I’ve been having a lot of overlapping conversations with wildly different people. The kinds of conversations that bleed and build into each other. The kinds of conversations that makes me want to report back to each person I’ve spoken with to catch them up on the latest ideas/thoughts/feelings formed from their own. It reminds me of classes in college where at a certain point my papers would pull in ideas from two or three different classes, better reflecting the complexity of the world at large.
All of this is to say, I listened to a podcast where a friend talked about how she both feels the most whole and vulnerable she’s ever been after giving birth to a child. How she’s being reintroduced to selves she didn’t realize she had forgotten, selves she doesn’t recognize, selves she doesn’t want to always know. So many people I know have been ripped open after these last few years of collective grief for various reasons. I keep using puzzle pieces as an analogy — the pieces don’t fit anymore and it’s hard to know how they ever once did when looking at your life. I think some things are meant to happen in life where the result is a rebuilding or reimagining rather than a return to what was. You can’t actually go back and suddenly you start examining parts of yourself that have long been relegated to a back corner now slowly emerging, like a limb that’s painfully waking up after falling asleep. It stings so badly but it stings because you are moving again. Side note: I find it very strange that we talk about limbs falling asleep. What is the story there?
This brings me back to that feeling of being so whole yet so vulnerable and so in pain. As we have moments in life that call us to find the varying parts of ourselves we feel the breadth of our wholeness yet the pain of the return, the impact of numbing, the overwhelm of how much there is to love. We each are many, many things.
I’m in Florida right now where I grew up and have been compulsively and inevitably returning to places of my childhood. In them, I feel the layers of past selves stacked up and how my current self nestles up next to them with each visit. In returning, I almost aim to provide comfort to certain past selves (“It’ll be okay, you’ll never believe how much has changed”) and plant seeds of hope for the future self that will eventually come back (“Who do I want to be?”). I linger at these stacked places and want to marinate in all they bring me, the wholeness and the longing.