I watched my house float away on the small river that had overtaken our street. There she was in all her glory slowly being torn apart by the cruel force of nature that was our plumbing. From under the house the flood had corroded the floor boards and unhinged it so that the house was now sailing away. Bobbing further and further down the street. Floating and falling apart. Floating and falling apart. Eventually the house would completely crumble and cease to exist and all I could do was watch.
I know how she feels. I lost myself there for a while. For almost ten years I bobbed around through my life like a wave crashing buoy anchored in one place. I don’t regret it for a second. That is not a popular thing to say in this day in age but I know now that I had to put pieces of myself away for a while so that I could focus on a bigger picture. I needed time to figure out how to be a smaller part of a larger whole so I collected some of my smaller parts and put them in a shoe box to deal with at a later time.
Most of those small collectibles needed to be put away. Like forever. In fact, they needed to be buried at the bottom of the ocean and never seen again. Selfishness, discontentment, disillusionment…. Who needs those things anyways?
Other parts, however, were sweet and beautiful and reminders of a girl who used to dream and twirl around in tutus. Those parts, while very dear to me, just needed to be put to sleep for a while. They just took up too much of my brain space and I needed every ounce of my mind, body, and soul to figure out my place in this new “larger whole” that I now belonged to. The music, art, and poetry of my life were packed up and saved for a later date.
The later date came this past summer. It was time for those sleepy parts to wake up. The awakening was a slow and subtle process that rolled in waves over the long and hot summer. As June and July sizzled by we noticed that the house was shifting as old houses do. The ceramic tiles in the hallway were popping up and doors were no longer closing properly. The house in her restless unsettling was trying to warn me that the foundation was shifting. The flood would soon follow.
The warning signs were all there but I was distracted by my own restless unsettling. Years of suppressing the little nuances and quirks that assembled my personality were now bursting at my seams just ready to explode. I had reached a time in my life where I no longer felt like I had to put myself away to concentrate on that larger whole. The “larger whole” was now, well, whole. It was good and pretty strong actually. I had worked so hard for so long and now I saw that the foundation had been laid solid and sturdy. Because I put in the time to focus all of my energies on this one huge idea I was free now to open up that box of mementos that used to be me. It took ten years to get there but I had arrived at a place where I could take some time and breathe. The hard work had finally paid off.
Over the summer, tidal waves of memories rolled in gently reminding me of the person that I used to be, the person that I had always been. A favorite song, an encounter with a long lost friend, readings of journals from days gone by, and rediscovering old photos crashed like waves along the surf and there I was riding my boogie board trying to stay afloat and navigate my way through the ocean of memories that were flooding my head.
It all came together and made sense on the day that we discovered the flood under our house. A pipe from the upstairs bathroom had broken in half (a complete fluke and not at all a result of having an old house) and water had flooded the crawl space under the house. Since the foundation of the house sits above ground it took a while for the water to seep out of the crawl space and into our backyard and our neighbor’s backyard. Nevertheless, hundreds of gallons of water were rolling around under our house. A tiny ocean. Had we not noticed the leaky pipe when we did, the water would have begun to corrode the foundation of the house.
The foundation was in jeopardy of completely falling apart and the house we built could have been lost forever.
Okay, that is slightly over dramatic. Our house certainly did not float down a river of despair (welcome back little nuances of my personality known as over dramatization and romanticizing of the mundane). But that is what it felt like.
I imagined what that would have looked like- the water busting through the floor boards and the through the cracks in the bricks until the house began to crumble. Thankfully that was all in my imagination and all it took was a pump and three days to get all of that water out from under our house.
But that silly little over dramatic image spoke to me. It was the whispered message that I needed to hear; the kiss from the prince that woke up this tulle wearing princess.
A broken pipe caused a flood which caused the house’s foundation to shift which gave me this image of our house floating away which then turned into an image of me floating away.
My personal foundation was waiting for me to save the day. The flood of yearning for the long lost me had finally bust through the box that I had hidden myself in for such a long time.
It was perfect timing.
Like I said, I really believe that it was necessary to put some things to sleep temporarily while I figured things out. We all go through seasons in which we just have to cut back on some areas of our lives. But there comes a time that we have to open up that box and pull out those old pieces because if not they could get lost forever. At least that is how I felt. The timing was right. I was primed and ready to break free. After focusing so long on the foundation that I had help to build, now I had the freedom of focusing on me without compromising the foundation.
In fact, the foundation needed me to put those missing tiles of my life back in place. When I began to unpack some of those sweet, little parts of me I noticed that my husband and my children seemed to like me more! Well, of course they did. Who really likes to be around a person who is trying too hard to be something that she is not? When I was reintroduced to myself I felt this peace and contentment roll over me. Freedom. Completeness. After all I was created to be this person; this dreamy tutu wearing girl that my husband fell in love with and who my children feel more comfortable around. I had woken up from a deep, deep sleep and it felt good! I was refreshed and free to be a part of this beautiful larger whole that God had created for me to be a part of.
Again, like I said, I do not regret for one second that I spent the last 10 years without these little pieces of me. Temporary sacrifices are sometimes necessary for personal growth. These last 10 years have been so fruitful for me as a human being. Lessons have been learned (many times the hard way); growing up has happened. I think that if I had not put some things away for a while my spirit might be stuck in the same 23 year old place. That frightens me. Have you ever been around someone in their 30’s who still acts like an early 20 something or worse- a teenager? Yikes! When you look at the grand scheme of things ten years really isn’t that long after all.