A pebble snuck into my slipper, a tiny rock that wedged in between my foot and the soft cloth. I was busy cooking, I didn’t want to stop to touch my feet and then wash my hands and slow my progress. The irritant was no big deal, I shook my foot a bit, sending the pest to the left, to the edge, out of connection to nerve endings. Yes, better, back to work. About three steps later though, the pebble had rolled back to the lowest spot in my slipper, the snuggled in again to gain notice. Any reasonable person would at this point just stop and deal with the little issue and move along, barely a blip on the daily radar. I stood strong, on my little rock and my determination to carry on without being sidelined by something so minor. I have come to be quite excellent at ignoring the tiny quirks and pains of my body, it often betrays my wishes and works against my timelines. A pebble was doable.
Just like a seam along the toe of socks that has gone crooked, underwear that has lovingly chosen one cheek to cuddle with more than the other, sheets that aren’t tucked in and pulled perfectly straight, sometimes thing don’t stay in alignment. I have friends who address the issue immediately, who would have stopped and popped off that slipper to be rid of the rock at first poke. Do they have better self-esteem, to believe they don’t have to suffer? Do they have better understanding of their own power, to realize they can affect change? I am embarrassed to admit I walk around with the pebble and even forget to remove it when I change from slippers to shoes. Pebble awaits me next time I don the slippers. The problem may have snuck up on me but my avoidance has now allowed it to become fully mine.
I wasn’t always an avoider, I used to take the world by storm, at least I felt empowered to remove pebbles and straighten sock seams. I think it comes down to penance. A self-imposed punishment, just an added layer to say, “I get it, you think I did something wrong, I accept your time-out and I’ll raise you a pebble.” My broken heart has cracked a bit more recently, estrangement taken to an even greater level. How does one show enough suffering, that the number of pebbles is now so great I can barely walk with the weight of my shoes? Will my cards, letters, texts, phone calls, emails all filled with apologies and begging for fresh starts ever be enough? Is it ever okay to embrace joy or does that look like I have left the time-out chair, punishment to restart from the beginning, like a child who has to set the egg-timer back again, again, again, until they understand that sitting in the chair for 3 minutes is the thing and won’t kill them and no they cannot play their Nintendo DS while they sit or the timer will start over. Am I unknowingly losing punishment points by playing games of “Capture the Joy Moments?” I can’t know for sure. I can’t see the timer, see if it is ticking towards the end of punishment time or frequently being reset. What I can see is the blank screen on my phone, the call that doesn’t come, the text that never arrives, the empty mail box on the edge of my property as well as on my laptop. Silence, not even a tick tick tick.
What I am sure of is that I am not made to live in sorrow. I am not meant to be imprisoned by others lack of forgiveness, an inability to embrace mercy, to seek resolution. I am meant to be fully free of pebbles in my slippers and crooked socks, things that I can change. My heart is meant to be cared for lovingly, I am meant to care for others just the same. Heaping more pain on a wounded heart does not bring me closer to healing anymore than walking on a rock restores my balance. My soul aches for my Stella, so much so that I can feel her like a ghost so very close to me some days, yet I cannot change her mind. I can only change mine.
I can vow to remove the pebbles at first poke, I can promise to always straighten my socks when they firs go crooked. But really, I am better at finding joy. A mixed bag, poor self-care but excellent “God moment ” identifier. I can only try to grab some comfort in knowing that while the world brings punishment enough, I still embrace the joy as it comes. One day I will tremble, my slippers will fall off, I will shout loudly to the heavens, as my time-out ends and my joy calls home. Tick, tick, tick, how long must I wait?