At my previous dwelling, I lived in a very small town of about 2000 people…out in the country, away from traffic. I lived on a country road that received minimum traffic. A cattle pasture was on one side, woods behind the house where I enjoyed a quiet sit spot and a large field and woods in front of the house. It was quiet much of the time and the only sound on summer nights was crickets and frogs singing. I often enjoyed getting up before dawn to walk barefoot on the grass while I waited to greet the sunrise. I spent my evenings watching the abundance of birds at feeders and saying farewell to the sun as I watched it set. In the autumn, it often produced an awe-inspiring glow of various hues of gold, red, and blue.
Now, I dwell in a small apartment with a view of buildings from the front and a parking lot at the back. At first, the noise was almost unbearable and the only quietness I experienced was through the modern technology of noise canceling headphones. At night, all I hear is the thump of music from cars and people talking. I think wildlife is totally void in this place. I can no longer walk on grass barefoot nor witness the sun rising or setting as it is obscured by buildings. I can no longer experience petrichor or the smell of humus…that earthy smell of decomposing leaves I often smelled when I sat in the woods. It seemed to have a natural relaxing effect on me. The place I live now is a nature lover’s worse nightmare.
After two weeks here, I am beginning to experience NDD–nature deficiency disorder. So, the next step is to look around for some woods or weeds even, that I can scurry off into so I can experience some of these things again…even if I have to drive to get to that quiet place again…where I can once again smell the humus.
This is my attempt at writing my own personal Tehillim.
Happy is the one who has a friend to lean on
in times of trouble
Or someone to talk to when distressed
Or can share their thoughts openly with them.
It is a relief from sorrows
When someone can share all their mind with another.
That friend is like streams of fresh water
And their compassion never runs dry
Regardless of the season.
Their love does not fade throughout the years
And their friendship thrives throughout their whole lives.
Not so for those who are alone
And without a good friend.
Sorrow gnaws at the heart
And bitterness overwhelms the mind.
If you have a good friend
Travel the road to visit them often
For the road to isolation leads to sadness and despair.
I finally got moved into my new apartment with some good and some…well, not so good. I feel safer here than I did when I was living in my parents house, which is out in the country. But the noise of living in close proximity to other people (both beside and above me) will take some time getting used to.
I have been going back to the house to pack up things, going through old pictures, sorting through things, etc. For the first time in the nine months since my mother died, I broke down in tears. I think I have not really mourned her lost. Part of it may be due to the fact that right after this, my father’s health declined. He was in the hospital for weeks, then needed 24 hour care in a long term care facility. On top of all that, I have been taking care of his affairs, his property, and getting ready to sell his assets, etc.
Another part of it is I created this false self at an early age (due to long term sexual abuse) and in doing so, I didn’t really recognize what I was feeling, so I discounted them. At some point I learned along the way “keep your chin up”, “put on a happy face”, “don’t let them see you come apart”, “expressing emotions is a sign of weakness”, etc. I have engaged in this type of self talk for so long, it seems like I’ve always done it. But the problem with having a false self is you don’t know your true self which only adds to the confusion.
As I was speaking with my counselor about these matters last week, I said “I think I am still that little girl who’s hiding”. She responded with “I think you are right. You avoid anything that you think might make you vulnerable”.
It was easy to isolate myself from the rest of the world. What’s hard is forming and maintaining relationships with others. I don’t even know when I began to shut myself off from the world but I know it has happened slowly over years. I slowly became a loner with no friends…and now my family is fading away…or the family that mattered. As the days turned into weeks and weeks into years, it became harder and harder to communicate with others or to even be social with strangers. It has gotten to the point where I no longer want to go grocery shopping, simply because I don’t want to be around people. (Although, I still go at this point.) I even moved closer to a synagogue (about 15 minutes away) but it terrifies me to think of going there to be around people. Something I wanted to do from the beginning and when I have the opportunity, I do nothing. In order to stop this madness though, I must be okay with being vulnerable. Hmmm…I am not there yet.