It went something like this:
- I came down with a 104 temp and the flu while working away from home.
- I had a fight with someone that was upsetting.
- The petsitter called to tell me the puppy was sick.
- The negotiations on a perfect little house we were trying to buy went south, way way south.
This all happened in one day last week. It was what I referred to as a no good, very bad day. I left work with a pounding headache and body aches, but really it was the ache in my soul that sent me home early. I didn't turn the radio or pick up my phone on on the way back to the hotel. I focused on every traffic light that brought me closer to home.
Back in my hotel room, I put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, closed the drapes, took a hot shower and crawled into bed, pulling the covers over my head. When I was a little girl and had a bad day I would tell my mom that I felt 'small.' It was the only way to describe the feeling of wanting to crawl into a cave and be alone. It felt primal, like an animal who's sick and burrows its way into a nest to be alone and heal.
I needed to heal.
It's hard when so many things go wrong at once and it was a startling difference from the week before when it was all sunshine and bubbles. The previous week I was making it happen at work, we were buying a great house on the east coast so I could have a landing pad when I worked here, I was about to start my second semester at Harvard, the puppy was happy and fine, Larry and I scored sold-out tickets to James Taylor and I was making good friends at my new job. I felt like the girl at the end of a romantic comedy when the happy music come up as the camera pans out on her and her love laying on a bench in Notting Hill. I felt like a butterfly, all shiny and light and happy, flying in the sunshine on a summer's day.
Then I became a caterpillar in my hotel room. For 24 hours I stayed in my cocoon of sheets, miserable and unable to reasonably work out my problems. My head was swimming from the fever. At 2:30am I stood in the shower with my head against the glass door letting the hot water stream over me, hopefully washing away all the mad mojo that I had somehow contracted. I dried off, slipped on clean pajamas and fell back into bed. I tucked the covers around me and fell into a slumber. It was what I needed. Exactly what I needed.
When I woke up a few hours later, I laid still in my bed, in the darkness, blinking, trying to make out the shapes in my room. I had forgotten where I was. I was still sick (and it turns out I would end up at the hospital with Bronchitis) but I started to think through all the issues that were happening. Jumbled together, they were overwhelming but I took one issue at a time and I worked through how I would fix each one. The puppy got some good meds and she's feeling better. The new house was not meant to be so the search continues. Regarding the fight, well, that one I took slower. I realized that if I reacted immediately I would have said something in the heat of the moment that I would have regretted and so I took a few days before I acted on what I hope is a reasonable, logical solution. My friend, Fr. Matthew, once told me to never make a rash decision in a distraught state. That was sage advice.
The lesson I learned from last week is that sometimes you will be a butterfly. Life will be amazing, You will feel smart, beautiful and happy and wanted. Your heart will feel full of love. Then there will be times when things go south. When this happens, it's OK to take some time, step out of the game and regroup.
You will heal.
You will find happy again.
Just take the time to take care of yourself. Triage your problems. If a number of things all go wrong at the same time, take care of the most important things first. In my case, it was making sure that the puppy was feeling better. Everything else came after that, in order of importance, with the house being at the bottom of that list. The world didn't end because I stepped way for a moment. My job was still there. There will be another house and the argument will be settled. I am happy that I didn't make a rash decision.
It's been a few days since the no good, very bad day and I still feel a caterpillar but I know that with rest and a calm, confident self that I'll be flying with sun dappled wings again soon.