Every time I shovel snow, which has been quite often this winter, the same phrase pops into my head: the outer manifestation of my interior life.
Some people deal with their grief by creating order and neatening things up; in my grief, I became more scattered.
Last year at about this time, I was preparing to move to Michigan, purging and packing my things, boxes stacked all around the house. Stuff waiting to be packed filled in empty spaces. The house was a mess, but I did not really notice; I was too immersed in my grief.
I was also going to Paris, France, for a long weekend; travel was one way I dealt with my grief.
A friend stopped by to drop off her Paris guidebooks. I invited her in, but she declined and apologized for not having called ahead. She stood at the door, looking shocked or horrified. I did not really understand her look until I closed the door when she left and turned around. Then I saw what she saw—utter chaos. The stacks of boxes, the stuff, the disarray. I broke down in tears.
This, I thought, is the outer manifestation of my interior life. I was a mess.
But the outside world did not see that. Every day, I got up and dressed and went to work. Outwardly, I seemed to be coping. People commented on how well I was doing, considering what I had been through.
But, the reality was undeniable. My life was in shambles. What I hid from the public was in full view inside my house.
I am reminded of all this because of the way I shovel snow. I can’t seem to develop a system. Instead, I move randomly from area to area. It is a reminder that I am not quite finished grieving.
We all grieve in different ways. In addition to travel and moving, last February I started this blog. I was thinking of my “new life” and wanted writing to be part of it. I pledged to post weekly, something I thought would help instill order and discipline into my life. This is my fifty-second posting, a personal victory.
My new life is unfolding slowly and order is returning. In many ways, I feel like my old self again.
Hopefully by next winter, I will have moved far enough beyond my grief that I can shovel snow in some sort of systematic way.
Until then, I will be gentle with myself—and I will keep writing.