Removing the Threads Binding my Throat

I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been in a funk.  Cranky.  Anxious.  Emotional.  Can we just say yay, it’s so much no fun to be around me.

I thought moving was going to be “okay.”  It wasn’t.  It still isn’t.  My house has been on the seller’s market for a month and has had a bunch of showings and no offers and feedback that didn’t help.  I loved the one about the upstairs having a pet odor.  Weird.  When my daughter and I went back to the old house (three weeks after the last time we had been in it), we noticed a heavy paint smell.  We sprayed Febreeze upstairs that didn’t smell like pets and left.

I’ve been in a humdrum anxious mood in which I walk through the house rotating through chores and accomplishing nothing.  I’ve planned out my semester (my new school’s on a four-by-four plan which means I cover a year’s worth of material in a year) and realized that I probably can’t do half of what I want.  Or, maybe I can do all of it.

I’m still trying to figure it out.

I’m sitting in the middle of a beautiful new home that feels like four walls of regret that I don’t want to accept.

And so I stoppered my voice.  I shut off the world and shrank into myself and set up the barbed wire walls.

Go away.  Leave me alone.  No one is here right now and probably won’t be for a long time.

I looked at pictures of my old life and cried without trying to mourn, felt remorse without trying to register regret, and just looked at my old, empty hands and wondered,

What in the hell have I done now?

Is this really what I wanted?  Is all of this worth what I feel right now?

Yesterday, I was upset with God.  He keeps reminding me to trust and obey and I try really hard not to be anxious about money or my new job or this new school and the microchosm of a tiny community with big eyes.  I try to trust that He has a plan that I’m in the middle of and I just need to keep pushing forward and “everything is going to be okay.”

And, weirdly enough, I really do believe in that.  I really, really do.  

Until the fears awaken and roar into being and chomp down on my confidence and sense of security.

The worries that at some point the money is going to run out and we still haven’t sold the house which should have sold immediately because “It’s a seller’s market” and that the houses weren’t staying on the market past a week.

The worries that I don’t really know where I stand because I’m new to my job and even through I know what the hell I’m doing, I still have those icy-worm-doubts coiling in my gut telling me that I really, really don’t.  That it’s all just a charade and that I’m just going to mess everything up and then it’s just going to be worse.

The worries that I’ve hurt my family, that my son feels abandoned and my daughter is without a strong mother who could pretend to be resilient and confident and so strong that she was willing to be evicted from the Vatican because she didn’t want to give a rude tour guide the six inches he was demanding from her.

I shoved my voice into the soles of my filthy feet and sewed up my larynx with titanium-and-regret-laced thread and sat in my house and listened to the traffic.  I heard the bird songs in the morning.  I heard the cuckoo bird just beyond the pine trees.

I heard nothing.

Today, I woke to the familiar fears, the usual worries corkscrewing in my belly, piercing new holes and drilling out new anxieties.  I held them at bay with fatigue and coffee, pretended they didn’t exist while I drove out to a state park to meet my dear, dear Owl Singer, and walk through the woods.

I felt the old fears slither through my skin and pupate within me as we cobbled through the woods on a sandy path bisected by roots and footprints.  We shared our days, our frustrations.

I felt the loneliness evaporate a bit.  She knows.  She understands.  Our lives have so many similar textures that I could ease my battles just a bit.

We parted.  I drove to the west, toward the mountains whose translucent, humped backs I can see briefly for ten, maybe twenty beautiful seconds before they descend into the horizon and I’m staring at a road and long lines of trees that I normally love but they are blocking my view of my escape.

I came to my home and checked my bank account that isn’t decimated and has emergency funds and savings and stability.

I am okay.

I went on Facebook.  Checked in with some friends, liked various points and responded to comments.

And then I found a long message-letter from a former student whom I didn’t teach but wish I did.  My “tiny dancer.”

She called me mom.  She reminded me of the long, whispered conversations we had during play practice when I should have been watching the stage but she was, well, more important at that moment.  She needed me.  The actors had the other director, the real director.  I was just a novice, an apprentice.  A child in comparison to his excellence.

She reminded me of who I was, the person I’ve been plunging down and away because that person lived in a different house sixty miles south east from here, a house stuck in the middle of a treeless suburb.  I loved my neighbors, but I needed to escape the growing urban sprawl in which highways bloomed like toxic weeds and people stopped indulging and just lived within a “me-first” attitude.

She reminded me that I have a voice that I’ve been trying to cork and seal behind fears and worries because too often I worry….I worry and worry and worry some more so it’s just easier to swallow who I am and who I want to be and who I’m meant to be as opposed to opening up my big mouth and arching my back and throwing back my shoulders and letting out the biggest damn “YAWP” that could exist.

I am barbaric.  I am a poet.  I am the Appalachian Trail’s Compass Rose who is the only person who can get lost on a trail that goes in two simple directions.  I am the unruly, clumsy, graceless dancer who thumps around on 120 year-old, creaky hardwood floors because I’m overweight and because I have no ability to be “light on my feet.”

I have a voice.  A voice that for a long time I was proud of until I was exhausted by the changes sweeping over me with the shadows of a tsunami but were likely just an overly large puddle escaping its flat edges.

I’ve been afraid.

Stupid me.  I have no time for fear.  No more time for worrying.

I’m back.  I am still worried about the house not selling.  I’m still worried about Thursday and the new school year and the new first-day-of-teaching with a fairly new curriculum and a whole new set of colleagues.

But I know my shadow.  I saw it creeping after me when I ran into the woods four days ago and, again, three hours ago.  I know the edges of my voice because I heard it tumbling back to me in the woods and in the sadness when I cried in my car because I felt the nauseating psuedopodia of regret overtaking me and I just couldn’t fight it anymore.

I know the fears and the worries won’t end.

But I won’t end.  And neither will my voice.

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