Friday, December 30, 2011

The Girl Who Played With Fire in 2011

I figured it would be well worth my time to take one last stab at posting in 2011. Being December 30, I’m pretty happy that I didn’t wait until tomorrow to try and write this. While stress and procrastination do tend to help my creativity, it doesn’t exactly make me the nicest mother ever. Feeding my darling children takes a backseat when mom has a deadline and I end up declaring cereal the main course.

2011 hasn’t been a great year. You can tell from how often I’ve posted on my blog…when silence hits here on my page of musings, you can be sure of one thing: I’m busy. Or stressed. It’s not that I’ve run out of ideas, mind you, or that I’ve stopped coming up with clever things to say or that nothing important is happening in my life. On the contrary, silence is the biggest indicator of my dysfunction; of life handing me so many things to deal with, think through, and process that I simply cannot fathom sitting still for two hours to write them down. Or that sharing the goings-on would be a breech of the marital confidentiality agreement, which I don’t remember signing, but operate within nonetheless. Very often the cacophonous noise in my head and in my life leaves me silent. Speechless. Any spare moments I have I use to sleep. Avoidance is my salve.

2011 started in tears. Quite literally, honestly, in tears and questions and deafening silences. The rug of reality I firmly stood on was ripped from beneath my feet and I fell, hard, onto a cold cement floor and struggled to get up for months. At the height of this struggle I found myself sitting on my couch, in the silence of midnight hours, in such a state of shock that I quite literally felt something inside myself break. It was a tangible pop or rip or shatter—a noise I can’t define—but I remember that moment as being so void of answers and so black and so painful I did the only thing that came to my mind, the absolutely only thing I knew to do. I opened my bible and started reading.

Whatever broke inside me, started a migraine headache that didn’t go away for six weeks. Dr.’s looked, MRI’s were ordered, the audiologist suggested, the neurologist assessed, and after all the tests were analyzed and the dots connected; the answer was crystal clear.
Nothing was wrong with me. Healthy as could be.
Must be stress.
They eventually went away, those headaches, but for two months my operational level was barely functional. Ibuprofen became my new best friend.

Those months of learning to stand again were like that scene in The Truman Show, where Jim Carrey’s character rows the boat in the ocean, trying to prove to himself that the life he’s living is real and not a construct of another's creating, only to hit the backdrop where the sky meets the ocean’s horizon. And he knows. Nothing was what he thought.

That’s pretty much how my 2011 has been.

And yet, this year has been wonderful. I’ve written more and worked harder than ever before. I finally finished a book project I started on with Kristi Marsh, and now have a tangible product containing a funny, poignant, and inspiring story. I’ve fulfilled my life’s dream of publishing a book, even amidst the broken glass surrounding me. Accomplishing a life dream is monumental in the best of circumstances, but the fact that I have been able to complete this during one of the most difficult years of my life leaves me feeling empowered and strong.

This year I also found something I had lost for a long time—misplaced really. Myself. And I’ve given up something I held onto dearly, for fear that being without it would leave me vulnerable. Control. And in that moment on the couch when I broke—when that tiny plastic piece snapped inside me—and the only thought in my head was read the bible, that moment set me on the path that has saved me. That has led me to find the beginnings of peace. That all is well. Even when things are terrible—all is well. I don’t have any more answers than I did before, but I do have the peace to exist without them.

2011 burned through my life like a forest fire, getting rid of dead wood and allowing the conifers to release seeds into my charred earth, ready to start new life growing. With a little time and rain and sunshine and patience, a new forest will take its place. It’s not a wishful hope but a certainty. Instead of grieving for the devastation, I search through the blackened remains for tiny, green sprouts. They are already there, those sprouts. Miniscule trees and bushes waiting to rocket forth in 2012, changing my landscape in ways I can only imagine. For my last post of this year, I wish everyone joy and peace in 2012.

Would you share with me? What is your biggest triumph and trial of this year?


Anonymous said...

my largest accomplishment/triumph was graduating nursing school and finally becoming the RN I knew I could be. Unfortunately it was masked by the trial of having to undergo a severe health issue with Brad and a minor one with myself...on top of the loss of our beloved Fruity dog. I for one am proud to bid "Adieu" to 2011!!! Thanks for the read Rachel! I hope 2012 brings fabulous things to us both!---Shelly

Rachel said...

Thank you so much Shelly! I know you've had a difficult year, but I'm so proud and happy for you getting your degree! That is a HUGE accomplishment, especially when you have kids at home. Congrats on your successes, and praying for your continued health as well as Brad's! Thank you for sharing!

Amy Kennard said...

I wrote a similar blog post just yesterday - not nearly as eloquently as you, though. As a fellow writer, I know that there is a fine line between "putting it all out there" and "being subtle for the sake of anyone involved". You have managed to share your feelings so wonderfully that I'm sure many - including me - can totally relate. I will be happy to see 2011 retire - although I'm never at a loss to be thankful for what I have. I respect you so much, Rachel, and I hope you continue your blog, on good days and bad. I find it very cathartic both to write and to read others'. Thank you for this! As far as accomplishments, I can't think of one except for reaching my one year of employment at a job I absolutely love after 19 months of unemployment. Amidst heartache, sickness, raising kids and all the other stresses, it has been my refuge. All the best to you in 2012.

Rachel said...

Amy, you put your blogs together in a book, which is a HUGE accomplishment! (although you need a few classes on marketing yourself! Never tell them they can read it for free!) :) After a post you left for Abby, learned so much; namely that I should be looking for local work and marketing myself locally. That honestly hadn't occured to me before, and this year my goal is to establish myself as an LLC and register with the local Chamber of Commerce. That was all inspired b you! I love your honesty in your writing...and yes, as writers it is difficult to really write our truth while respecting others in our lives and trying to live an authentic life. As the new year progresses, I'd love to chat more with you about so many things...privately of course! Thank you so much for sharing and posting here! Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Simply brilliant Rachel!

Anonymous said...

I too love the way you write. Keep up the great work and spirit. I can relate in many ways. Accomplishment: A very successful year growing my office. :D Trials: Control issues too. :( Have a Healthy and Happy New Year.

MR said...

Very eloquently written Rach, you have such a gift and I'm glad you share it with others. 2011 has been a tough one for many, but i am thankful for the peace found in Christ and that no matter what happens, God will never leave us or forsake us. Biggest challenge was a loved one unmasked and biggest accomplishment was perservering through tough work challenges, with lots of family support. Love you!

Anjuli said...

What a brilliant post- I'm very proud of you and your accomplishments this year. As you said, all the greater an accomplishment because it was done in the midst of difficulty!!

Thank you for sharing and may 2012 be a year of health and hope!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim said...

I can't remember the Rabbi's name, but his following quote remains firmly etched in what's left of my brain, " For the believer there are no questions - for the non-believer there are no answers". Hang on to your faith and keep things in perspective. We love you all.

mama bee said...

Becoming a mom has, by far, became my trial and triumph this year. I end this year happily exhausted! Love you Rachel, and love your blog!

Rachel said...

JS and MR, thank you so much for leaving a comment! Control issues are apparently a dominant gene in our DNA, no?

MR, you continue to inspire me by how you handle all you do, and yes, your right, Christ is the cement that keeps my feet firmly grounded. Love you!

Rachel said...

Anjuli, Happy New Year to you as well! I'm looking forward to this year because I know I'm starting it in a different place and as a different person. Wishing you the best in 2012 as well!

Rachel said...

Jim, I LOVE that quote! It may be one that I stencil on my office walls. Thank you for all your love and support and Jewish wisdom! Happy New Year!

Rachel said...

Mama Bee,
I am SO DAMN HAPPY FOR YOU! This has been an amazing year for you and I'm so thrilled you are finally realizing peace and fulfillment! Miss you and our talks! I'll be in town in February; let's plan a Big Bee Outing, eh? Happy New YEar!

Julie Lane said...

Thank you for sharing! Your courage is contagious and I hope you continue to write. So excited to hear about your book...I will be checking back. I too have fought the same ups and downs of life and writing and have plans to publish my first writings this month and my first book this year all the while balancing motherhood with 2 pre-teen boys and my third baby boy that just turned excited for the ride in 2012--may the adventure bring you great JOY!!!

Rachel said...

Julie, thanks so much for stopping by! Wow, two teen agers and a one-year-old? I understand the age split as I have a 12, 10 and 4 year old! Good luck publishing your writing this year! If you'd ever like to post something here on East Coast Musings, let me know. I love to have guest bloggers. Hope you have an amazing 2012!

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