Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it.
Should I think of this as halfway up a sweat-drenchingly steep mountain and I’ve still got as far to go as I’ve come but will get to see beauty and breathe stinging-fresh air at the end? I’m strong, but I’m tired. And I might be lost, but I’m not sure at this point how I would know.
Or should I think of this as halfway into a labyrinth that will still take some wandering around in the ash and pitch before the end? Will the end, the center, be any lighter – or at least less lonesome – than the trail? Or is this the center and I have to now weave my way back out through similar territory as:
marital separation (our second)
a minor assault
the suicide deaths of four people I knew in childhood
the possible loss of a friendship with a gem of a woman
the possible loss of an eight-year relationship with a mentor, papa figure and pastoral presence (who, despite years of care and the repeated promise that he wasn’t going anywhere, basically blew me off after I was more vulnerable with him than I had ever been)
the diagnosis of a chronic, incurable, genetic condition, which will require difficult adjustments in diet, a medication the side effects of which include weakness and fatigue (at least initially) and exhausting, painful physical therapy
the suffocating isolation due to friends either living out of state, going through their own crises or being generally too busy to be available
three still-painful bone and tendon injuries from slips or falls (due to the effects of said genetic condition)
the worst mass shooting in American history** (which I realize is not about me, but these things crush and trigger me deeply as those who know me in the flesh understand)?
**correction: My apologies, I fell into the media-sensationalizing trap. The Pulse massacre was not the worst mass shooting in history and to say it is belies our culture’s very troubling 24-hour memory/historical amnesia that, among other things, allows this sort of thing to keep happening.
Perhaps, since I still have the brittle, bold disease of hope, there might also be bright spots on the way up or out or down, similar to:
finding a startlingly empathetic, compassionate and gifted therapist
a thoroughly good 30th birthday celebration
getting my work accepted in a major, national publication (and finding a different voice, or at least the possibility of one since this new, softer one seems to still elude me)
getting back in touch with a few old roommates/good friends
the development of a sweet and serious friendship with a beautiful, honest and witty woman
the gifts of time/going out to dinners and house help that friends have been able to give me
the decade of friendship with a courageously honest and fearlessly loyal woman whose strength I can only hope to develop half of
the surprise visit of a dear, dear friend (in three weeks!!) and her consistent, sensitive, gentle presence and forgiveness
meeting a couple of deep, sassy, hilarious women who I clicked with right away (which nearly never happens to me)
and maybe the mending of the aforementioned relationships that are currently broken or in radio-silence mode.