Being still

He once thought it himself, that he might die of grief: for his wife, his daughters, his sisters, his father, and master [all dead] … But the pulse, obdurate, keeps its rhythm.

You think you cannot keep breathing, but your ribcage has other ideas, rising and falling, emitting sighs. You must thrive in spite of yourself; and so that you may do it, God takes out your heart of flesh, and gives you a heart of stone.”  (Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies, 329)

I have been a terrible hostess.

At a conference a few years ago, I attended a workshop on blogging. And, of course, one of the cardinal rules is to post consistently.

But like a wounded animal, I have withdrawn into myself for a while. I guess I do that sometimes.

I just finished reading a novel about Henry VIII, Bring Up the Bodies, and although it might sound a little overdramatic, the little clip I’ve shared at the top of my post really struck a chord with me. (Fun fact: “Bring up the bodies” meant “bring forward the accused” in a court of law in London during Henry’s reign. It’s a fitting title for the book, as he was rather fond of beheading anyone he didn’t like, including his wives.)

Thumper’s mama always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” and well … that’s about where I’ve been lately. Saving my savage scribbles for the private pages of my journal. Sparing my public audience all the gruesome details about family drama, my hair falling out (no seriously–handfuls of it), and all the nasty test results that have been coming back at the doc.

You know, it might seem like I write about some pretty personal and/or uncomfortable stuff on my blog, like divorce, depression, eating disorders, and fighting pornography. But I am very deliberate in my writing.

I don’t just write for myself. I write for you.

And so it is with some hesitance that I re-emerge from my dark place and brush the cobwebs off my social media accounts. I signed in to my server today, and I haven’t posted in … a month? Oops. So I back-published a piece that’s been sitting in my queue for weeks to fill in the gap.

I also panicked as I signed in to Facebook this morning. My heart literally skipped a beat. In that moment I realized … I don’t feel safe there. I feel exposed and unsure of myself. Suddenly I don’t know what to do or how to act.

Do you ever think about how vulnerable we are, now that our lives are spread out all over the Web? Do you ever become weary of being plugged in 10 different places? When I feel traumatized, my first instinct is to withdraw all my tentacles from every venue, shut the doors, and lock them with a big fat skeleton key.

Does that ever happen to you?

Remember back in the day, before cell phones and Internet and rampant mobile technology–when we were allowed to be in one place at a time?

Life was slower then. And a little more peaceful.

Don’t get me wrong. I am currently blogging, so I’m aware it sounds a wee bit hypocritical to hate on technology.

It’s not all bad.

Sometimes being connected is a wonderful, miraculous thing. We communicate with each other instantaneously–faster than any other time in human history. We share important news and messages. We join together to fight for worthy causes. We stay up-to-date with faraway friends and family. It’s a beautiful thing.

But do you ever feel over-extended, “like butter spread over too much bread,” as Bilbo would say? Don’t you want to turn off all the noise? Do you crave stillness? Especially at this time of year, during the craziness of the holidays?

I do.

Falling apart physically (and to be honest, emotionally as well) has given me that opportunity: to be still for a while. At least in all the wreckage, that is one thing I can be thankful for.

I’ve learned that sometimes, if we need time or space, we have to reach out and take it.

And that’s okay.

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