Well…actually, we share a lot of experiences in common, don’t we? I mean, as human primates, generally, we do. We are each having our own experience. We are each pretty well consumed by the experience we are having, and see the entirety of the world through that lens – or is it a filter? I meantion it, because even looking back on myself, I sometimes find myself surprised by what has changed – and what has not.

In 2012, toward the end of the year (December) the news filled up with shock and horror, and set off my PTSD on this whole other level than I could have been prepared for. I found myself teetering on the edge of suicide, and because I struggled to communicate through the fog of all the other things going on in life, I was also largely emotionally unsupported during this time. I planned to end my life, I got my affairs in order, and I committed to making one last attempt at seeking help through therapy (mostly as a courtesy to my traveling partner, who had expressed concern that having gone off all the psych meds over time, I might need some assistance sorting myself out, which seemed reasonable). If you’ve shared this journey with me, here, you may recall that those early months of 2013 were dark times, indeed.

I practiced new practices, though, and I was still waking up every morning, by July 3rd, 2013. It wasn’t easy, and I struggled a lot. My demons fought me every step of the way. Still… I held on to hope, and kept practicing, studying mindfulness, and waking up each day to a new beginning. It was at least something.

I kept at it… practicing good basic self-care, working through my issues, building emotional resilience, beating back the darkness…. I learned to reach out for help when I needed it, with more ease, and more honesty, less fearfully. Trusting can be so hard sometimes. Life wasn’t perfect, and I understood that it wouldn’t be. I began to learn to tear down the heartbreaking foundation of my chaos and damage: the assumptions, expectations, and attachments that allowed the demons in the darkness to so easily call the shots. I began learning to love – to really love, not merely express affection associated with demands for the same to be returned to me. I learned some handy verbs, and began practices that seemed to improve my experience in amazing new ways. I began learning to listen. I began learning to listen to my own heart. I began to understand and I began to open up to new understanding. I began to set very firm boundaries regarding how I can be treated by others. It was an exciting and complicated time, and I had begun the frustrating process of embracing life, of diving in enthusiastically… and was forced to recognize that we’re not all working on that together, and to decide whether I would give up becoming the woman I most want to be… coming to terms with the reality that not everyone wanted me to be me, at all, was another piece of that puzzle.

I ultimately chose to end one relationship that was causing me great pain; we simply were not able to support each other, or grow together, and we didn’t really share any common values. It was painful, and ugly, and hard – moving on from it was harder than I wanted it to be. Sometimes I still feel that poignant moment of heartbreak, the awareness that love is not reciprocated is painful. Taking that step freed me from so much stress! I started thinking perhaps I was ‘well’ at long last, and all would be… effortless. lol Not so. There are still verbs involved. My first really trying emotional challenge after I moved into my own place caught me by surprise…but I had come a long way from 2012… I took care of myself with great care, and tenderness.

It’s a journey, isn’t it? This whole ‘life’ thing is pretty astonishing. When I ended my employment at the end of April, I wasn’t sure at all that I was making the right choice…but it felt a lot like that moment when I looked my first husband in the eyes as I hung from a balcony on a cold spring night – the only ‘safe’ way out of my apartment in that moment of pure terror. “Don’t do this!” he demanded angrily, looking down at me, still holding the knife he’d been threatening me with. “I have to.” I said quietly, just as I let go. Life changed. I’ve got this busted up back now. My scrambled brain is a complicated mess resulting from multiple head injuries – including the concussion that night. My perspective changed. It would change again, many times. Now, here I am, taking care of this fragile vessel on my terms, making things right with the woman in the mirror, nurturing this being of light on this strange journey without map. No idea where this goes, you know… I still have challenges. I keep practicing.

No good segue, sorry, this is… abrupt, but the the ideas that follow are connected, and the sequence I am offering them seems… adequate. I regret how awkwardly I’ve handled it, however. So. Moving along…

At one point, many years ago (decades), in what feels like another lifetime, I’d bought a battered bass guitar in a pawnshop and begun learning to play. I didn’t quite notice when the heartbreak of losing my guitar in the messy divorce also resulted, some-strange-how, in me simply never even picking up another guitar to play, ever. I just… let it go. I didn’t cry. I didn’t grieve. There were worse things to lose – worse things were lost. I told myself any number of things minimizing the importance, value, significance… and with some measure of success. I didn’t play guitar. Didn’t even try. That entire chapter of my experience was shut down. Shut off. Put away. Left largely undiscussed except as ‘once I…’, ‘there was this time when…’, ‘I used to have an awesome bass guitar…’

Some handful of weeks ago, I don’t recall precisely when, I started thinking about music differently. My fingers itched to play guitar. My heart would jump when a favorite bass groove got my attention during the day. I started ‘feeling it’ – the way I did when I first bought my bass, in 1987. I didn’t actually have it that long, when I look at the year – it was lost to me by 1995? 1996? (Do I have even one existing friend who ever saw it? My life broke like a dry twig in 1995 – a clean break with everything that had been, even what few friends I had (all but one) were cut off by drama, and change.) I started shopping around for anything at all bass-guitar-wise that I might be able to afford on my limited resources…  A dear friend had said, recently, when I discussed these feelings with him, “It’s never too late.”

She came home with me yesterday.

She came home with me yesterday.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality lately… I’ve long been aware that time is precious, finite, and really – there’s none to waste. It’s defining ‘wasted time’ that’s the challenge, isn’t it? What is worthy… what is not? I’m 53. I’ve started working out again. I’m not likely to get my 21-year-old body back, but it feels good, and being healthier is a win. Is the time wasted? Fairly clearly not. I’m 53. I’m learning to play bass guitar again. I’m not likely to become some esteemed ‘bassist’s bassist’ or renowned musician in the time between today, and whenever Death decides to make an appearance on my timeline. Is the time wasted? Perhaps it might seem so if my goal was fame and fortune… what if my goal is to learn another way to give voice to those things I don’t know how to say with words? Is my time wasted then? If I am doing it solely because it gives me pleasure to do so? Is my time wasted? If it helps me continue to rehabilitate my TBI, or soothe the chaos and damage? What is the value in the things for which we have passion? What is our time worth to us, ourselves?

My perspective is that everything I undertake to do, to learn, to experience, and to explore, has the potential to take me closer to being the woman I most want to be. I’m not sure that I have any other purpose as a being, other than to grow, and to become. Certainly it isn’t about reaching a particular bank balance, or owning a particular style of house, or living in a particular neighborhood… We all die human. Death doesn’t play favorites.

I didn’t understand how hurt my feelings were that I’d allowed a madman to take my guitar from me. I didn’t understand that I delivered that hurt, myself, and held on to it for decades, unaware that I was continuing to hold on to that pain, to build it and to nurture it and to defend it from being healed.  It mattered, and I ignored my pain. What a shitty way to treat the woman I was then – and the woman I am now.

Long post today. 🙂 It’s a good day to take another look at why I’ve held myself back, and to take a step or two on the path of making that right with me. What about you? It isn’t too late to do what you love – or what you yearn for. There will be choices to make, verbs involved – your results may vary. Good luck on the journey ahead – and remember, when you stop to ask directions, that other person doesn’t have a map, either. 😉