How to begin this tale?
I want to write about love, not loneliness, listening to my heart, not living with bipolar disorder, being strong, and not afraid, and yet in the end all of these things are part of what my day has been about. Let me begin with the clanging of the bell…
I have written enough for now about having the house on the market and the fears and worries surrounding that. What I have come to today is how the life that I have carved out for myself causes all of the fears to be exacerbated so that no matter what was going on, the house for sale, or a bad bipolar day, the fear that rises is like the loud clanging of the bell in the bell tower, taking something that anyone would have difficulty with and multiplying it countless times until the sound is deafening and the fear something that can’t easily be controlled. What I am referring to is a life lived alone, in solitude, by choice, by chance, and by circumstance. I realized today that living so cut off from the world has got to stop, and I have it within my power to do just that.
I sat this morning shaking so hard from fear, an unnamed fear, I couldn’t understand how it could be so bad, and I wrestled with it, wrote a friend about it, prayed about it, and then sat up suddenly startled by the answer that came. What once seemed preferrable if not always an easy way to live, the life of solitude and silence, has become an almost suffocating way to live and be in the world. Thinking that my mental differences as a dear friend would put it meant that I could not live with another person easily I chose to withdraw and do my work alone thinking that it would be easier and less heartbreaking than falling in love only to have the love shatter or disintegrate as time went by. The thing that I understand now is that we none of us have any guarantees and to cut oneself off from the world is a painful choice and not a wise one.
But at nearly 62 how does one re-enter the world? You don’t plunge willy nilly into society lest you startle everyone around you to their wits end, and you don’t just knock on doors and ask if someone would like to be your friend. When you don’t work outside the home, don’t have a spouse or partner, your children are grown, and you live a life that seldom includes other people it is hard to imagine how to begin. I am inching toward a solution, one that I think will work for me, but I am still afraid and pulling back just enough that I have not been able to manage it yet. What I am getting at is that I believe, though I consider myself spiritual, not religious, that I am going to go back to church.
I see myself sitting in a loving congregation as the church that I have chosen is one I was a member of for several years though not the church I was raised in. It is a very loving, very open, compassionate church, and the kind of people who go to this church are my kind of people if there be such a thing. They have Sunday services and a number of other lovely offerings and meetings and it could be just the thing for me. I realize there are many wonderful churches out there but this is the one that I know and feel comfortable in. If I can just make myself go. Sunday rolls around and what sounded like a good idea slips away with the morning, but after the tolling of the bell this morning and the piercing pain and fear yet again I have come to realize that finally one just has to get a grip and do what one can.
As people grow older and spouses leave or pass on and children grow up and often away people who are older often end up alone even if that were not their desire but I have decided that it is up to me to build a life that includes other people. Too, in a church there are all manner of people of all ages and circumstances and it is hard to get stuck in your own private issues when the congregation softens the sound of your own story repeating itself loudly, or so I imagine. It has been a long time for me and I realize there is no perfect solution but I am looking for something that will take me out of my own dramas and traumas so that I can open my heart to the world around me. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the repetitive patterns of your own pain and fear. I know, I have been strangling myself every morning on the threads of sheer terror. It has got to stop.
The clanging of the bell need not rule my life, I simply will not let it. I am taking a deep breath in this moment, even though I am trembling inside, and I am telling myself that it is my choice. We all have choice, and this is mine. If this isn’t the answer I will find another but I have to take a first step out into the world, even if I am shaking as I do so. This Sunday. I am proclaiming it right here, right now, this Sunday I will go to my first church service in decades. I will open my heart to the sea of people there, knowing that they are carrying every manner of pain, fear, joy, love, and hope for themselves and the world around them, as I will myself, and I will report back here as time goes by. If not, why not? If not now, when? Indeed. And so on I go, with hope, and faith and a heart full of love. I have so much in me. I need to live beyond these four walls, and so I shall.