Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ruin and Recovery

In the grand scheme of things, eight weeks doesn't sound like so long. Unless you've been sick, in unbearable amounts of pain, and stuck in bed for two whole months. Then eight weeks is an awfully long time.

I've had migraines for the last eleven years. An attack here, an episode there. But this winter, I was knocked down by one great, big, long, horrible headache that simply would not go away. I laid in bed day after day, sedated by pain killers and sleeping aids, surrounded by only my parents and my doctors, miserable at my own misfortune. It was torture for me to venture any further than the couch for too many hours of crappy tv watching. It was torture just being conscious.

The strange part of me being out of commission was that the world did not stop turning because I wasn't in it. There was no news of my illness in the major papers, no tabloid rumor mills churning. It was lonely there in that bed, all those nights, left to the whims of my drug-induced subconscious. It gave me too much time to think. Here's some of what I came up with:

1) I don't want to sleep alone anymore. Being single has it's bedtime advantages like hogging all the covers, reading with the nightlight on, and no one complaining about your cold feet. You can tuck yourself under the covers with your laptop or reruns of House and a cup of tea with nary a sideways glance from your partner. However, being divorced means that you shared a bed every night with another person for an extended period of time and no matter how long it's been since they relinquished their "side" - it's tough getting used to inhabiting all that real estate on your own. I have done my best to fill up the unused half with books I'm reading, journals I'm writing in, pillows, blankets, and more stuffed animals than befits a 29 year old woman. I'm ready to share my space with a real, live person again. Yes, sleepovers with my sister are fun but they lack some of the more desirable aspects of a co-ed slumber party. (I'll let you use your imagination there.) Suffice it to say that I am finally looking forward to falling asleep in someone's arms, snuggling all night, waking up together in the morning...and everything in between.

2) I've taken care of myself and everyone around me for so long that it's time I learned to let other people take care of me when I need them to. Namely, that while HELP is a four letter word, it's not the vulgar curse I've always thought it to be. As a strong, independent young woman, I thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness. I thought I had to do it all myself, be everything to everyone, be everything to myself. I don't. Standing on my own two feet? Yes. Letting someone strong catch me when I teeter slightly off balance or heaven forbid, fall down? Absolutely ok.

3) New York City has millions of miles of pipelines underground for utility companies that went out of business a hundred years ago, subway tunnels for trains that haven't run in decades, a whole extinct support system lying just beneath our feet. No one knows the extent of what's really down there and doesn't bother exploring until something bursts or breaks. Then it's a repair mission to fix it. The trouble is that we can't put anything new in without ripping out the old stuff and it's a lot of effort. New York is the living city built on top of a dead city, just like the Roman ruins and modern day relationships. We bury what doesn't work or gets outdated and instead of ripping it out, we just pave over it.
I think that Vegas has the right idea. When a casino or a hotel goes under, they blow it up and tear it down, clear away the rubble and start fresh with a whole new structure. We could take a cue from Sin City (and you know I don't say that lightly!) Divorced girls, single girls, doesn't matter - every one of us could do with more than just spackling over the cracks in the walls or putting up a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes, we need a complete overhaul. Demolition is the first step in creation. There can be no rebuilding without ruin. No recovery without wreckage. There will be casualties. It will be messy. But the new, beautiful life we're building for ourselves will be well worth the effort.

Confession: I haven't gone on a "cup" in five months as I was dating someone who asked not to be written about. While that relationship has now ended, it's once again time for me to start over. I am part terrified, part ecstatic to begin again. Equal parts fear, curiosity and excitement flutter around in my stomach and I look forward to sharing the journey with all of you. This time, I will not build on the remains of an ancient civilization. This time, it will be brand new from the ground up. Bigger and better than ever.