My Soul & Me Working It Out

On the shuttle from Sea-Tac to Bellingham zipping up the I5 north, on the way to see my cousins, I keep saying (in my head of course) I love you, I love you, not sure who, or what, I’m speaking to—could be the Space Needle coming up on the right, powder blue sky, the just turning aspens lining the freeway. It’s possible it was my husband, who I’d just sent a text letting him know I hadn’t gone to a watery grave as we flew low over Puget Sound, though pictures of the Sully Sullivan landing on the Hudson did pop up, as we came in for an abrupt landing, a big bounce on the tarmac, my seat mate and I turning to look at each other with more than a slight bit of terror in our eyes. It wasn’t any of those, really. It was my soul.

I’d just finished reading a magazine article, as we’d flown over Oregon—a man telling his story of being in the psychiatric wing of a hospital for four months and recovering after electro-shock therapy, now referred to as electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, which is not at all as depicted in those horrible clips you see so often on TV of treatments from the ’50s and ’60s. This beautiful, brave man spoke so honestly about his excruciating descent into despair and constant thoughts of suicide after the death of his mother. Reading about his journey brought me to reflect on my own struggles these last few months with grief—not for the loss of a friend or family member, but the loss of ideals, of hope, of a life I had claimed as my “way” when I was a young woman of 21, of how I had held a man, a proclaimed “holy man,” I had trusted and held in high esteem for the “wisdom” he had imparted, how I had given my heart and mind over so fully and innocently. It was a deeply wounding betrayal of trust and brought a tremendous amount of doubt about my own judgment and vulnerability.

I’ve always trusted my soul, always had a sense of it nudging me, sometimes shoving me, in the right direction in my life. I have always admired it for all the gutsy ways it has steered me and brought me along to places I would never have dared otherwise. That trust has been bruised and battered. It has taken a hit. I honestly don’t know if, when, or how, we will heal, my soul and I. We don’t talk much these days—we’re in a kind of cooling off period, while I work through my mental and emotional issues. I’m pretty clear that our relationship from the past is over, that there were good times and bad, but we are not going down the path of giving over our sovereignty to another person, system or ideology. It’s going to be our way, a path only we can forge. It will be as difficult as hell and I’m not sure I’m up for the task, but the process is one worthy of all I’ve got, of all I am. So here we go off to places unknown, outcomes unpredictable, but we go together, my soul and I.

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