Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Break-up season

Most places have 4 seasons, at least to some extent: spring, summer, fall, winter. Sometimes spring and fall get abbreviated into a week between hot and cold when leaves either suddenly burst out or drop off the trees.

I grew up with another season, to some degree replacing spring and to some degree bridging winter and spring: break up.

Break up season has been in full swing around here for several weeks. Its name comes from the ice on the lakes and from the way people who live on the lake with no road access have to deal with the ice. In the summer, you take a boat to get home. In the winter, you can walk or snowshoe or ski (or drive your snow machine if you live in Alaska). During break up, the ice is too weak to walk on but still hanging around and blocking boat access. On a really big body of water (think ocean sized), really big boats just plow through the ice. For most people though, it means that you cross the lake with one foot in a canoe and one on the ice (or you can do some strange modified rowing).

The snow is melting and yet more snow shows up pretty often to replace it. The ground alternates between ice and snow and mud, so it's hard to choose footwear too. If you stick with warm snow boots, they get coated in mud. If you go with the rubber boots for the mud, you slip on the ice.

Spring starts when the first really good thunderstorm comes and melts the last of the ice and snow away. Sometimes the cycle of a little rain and then 6 inches of snow, followed by a sudden melt, some icy rain, and then more snow goes on for months. This year it's been several months that we've been stuck in this break up muddle of mud and snow and ice.

I've been thinking a lot about the break up season and how it relates to healing from the ALI journey. For me at least, I feel like achieving pregnancy is when you're right in the middle of that lake, one foot on ice that could break under you at any moment, one foot in a canoe that's a bit tippy because you aren't all the way into it. It's a liminal space where you are in transition and things are shaky.

But then, just when you think you've arrived and things are better and the baby has arrived and it's spring, right? And then it's right back to winter for a week or two or longer. The liminal space gets extended longer than you'd expect.

That, for me, is the nature of healing after going through all that ALI pain and suffering. It seems like it should be all better and it isn't, not forever anyway. You get dumped on unexpectedly and set back, then things improve just as suddenly. It isn't bad, it isn't good, it's just nature having its way with your life. It has helped me a lot to be reminded that healing is like break up season: non-linear (copyright SRB). I am then free to focus on today rather than imagining I should have passed some milestone and I should never be upset by whatever it is again. If today I'm sad that my spouse had to explain miscarriages to my 5 year old, it's fine. If I'm thrilled about baby leggings and garden plans, that's fine too.

It is freeing to know that break-up-like healing is normal and nothing to worry about. So be free. Play in the snow or the rain or the mud. Eventually spring will arrive. There will be peace with however your journey ends, if you let it happen.

In case you missed it, PAIL is doing a whole week of posts on healing and it's awesome. So far I really like this one but the rest are also awesome.


  1. Where on earth do you live? (Yes, I know, you're not telling.) For some reason I had you in the south, but you're describing Minnesota to me (though not the bit about no road access--wth?). I always hated spring in Minnesota.

    Non-linear is a good way to describe healing. You're truly right that it's okay to be sad one moment and happy the next. It's a hard thing to remember.

    1. The south sounds so appealing every winter, and then I consider summer, and I'm thrilled with the snow. Depending on my student loan to income in the first year after graduation ratio, I may wind up wherever Walgreens will pay me to go. I claim the snowy USA as home and sometimes the wild parts of it, other times the flatter and more urban places, but currently no mountains (phew they are scary huge).