Detoxing from crisis

We’re hitting the one year mark since our big trans-atlantic move. Coming upon milestones nearly every day this week, the first anniversaries of selling the house, leaving the state, saying good-bye and leaving the US altogether, I couldn’t help but get sentimental, sad, celebratory and relieved. Sentimental and sad for the people who are so far away now, and even for the things—good chewy bagels, NPR on the car radio, my garden. Celebratory and relieved for making it through the transition if not gracefully, then at least with scrapes that will heal clean. We have a new home that we love, a rekindling and creation of relationships, and work we enjoy.

There was one feeling that caught me off guard this week: boredom. Maybe not actual boredom, but fear of it. The past year (and the months leading up to it) have been stressful, that’s true, but there has been something decidedly meaningful about this time as well. Priorities have been clear, we’ve come together closer as a family like never before, the task of putting one foot in front of the other just to get through the day has been, in many ways, satisfying.

We have been in crisis. And I am good at crisis. As a parent of a child with special needs, I’d have to say I feel comfortable there. After years of wishing to be done with the drama of crisis, recognizing a pang of nostalgia for it makes me stop and think.

When my son was younger, he had several stints in the hospital. Everything non-essential was put on hold — work, mowing the lawn, opening the mail, returning non-urgent phone calls — while we focused on keeping him comfortable and supporting his healing. Everything was so clear, simple and focused, exactly the way I think most of us wish our lives could be these days, but of course without the crisis itself.

Dr. Suzanne Koven wrote movingly in the Boston Globe last week about the unexpected upside of illness in families in her piece “In Practice: Illness and silver linings.” “What starts out as a calamity becomes woven into a person’s identity, and their family’s — and sometimes even enriches them.”

Crisis has been such a big part of my own enrichment, like the fire of an iron forge. The calamity is exhausting and scary, but if one is lucky enough to get through it, it is meaningful. So much so that if I’m not careful, it might be tempting to create crisis when there is none.

The trick, of course, is to build a meaningful life without needing the drama to be present in order to do it. Easier said than done. But a goal worth pursuing and a boredom worth welcoming.

I’d be curious to hear what others think about how crisis makes them feel. In the mean time, I’m going to sit and do nothing for a few minutes.

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About Cristin L.

Earthling, pilgrim, peace warrior and special needs parent
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3 Responses to Detoxing from crisis

  1. Robin Kramer says:

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Name says:

    I loved your post (and it was so nice to hear from you again). I crave boredom and am always amazed when people tell me they are bored. What the heck could it possibly be like to be bored, I wonder. I have gotten myself so involved in “meaningful activity”, virtually all as a volunteer and initiator of such, that I barely have time for my two high-needs children, who, of course, take what they need anyway. So I’m trying to get to detox and it’s interesting to read your post. Yes, we can get sucked in by the need to be needed, especially to get everyone through crises. It feels so good when it stops! …That we have to keep doing it. I am looking longingly at my new vegetable garden and hoping it can help me with this detox process (temperature still too risky for planting at this point). For one thing, I will be at home, puttering, and there will always be a weed to pull, or something to check. And who could resist sitting on the porch looking at the garden for a moment (yes I plunked the vegetable garden right in my front yard!) when all is up to date (or not…). This is my fantasy anyway. I think my volunteer gigs are coming to an end, more or less, and the garden is my plan to be busy but not busy (although I know I’m kinda fooling myself on how unbusy a vegetable garden is!) Let the fantasy and detox and gardening begin!

    • Cristin L. says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think this is a weird phenomenon, and it helps to simply think about it and question what part we play in our own busy-ness. At least for me it does. This has always been a struggle for me. Good luck with your garden! We had hail yesterday, but luckily the few things I dared to put in the ground so far seem to have made it through.

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