Whither Wisdom

Sunset on Lake Lila, Zack in his superhero pose, me, behind the camera, in awe that I made it Through. Adirondacks, 2011.

I am mulling.

I guess this is seasonally appropriate, since fall is (maybe? finally? at last?) upon us. I’ve had so much input, and so many experiences, and made a handful of decisions (after months of making none). I started a huge work project, started looking for houses outside of NYC and my son has started school and wow, time has passed, time has passed.

I believe I may have finally made it through my sad season—though my memories of being so dark and down under are so fresh, it makes me nervous to type that. (Superstition follows me everywhere; we all need our lucky charms.) The pain of losing my parents in such a traumatic way has mostly turned into a companionable daily grief that keeps them close. The strangeness of having a steady and solid 20-year-career in magazine publishing disappear under my feet at the same time I was losing my parents has stopped feeling like insult added to injury, and instead clarified into a simple fact: those jobs are fantastic and wonderful, but the business is changing rapidly, and I just didn’t want to go back and face the same challenges. (And maybe I didn’t want to have to find out if they were done with me, too, but I’m okay with that possibility. I lose no ego in that equation.) My son made it through his terrifically challenging year, and I feel like I’m a stronger parent for having faced the truly humbling truth that I can be his ally, his rock, his foundation, but I can’t make things easier for him; he has to do that work for himself, alone. And somehow, my boyfriend and I made it through a time of such unsettling unsettlement—which befell us a mere three weeks after he moved in with me and my son, taking on parenting and living with the strange clockwork of divorce, with a sense that I was a provider (which probably mattered much more to me than it did to him, but still…)—that I just marvel that he is still in my life. God knows I tried, begged, pleaded, screamed, yelled, hated, threatened, and crazied all over him, so desperate was I not to have someone witness what felt like my destruction. In one particularly terrible moment I shouted, “I hate you, and I. HATE. ME. Don’t you get it? I can’t stand it! Why won’t you GET OUT!?”

But, you know, I’ve always been dramatic like that. Life reverberates through me and I send the echoes outward. The cleanup is never pretty—that particular episode stunned us both into a few dark days of quiet, so wounded by my rage, and me, so terrified that that much anger and fear was within me. I thought it would never heal, that I had done my worst and laid our relationship to rest. But even scorched earth welcomes tender shoots, a beautiful truth that will never cease to amaze me.

People wonder why I want to share the darkness, why I don’t instead tell stories of light. But I know in my heart that making agony ordinary is its own kind of sunflower face, turning toward the future.

So now I’m no longer mulling about my pain, the months I lost to depression and fear and total motionlessness. I’m not even really mulling so much about Who I Am or Where I’m Supposed To Be. I’m happy to have my days full of regular rhythms and familiar complaints: Oh, man, I have to finish this article! Shoot, I really should have gone to the gym. Gee, my kid is talking a lot a lot a lot right now. I’m happy to feel purpose again, like a thrumming engine, instead of feeling like life is a series of disconnected obligations and burdens. And the truth is, nothing has really changed that much in the world. Nothing is more certain or more clear than it was a year ago. I’m still in transition; my son, my boyfriend, my career, my home, my financial situation, my certainty are all still in transition. What has changed is the direction of the thoughts within.

So I’m mulling over what’s been, of all I felt, and what I’m supposed to keep from it. I do know is that for perhaps the first time in my life, instead of kneeling on the riverbank, sifting through the sands looking for the pearls of wisdom I’m supposed to string together, I’m instead wondering how much of it all I can throw in a burlap sack and toss over the edge of the roaring waterfall and never look back. I want to get in my canoe and paddle away toward the inevitable, perpetual, don’t-care-about-my-history-at-all sunrise.

The wisdom sinks in whether you turn it into stories or not, the wisdom sinks in.

 

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses: a divorce and house disaster that led to a book (Falling Apart In One Piece); a week after the book came out, my parents suddenly fell gravely ill, I resigned from my job (and, apparently, my career), my son went into crisis, my parents then rapidly died four weeks apart, and my boyfriend (who had moved in with me and my son just weeks before the book came out) began the painful journey of realizing we couldn't make our relationship work (that story unfolded on this blog). Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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17 Responses to Whither Wisdom

  1. What a beautiful post. I’m so glad you’ve come out the other side of your season.

  2. Lindsey says:

    I am speechless reading this. So true, so wise, so … just, well, LIFE. Thank you. Yes, to show that agony is ordinary – human, universal, and, in fact, not permanent – is an enormous gift. Thank you. xox

  3. I understand these rhythms all too well – the deflation and listlessness that comes when you take too many hits at once and in sequence – more losses than you can fathom surviving and yet you do, and possibly better because a child depends on you and your continuing capacity to parent.

    I’m glad that things are looking up, and I often wonder if there isn’t a less painful way to acquire wisdom.

    This, in particular, is a tough lesson and one I had to learn especially with my younger son:

    I can be his ally, his rock, his foundation, but I can’t make things easier for him; he has to do that work for himself, alone.

    No small feat, Stacy. Not any of this.

  4. I love the poetry and humanity in this post. Having just joined the blogosphere there’s a lot of happy-smiling-dancing-as-fast-as-I-can. It’s lovely to read someone sober and in the moment. So glad to have found you. xo

  5. Loralee says:

    “I believe I may have finally made it through my sad season—though my memories of being so dark and down under are so fresh, it makes me nervous to type that.”

    So, so, so true. It’s a hell of a thing you’ve been through…the thought of going back anywhere near the sphere of it will probably always make you a bit nervous.

  6. I love you real. And since that’s you 99% of the time – how wonderful! This piece is just so lovely, especially this: “But even scorched earth welcomes tender shoots.” And I’m glad it’s true.

    I’m struggling with my own darkness right now, not the total engulfing kind, just the little but constant shadows that leach the color out of my days. I am feeling worn out by autism and ADD. And the thousand little nagging worries that won’t shut up.

    • stacy says:

      Varda, even just admitting out loud that you are feeling the weary from all that you manage is so important. ALLOW IT in yourself. It is an important part of coping with the challenges you and your family face. xxx

  7. Beautiful and meaningful, as usual.

    I was really struck by this: “My son made it through his terrifically challenging year, and I feel like I’m a stronger parent for having faced the truly humbling truth that I can be his ally, his rock, his foundation, but I can’t make things easier for him; he has to do that work for himself, alone.”

    Parenting has provided me with a similar lesson.

    I am not here to “fix” my children or even their world, but to support them as they become, well, THEM.

    I can provide comfort, support, encouragement and exposure to possibilities, but in the end, I am best used as a “compassionate witness” (as the amazing Katrina Kenison coined it) to their unique journeys.

    ~ Meredith From A Mother Seeking Come find me on my blog, A Mother Seeking…

  8. Jean says:

    Stacy,
    I read an article you wrote for Allure Magazine and was so moved that I signed up for your blog. Going through a difficult time in my career right now, your writings have touched (and helped me) more than you would ever know. You are a beautiful, talented, loving person, and I know there is something else on the other side that you have yet to discover. Your boyfriend sounds like a wonderful man, a true keeper and someone who will be there through sunshine and storms.

    Keep writing. You’re the best!

    Jean

    • stacy says:

      Jean, I, in return, must thank you. Knowing that my writings about some of life’s hardest passages have helped people (besides myself!) is such a needed validation. Thank you for taking the time to comment. And you know what? I never even got to see that Allure article! I wish I had, because I did that interview during an unimaginable time. I wonder what I sounded like…. Anyway, all good wishes to you, and I’ll be rooting for you on your journey.

  9. Alexandra says:

    I don’t know how I didn’t know about your blog.

    I assumed you were at BlogHer, and that’s plenty, right?

    Varda pointed me here.

    And I have to say, people used the word ‘dramatic’ with me, when talking about me, most of my life.

    It just hit me: just now, in reading your words here, dramatic? Dramatic was depression. A child depressed, a teen depressed, a college student depressed.

    Dramatic? I see it now, it’s someone who felt the pain in the world, and took it on as her own.

    This post was like sitting down to a thick, fat sandwich, after only eating machine box food for too long.

    Thank you.

    • stacy says:

      Ah, yes, I was that child, too. Hiding it all in such motion and accomplishment, no one ever thought to ask. Not even me, till much later. : )

      And now I think the fact that I live to see and touch the pain in the world and make it known—and making it OKAY, seeing that it is just part of life, even though it definitely hurts—is my greatest accomplishment, ever.

      I’m so happy to be finding my little family of like-minded peeps. Company is such a warm respite from the many days of being all alone inside. xxoo

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