This morning I was interpreting at a facility where people are treated for depression, addiction, attempted suicide, that sort of thing. I was told to get a key on my way in, because it had happened before that an interpreter was not able to get out because the staff thought he was a patient who was trying to escape!
So I went in with a little apprehension, not knowing what to expect. The place was great and the staff all seemed kind and efficient. The residents looked like a well varied collection of stereotypes, half of them walked around as if saying "I don't really belong here", the other half walked as if walking took everything they had.
I, of course, was walking around very happy about the fact that I didn't belong there, trying to seem nice in my superiority and hoping my nerves didn't show.
The first group was Art Therapy. The facilitator had everyone draw a symbol that would describe who they thought they were at the moment, but they had to draw it on a puzzle. She talked about how most residents there feel like the pieces of their puzzles have been thrown up in the air and are all in disarray. I looked around the room as everyone worked on their drawings and from the things the facilitator said I realized that most of them were in there because they had attempted suicide.
I also realized that I felt a connection to every person there. There was the woman who stopped her drawing to reach for a tissue and quietly burst into tears, the man who said he felt rested, the woman who put herself down under her breath the entire time she was drawing, the gorgeous young mom who carried herself like a confident professional, the alcoholic who had to be cracking jokes all the time, the quiet man who looked frail but was so strong in speaking about his vulnerabilities, the overweight woman whose mother had killed herself and she didn't want to leave her daughter with the same legacy, and the woman in the Jesus t-shirt who drew a cross inside a heart. In this room of broken puzzles I felt a deep sense of belonging, of acceptance, of compassion and love.
At first I was saddened by their presence there, and the stories I tried to imagine from the small clues left by their clothes, their voices, and their mannerisms. But I reminded myself that this was a place of healing, and realized how lucky they were to be there. I thought about the times in my life when I could have used a place like that, when I could have benefited so much from a group of fellow broken puzzles to talk to, when I would have given anything to be plucked out of (what I perceived as) my overwhelming life just to rest, think, recharge and regain myself.
I left before noon with so many thoughts and prayers swimming in my head that I forgot to turn my phone's ringer back on. It was my sixth sense that alerted me to L2's call from school. She said her spleen hurt a lot and she felt nauseated and wanted me to go pick her up. I felt overwhelmed again.
I had barely enough time to go get ice and cash for the lock box and to set up for our first farmers' market of the season (remember I told you about the free-range pork that we raise and sell?). Last night I had taken the time to update our website and Facebook page, to create events, and to send out an email to all the people on our database. I was supposed to go spend four hours peddling our pork and "visitn" with our regulars. I was not ready for L2 to be sick again (which she might not be! I am not trying to manifest another illness, but after the events of the last few months, I couldn't just say "hang in there honey, I'll see you at 7").
On the drive home I examined my options. I had one of those moments when I come face to face with the ugly side of my self-protective independence... I have no one to rely on.
Which isn't necessarily bad, mind you, I am not trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me. I have made my choices and continue to make them, hopefully ever more consciously each time.
I could ask for help from the people who are always sweet but later talk about me behind my back, or from the ultra polite friend who would never say no, I could call the neighbor who thought last time would be the last, or the acquaintance who could be a great friend to me -if she only thought I could be a great friend to her-, or I could force myself to ask the one who has slowly chipped away at my trust, I could even allow myself to worry about money enough to justify taking the sick child to the market, to sit in a folding chair in the muggy heat (in the shade of course, I'm not a monster!), or I could simply bring her home to sleep "cozy and comforty" (as L1 used to say) under her mother's watchful eye.
She's been sleeping soundly for hours.
PS. A guy came over to build a creek-rock edge for a couple of my flower beds. At one point he knocked on the door and gave me this one. He said the Native Americans used to say that colored rocks made you feel better. I think he gave it to me for L2, because I mentioned she wasn't feeling well, but I told him I "need it so much, should I just hold it or eat it?"
I washed it so the colors would show more; I ran my hands on it and it felt great against my palms. When I finally took it back outside I went barefoot so I could feel the grass and my body could "ground" itself (some people say by touching the earth with your bare skin you re-balance the energies in your own body. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you rolling your eyes all the way here, I don't care).