Have you ever seen the movie "Labyrinth"?
It is a very odd Jim Henson movie from the 80's about a young girl who has to rescue her baby brother from the Goblin King (ie. David Bowie). When we were younger my cousin and I loved it. I distinctly remember spending a whole summer afternoon making up a sequel to the movie in which the dashing young heroine ruled the Labyrinth and married David Bowie... only after he vowed to wear better pants.
I actually haven't watched the show in years, but lately one image from that movie keeps circulating through my thoughts.
It is the image of the heroine falling down an oubliette, which in French means "a place of forgetting", and in this case is the bottom of hole with no way out. As she is falling she is surprised to be caught by hundreds of hands sticking out from the wall. The hands grab her and, in clever Muppet fashion, combine themselves into faces to talk to her. They ask her which way she wants to go-- up or down-- and when she chooses down they promptly drop her.
This image has been powerful for me because while this move to Iowa has been wonderful in so many ways, it has also been challenging. I think that if I wasn't pregnant and facing the daunting feat of having a baby far away from family, friends, and all the women I know and love... I would be doing fine. As it is I have been struggling. I miss the support of having familiar friends and family near by and some days I feel so alone. It is easy to let myself start falling down my very own "oubliette" of loneliness and isolation.
I curl up into a little ball and start to fall.
"Everyone already has their friends, they don't want me around."
"They are too busy. I don't want to call them."
"I don't want to impose or be a burden. They hardly know me."
"I can't believe I said "that" or did "that". They probably think I am weird."
But then that image from the Labyrinth comes back, and I remember that in order for those hundreds of hands to catch the heroine she had to give them something to grab on to.
A tight little ball, with no arms or legs sticking out, is just going to fall straight to the bottom of the oubliette.
So--slowly, tentatively, bravely-- I start to uncurl.
Just a bit.
"Let's take a walk and say "hi" to at least one person."
One finger out.
"We made jam. We brought you some."
Then a hand.
"Do your kids want to come over and play?"
Yikes, there goes my arm.... all the way out.
"Can I bring you dinner? I heard you weren't feeling well."
And then I start to feel them.
Not just brushes on my skin as I rush past, but firm, solid hands.
Grasping me, holding me, and reminding me that I am not alone.
Reminding me that there are people all around me, ready and willing to sustain me and help me figure out which way I am headed.
Still, it seems that I always forget how hard it is to make new friends and establish a new support network. It takes patience and it takes work... sometimes a lot of work. So even though some days it is really tempting to let myself curl up and start falling down the oubliette of self pity, I have to remember to keep sticking my arms and my legs out.
The walls are covered in hands--more than I can imagine-- I just have to give them something to hold on to.