Emptiness becomes more than it is.
It’s been weeks, possibly months since I’ve had anymore than a few minutes to myself. My daughter’s mama has taken on a part time job in addition to running her own business. She is busy, working 80 hours a week, possibly more. She isn’t available for kid care, dog walks, dinner making, laundry, or anything much outside of work. So, it means I have to be available to absorb all those things. Day in. Day out. Weekdays. Weekends. Every dinner, diaper, and dirty dish is mine and mine alone. Even when I have the flu. And a cold a few weeks later. And bronchitis a few weeks after that.
But, today is different. Today I got some “me time.” I was alone because I was driving to a doctor’s appointment because I’ve had bronchitis for 12 days. I realize this sounds like a pitiful state of affairs, but I was happy to take the break no matter what form it came in. Out of habit, I glanced in the rearview mirror to check on my little one only see an empty seat. It felt incredible to be alone. I took a breath of relief. A wheezy, tight-chested breath.
When I arrive at my doctor’s appointment, I’m honestly shocked that an adult is talking to me with adult words. It takes me a minute to adjust to the profuse language of the adult world. I have to remember that I am in fact capable of mature conversation. My doctor asks me how I’m doing. I’m thrown for another loop. How am I doing? I don’t know. No one asks me that. Everyone asks me how my daughter is doing. I don’t remember how to check in with myself. How to be aware of my body, my self, my own wellness. It all feels like a foreign language.
How am I doing? I feel completely empty. I’ve been running on empty for miles and miles and I don’t know where, when, or how to stop for more gas. I am bored. I am wrecked by drudgery. I feel chained by the things I am responsible for. I am depleted. I don’t know how to keep going and am exhausted by the fact that there is no other choice but to keep going.
It takes me a moment to remember this isn’t what she’s asking me about. My doctor is asking me about the symptoms of bronchitis I’ve had for 12 days. I recalibrate once again. Do I remember how to talk about my own body? Do I remember how to feel my own body? I muster through, but I know I’ve grazed over the details. I haven’t explained everything. I make it sound like I’m feeling better than I am. In reality, I am sick as a dog.
I head home from my appointment. It feels odd to be enjoying my sick visit to the doctor’s so much. The empty car is pure bliss. I entertain the fact that I could go somewhere. Anywhere. I am free in this moment. It feels so good. It gives me this miniature dose of energy and vitality back.
I end up just driving home. My daughter’s mama is watching our daughter and I know she has tons of work waiting for her. But, while I’m driving, every sound on the radio, every turn of the car feels good. Yes, it was a sick visit to the doctor. But, I got out of the house by myself. I was among adults. I spoke to an adult using adult words. And for once, someone listened to every word I said. For a brief moment, no one needed me except for my own self. It was a breath of fresh air.
I pull into the driveway, but linger a bit longer in the car. It’s incredible how easily your own self slips away when you’re not paying any attention to it. I feel like some part of me has vacated my body. I wore it out or ignored it for too long and it’s moved on elsewhere. But, I also can’t help thinking this hollow feeling has a purpose. Air flowing over emptiness brings sound. The emptiness that is negative space lends itself to shape and form. This time that has been so difficult and tiring will eventually take shape, make a sound. It will become something. It is more than it appears.