Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reaching Out

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.


  1. Really needed to here this. Thanks. And yes, I do remember Labyrinth from my youth and I loved it!

  2. Thank you so much! I just moved from Utah to California and am struggling with the change myself. This is a good reminder for me to stick my arm out.

  3. Magic Dance is my jam. I was Jareth and my baby was Toby last Halloween. Best. Costume. Ever. I can't say I wasn't planning that one for years. Good post.

    1. I remember! You linked it to my post last Halloween, right? That was just about the best costume ever.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I just moved away from family so he could finish his graduate program, and our first baby is due in October. For someone who is extremely shy and has a difficult time being brave enough to make friends, this is a great visual image about the power of putting yourself out there. Thank you!

  5. I love this, and can totally relate. When my daughter died, I felt myself falling and wanting to curl into that ball...and yet I knew that I needed to reach out so I wouldn't fall so hard or so far and so I'd have a way back up. I haven't been as social in recent years as much as my spirit really yearns to be...I really do need that for my spirit to be happier in general, and now even more than ever. I'm trying to find ways to serve and be more social to build on the relationships I have so I can be strengthened too by their presence and friendships. We all need each other!

    1. That is a really hard trial to go through. I hope you can strengthen your existing relationships and make some new ones too. Friends can (and want to be) be wonderful supports. It's great that you are looking for ways to serve; that's a wonderful thing to do that helps everyone. Best wishes for your happiness.

  6. Thank you! I have super been struggling with this.

  7. I loved this! I miss you (and I promise to call you soon!) We should definitely watch that show again. However, I do remember it being the most terrifying movie I have ever seen (well after the Rats of Nihm). Love you, miss you!

  8. Hi, I found this post really interesting, because even without moving someplace new we can feel like this. I do feel like this sometimes because I am a stay at home Mum and since its not all that popular these days I feel lonely a lot of the time. Since I joined the church I have made some really nice new friends and I hope that as time passes these friendships will deepen (I was baptised on 5th May this year). Good luck in Idaho, it seems like an amazing place.

    p.s. I have a friend who moved from here (Scotland) to New Zealand and did not know anyone except her husband. She used to strike up conversations with mothers in supermarkets and found at least 3 friends that way haha.

  9. I'm so glad you're feeling more supported. Beautiful post. I love you. Wish I could come give you a hug.

  10. I needed this too as we just moved from Utah to Texas this past January. I am quiet and reserved and often feel awkward being social and friendly. Not because I don't want to be, it's just not my natural way of "being". Thanks for the reminder that I need to reach out!

  11. Such a powerful image you portray here with beautiful writing. Thanks for reminding us all the power of reaching out. We've been in our new home for almost 3 years and it has been much harder to make time to reach out now that we have 7 children. It has been an important time for me to learn to rely on the Lord as my truest friend and best support, but earthly friends have a way of helping us see that life is doable when it seems impossible. They give us opportunities to listen, to serve, and to be served.

  12. I like your imagery. Moving is so hard. We've done it so many times I almost don't want to go to the effort of making attachments sometimes. It's always worth it in the end. Hugs!

  13. Thanks for your thoughts Heather! Moving is so hard. You are right about reaching out. I find that it usually takes me a year after I have moved before I feel like I fit in and have a place, with or without friends and family. But every move I have made, I find new and dear kindred spirits who become some of my very best friends. I certainly wouldn't want to give up any of them for the comfort of never moving.

    Currently, we are in a different phase of life. We have lived where we are for about 15 years. Even though we have been here plenty of time for friends, I am finding that most of mine have moved away and I don't really fit with those who are left or who have moved in. Although I do reach out, I am also finding that my family (of nine children) requires most of my time and effort and whatever is left over only manages my callings and visiting teaching. I am learning that that is OK too, even though it is hard for me and I would like to extend myself outside of this circle. But the point is, I am having to rely on the Lord to be my friend and to turn to for my trials, heartaches, and sorrows. Sometimes, we just need to learn where to put our trust and dig down deep into our souls so we learn how best to manage our emotions. It isn't anything the Lord is unfamiliar with, and in order to become like Him, sometimes we have to do really hard things.

    I am glad you are finding people to support you. Yea for Iowa!!

  14. Your last line is so important: "The walls are covered in hands--more than I can imagine-- I just have to give them something to hold on to." Too often people move in and don't put any effort toward making friends and then they wonder why they don't have any. I live by a college and several wards around us are very transient. There are a lot of great people but there also are the ones who complain they feel excluded, but I'm sure they wouldn't feel so left out if they did their share of the reaching.

  15. This is beautiful! So glad you are starting to find support, by allowing it!

  16. I needed to read this, thank you! I love your blog and find myself spending way too much time here, but learning so much, so thank you for the time and effort you put into it. I struggle off and on with this idea of letting others support us, because I worry what they will think, like you mentioned. I try to remember to "fear not little flock. Do good." I reach out and try not to worry about those who may think I'm weird. It does end in friendships and connections, overall. Great reminder!
    AND! The very first thing I thought of was. . . "You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power? The power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? . . " :)