It is one thing to step through the veil. It is another to take my place on the other side. There is no turning back. Those of you who step through know. If you try, you see that the veil is gone. Only a new world that seems to be the old world surrounds you.
And then, as you move into this new lost world, you are shaken by what has always been around you. Inside you. Hidden.
The licorice ferns grow from the bark of the red cedar. An eagles’ nest sits in a tree at the edge of the Skykomish River, perhaps a half mile from the four-block Monroe strip mall. A brown bat circles above me on the trail at Wallace Falls. The greens are not more green. The rill of a stream is only the sound of snow melt moving. The bat is not a messenger but a creature hunting food. I have been open to all of this for years.
What I have not been open to is my huge loneliness on the other side of the veil. I’ve blurred it for five years---with anger and compulsion. Here, on the other side of stepping through, I live each moment with the steady physical ache of having not been touched for every day of those five years. Yes, there have been the rare comradely embraces of my brothers and sisters. Yes, those have been the only touch. Yes, they are not enough.
I talk with a friend about my loneliness. He listens and he says the perfect words, “I’m sorry.” There is no pity in his voice. He gives no advice. Later I write him: Thank you for your response to my loneliness. So often well-meaning people (especially those happily partnered) either give useful advice on how I can meet a partner or regard me with ill-masked pity. Loneliness is an honorable emotion. It has been relegated to shameful in our world and times. It is far too honorable to be pitied or fixed.
I send this same message to my oldest and closest friend, M. He calls. “I’m sorry you’re feeling so sad,” he says. “Loneliness is not fixable or dishonorable. It’s a condition of being open.”
A few days later, I talk with I. who is my true sister. (I am not writing Rasta here, I only protect my friend’s privacy.) “Loneliness,” she says, “is crushing. You and I seem to find it often. I think it is an edge from which to explore. I hate it.”
Grace to have these friends. Grace to know that not only the single are lonely. Grace to be on the other side of the veil, refusing to blur or fix the ache. My efforts to not feel what I was feeling had nearly killed me.
So, for you, one request. Honor my loneliness. With it and without it, I am a woman blessed.