know it will not always be this way, and you, the real you, will make a comeback. For those of you who have friends with grey skies and fog, may you reach out to them this week and remind them that you know them. That you know who they are beyond the circumstance and how valuable they are even if the fogginess of their situation seems to suggest otherwise. The sun will come out tomorrow 😉
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