About five years ago, long before moving here to Portland, I walked home on an early Fall night. The end of Summer brings many things in Juneau, Alaska; the dwindling of cruise ships and the silly questions they bring (what is the elevation here?), gorgeous bursts of the hot pink Fireweed flower, and bears getting their last eatins’ before a long Winter hibernation. I mosied home, nary a thought of that last one on my mind, and as I approached my apartment building saw that the giant dumpster outside of it had been flipped upside-down. Either someone pissed of the garbage guy, or a bear had been there, and potentially still was.
I considered the options. Wee lil’ Alaskans are taught from an itty bitty age what to do when you encounter a bear. You walk slowwwwwwwly backwards, and you stare at the ground. Never run. That’s just asking to be chased. My door was about twenty feet from the dumpster, and I didn’t know for sure that there was a bear between me and that now-glorious shining door of safety. Should I book it to the door? Possibly disobeying one of the biggest bear-rules, or assume there was indeed a bear there, and just retreat to safety?
I hadn’t come to a decision when a claw the size of my head crept out the side of the dumpster, proceeded by a giant, snarling, mouth and fierce shoulders threatening to lunge. I blacked out. I came to about a hundred feet away, walking slowly, staring at my feet. As soon as I regained consciousness (gosh the body is impressive…), I turned and ran, like such a bad Alaskan! I made it to the nearest friend’s house a couple of minutes later, and spilled my story quickly.
This story is not a big deal in Juneau. Garbage bears are very common. I’ve had numerous friends find bears inside their houses! I even know a girl who punched one in the nose because it was messing with her dog. I spilled my story, then we told some more bear stories, and twenty minutes later we were on a whole new topic. (Dudes, no doubt.)
We had chatted for about an hour, laughing and having a jolly ol’ time, when all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I started panic-crying, sputtering out, “I—I—don’t—know—why—I’m—cry-iiiiiiiing”, totally reminiscent of early PMS experiences. I was light-headed and dizzy, by the time the wig-out ended, just a few minutes later, I was entirely exhausted and konked right out.
Aftershock. Often when we’re in the middle of something hard, we can’t deal with it yet. We need a calm, safe, sturdy space in which to freak the eff out afterwards, and process that ish.
I’m finally in that calm, safe, sturdy space, and I’ve been wiggin’. This year has been HARD. Re-reading posts, especially from last Fall, I can’t even believe that was me. That I went through that. I didn’t even write about much of the super painful stuff that happened. I try to keep this more “Spirituality with a Healthy Dose of Irreverence” and less “Dear Blog, Guess What Happened to Me Today”. Suffice it to say, it really really really super uber sucked. I really don’t know how I got through it. I don’t.
Welp, part of getting through it was not feeling all the feels that have been coming at me lately. It was like, “new long-term job finally in my field, new amazing sanctuary of a home near amazing people who love me, HARD CRAPPY feelings about shit from 8 months ago! Wait, huh!?“.
Eh, c’est la vie. It’ll pass. I’m just trying to observe the randomly occuring moods and thoughts from a detached space, knowing that they aren’t me. They are ephemeral lil’ bits of healing, cruising on out of my psyche. Buh-bye, boogers. This aftershock stuffs happened before, and it will again, to me, to you, to that guy over there.
Deal with it how you will when it’s your turn, I’m dealing by being slightly flaky on my friends in favor of chillin’ out and making purty things for my new home. (Or to distractedly bingewatch The Mindy Project.) Whatever’s clever, as long as we find a way to feel whatever needs to bubble up, so it can be released. Suppressing the unpleasant bits doesn’t make them go away, quite the opposite! Feel that ish, and move right on.