Twenty years ago I spent a long weekend at a workshop/retreat that fundamentally changed my life, or at least served as a pivot point in my journey. I had one incredibly emotional moment that weekend—a moment that has stayed with me all these years, through tremendous changes and ups and downs in my life.
One of my favorite parts of this retreat was that it was silent, a fact the participants did not know going in. We could talk only during the workshop sessions, and not with each other, but to the group as a whole. The food was intentionally less than optimal for those few days as well. And every morning we had to run a mile.
But, I digress. One evening, the retreat facilitator led us through some guided imagery and we were to be constructing our future home. What would it look like? Where would it be? Who would be there?
And here’s the part where I burst into tears: My future home was warm, with dark wood and candles, and inviting comfortable furniture, and it was full of many, many children, children that looked like my children.
At this point, the imagery had taken over and I was just a recipient of this vision. I wept for probably a good fifteen minutes, maybe more (it’s been twenty years—details are fuzzy), but I know for sure that tears and snot rolled down my face uncontrollably.
I did not understand then why I had that vision nor why I reacted so emotionally to it. The tears were neither sad nor joyous, just bursting with raw and uncontrollable feeling. Looking back now, I understand I was weeping because my vision was so radically, radically different from my reality. I wept for the pains and joys I had yet to experience on my path to my vision.
Writing my memoir these past 18 months has prompted all manner of self-reflection (the cynics among us might say navel-gazing—there’s a whole other blog), and I’m finding much of that reflecting to be awkward, if not downright painful. So, I was sort of happy when recent events coincided to prompt me to remember this image.
My youngest daughter’s biological brother (both of my kids are adopted) recently moved to our home state and last weekend came to have dinner with us—he and his wife and their four children. This was the first time I’d met her brother, though she had spent time with her biological family (including her birth parents) over the past few years.
As the day of their visit drew closer, I grew calmer—which is not really my MO. Usually I ramp up into a bit of a frenzy before such events. There were going to be ten of us, including four children, going out to dinner. I remained calm, grounded even. Even as the day grew closer and we had to redo the plans, I rolled with it, strangely confident that dinner would be what it needed to be.
And it was. I was home, surrounded by children that looked just like my daughters, surrounded by family new and old and new again.