“The hardest part of saying goodbye is having to do it again every single day. Everyday we face the same truth, the fact that life is fleeting. That our time here is short.” – OTH
It’s as if I am stuck in a time warp, some twilight zone or awakening from a 2 year coma. Ever since both my little pets died, I’ve been taking every opportunity there is to not be home. It’s an unhealthy desperation of running, of assuaging the pain of losing almost everything I’ve built after college. I had immense stamina for performing, a career in the arts, a love for physical fitness, a husband that showered me in adoration, and two little pets to get me through the tough times. Now, I am back in my hometown where I had escaped from — back to the past, only it isn’t so familiar anymore. I come home to a usually empty house, no tiny cuddles from Cadbury or Cringlebelle, no husband to remind me we will get through it, and a chronic illness that will only relent when it feels like ending. There must be some Benjamin Button metaphor in here somewhere, a Doc Brown who conspired with Frank N. Furter.
One thing that wasn’t taken from me was photography, and ever since I picked my camera up again, I’ve been hiding behind it. It allows me those chances of eagerness to be out of the house, to capture moments of happiness and candid expressions of success and friendship. It let’s me be a part of something passionate without getting too close.
I’ve been running myself dry, insomnia taking over this past week. I have worked at the school everyday and taken photos after school almost every single day. I may just be a substitute teacher, but the camera has given me this beautiful opportunity to catch the students doing what they love. It gives me hope that some day I’ll get to do what I love again. They are a team, a congenial tribe that I envy. Being a part of a cast was like being a part of a family. We never got along 24/7, but that’s family, and it was the best experience of my life. I miss it more than I could possibly say.
The future is a vast and scary black hole, a pathless expanse where I can either thrive or fail. I’m hoping to get a permanent job for the next year at the school I have been working at currently, but it may not happen. I’ve gotten to know some of the staff and some of the kids, and even though it’s not somewhere I wish to stay long, it’s somewhere positive to start back up. I am at rock bottom, just trying to find the right pieces to build a sturdy ladder without compromising who I am while also healing and reminding myself that it’s ok to take it slow. I’m not used to floundering, to being flooded with so many insecurities. All of that was for my teenage years. But yet, here I am, 28 years old, and I’m trying to get over the fact that these past two years of my life have been a complete blur. Like they have been erased, yet the ghostly memories are still hanging on my heart.
I am sending back my engagement ring this next week as well. I fear the insomnia I’ve had is sprung from this act and from having to go through stuff that is my ex’s. Drawings, gifts, and smells that remind me of him overflowing in bags and boxes in the loft. I sat down, gently going through it all. I think I looked at my half empty engagement ring over a dozen times. My grandmother’s diamonds are missing from the setting, left in a tiny bag in my jewelry drawer. Each is a fragment of my broken heart. I would have cherished that ring forever. Knowing they wanted it back, seeing those words still sits with me. I know they will evaporate one day in the future, but for now, it reminds me that I lost more than just a husband, but a family.
And, in one month, I am embarking on this insanely scary but life-changing adventure to shoot different doctors and families whose lives have been touched by Red Skin Syndrome. I am trying to prepare myself for the unimaginable emotions that will surely wash over me. I will be meeting some astounding individuals and their families — some healed, some not — and I don’t want to let any of them down. I want their bravery to matter. I want their stories to be heard and shared in a way that will make them proud. I don’t want to fail. There is a weight on my shoulders that commands a deep heaviness, but I know I can carry it.
I guess, in this moment, I am feeling an extreme dichotomy in my emotions — on one side, I feel so lonely and afraid of being a huge failure, and on the other side, I feel this spectacular gratitude in having a positive distraction in subbing and a hopefulness for the future.
Does the loneliness feel suffocating some days? Ya, it does. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without affection or having a significant other. It’s the longest I’ve gone with knowing I have much more to go before I could ever truly let someone in. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have someone. I just know my world is a chaotic mess and no one can clean it up but me, and I could never drag someone through this mire without being healed. It’s a strange form of loneliness but it’s part of my journey. I am embracing it the best I can.
The best thing though, something comforting, is finding One Tree Hill on Netflix. My obsession with the number 23, broody characters, cherished quotes, and music to sooth the sad soul has me smiling and crying as the episodes pass. This show meant the world to me during high school. It’s nice to have it back in my life at this rocky time.
Love, B. R. Wren