“Some people survive chaos and that is how they grow. And some people thrive in chaos, because chaos is all they know.”
So, two summers ago, I spent almost three months traveling in a van with a spiraling husband and our kids (sorry about that, kids!) without a plan or any idea of what would happen next, and everything was insane and chaotic and I felt frantic and disconnected and life didn’t seem real.
It was a hail-Mary, save-our-marriage move.
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It was my last attempt to keep a wall in place, shielding me from the truths I needed to face.
Instead, every mile we covered, every new scene, every campsite, every conversation was like a little earthquake. The ground would shake. The wall would tremble. A few more stones would fall.
I thought about how small my world had become as I stared out the window.
From a land-locked state, with easy access to my own family and a lot of family and friends nearby….
To a small island, in a small town, with no family and a lot of new friends and a tiny but fiercely vibrant community I cherished…
To the dissolving of many of those friendships and what felt like a splintering of community…
To the quarantine-enforced boundaries of our own home, seeing people only now and then, the circle growing smaller and smaller….
To the tiniest circle I now inhabited, the confines of a Sprinter van moving endlessly across highways, my husband listening to an audiobook or talking, my kids napping on the seats behind me, and me.
Just us, in this smallest circle. Somehow it felt more dangerous than the big wild unknowns of the world, more disheartening than isolation.
At night sometimes I would slip out and stand under the stars in whatever state we happened to be in, Wisconsin or Wyoming or Texas or North Dakota, and I could just feel my mind splintering.
It felt like I needed to reach my hands up inside my head to hold my brain together because nothing made sense and nothing felt okay and I didn’t know how to fix it and I didn’t know how to say it and I didn’t know what to do.
I would try to grab onto one thought, pin it down, follow it to a logical conclusion, make an assessment — and I couldn’t. Every thought looped and twisted, every logical path doubled back on itself, every assessment came with a thousand caveats and whispered exceptions and I couldn’t make sense of my own reality.
One day we got into an argument about something, I don’t remember what. And I was so upset, yelling, leaning against the van door and sobbing, feeling once again as if I couldn’t reach the edges, couldn’t make out the shape of my own hurt. He looked at me, calm, and kind of half-grinned and said, “I love it when you’re like this.”
I flinched and caught my breath, shocked but somehow not surprised. The ground trembled. And another big chunk of wall fell down.
Let it fall let it fall let it all fall down.
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You are amazing
Enjoying your journey back out of Wonderland.