I woke up again with a cry and my heart palpitating and blood rushing through my veins…
”Honey…it’s okay. You’re fine. It was only a dream.” My husband reassured me.
It’s the same dream…but different circumstances each time. I’m reaching for something very important to me, but somehow it’s out of reach. It eludes me and it’s gone…whatever it is that seems so important in the dream, and often I can’t even remember it…it’s gone…into the abyss of nightmares and unanswered prayers.
I awake unsettled after these dreams. It’s as if I’ve experienced a great loss. I struggle to return to sleep then, but try anyway saying a brief prayer…
“Lord, I know you’ve got me covered. You’re with me. The sun will come up tomorrow and I will face a new day with joy.”
I’m not sure what the dream means for me. I suppose the subconscious speaks to us in dreams. But I’m not sure.
I realize when I’m fully awake that I’ve had and am still going through a series of enormous life changes. When our first grandchild was born, I’d set my heart and mind on finding a way to be closer to him and his family. I wanted so much to be an involved grandma and I missed so much in his first few years because we lived about 3 hours away in another city. I was determined to find a home nearer to my daughter and her family so that we could enjoy the grandkids and be a part of their lives on a daily basis.
I retired 3 years ago from a very fulfilling and engaging career as a teacher. I loved my job and the children that made each day worth getting up for. I suppose that’s a loss, in a way. In some ways, it’s a good loss. I used to dream about the time I would have to sew, write, exercise and volunteer…I couldn’t wait to be able to travel and enjoy the golden years with my husband.
I wasn’t prepared for the sense of loss that I would feel.
We found a beautiful home on a wooded lot, with lake views in a small town near my daughter. We put in an offer on the house and after several months of negotiations and ups and downs due to a short sale, the house was ours!
So much of that first summer, I spent alone working tirelessly to prepare the house to move into while my husband stayed in Chicago, working. I felt lonely.
We had a dream, but this separation became my new reality.
My mother in law, who had been very ill, passed away just two weeks before the birth of my 4th grandchild. We physically moved a couple of months later, leaving our home of 20 years behind. My husband tried, but could not find work he wanted to do here, in our new place. My father in law fell and broke his hip and was placed in a nursing home/rehab facility. Back and forth to visit, take care of him. He passed away only 8 months after his wife died, alone, in a nursing home.
Lots of grief, memories, processing and sadness filled our days.
Even though we were trying to get excited about our new place, it still just didn’t feel like home.
Our son came to Chicago to work on his master’s degree. We offered to let him live in our old house while he attended grad school. We visit often, but it’s weird to have someone living in your former home…making it their own. No longer ours. There have been many adjustments.
So I set out to get involved in our new area. Here is a list of things I’ve tried to get more involved. I’ve enjoyed each one, and continue to do so, but still haven’t felt a real sense of belonging.
Sewing for a non-profit organization, making wedding gowns into burial gowns.
Visiting many churches
Still, after a year, an entire year, I have felt:
Through all of these transitions and changes, the biggest challenge has been making new friends and feeling like I belong here…in this home, in this community, in this world as it is…I feel lonely. I do not feel known.
I can’t seem to find my rhythm or my space here.
I find myself thinking about what I can do to really focus on what’s good about my life right now. I don’t want to focus any longer on what’s making me feel lonely. If I do then I continue to walk down the path of discouragement and resentment.
I have daily tried to turn my attention and focus on maintaining a heart of gratitude for…
Beautiful lake views
Visitors (especially those that know me!)
Quiet Days and not so quiet ones, when I am needed to be “grandma” or “mom”
Sick kids (Grandma is needed!)
Family is coming for dinner…cooking cleaning, enjoyment and frustration all in the same breath…at the same moment
Finding a new faith community
Stepping out of the comfort zone of being “known”
Listening, opening my heart
Having time to spend with my husband, getting to know each other in new ways
Opportunities for travel
Here’s what I’ve learned and what I’m learning…
I have entered into a new FLOW of life.
Back and Forth.
Back and Forth.
This FLOW is not necessarily BAD, and it doesn’t have to be lonely, either.
I dedicate myself to this new flow, and I give myself grace for the resentments, the grief, and the loneliness I’ve felt as I adjust to these new ideas and this new place. I will develop a sense of curiosity about my new life and new people. What is waiting around the corner for me…a new friend? A new interest? What could that interest be? How can I be a blessing to someone here? What am I being invited to do?
I will try to lean into the unknown with an attitude of “gracious” expectancy. I believe God has invited me to something special. I must accept this invitation and expect the positive. I hope I can become aware of how my whole being is involved with new things…how does it fit me? If it feels good, go with it. If not, leave it for someone else who fits it better. But don’t be afraid to try it out and notice.
If I tune in my peripheral vision to what’s happening in my life and read that too, not just what is in plain sight, I may be able to experience a deeper level of living. Sometimes the next good or right thing is just a bit off to the left…or to the right…and I won’t see it if I’m laser focused on only what’s in front of me. I need a broader perspective.
I know as well that I must allow myself the space and time to grieve. It takes time to work through the grief of losing a parent and the loss of leaving a life we worked hard to build. It takes time to make adjustments to the new rhythms of my life and accept them as the new “normal”.
My plans to sew and write, craft and decorate could be FOR me or maybe NOT. I must accept the current FLOW. But I can’t be afraid to shift course if need be. I can’t be afraid to say “NO” to the things that don’t fit. I can’t force myself to FIT into something that is not me.
After a long vacation, and an exciting one. It was good to be back HOME again.
I am learning to accept the new reality of what my life is and could become here.
I am anxious to get on with it.
Am I OPEN to the NEW flow of my life? I am working on it by…
Relishing the OLD. Keeping my memories, ideas, hopes, dreams…
Trusting God to continue to speak to me through my past experiences and my new situation.
Letting go of the “things” of the PAST. There are “things” that burden us with their physical presence. Cleaning out the stuff that isn’t serving you any more is important. Take the time to do that.
My son told me a story of a seed laden dandelion, soft and feathery, ready to go out into the world. He said when we blow on it, it scatters and then the seeds are just out there…to grow or not. Once we’ve blown them away, we cannot get them back, we don’t have that control. Our ideas and dreams are kind of like that too. Once we let go of them, we can’t grab them back…even if they are our hopes and dreams. What grows is what takes root in soil that is ready for it. Reality is. When something takes root, we can look to that and that alone as our current present reality. Just like in my dream, sometimes you can’t hold onto things forever. If it doesn’t fit anymore, let it go…
October 31, 2016