It is easier to feel successful when you are making money. At least that is true for me. And, until the point last year when I quit my job to follow my spirit, I felt relatively successful. I still have most of the things I had then: good health, a lovely daughter, a loving husband, a mother who is still with me, house, garden, rare and kind friends…

What I don’t have is an income, at least something appropriate for a mid career professional woman. There were savings; I made sure my taxes were paid, felt “prepared”. And I knew how to pare back; my 20s and 30s were full of that. Also I am the daughter of a string saver.

What I didn’t count on was the deep reaction to my new financial circumstances…what can only be described as a complete, sudden and slippery self worth backslide, utterly unable (or unwilling?) to stop.

Trust me, no almost-together-woman-of-a certain-age wants to wake her slumbering self-loathing.

February has been the month of reckoning.

It started innocently enough, a cheery commitment to clean for the New Year. Excitement! Adventure! Junk packing and juice cleansing! January shining and new, the month of my daughter’s 13th birthday. With help, I arranged a trip out of town to celebrate. It was the perfect opportunity to explore the “no longer a child and not quite a woman” time…this in between world that is adolescence. It’s scary stuff, these life transitions. I was certain I would be the mother who offered real wisdom and loving guidance. A mother you could talk to! The mother your friends wish they had. The mother I wished I had.

Instead, I was thin lipped “lack” Mom, tainting memories with incessant talk of money and worry and guilt. This, from a woman who spent the past decade actively practicing gratitude. I gifted my daughter neither grace nor good fortune. I was, in short, a drag.

While we were away, my own mother was rushed to hospital, It was my husband who sat with her all day, talking to the cardiologist, advocating, helping and hand holding. He and my Mom agreed they didn’t want to spoil what was surely a once in a lifetime adventure for mother and daughter. So they said nothing until we returned.

Who does that?

Their kindness, connection, goodness is cracking open something in me. Shining light on the dark, revealing truths:

My mother did not die. She is alive until she is not and I am going to make the most of that, starting with a three-generation sleepover.

My husband has my back in this journey. He is pulling our red wagon right now…and I know my time will come to pull.

I am sorting through so much more than the basement.

I cannot believe there are people who want to be with me, as I wade through the spiritual sewer backup of the last month. Sloshing around many mistakes, the shame of not contributing financially, fear, guilt, sharp memories that surface in the shower as you try and clean it all away. Struggling and then struggling some more to love the dark and icky parts.

Like old ice cream, an impermeable, protective ice layer has surrounded me. Melting is going to be messy.

This is a life built on “loving enough”….being exposed but not too exposed. Making your own way and your own money. Relying on no one. “Be careful”, I tell Annabelle a thousand times a day. Truth, underscored by the crone Dr. Solomon who, when I found myself pregnant and alone stated simply: “Kerrie, we come into this world alone and we die alone.”

But do we have to live alone?

The ice (cream) queen is shrieking, “Don’t trust! You will be left alone and heartbroken!” Don’t love too much, they will die!”

Also true.

So, in the final days of this month of hearts and passions and proposals, I have decided to do just that. Love harder. Not the easy breezy i heart you love, but the love you know will one day hurt you. The die of a broken heart kind of love.

What good can it do? Hopefully, a great deal.

This just in: the journey is not going to be quick and you may not reach your destination. To stay put, or go back feels very wrong. So, forward then. March and then the spring. The thaw. Something has been planted. Surely, something will grow.