I’ve been forced, this morning, to take a bath.
A week ago, our building manager, in a poorly-planned attempt to clean the pipes in my apartment complex, managed to clog the cold water line feeding the showers, so whilst my sinks function perfectly, I’ve been stranded with a shower that spews forth only scalding water. I have a high tolerance for heat, and a love of spa-like excursions, and for a while was able to improvise with what I can only describe as a steam shower: I would stand next to the boiling flow and ‘bathe’ in escaped droplets. While I didn’t ever feel entirely rinsed, it made for pleasantly relaxing mornings at work.
Today, though, I feel I really do need to get more seriously wet. And so I’ve drawn a tub full of superhot water, I’ve lit a stick of mild lavender incense, and I’m waiting for the Jacuzzi to cool enough for me to step in.
It’s a nice excuse, I must admit. I’ve been here for half a year and have only once made full use of the Japanese tub; ordinarily it merely serves as the area in which I stand to shower. It’s a nicely symbolic exercise: a cleansing of the past year.
The thing is, I don’t want to wash myself of this past year. I’d been intending to write a little retrospective (this is expected, no? a reflection on the past twelve months, a summing up, a setting of goals for the future?), but year has been too wonderful to wrap up in a package of assessment, and the weird feeling of transition I have right now doesn’t lend itself to the arbitrary snipping of tonight. I’m in the middle of too much; I’m happy with my life, giddily so, and not much interested in reflection.
Perhaps this is an excuse, though. I’m not sure why I’m expressing any reluctance to summarize. I feel embarrassingly proud of what I’ve accomplished, and there is still something in me that feels unable to take complete credit for it all: I feel so much more as though life has slid beautifully in to place. This, though, is absurd: I’ve worked hard – more so than I’ve ever done in the past, and this is saying something – over the last six months especially. I feel a little, too, as though to take the time to breathe into it all might somehow jinx things, though this is also absurd. What I feel most of all, though, is that I am still in transition, and what might seem like culmination on the outside, what might seem like objective accomplishment, is, subjectively, merely another step on a path I’ve only just begun. It’s not that I’d feel dissatisfied with stepping back, or disappointed, but more something like impatience: yes, yes, this is all good, but let’s keep living . . . let’s work with what’s here now.
I don’t know.
I feel the need to say something about this time last year.
M had broken up with me a few weeks month prior. This, while not the worst, was certainly the most painful experience of my life: for the first time ever I was learning what it meant to allow myself to feel, and for the first time ever I’d understood what emotions meant. I felt more in that relationship than I had in my entire life up to that point, and to have it so brutally ripped from me was devastating.
His reasons were clear, and understandable; he was worried he was getting in the way of my recovery and was worried he would end up inadvertently enabling my still-limping addictions, and my anorexia especially. I don’t want to explain this; there were certainly events that, in retrospect, I was too flippant about. Still, when he told me he couldn’t see me anymore, I’d thought I’d stop breathing.
What I wrote to a friend of mine not long ago was that the month that we spent apart was overwhelming valuable. I gave M up entirely; I made peace with knowing that I may never see him again. And in doing so, I realized during that all the love and brilliance and perfection I’d felt for and from him was something I was responsible for. I realized the relationship was merely a mirror for projecting those shining parts of me I couldn’t bring myself to take credit for on my own (to do so would seem unbearably narcissistic). I realized that if I was capable of feeling that for and with him, then it was certainly possible for me to experience that on my own. I relished the pain because it was MINE: I’d walked into that relationship, and chosen to make myself vulnerable, and it was me (and only me) who could bear responsibility for the result. So it was my bliss, and my pain, and I reveled in both, and walked (and sobbed and howled) through the latter.
The paradoxical result was that experience freed me to love so much more fearlessly. I know that I’m perfectly capable of being – in the fullest sense of the word – on my own, and knowing this allows me to love (and not just in a romantic sense, but my family and friends as well) without expectation and without fear of consequences. And I’m unbearably grateful for this.
My point, though, in writing that, was merely to say that the month of December and early January were a period of amazing growth for me: the health gains I made, not just emotionally, but physically as well, were tremendous. My point is that I feel in many ways as though I went through a similar growth spurt this past month: from the outside markers of making certain financial investments and launching my new practice, to the interior (and harder to express) changes in how I relate to myself and my future, I feel as though I’ve grown a great deal in a short amount of time. I’m looking forward to the shakeout over this spring.
But I think my bath had cooled enough by now. It’s time to sit.