Returning to Empty

Crackers and Bouillon

I wake up on my bathroom floor, the ceiling fan whirring loudly, suddenly in my ears, the lights shining into my eyes, and the walls around me at an odd angle.   To my side is my small trash-can, tipped over, and my thumb is bleeding from hitting something.  My face and shoulder are hurting, and I push myself up to sit, starting to piece together the black space in my memory.

I passed out, and fell forward.

In realization and shock, my whole body goes hot and I grab my washcloth and run it under cold water, wiping on the back of my neck and face, as I break out in a sweat.  I raise myself to the mirror and see the corner of my left eye, swelling into puffy red and blue.

I  make it to the freezer to grab an icepack, and crawl under the covers, frightened, and dial my parents.

I feel like I’m 15 years old all over again.


My sophomore year of high school, my father was stationed at the Pentagon.  It was the first time I was in a school with so many civilian kids, having spent most of my childhood in the DODDS system on military bases.  We had just moved from Montgomery, Alabama where I had been a student in the inaugural year of the Baldwin Arts & Academics Magnet School.  My ninth grade year was all new, for teachers and students, and the energy was very communal.

Most of my life, school had been a place full of kids in the same boat I was in, a transient one, so we all reached out on the first few days of school.

“ What base were you just at? ”

“ I like Heidelberg, but England is my favorite.”

Centreville High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, was a new animal.

I was so used to kids reaching out, and became very shy and quiet in the face of their silence.  Most of these kids had grown up with one another and very few went out of their way to introduce themselves to me.  A brunette in my history class reached out named Lola, and befriended me because her dad worked in oil and she had just moved too.

I started to find my family in the choir and theatre groups, and friendships formed over our shared love of all things stage and song.

I was very sick my sophomore year.  I had strange rashes, horrible headaches, and intense flu-like symptoms.  I had countless blood tests and tried many medications, seeing several different specialists.  One night after ingesting a whole box of my favorite Better Cheddars, I woke up to go to the bathroom, and passed out.  My mother came running in, finding me arched around the bottom of the toilet, having had a mini-seizure, and when I came to, I was violently ill.

It was never diagnosed, but my parents always thought I had viral meningitis.  The school wanted to flunk me out for all the days I was missing, but my parents fought it as I was making straight A’s and doing all my homework.  They won the fight, and once my junior year rolled around, all traces of the year before disappeared into far more regular colds and teenage angst.

I’ve never passed out in the bathroom since.  Not until this past week.


I’m sick.  Even as I write this, I am sipping on my bouillon and nibbling crackers.  The nature of this virus has been so tenacious, it has relapsed on me twice.  With each time, I would re-hydrate myself with loving sips of coconut water, only to find myself back at zero 24 hours later.

I was finally able to speak to a nurse and she put me on a strict diet, theorizing that I was relapsing because I tried to introduce something into my system before it had completely healed.

The pasta I made was seasoned and buttered.
The pumpkin bread had oil.

I wasn’t ready for it.

So, for now, the list was basic: baked, plain, white.  As the nurse finished her instructions, she warmly added,

“Sometimes the body holds on to things.”


I’m a doer, a learner, and task oriented. Being raised in a military home, excellence was highly regarded, and consistently taught.  My brother and I excelled in our studies in both school and college, and I enjoyed success in my career because of my strong work ethic.  I have a history of being quick, in many ways.

I’ve recently joined a group entrepreneurial program with Shanda Sumpter of Heartcore Business, and she asks for absolute presence and commitment.    In taking on all the assignments while balancing my Whole Person Coaching accreditation, plus regular day to day tasks and work, I started to use weekly To Do lists.

I was feeling overwhelm.

Shanda spoke to this specifically saying overwhelm was an intimacy issue, but it wasn’t sitting right with me.  I knew through the course of my divorce, I had come face to face with so many hidden demons and through my meditation found the space to listen not only to myself but to others around me.  I felt I was embracing intimacy in my life in a way I never had before, and recognizing it’s beauty and importance for me in all relationships moving forward.

Then, another one of Shanda’s students phoned in, stating she gets to the end of the day and is exhausted, having nothing left from doing so much.  To this Shanda stated:
“You have a Letting Go problem”


It’s never been about what I can add, since so much I thought was important was actually periphery and empty.  I could stare at the long list I made believing everything on it was crucial, or I could prioritize for what needed to be done.

As my poor body tried to heal, I had to allow the process to occur naturally, not on some time-table I deemed appropriate.  While home-bound, I was still supported by friends and family, and able to do my coursework.  I did cancel a lot of social events, but most have been re-scheduled for later.

And in the scary moments of being alone and not feeling well, there was something powerful arising.

Self care and love.


I wake from my dream, and grab my journal and pen in the darkness of my bedroom.   Just nights before, my sub-conscious was yelling in anger and frustration, as in my dreams I witnessed a terrible epidemic, and being left in the cold and threatened.  Now my pen writes a story of sadness and acceptance.  I know the change is coming, and towards the passive part of me that I usually fight, I sit calmly next to it, and no longer engage.  I’m ready to say goodbye.

I’m willing to let go.

After I finish writing my dream down, I close my journal and reach for my glass of water, and take a small sip, then another, and lay back to rest.


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