All week long, friends and fellow yogis have been asking me how unpacking is going. I laugh and say that it’s not going. It’s not going anywhere.
Actually, I’m in much the same position that I was last Sunday when I wrote this weekly post. I’m sleeping on a mattress that’s on the floor. My sheets have been thrown on top of said mattress, sans hospital corners or even tucked edges.
My mountain of unpacked boxes has barely budged. My initial goal was to unpack two boxes daily. The average rate has been 1 box every two days.
The thing I’ve realized is that it’s all fine: the mess, the delays, the disjunction between what I thought I’d have done and what I’ve actually accomplished. It’s fine.
Of course, the part of me that would like to be a somewhat organized person is wincing. It would be great if I were making my way steadily through the chaos, clearing space and finding places for things. But it was more of a priority for me to work a full week than it was to unpack quickly.
I keep reminding myself that there’s no rush. No one is here to see the messy space, except for me. There is no other witness.
I met up with a friend yesterday and told her all of this. She seemed delighted. “You’re living like a twenty-something,” she said. “How fun!”
I actually am living that way, and in my new building, I happen to be surrounded by twenty-somethings, with all of their lovely, vibrant, open energy.
In actuality, I’m being much more freewheeling and messy now than I ever would have let myself be as a twenty-five-year-old.
Back then, I was too close to anorexia to tolerate any significant amount of disorder. My identity was still so wrapped up in the idea of control and discipline, in an exceedingly pleasant and polished presentation.
I had a lot of fun in my twenties, as most people do, and I made some of the customary mistakes. But I don’t remember ever feeling like a total mess in the way that I frequently do now.
How funny it is to feel that way, and yet to also be so basically OK.
As soon as I found my coffee maker and a single box of clothes this week, I knew that I’d be fine. I don’t need an orderly space, or anything that order represents, in order to be me. (I’d like to find my one and only lamp, but that’s another story.)
I can’t help but think about recovery tonight. I remember what it was like to be a self-professed Type A person, trying to make sense of my changing body, greatly increased food intake, suddenly permissive food choices and lack of food boundaries.
I felt obliterated by the process. It would be a while before that feeling went away.
My thirties got rid of any remaining, rigid self-identifications that I had. I’ve gotten accustomed to feeling lost, which means that my current state of chaos and transition isn’t much of a disruption.
There’s a very particular kind of freedom that you feel when things fall apart. These periods are usually circumscribed by something unexpected and challenging happening: a big breakup, a financial change, a sudden redirection of life plans.
I’ve greeted most of these periods with a sense of devastation and rage. Yet they’ve always shown me how able I am to survive.
This move has showed me how little I really need to get by. I’d like to do more than get by, of course, but I don’t mind being reminded of my basic solidity. I especially don’t mind the reminder that I’m not entirely who I thought I was.
In my mind, I’m this person who needs a certain kind of harmonious domestic space in order to feel grounded. But I can apparently do without one, at least for a while. Life is transitory and extremely messy at the moment, and I’m rolling with it.
I wish you a week that gives you at least one great surprise about who you are versus who you thought you were. An illuminating, refreshing, and encouraging surprise.
Happy Sunday, friends. I didn’t round up any recipes or reads this week, and I’m still grateful—so, so grateful—for your patience with that fact as I get settled.
Happy Sunday, everyone. I’ve had a good weekend so far, a combination of rest and work. I purposefully took Friday off from my nutrition clients so that I could spend the weekend catching up on my inbox, decluttering my apartment, downloading syllabi and picking up school books, and doing all of the other things I wanted to do before my new semester began. The decluttering bit ended up being incredibly cathartic–a massive purge of no-longer-useful papers, files, garments, kitchen odds and ends, and even books….
Shortly after the new year began, Elizabeth Gilbert tweeted something that stuck with me: “There are only 2 two ways to have a peaceful conscience: Never do anything wrong or learn self-forgiveness (Pro tip: first way’s impossible)” I love the this quote because it exposes perfectionism for what it really is: an exercise in futility. Of course none of us never does anything wrong. To avoid mistakes is impossible, and yet so many of us would rather try than take the path of self-forgiveness….
Only a few hours ago, a name popped up in my inbox that I hadn’t seen it years. It was a note from my Orgo II professor from a decade ago (yikes!) at Georgetown. The subject line was “recipe with (meatless) success.” As it turns out, my professor’s wife had found a chili recipe of mine (this one or this one—I’ll have to ask him) via The Washington Post. She’d served it to loved ones, and according to my professor, everyone really liked it….
In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes that “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” I realized the truth of her words this past week. Something important—a lesson I keep thinking I’m finished with—returned to me. And without wishing to enfold the story in neat endnotes, I can say that I think I may finally have learned what I needed to know. A big chunk of it, anyway. There’s more to this: lessons in healing,…