“…days pass…and this emptiness fills my heart…”
- Peter Gabriel. 1986.
When I was nine or ten, I remember having my first experience where the girls in my “group” decided to oust me, for whatever reason. Kick me off the island, so to speak. I wasn’t special. It happens to almost everyone at some point. You probably remember something similar, right? The people that you thought you could rely on as friends at school – the ones you’d always hang with at recess and lunch – they just stopped talking to you. Maybe passed a note or two about you during class and shared some giggles behind your back. It’s a fucking awful feeling. And the worst part is the not knowing. The not knowing what you did wrong. The not knowing how you could fix it. Wracking your brain to think back and determine if something you said or did had been misinterpreted. What had you done to deserve this? And, most importantly, when would it be over?
I don’t know about you, but I NEEDED to know. It was debilitating trying to figure it out. I remember feeling lost and hopeless. Like a hostage to whatever those girls had decided was my social fate that week. Fucking awful. But in hindsight, I CHOSE to react that way. I chose to be a hostage. Powerless. Awaiting their mercy.
I have had that “need to know” my whole life. I could never sit still and just be with myself if someone was mad at me or treating me differently. I stewed. I remember when Darcy and I were just adjusting to living together, sometimes he’d get quiet for a day or two… I couldn’t take it…I NEEDED to know what was up. I couldn’t just feel calm and let it be. I allowed his silence to swallow me whole and I made it all about me, when really (as I learned over the years) that was just his way of processing and adjusting. It didn’t mean anything about me that he needed some down time. Still, I allowed it to mess up my sleep and take all my focus. I needed to know. I chose to be a hostage.
This same hostage story has played out many times in my life since then. Another perfect example is when I chose to remain frozen in fear for a full week while I waited for my amniocentesis results after a false-positive for Downs Syndrome when I was pregnant with Miller. That week went by so slowly and the sun didn’t shine, food tasted terrible and music didn’t sound good. I let it take over every breath and I wasn’t capable of laughter or even a smile until the favored results came back. A whole week of my otherwise joyful pregnancy, lost. A whole week of my LIFE lost. And I chose that. I mean, Darcy was just as invested as I was and yet, he didn’t let this temporary uncertainty rule his very heartbeat.
So, you can imagine how things could have gone when Darcy left the house that September morning and didn’t come back. I feel sick just thinking about it… the most amplified version of this awful life pattern I could ever imagine. Surely, I was becoming a hostage again. The search had been on for several days and nothing was found… no jacket, no phone, no shoe, no nothing. It started to become clear, fairly quickly, that this time I didn’t get to “know”.
Honestly, when I was in the thick of it and the intense search for Darcy was in full swing, every single crazy possibility in the world was thrown my way to be explored. By police, by well-meaning friends, by mediums, by family. The police asked me “Was he into drugs?” “Did he have a mistress? Another family abroad perhaps?” Work friends suggested “He was pretty stressed! Maybe he just couldn’t take it anymore!” “He probably just needed to get away and so he took off to someone’s cabin for a few days to decompress.” My point isn’t to elaborate on how bananas these ideas are… my point is just that we all HATE it when there is no real reason. No answer. No explanation. We need one.
This is why.
It is WAY more scary to think that some kind of random accident could just happen in the woods (or anywhere) than it is to decide that he somehow planned this exit. That there was a reason or something “off” when he headed out that day. It is safer for people to believe that this occurrence was somehow unique to Darcy than to just accept that it actually IS a possibility that anyone could take a walk in the woods (or cross a street for that matter) and it may result in their untimely death. That kind of randomness would mean that it could happen to ANYBODY and that is fucking frightening (and true) and we don’t want to accept that. We don’t want to believe that this could happen to us or someone we love. Naturally. If we spend too much time thinking about uncertainties like this and acknowledge the possibility that anything could happen then we wouldn’t leave the house or let our kids go to a movie alone, or take a bus across town.
Turning a story like Darcy’s disappearance into a mystery that needs to be solved is just an attempt to abate a fear that we all have, naturally, around uncertainty. We need reasons and answers so we can continue on in this life…otherwise, who’s to say something like this won’t happen again?? (Truthfully, it COULD! Odds are, it won’t!). And if we don’t solve the mystery, how are we ever going to move forward? Well, that part IS up to us.
Just like the nine-year-old me was paralyzed by the mysterious and unreasonable rejection of her peers, I could have stayed stuck in the paralysis of Darcy’s disappearance and waited there until someone finally gave me a reason and an explanation. I could have sat there with life on hold indefinitely until all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. But if I had chosen that route, I would still be sitting there frozen on my sofa, you guys. Stuck in fight or flight. Fucked by fear. That is not living.
I am challenged every day to accept that this life is filled with uncertainty. Random accidents and unhappy occurrences that nobody could have predicted, happen regularly. Circumstances beyond our control that leave us hanging. And should we find ourselves at the centre of a situation like this we have two choices…we can sit as a hostage or we can go within and find a different kind of “knowing”. A deep trust in the voice within. A powerful acceptance of what is. A strength that will help us to emerge into freedom no matter how broken we are.
Things are going to happen in life that just don’t make any sense. Sometime we just don’t get to know (there is more to this universe than just us!) and I am suggesting we choose to live our lives anyway. Even with that risk, that uncertainty… I’m saying it is possible and even enjoyable!
My wish for us all is that we don’t waste our lives trying to debunk every mystery that seemingly makes no sense. That we don’t spend our precious moments trying to find a pattern or a code or an explanation for other events or people’s behaviours that just don’t sit right with us. It doesn’t even matter. It isn’t even real. Release it. Let it all go. Let’s not give our power over to people or circumstances that we can’t control or predict. Let’s choose to not be hostages.
So, the bad news is that unexpected things CAN and WILL occur… and the GREAT news is that *spoiler alert* MOST of those unexpected things are really WONDERFUL!!!
Just as unexpected as Darcy’s unfortunate and accidental death was the fact that he and I ever crossed paths in the first place! Unexpected, amazing, blow-my-mind awesomeness that I will be grateful for my whole life. (Take one look at my photo gallery for proof of a life well lived!) I’d take that risk again in a heartbeat to experience all the unexpected miracles that came our way.
Hostage no more.
Til Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.