Sunday, May 16, 2010

Living on Your Knees Part 1 -- Night of the Skunk

In her book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson describes a period of her life when she kept getting knocked to her knees by a series of life challenges. She would struggle to her feet only to be knocked down again. Finally it dawned on her that perhaps she should stay on her knees.

I’ve gone through times like that. Most of us have. I remember the night of the skunk. I was going through some tough times. I had a car accident and was seriously injured. While I was recovering from that, my dad had a heart attack and died. And during this time there were what seemed like almost daily setbacks of much smaller magnitude, but when you are dealing with major injuries and losses, even minor difficulties seem huge.

I tried to soldier on. I went back to work before I should have. I refused offers of help. I was determined to go on with my life as though everything were normal. But it was taking a toll. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. I finally reached the end of my coping rope. I called a friend one evening and told her that I just wanted to go to bed for several months. Bed seemed like the only safe place where nothing could happen to me. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and hibernate until the world improved.

That very night I woke up suddenly. The room was pitch black. There was a smell that I can’t even begin to describe. I thought some hideous monster from hell was in the room with me. I reached for the light. And there sitting on the bed looking so pleased with themselves were my two dogs. They had obviously been on the wrong end of a skunk. (They had a dog door which allowed them to go out to the fenced back yard.) The smell made me gag, but they seemed unaffected by it and started to settle down to finish their night’s sleep. I quickly locked them outside and then realized that the smell was on everything they touched, so I pulled everything off the bed and threw it in the back yard, too, along with my nightclothes.

So I’m standing at the back door in the middle of the night, naked, and then I see that the skunk has not fared so well, and is dead in the back yard. Disposing of the skunk carcass was the final straw.

The night of the skunk. On my knees. I stayed there.

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