At nearly eight months pregnant with my second daughter, over six years ago now, we decided to go on a camping trip. Not too far away - just an hour's drive from home and maybe a half hour to the nearest hospital, in case she decided to join us early. My then-husband created the shangri-la of cots for me and my gigantic belly (in a tent made to sleep six) and shared a separate tent with our two-year-old, so that I would be comfortable. As comfortable as one can be at eight months pregnant and camping.
The thing about being that pregnant is that you have to pee pretty well every 20 minutes, day and night. So out I waddled several times through the night to the outhouse and back, flashlight guiding my way, on guard for predators and prepared to go full mama bear on any creature that crossed my path, except for maybe an actual mama bear. But the forest was still and happy to have me. Destination reached, mission accomplished, I trekked back through the warm, June woods to roll myself into my Camping Cot 3000 for another short doze before it was time to roll back out.
Near the break of dawn, I was on my way back from yet another outhouse excursion when I decided to veer slightly off course and settle myself by the still lake to watch the sun rise. The sun was just approaching the horizon, warming the sky with the most vivid oranges and pinks on its ascent.
All was quiet. It was so beautifully quiet. I felt like the only one on Earth. Except, of course, I was two. I held my hand to my belly and whispered to the little life growing inside me, nearly ready to come see for herself what this gorgeous world was all about. I don't remember my exact words, but I know I wished her a big, happy life.
I sat in the silence as the sun rose above the treeline. I watched as the wilderness took shape as it shed the darkness. The outlines of the trees, the branches, the leaves. The soft ripples on the water. The stones lining the shore. They slipped out of their nightgowns and dressed in details.
I stayed until the sun was in her full glory before returning to my cot, peaceful.
The last few months of my life have been a little like that morning by the lake. Not so much the circumstance as the hush. A pregnant pause of a different kind. I have wanted to sit in the silence. I've been waiting for day to break.
I believe with all my heart that true connection comes from vulnerability, which is why I write about my life with very few holds barred and why I continue to take risks - putting myself out there and wearing my heart on my sleeve - even though I may get hurt. Even though I often do. I've come to understand that this is what life is. It's getting back up. And it's helping others to do so, too.
Vulnerability is a choice and a difficult one when there are so many reasons to pull up the drawbridge, but I came to a place, a few months ago, when I needed to do just that. Sharing myself here, putting myself out into the world...it's exhausting. I was tired of feeling all of the feelings and thinking so deeply about them in the service of this kind of writing I do - that I want to do - this writing about the world and life from the only perspective I have: my own. I didn't want to mine my thoughts and feelings anymore in search of a universal truth and a pretty analogy. And I was tired of being rejected. My life had become such a series of rejections - from romantic relationships, friendships, jobs - that I had the (somewhat uplifting) thought that this might be really great fodder for a sitcom. One with a lot of pratfalls. You can only put yourself out there for so long before it becomes too much. It became too much.
The hush settled over me like a blanket. I didn't resist it at all. I was sorry that I was leaving this place in silence without explanation, that I was not returning texts and phone calls in any sort of timely manner, but I needed to be quiet for awhile. I needed to just listen for awhile, and wait for the day to break.
I'm still waiting, but there's a touch of pink in the sky. The details are still blurry, but things are starting to take shape. I'm still feeling rejected, but I'm steadying myself so that I can get back up. I still prefer the quiet, but I'm whispering.
There's a life growing inside me but this time it's my own.