By the light of the moon

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Since reading that the full moon was traditionally a time to reflect on the past month, I’ve been setting time aside on those evenings to look back over the past weeks and review what’s been going on. A lot of the past month has been the aftermath of the realisation on January 7 that I’d achieved something I started to have an inkling of around November when I sensed that the months ahead would be important – the three-year mark seemed to be a significant threshold and I sensed I needed to avoid completing a circle , that if I could just push I would go into an upward spiral movement.

Although I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what that means still, I’ve felt that I achieved it, that every significant anniversary, including our wedding anniversary, the anniversary of Mark’s death, Christmas and New Year I’d broken open and extracted something good, creating new memories to overlay the old ones as I did so. Now when I look back on the day that Mark died I also remember the glorious sunshine drenched views from the top of the Empire State Building, or the run on the beach at Oliva, my trip to the tattooist and buying a new coat, getting my nails done and eating wonderful French food in a restaurant in Lancaster.

The day of our wedding anniversary has been overlaid with new memories of flying to San Francisco, hanging out in Newcastle and walking on the beach in the sunshine this year. And with the final significant date in January over, I knew I had done it. That realisation was followed by some pretty hollow, exhausted days, but bubbling under the surface was a sense of resolve borne out of the fact that I had made a decision to work to that shape of the spiral and while only vaguely understanding its meaning, my efforts over those months had succeeded.

Recently I have read David Whyte’s book Crossing the Unknown Sea. I have been struck by his
account of exhaustion and the impact of the words of a friend and spiritual guide who told him that the antidote to exhaustion was not rest, but wholeheartedness. The importance Whyte places on pursuing something with all of ourselves, the way Whyte frames work as a conversation with the edge, with world beyond, all resonate with me because I feel that the days of wrapping solitude around me are coming to an end. It’s not that I haven’t had any conversations with the outside world, not that I haven’t been working, but for many months my main focus has been on healing up after the awful grief. But now that I am feeling better, I can’t stay tucked up at home.

As I sense myself coming closer to the edge, and with a new month ahead, I’m acutely aware of how fragile I feel. Recent encounters with people have left me feeling unsure of myself, but determined not to let those feelings worry me. My uncertainty comes from my awareness that I have been stripped of so many of the protective layers that make us feel like we are somebody in this world. I’ve long been disabused of any notion of a beautiful life to post about on social media, I’ve lost capacity for drama and making big deals out of things that count for very little. The idea that I am ever going to impress anyone or seem anything other than broken in some way seems very unlikely. So who am I, what have I got to offer anyone?

Those are genuine questions I want to find answers to, not expressions of self-doubt or loathing. It’s just that I find I don’t really know myself in relation to other people at the moment, and that is what has to change.