The Clanging Of The Bell…


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.


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  1. You make me think of Anne Lamott and the small congregation where she finds heart’s home. As an introvert, I need long hours of solitude to refresh and regenerate and to do my work. But I also need love and relationship. Aging really brings that into focus, as we watch friends deal with Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and the panoply of health challenges that tumble down like landslides.

    That’s when the value of community becomes achingly clear. Thanks to my dear partner, who’s lived in this small city for nearly 50 years, I’ve been introduced to a community of friends who are loving and supportive and enjoy getting together regularly, in groups small and large. I wish this sort of family of friends to anyone, knowing how much richer our lives are because of it.

    So I applaud your determination to enter the church community. You won’t find perfection there, nor salve for every hurt, but it sounds as if it is the kind of gathering that will reach out to you and give you friendship and belonging.

    • Thank you so much dear Cathryn, Your community of friends found through your dear partner sounds heavenly and I am so glad that you have them. I understand, also, the need for long hours of solitude. For me my whole life is solitude and there is an ache for some kind of community. I hope and pray I am on the right path to finding it.

      Blessings and love to you dear sister…


  2. Lynn Heritage says:

    Mari, I so understand your fears about rejoining a life with people. I am, very much, a loner, an introvert and an empath, to boot. You spoke of friendship and belonging and, deep inside our soul, isn’t that what we all want?
    After I retired, I realized that I needed to reach out and create my tribe. It took awhile, and I still struggle with large groups of people, but I am content in the knowing that I have friends who understand and accept my weirdness, just as I accept theirs.
    Even though I’m married and have a husband I love with all my heart, I need my tribe. If you just take a really deep breath and take the huge step outside your comfort zone, you will find your tribe. It is there waiting for you.
    Wishing you peace and love.

    • Thank you so much Lynn honey, I truly appreciate your kind words and know exactly what you mean about finding your tribe. It is exactly what I would like to have. I’m also so happy that you have your dear husband. Many blessings to you both this beautiful spring night…



  3. I agree with Cathryn & Lynn…I too thought of Anne Lamott when I read of your brave decision and the fellowship Anne found in her little church and in her tribe, as Lynn states.

    It’s so true that we need a few friends who will love us, warts & all, even if we are lucky enough to have the love of a wonderful family, and even if our partner is the absolute best. I find lately, especially since retirement and returning to a part time job, that I miss the group of friends I had. I miss female companionship. Many of them are still working, busy, traveling, etc. I’m more a home body.

    Before I met George, I attended a beautifully, welcoming church…pure love. Even though it was Christian, they taught meditation and mindfulness…they had an awesome bookshop and inspiring, life changing retreats….and more. I miss that. I think you’ve inspired me, yet again, and awakened something in me that was dormant. I think I too shall return to church, but without any major expectations other than to be present. In time, possibly, we may find a few people we feel comfortable with, if not, at least we will experience the peace that passes all understanding, in the presence of a loving God.

    Sending you lots of love and big hugs!

    PS: if I didn’t have so many family obligations right now, there are times I just feel like jumping into my car and driving down to North Carolina, picking up a few sweet soul sisters from our group on the way!

    • Dear Donna,

      I am so touched to read again a mention of Anne Lamott as she is one of my favorite writers and her deep connection with her church is an inspiration to me to reach out to the church I will be attending and it sounds very like the church you mention. The church I am going to be going to is Unity. I hope that wherever and whenever you decide to return to church it meets all of your expectations and brings you that sense of tribe that we all seek. And bless your dear George. I’m so happy that you have him. What a blessing that it. You made me smile talking about coming to NC. What a trip that would be! 😀

      I’m sending you lots of love and big hugs too honey,


  4. Maitri,
    As I’ve moved from my work life (which was relatively solitary), and certainly rewarding (in the ways of that), I’ve found building a new community (very much by intention and not easy for me, particularly, as a natural introvert) to be wonderfully rewarding.

    I knew from my previous work life that it could totally change my mood to be out with other people, contributing and exchanging thoughts about plants, gardening, or whatever, whether I was the “teacher” or the student.

    In a post-paid work life, I’ve purposefully tried to continue to make the effort to connect with others (sitting at home thinking about what to cook for dinner, and going to the grocery — that’s NOT a recipe for good mental health, in my experience.) I do have a husband and a wonderful dog, but they have their own lives, too!

    I’m continuing to find a rewarding and interesting community out there, thankfully, and am tiptoeing out into more “volunteer” activities where I can make a true and meaningful contribution.

    So, I applaud your thoughts about re-entering the world!

    You have SO many tremendous gifts, and wisdom to share, and as Lynn wrote, your tribe is out there in a physical form if you reach out to find them (you already know you have a virtual tribe) as well as a wonderful family and other friends.

    I’ve found many positives in having a much broader range of folks who are “friends” in real presence, as well as being grateful for the many who’ve I’ve connected with online (including you!)


    • Thank you so much dear Lisa and I am so happy for you with all that you have accomplished since your move. I know it was a big one coming after the additional change of retirement but you have just done remarkably well and I’m so proud of you. Thank you so much for your kind words about gifts and wisdom, I hope that that might be true and that I have something to share once again in person as I did years ago when I was teaching. I loved teaching and though it doesn’t have to take that form I’d really like to be able to give to others in a meaningful way.

      Blessings and love and a big hug to you dearheart and I’d love to hear about your travels. Didn’t you go to Guatemala? I’d love to see pictures!


  5. Maitri,
    What a lovely idea to join a familiar church community again. I do hope it is a positive and welcoming experience for you.

    Although I have a partner, as others who have commented, it is so important for me to have community with women friends, especially now as I am retired. I have found this via the different classes I attend each week. This made me wonder whether another option for you might be in a small art or crafts class where you could share your many talents with fiber art or similar.

    Wishing you all the best,

    • Thank you Joan honey, I hope that it is all that I imagine it might be as well.

      And I am glad for you that while you have a supportive partner you also have women friends and are taking classes that are nourishing. That is such an important thing. I may teach journal classes again at some point if all goes well and it seems like there is a fit but right now just easing into leaving the house to go to church will be a huge move for me.

      Onwards and upwards! And a big sweet hug to you Joan honey…



  6. Wow Maitri! I am impressed with this realization and BIG step. Maybe we can chat about this together sometime, as ironically I am in a similar boat and have been pondering going back to church for quite sometime myself. I haven’t gone since I first met Matt when we were teens. Ironically my next door neighbor is now the minister of the church I last went to as the elderly minister who I had there is now gone. The main challenge for me is having to sit still for a long time as I get anxious at the thought of sitting for long periods in a quiet setting . I’d rather be moving about or in an environment where I can chat or something. I have found my tribe online and I have found a few people I enjoy spending time with in person here, but I too am in need of finding a physical tribe here locally. I too have been re-entering the world bit by bit the past several years. So I know how you feel and I have had similar thoughts of how does one do that when you have been out of the game so long. I haven’t been social much with people my own age since I left college. Really high school was the last time I had a group of friends my age to do things with. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin with that and I feel more comfortable having tea with older ladies who have lots of life stories to tell. Well I will be interested to see what happens with your re-entry and we can support each other on this journey. xoxo

    • Darling Bekah we can certainly talk about this, I love our talks. I didn’t think about saying something when we were on the phone last night because our thoughts were elsewhere. I do understand all of your feelings of course, we are so similar, but we can talk this through the next time we talk.

      I love you sweet pea,


  7. Oh Maitri, this is so interesting, especially as I read the comments. Same here, I have some wonderful churches nearby but can’t seem to force myself to go lately. Meanwhile, I am forcing myself out to my friend’s free yoga class and the local library branch book club so I don’t go completely feral. LoveLight to you my dear.

    • Ah Denise I understand so well my dear, and look at you already out to yoga and a book club, good for you! I am so proud of you and I know how hard it is. Best and blessings to you dearheart, love and light indeed.



  8. Olive Appleby says:

    Hi Maitri
    What a brilliant idea…….great place to start. You will be surrounded by love, compassion and hopefully, laughter. It will be a safe haven and I’m sure once you are able to manage this move, so others will follow. It’s a small step, but a great leap. More power to you, Maitri. Just rock it.
    Love and hugs
    Olive xxxxxx????

    • Thank you so much Olive, I believe it will be a good place to start and I hope that I can manage it this Sunday. I am praying that it will be so. I appreciate your love and support honey…



  9. Lynne Joncas says:

    what a big decision this must have been for you! I started attending a wonderful church when we first moved to this area years ago and still attend about every other week, although the church has grown a lot and has had a large addition added and I really miss the small cosy feel that used to be there.
    I have a wonderful best friend who means the world to me and a couple other women I consider good friends. I’m such a one-on-one person though that I avoid group activities almost entirely. With a history of very unbalanced friendships I find live out in the world very scary sometimes but those special moments of connection are so very rewarding and so worth the risk…I pray you will meet a person or people who will enrich your life and warm your heart as you journey out of your cocoon as I did!

    • Lynne, it has been a big decision for me but I think the right one and I understand about one on one vs group. I am more comfortable when it comes on doing something with a friend to do it one on one but a congregation at church is a comfortable group. I’m glad you found what you needed and I appreciate your loving support as I look for my tribe as well. 🙂



  10. Teresa Myszka says:

    Your post is so timely for me. After retiring several years ago my tribe of wonderful women went our seperate ways. We stay in touch through FB and occassionanal calls but I so miss the comraderie. As my life has changed so have my needs and I most definitely want to be part of a tribe again. I miss the belonging, I miss the friendships. Im so happy you’ve found a starting point to re enter community. You always give me strength to do what I know is so desperately missing in my life. It’s comforting somehow to know that I’m not the only lonely woman in the world looking to belong . Thank you for always sharing your life so bravely with us. I wish you a day of joy this Sunday. Sending much love and light to you. Hugs

    • Dear Teresa,

      Oh honey my heart aches to think of you lonely and I so know how you are feeling. I hope you find a way that works for you to get back to knowing the feeling of having a tribe. It is such a loss without one. Even though I am solitary by nature and prefer one on one times with women to know that those people are out there, many lonely, wanting connection just like we do is what gives me hope that this is the right move. Thank you so much for your good wishes, I send them back to you with love.

      Gentle hugs,


  11. Wendy Thomson says:

    Bravo Maitri! I attended Unity church for four years during a time of great change and challenge in my life. I loved the church and like you, felt the congregation was made up of people like me. It is as you say, a very loving, compassionate and open church with so much positivity that it’s unlikely one can attend and leave without some of that wonderful love rubbing off onto and into one. I too am not a religious person, never have been. But there’s a prayer we used to say together every morning that I love and repeat to myself innumerable times when I feel anxious or otherwise distressed. Here it is:

    The Light of God surrounds me,
    The Love of God enfolds me,
    The Power of God protects me,
    The Presence of God watches over me.
    Wherever I am, God is, and All Is Well.

    There is at least one other person in our Succulent Wild Life group who attends and loves Unity. Just thought you’d be interested to know that.

    May you find your tribe, May your life fill up with excellent new friendships and relationships. Peace be with you.


    • Thank you so much Wendy, Unity is a very special place indeed and that prayer is one I say all the time even though I haven’t attended in many years. I look forward to going back and may you be filled with peace, love and joy today and always.



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