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Where Have You Been?

December 26, 2012

Where have you been?

It’s the question an angry spouse asks a drunken straggler. It’s a question that spills angrily from the mouth of a worried parent, weary from waiting for a rebellious child. It’s a bit of rhetoric directed toward a beloved pet who has been missing for days and comes home with dirty fur and an empty belly. It is a question that hesitates in the face of the truth. The answer is somehow irrelevant, blotted out by the joy and the relief. It is a question I must answer.

As you may know, if you follow my blog, I post a new blog every Wednesday. I have followed that schedule religiously for nearly a year. Like most of the devout, I have stumbled along the way, missing a week here or a week there. There have been some posts (too many if you ask me) that have proven to be ill-judged or poorly executed, but I have maintained my perseverance. I made it my goal to follow through on the task I had set for myself.

It is a strange thing, in life, the way we approach a task. At least the way I do. I will never miss a day of work. I’m never late to any appointment, whether work, a party, or some matter of personal maintenance. I take these things seriously and, perhaps because my actions or inactions in these matters affect other people, I follow through with a consistency that would make the Sun blush. I can be relied upon to accomplish the tasks that others have set before me.

Contrast that with my approach to task that I have set for myself. I don’t think I’m alone in my inconsistency. If it is something that I must do for myself and myself alone, I am remarkably inconsistent. The dishes need doing: I’ll do them tomorrow. It is time for a load of laundry: it can wait. This novel needs written: no hurry. The only person that is affected by my action or inaction is myself and I’m pretty easygoing. I put things off. I make excuses. I find things to distract me. Anything but doing the thing that I want done.

Which brings us to my blog. I gave myself an out. I wrote a post to let myself off for a week. And it was easy. Why not two weeks? Why not three or four? No one will mind. It’s not as if anybody plans their Wednesday around reading my posts. So why not take some time off?

One week passed. In that week, I suffered a sort of existential crisis. I was off the rails. I felt despondent and tired. I felt frustrated and helpless. I felt like my life had been a waste and the horizon looked too bleak to bear thinking about. I stopped reading the news. I stopped visiting the Internet. I wouldn’t answer when my friends called. I stopped checking my messages. I wandered through my workday with glum apathy as my companion. One night I almost deleted my blog. I sat at my computer with tears in my eyes before deciding to sleep on it.

Where had this crisis come from, you may be wondering. I don’t know. It appeared like a black cloud and blotted all light from penetrating my thoughts. My stomach hurt. I felt very alone. My jaw hurt from gritting my teeth.

I wish I could say there was some happy resolution. If this were a movie or a Nicholas Sparks book I would find hope and meaning through a relationship, maybe bump into my soulmate in front of a beautiful painting in a museum. My purse would spill everywhere and he would bend down to help me pick it up and he would see the copy of “Ask The Dust” that I am reading for the third time and we would embark on a boisterous conversation followed by a blending of souls that would lead to life and clarity of purpose. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately as that sounds really boring) that did not happen. There was no catalyst for clarity. There was no earth-shaking meeting. The cloud pulled slowly back and I could think again. The world looked different though. I have changed in some way.

I feel more confident than I did before. The cloud seems to have taken a certain amount of doubt in its retreat. I have attached so much importance to meeting other people’s expectations in my life that I have never really stopped to ask myself what I expect out of life. While the cloud has not fully dispersed, I can see now that the promises I make to myself are just as important as the ones that I make to others. More so, even. Because in failing to keep a promise I have made to myself, I am letting myself down twice. I am doubling my disappointment. I refuse to do that to myself anymore.

Where have I been?

I’ve been on a dark journey of self-discovery. I have been lost inside my own mind. I have emerged, humbled and relieved. I have returned more determined than ever. I will no longer allow doubt to control me. Temper me, yes, but never control me.

I am sorry to have been gone so long from my secret garden, my refuge that has become overgrown and untended. I am back. Also, apologies if this post sounds as if I have gone crazy. It has been an interesting month and I am out of practice with writing. I can assure you though, the best is yet to come.

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