Before my illness, I didn’t feel my emotions. They were neatly stuffed down, and I was numb… with the occasional explosion, of course. It took a liver disease, and being in bed staring at my ceiling for what felt like forever, to crack the thick layer of ice I had defensively coated my emotions with.
In the past I’ve traveled, and moved around the globe, and not felt a thing. I truly couldn’t relate when other people said they missed me – I thought, well that’s weird, I’m on an adventure! No breath. I felt nothing of this human “missing.”
This time is different.
As the plane lifts off from the mainland sweeping me back, once again, to my new little island home I realize for the first time that I’m homesick. I hate to admit that. Hate it. I “should” be above such a 13-year-old-at-summer-camp experience. Be that as it may, everything in me wants to dig claws in and prevent the take-off of this plane. Breathe. My life is clearly on this trajectory for a reason. And in this moment it is so that I can experience missing for the first time.
I have not written a single blog since I made this big move. My mind has created all sorts of good explanations about why that is, speaking at conferences, not having time, traveling, it wasn’t relevant, etc. Although all true, it’s important not to trust only our thoughts about what’s actually going on.
The truth in my body: I’m homesick. Ugh. My gut feels like an achy cavern. I don’t want to feel that. And I certainly don’t want to share it. Doesn’t that make me weak? Shouldn’t I feel more excited about exploring, and my choices to slow down and support my health?
Palm trees are great, but don’t make up for the gaze of your mother. The touch of your partner.
So, more accurately than home-sick, I would say that I am people-sick.
What is my imprint, my ripple, my impact. How does this get affected by distance and lack of contact? How do I remain in connection? What’s the opposite of out of sight, out of mind?
For the most part I am okay, but there are a few key people that I weep for in the distance. I am told, it is fine. It’s not a big deal. Don’t overthink it. A phone call is a phone call. On the other hand, I feel somehow it is heartbreaking how far I am away. And I try to tell myself it is fine, no big deal.
There is a battle going on: I want to protect myself from feeling the sadness by shutting it down, yet at the same time I want to feel it because I know it is human and healthy. And I also struggle, wanting to make other people feel more comfortable around me: they all do better when I say I’m fine. Then they don’t hurt as much. Of course I know I’m not making them do anything. Yet in my self-judgment I tell myself that me feeling is mean – like I’m causing them to then feel the pain they can’t tolerate. And at the same time they’re trying to tell me they’re just fine too. We are all trying to save each other from the feeling of sadness, loneliness, and longing to be together.
On certain days, like today, the distance feels like a punch in the gut.
Oh, life is so short. To me the most important thing is connection. Relationship. Feeling our humanness. We regulate by gazing into the face of another. This is what we feel from our caregivers, and it is no different today as adults.
When we understand illness we understand disconnection. From our bodies, our families, our communities. We realize mortality is knocking at our door, the inevitable disconnection. We realize there is not time to waste in the precious life.
I ask myself, is it okay to sit in the discomfort of missing those I love? Of course the answer is yes. I am slowing down and supporting my health, which is why I came here in the first place. And I still feel the threads of connection to my people. Through the distance I feel aching and I also feel all of our strength and resilience.
Sometimes it’s harder to feel, but I think it is worth it in our quest to experience an integrated and rich life. To be with each other in a real, raw, honest, and human way, rather than run away. I don’t have the luxury of not feeling anymore. My illness blew that privilege out of the water. So, instead of being “just fine,” I commit to keep feeling. And today, that means missing.