The day before Christmas Eve, I found out that a pregnancy that had started in my body was ectopic. 2011 was a relatively difficult year for me, so the disappointment came at a time when I was already feeling weakened.
What I have noticed the most is the feeling of emptiness. Remember in The Princess Bride the narrator saying, “Buttercup’s emptiness consumed her.”? That’s it. I happen to have a job that requires me to give of myself, and it took all that I had to return to work after the holidays and fulfill my obligations. And still, I couldn’t quite do it. I was late sending invoices, I lost some paperwork and a check, I’m sure I didn’t have my usual pep and sharpness during my personal contact time. That I went from empty to less than empty makes sense.
I didn’t want to give up altogether, so I put some focus in to home projects. We have a small home that requires me to be creative when it comes to decorating and storing. After some consideration, I bought a tall shelving unit online- assembly required. I’ve done quite a bit of that, though, and I’m not bad at it.
But noone can be good at it if one piece of metal is literally too small to fit in to another piece of metal. The madness started to build inside of me as I undid parts of what I had done to problem-solve the situation. My husband came in and helped for a few minutes, but I still wound up having to deal with non-fitting metal. Alone.
I started crying loudly. I couldn’t see a solution. How was I going to get the pieces to fit when even my husband wasn’t able to do it with brute force? Disassembling and returning the whole thing was a bad thought. I can’t assemble furniture. I can’t get a healthy pregnancy going. I can’t call my mom and have a normal conversation with her. But it wasn’t just sadness, it was also rage. I use this strong of a word because I got a physical and emotional urge to punch myself in the face.
Somewhere inside of me, a tiny but obviously powerful piece of reason kept me from self-delivering a blow. I slammed a fist on the carpeted floor and it hurt. That didn’t need to happen again. I went to the bedroom and sobbed on the bed. This was a beautiful Saturday, and I could stubbornly go further in to madness to justify how I had already lost control, or I could take tiny steps toward sanity.
The first tiny step was to get off the bed. Still crying, I returned to the shelving puzzle. It is a mystery to me how it happened, but I did get the unit assembled. All I remember is that there was a hammer involved and a lot of moving, fiddling, and grunting. At some point, I stopped crying. I didn’t feel good, but the crisis was over.
Now, with all aspects of the tantrum fresh in my brain, the questions were, “Why did that happen? How can I protect myself from that happening again?”
I don’t ever remember that happening when I was hiking a couple of times a week. How long has it been since I have been on a hike? How long has it been since I’ve seen some nature that is not surrounded by concrete, asphalt, or buildings? Months. And there it was. I had neglected my fundamental need for nature during a season of my life when I should especially have been making sure I was filling that need.
The realization did not happen as smoothly and quickly as it is expressed above, but once it came together, I made a vow to myself to get to nature at least twice a month, even if it means that I drive to it and just sit there for a while.
The next day, I went on a hike. I started on the trail with a soul full of jagged holes. As I walked, it felt like I was being welcomed back. The trees waved at me, the sky winked at me, the views smiled at me. It was a session of emotional healing that was so powerful that it seemed physical.
The term soul spackle came to me as the holes in my soul filled with something much more pliant and lovely than actual spackle. With those holes, there was no way I could recharge myself because any attempts to do so would seep out, leaving me empty once again. Being in nature allows me to fill up so that I can give, and avoid horrible and dangerous emotional tantrums. Soul spackle. Something I had not even thought about a week ago, and now it’s going to help me for the rest of my life.