starting over again (again)

I’ve had so many start-overs in my life.

Not do-overs, either. Start-overs, picking up pieces, trying to remember who I am and why I am.

I’m cocooned in a blank sheaf of paper, unable to write what I want to write because I don’t exactly know what it is.

I shut down my Facebook weeks ago, and I think I’m going to have to activate it again soon so that I can be in the death doula group there. That’s a thing I’m doing right now: I am in a death doula class, and it is hurting my feelings and challenging my understanding of myself and how I relate to others.

I am on Twitter almost every day, my timeline locked down so my ex can’t see it. This website is public, so if he sees it, I would like him to know that I don’t care if he sees it. And if his girlfriend sees it I would like her to know that I don’t care if she sees it either. I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

We locked down in early March here in our house. Many of us are immunocompromised and infection would probably result in at least one death. We are doing our best and being as careful as possible. One wage earner has been able to work fully from home. One wage earner leaves the house to work a few days a week. Another one has plans to do the same.

I write every day in my journal. I wonder, every time I write the date, if one day someone will be reading it the way we read Anne Frank’s diary. I am afraid of a fascist state as often as I remember to breathe, which is to say: almost all of the time.

It’s been over five months since our lockdown began, and I can’t imagine what life will look like five months from right now. It will be almost the end of January, just after the inauguration of what will hopefully be a new person as president of the country. It will probably still feel just as strange and confusing as it has been.

My work, supporting spiritual specialists, became all but impossible to do. One person walked away without saying a word. One person was gracious and kind and still needed to go their own way. My remaining clients are also stuck in a holding pattern; where do we go from here? What can we do?

So far my answer for myself has been to take classes, to learn things, to lean into the therapy I have by phone every two weeks (except on days when I feel physically horrid and can’t do phone calls), to make meaning for myself around caring for my family in the ways I’m able. School for the kids started last week, and they are already fully engaged in it. It’s a kind of respite from the rest of the world to get to sit and be with them as they work on their subjects. The rest of the time I’m usually doing the laundry or hanging out with my family or taking accidental depression naps.

The anniversary of a birthday in June was hard and it still hurts.

My own birthday just one week ago feels so completely unimportant. I was just happy to be with my loved ones on that day and eat food with them. I am now forty-two, which is supposed to be the number that is the answer to the life, universe, and everything. I don’t feel very different and I certainly don’t feel wiser. I did find a really long silvery-grey hair yesterday as I was struggling to figure out how to wear my extremely grown-out queer haircut, which I was weirdly pleased about.

But despite the ways I am getting by, I am devastated that I cannot do the work that I was doing six months ago. I miss the meaning and importance of it. I miss feeling like I was doing something that mattered. I miss the cadence of the way working fit into my days. There is nothing for me to do now except be a surrogate teacher to my kids, wash and dry and put away the laundry each week, and read and fill the rest of the time with either learning or naps.

I have so much grief.

One of the effects, for me personally, of regular testosterone injections, is that I am having trouble crying when I definitely need to cry. It’s like my pressure-release valve has got stuck. I’m not removed from my feelings; I’m in them, swimming in my grief and sadness and worry, wishing that I wasn’t.

I have a sliver of hope that this place to put my writing is going to be cathartic and helpful and not another thing on my daily task list. I want to be free of all these worries, but I don’t know how. I’m not sure anyone else does either.

Meanwhile I suppose I could try screaming inside my heart.

Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.


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