Editor’s Note: Last Thursday I shared part I of Tricia Amiel’s post ‘Nearing the Shore.’ Her submission came at a perfect time. For one, last week the topic was about baggage, and as Tricia put it, about women at 40 cleaning our emotional closets of the people, ideas, and feelings that have kept our “consciousness wrapped in warm wet wool.” But for me, the message went even farther than that. In life, when seemingly out of nowhere, you’re presented with an opportunity that seems larger than the talent, ability or resources you currently posses, there’s a tendency to shrink away from it, to doubt, to be afraid. And I was doing all those things.
But when Tricia sent me an email that read in part, “writing my life has always been like poking and twisting a stick into a sore; it hurts, it bleeds– A LOT. Women at Forty gave me a safe place to do that, one in which I felt myself being listened to rather than turned away from…” it reminded me that there is a community of women, myself included, for which The Women at Forty Project will answer as many questions as it asks.
Part II – The answers are coming toward me by Tricia Amiel
As my physical pain subsided, I slowly came to understand something I thought I already knew—that change, in whatever form it comes, is opportunity. I found myself praying on a daily basis, something I had never deigned to do before. The world reached my eyes and my thoughts differently, with a softer hue. I wrapped myself in blankets and sat outside on my terrace on the coldest nights Florida has seen in decades, feeling myself at peace with something larger than everything, my hopes and dreams included. I listened as my friend reported to me what was happening in my workplace and determined that I would not return. I made progress with my thesis, cooked elaborate meals for my children, and spent hours talking with and attending to them. I enjoyed the quiet days and the time I had to allow myself to unfurl, retreat, and unfurl again like a butterfly newly out of its cocoon, contemplating what to do next.
The answers are coming toward me. I hear them in the limn between sleep and waking. I’ve asked for—and received in most cases—forgiveness, from others and from myself. I am carefully putting aside those things from my past that have no place in my future. I am culling a different understanding of what it means to me to be forty. Here again, I am a bit frenzied with new dreams, but mindful now of what change really is and that control is an illusion I must maintain to some degree. But I am mindful too of the limits of control in the face of reality. Things come, they go. A back turns against you or yours against another, and suddenly there is more space to be who you are. A desired change fails to take shape to your specifications, and a different opportunity, one you never expected, comes through your door. It holds your hand and leads you to a better way to get to a place you never even knew you needed to be.
I am set adrift again, my face to the sun; I look upward—not behind, not ahead—and watch nascent butterflies dip and loop above, quickly becoming mature. Though my eyes are turned away from it, I am somehow certain of my nearness to the shore, and of forty’s harbor there.
Read Part I of Tricia Amiel’s Post “Nearing the Shore,” here.