At the end of last year I felt a pebble in my shoe, but thought nothing of it. The new year started off like any other, welcoming 2015 with little fan fare. No big trips planned, no milestones up the road, and nothing of immediate note in the horizon that might add strain or stress. That being said, I rolled through the first month just fine, but starting in February, I felt an emotional sensation similar to being repeatedly poked. I’d oddly twitch while standing still and feel digs in my side while in motion. That tiny pebble was still in my shoe, annoying me with each step, so to speak. Not at all physical, they were those nagging gut feelings you have, those whispers in the back of your mind that become very loud the moment you try to get very quiet.
“Go away!” I’d say to these irritants, “It’s all in my head,” I told myself point blank, “This is nothing.” There is something I call the negative side of optimism, when a normally positive person like me shakes things off and charges forward in spite of circumstance, but to her own detriment. She keeps telling herself that things like pesky pebbles don’t bother her. Her optimisim floats her on an inner tube across the icy waters of doubt, but my trip with optimism flowed smoothly into a pristine lake into the territory we call denial. As I have learned, the land of denial warmly welcomes optimistic people, allowing us to hide out there for months, some even swimming and setting up camp for years.
One, however, can only be in denial of a pebble for so long before it feels like a rigid stone. Come spring, walking became impossible even for me, the most stubborn of optimists. It was time to sit down and take that stone out of my shoe. How did it get there? What is it made of? Why am I willing to keep walking with it? Wouldn’t I rather be running without it? Am I the only one responsible for getting rid of this stone? What needs to be done so its gone for good? Are metaphorical shoe pebbles ever gone for good?
The turning point was my obvious inability to articulate my own feelings that were screaming for acknowledgement. This was very upsetting. I’m a talker and a communicator, so being at a loss for words and lacking coherent thoughts was my big red flag. We alter our perceptions of relationships and try to filter our feelings into something more sensible so as not to be offensive. By nature, we don’t like making ourselves feel bad, and surely don’t want to make somebody we love feel worse by saying something you aren’t sure you want to but know needs to be said. At least that way you can do something about it. Dealing with concerns that have been ignored for a long time is uncomfortable and scary, and even the best optimist can’t sugar coat anything like that.
Being home was not going to get me closer to a conclusion. In fact, my home, as much as I loved it, started to look like the version of my home in REM sleep, where it’s supposed to be your home but it’s part current residence, part local shopping center, and part dorm for childhood classmates, decorated in psychedelic imagery with a random movie star and beloved dead relative all thrown in there. It’s confusing and freaks you out. I felt like a puzzle trying to force pieces to fit where they didn’t belong.
After some serious discussions with the husband and a quick call to my sister, I planned my get away, and the timing was just right. We were due to see each other anyway and she was grateful to have me help out during the summer and spend time with her family during their big move and renovation. I packed my bags, and headed east in search of missing pieces and a better blueprint for my puzzle.
When I boarded the plane for Boston, I couldn’t feel the pebble as much. Was it still there?
So begin my Summer Stories.
For Summer Stories 2, click here.