Dispatch from the Hideout

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”― Albert Camus

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung

For me, the past week has been one of introspection and retreat. It began with the 18-month anniversary of my mother’s death, counterbalanced by joyful anniversaries and celebrations of the living — birthdays, graduations, and more, of family members and loved ones — grief and gratitude. This unfolded during a critical period in the political landscape when our leaders were charged with designing and implementing a promised healthcare plan, first, repeal then replace, which when brought to a vote in a number of forms, failed again, and again, and yes, again.  

Instead, we received daily doses of Russian collusion updates by various investigative panels and elected officials, which were followed by tweets, expertly-crafted P.R. releases, and blatant subterfuge by those being investigated, plus thinly-disguised attempts to change the subject by the man at the center of the controversy.

My hair’s on fire & my head’s going to melt!

We’ve witnessed POTUS appoint a new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci and listened to his crude rants and unprofessional threats. Trump too acted inappropriately and shamefully, not fitting the stature of the leader of the free world when he spoke to young people at the Boy Scout Jamboree. Trump accepted the resignation of his press secretary, Sean Spicer, humiliated the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions and threatened a Senator from Alaska, who didn’t vote on the first repeal bill as he demanded, but instead represented the people who elected her.

We witnessed Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins join Democrats to oppose the “skinny repeal” measure (kudos to them for doing the right thing). Lastly, POTUS mandated in a tweet, without consultation with his military leaders, a ban on transgender people from serving in the military, causing both a firestorm in response and what many consider to be an intentional distraction. Next, an amicus brief was filed by the Department of Justice challenging protection of LGBT people under Title VII. Finally, late-breaking news yesterday: Reince Priebus resigns as White House Chief of Staff. Oh my!

That was the week that was.   

Going Underground at the Hideout

Now, before I go any further, it’s important that I share with you that my hideout is a virtual one. I don’t have a cabin in the woods, or a bunker in the basement, I only have my home, a 645 square foot apartment. It’s where I wake up in the morning, retreat at the end of the work day, hideout on the weekends when I’m writing or feeling introverted, and end my days, often falling asleep on the couch watching TV. Yeah, I’m that girl. I live alone and most days I’m happy with that choice.

Lately, I require more time underground at the hideout. I’ve been feeling wistful and reflective. As I’ve grieved my mother’s death (again, still, again), I’m reminded that many of us when we grieve, often grieve all the losses in our lives. For me, once the floodgates of tears are released, I remember the people and passages from the past, generations of family no longer here, the relationships and dreams I lost or let go, and the myths or beliefs I once held about myself, the people I love, or the world I live in that I no longer embrace. It’s been made more challenging by the latter. The world is becoming a place that some days I’m more likely to want to escape from, rather than live in. Don’t worry, I won’t harm myself or others.

Desk at the hideout.

Gratefully, over the years, I’ve learned to escape less into behaviors or addictions that don’t serve or protect me. In the past, I drank alcoholically, smoked cigarettes daily, shopped compulsively, and loved codependently. I’m not perfect, I still struggle with food. I’m an emotional eater. I stuff feelings with food, yet I’ve made progress. As we say in recovery circles, progress not perfection.

Today, you’re more likely to find me escaping into a movie theater for a matinee, reading online, journaling, drafting a post for my blog, writing poetry, or penning an essay, or a story. For the exception of filmgoing, these are solitary activities, though I often go to movies alone too. For me it’s like reading a book, yet like a book club, sometimes you want to discuss a film, so my circle of filmgoing friends has widened and the frequency of attending with friends has increased.

Many of my friends would describe me as an extrovert, I can hold court and hold my own as the center of attention. I’m outgoing and socially comfortable in most situations, though sometimes I experience anticipatory anxiety about meeting new people, attending new places, or participating in new activities. What’s been happening more frequently lately is a desire to retreat to the hideout, some ambivalence about keeping the plans I’ve made with people I care about and the activities that normally engage me. My closeted introvert is emerging. 

I’ve also been a lifelong volunteer and activist. My avocations have fed my spirit. I’ve often collaborated with others creatively, and the people and shared experiences have energized me. Lately, I’ve found I’ve become impatient with group process, less interested in debate, reaching consensus, and/or compromising. I feel more entrepreneurial, more eager to strike out on my own, seek my own path.

It’s important that I affirm out loud that my friendships and family, both chosen and bio, are important and precious to me, that I wouldn’t even be here today without the love and support which has nurtured me on my journey. I’m grateful too for the romantic relationships and partnerships I’ve shared with others, and hope to experience again.

The causes and social issues which I’ve been committed to these past 50 years remain important to me as well. The challenge for me in this third chapter of my life is to determine how I can best contribute with the time I have remaining, and still pursue the personal avocations and legacy I want to leave behind. I still believe I have a mark to make.

The Meaning of It All

I return to the quotes I chose to introduce this musing:

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”― Albert Camus

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung

I’m a baby boomer and we’re often accused of navel-gazing, or we’re described as being selfish and members of the “me generation.” I assume some who read this post will agree I’m fulfilling that prophecy or generalization. It’s true, I strive to live an examined life, to look inward to seek answers, to access my essential self, my values and beliefs, and what I hold most dear to my heart.

These are troubling times, and as a person of a certain age, I don’t have a lot of time to simply experiment with my life and see how it turns out. I need to live consciously. The time for making a lot of mistakes or missteps, asking for forgiveness, or hoping no one noticed (including me) is long gone.

I need to live with intention, remain in the moment as much as possible, and still go with the flow of my days and my heart. I know this sounds trite, yet it rings true for me, I need to live each day as if it’s my last.

So, I ask for your patience as I periodically go underground at the hideout, and I request that you not take it personally. I will do my best to keep my commitments and not break promises. I need to take care of myself while treating my friends, family, and loved ones with respect and gratitude. I’m lucky to have you in my life and to stand beside me as we “fight the good fight.”

The song that inspired this essay, Sarah Harmer’s, The Hideout.

Related Reading from Mixed Metaphors, Oh My!

Ethel Mae’s Garden: A Mother’s Legacy

I Need to Pay Attention to What I Resist

With a Little Help from My Friends

No More 9 to 5

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

The Third Act of Life

The Legacy of a Life

Pajama Day: Or How I Failed at Hobnobbing

Pick a Metaphor: Life-Planning

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