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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Assembling the puzzle pieces

When I left my husband four months ago, I didn’t feel at first like my life had fallen apart.  I think I was too much in shock initially to actually grieve.  I left very suddenly and unexpectedly, under serious circumstances, and the next morning I woke up at my parent’s house wondering what I had just done and what was going to happen to my life.  I took care of important necessities first—my son’s school enrollment, his medications and doctor’s appointments, legal paperwork, etc.  And because I stayed too busy to stop and examine my life, it was several months before I felt the devastating blow of heartache that inescapably follows the loss of a dream.  It was then that I finally felt as though my life had shattered into pieces, like an unassembled puzzle; in particular, when thinking in terms of a puzzle as an analogy for my life, I imagine the two-sided kind.  The picture I had first put together of my marriage and family had finally, inevitably, fallen apart, and the assorted pieces lay in a heap of disarray.  But in all honesty, it was a picture I really didn’t like.  It was dark, dismal, and murky, composed of thick strokes of black mixed with varying shades of grey that formed an abstract, complex, and rather confusing image. 

So when the sense of loss finally hit me, I didn't grieve for the loss of the old picture, but instead mourned for what that picture had become, while simultaneously acknowledging a growing and foreboding sense of fear about how to start assembling the new picture on the other side.  Yet after taking a moment to step back and look at what I had done with my life in the months since I left, I realized that I had already put a significant amount of effort into rebuilding my life, and there was a new picture beginning to form.  Much of the frame was already assembled—my son was finally settling into his new school and making friends, even though it was almost the end of the school year.  My daughter was enrolled in preschool and becoming less grouchy and more vibrant.  Her pieces made up parts of a rainbow in the sky, up in the far left corner of the puzzle.  My husband had moved out of our old house and was living alone, and all of the detritus that had once made up our home together had been sorted through and either put into storage or given away.  I had finished as much legal paperwork as I could for the time being, and I had also gotten my son and I involved in counseling.  When I stopped to examine the image that was forming, I could start to make out a few more details; there was a sandy shore forming across the bottom edge, and in a few places there were small clusters assembled.  But there were still several hundred pieces remaining to complete the picture.

The next section of the picture started to come into form as I began to mend the emotional rent across the center of my soul.  I started doing more in depth work on myself in counseling as I examined my self esteem and the reasons why it was so pitiful.  I allowed some time for the heartache to come crashing over me like a wave, so that I could move past it into the uncharted waters beyond, and I found tremendous healing in the immense love given to me so freely from friends and family, some near and some far.  I received a package in the mail from one particular friend, who seemed to know without my telling her that I wanted some self help books but couldn’t figure out what would be the best choice for me; she knew me well enough to figure out exactly what I needed and gave it to me with love.  With that gift, I discovered further healing and restoration of my soul in the realization that I am not alone, that I am not the first and only person in the history of mankind to ever experience some sort of tragedy.  And again, I stopped to take a look at the emerging picture, and I could see a larger portion of that sandy shore, and a choppy blue body of water emerging on the right side of the puzzle, building towards the top.  A lake?  An ocean?  Too early to tell, but it was obvious that I was still making progress, towards something unexpected and perhaps a bit intimidating but certainly beautiful and healing. 

Every day, as I continue to move forward in my journey, I fit a few more pieces into place, but it is still a slow and sometimes frustrating process.  Where is the piece that is supposed to fit here?  I’m sure it’s blue, but none of the blue ones are working.  And what about this piece?  I like the interesting shape and unique blend of colors.  It seems like it should go over there, on the left, but I can’t make it fit yet.  Ah…maybe that one is my resume, the piece that is going to help build something I can’t visualize yet.  I’ll need to keep that handy because I’ll use it again soon.  But for the moment, I’ll put it aside and work on something else.  

As I continue with the construction process, I hold some ideas and some hopes and some vision in my head.  I hope that when it’s all done, there will be a small house on the other side of that body of water, somewhere…a home where a family lives together happily.  I don’t know quite what that family looks like.  But my kids and I are a part of it, and we’re happy, and we’re still growing and discovering ourselves, and we’re accomplishing things that we hadn’t before dared or even imagined to try.  And ultimately, the dark, heavy despair of our old picture is all gone, replaced with shimmering reflections of love and light.

I know that it will never really be done, this picture of my life, until the last piece falls into place with my last breath.  But at least now I can do something I couldn't do even as little as a month ago.  I can reassure myself that one day, there will be a much more complete picture in place than there is now, and that picture will be worth all of the pain and effort that went into assembling it.  It took a lot of healing to get here, and there is much more healing needed ahead, I know; but love is a healing balm, and love is one thing I am ever grateful to have so much of.  

13 comments:

used2chaos said...

*let's out the breath I've been holding for months* Whew. That was stunningly beautiful and touching, my friend. I can now stop worrying about you! You've come so far, have been so strong, you've accomplished so much hard work in your physical and emotional life. I am so very, very proud of you. My pride is mixed with awe at how you've changed and turned your life around, turned it from the darkness to the light.

You made me weepy and happy all at the same time. I feel like the air after a hard storm has passed, scrubbed clean and fresh. Look, there's a rainbow! :)

Kim V. said...

I am wiping away a tear as I finish reading this. And I'm not a crier normally. You have really done a lot of work and I am so freaking proud of you for really making some deep down changes and not just trying to survive and pretend. It takes a really wise soul to realize that living on the surface is no way to live. The picture you are creating for your life is going to be gloriously lovely and everything that you deserve in life. Those pieces that you can't quite figure out? Hand those up to God and let him handle those. You are well on your way to the dream life you never even imagined you'd have.

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