Accepting the pieces, as I fall apart

Accepting the pieces, as I fall apart


falling apart, life moments, relationshipsThis weekend, a well-constructed situation, one which I created and ‘chose’, fell to pieces all around me.  Not because anything happened but because I suddenly looked at “It” in a different light. The what is not so important and deeply personal–something I held on to on-and-off for almost 10 years. I made up a story around the limitations and frustrations that allowed me to keep it alive.

On Friday night I saw the situation in a different light. It was one of those moments, like watching a mirror fall to the ground and shatter into dozens of pieces.

I’ve been awakening with alarming frequency over the last year or two–things are now accelerating at a dizzying pace. Little bits of the old me are falling away. Each of these new awarenesses, me awakening to my intuition, my body, my deepest self has resulted in small changes. I still look like me but I’m not.

I faced part of my fear of aging all alone by taking off for Santa Fe in August to celebrate my 60th birthday—I spent the week alone with no agenda, other than a spa day. I drove out into the mountains, visited Georgia O’Keefe’s house and met a group of women painters. Ate in fabulous restaurants. Bought an expensive ankle-bracelet. And I spent a lot of time sitting quietly in the little front yard, sheltered from the dusty road by the gate you see above, reading, writing, being silent or sketching.  The gate beckoned me while keeping me locked away at the same time.

As I sat with Friday night’s revelation–after a long sleepless night–all weekend I let the sadness and grief wash over me. Astonished at what I done in my attempt to keep that one fear at arm’s length. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of being incapable of handling the next crisis. Last year I lost 2 of the men I had once loved and faced the cancer of a close family member.  The challenges in 2014 have been less dramatic, but…. I’ve been working hard to stay just right where I am, even when that place is Stuck.

This morning I heard the words of Pema Chodron about falling apart-maybe divine intervention? Intuition? I played with her words to create what felt true for me. Followed by two synchronistic connections which validated the timeliness of this to-be written article. Then I went off for a scheduled 90 minute massage.

I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the knots in my right shoulder and neck. I had put aside the weekend’s sadness and thinking and all the words I had written to uncover my deepest thoughts. And, as she worked on those knots, trying to release what I was holding on to, I felt everything well up in me again–brought on by the literal pain of the deep probing massage. Then the tears came–the release and a further letting go, only on another plane. The right side of my body had been rigid and when I moved to the other side it was softer, looser as the therapist worked with me to find emotional release. I cried and shared my story then created intentions to and for my body with love and compassion. I gave up one kind of love and embraced another.

Shattering the illusion of ‘it’ has already given me, in this short time, the energy to move forward. To face my fears. This feels terribly personal and calls for me to be vulnerable ( a delicate balance with truth and over-sharing) but I am going to share my fears with you.  Because I know I’m not alone and I want you, whoever you are, to know that you’re not alone.

I fear being alone—as if it’s validation of the childhood message that I might be unlovable.

And I fear being alone at 61. Or 65. Seventy.   

I fear that my presence in the world doesn’t matter enough. And I fear that it might not hold or accept my success–so I hide.

I fear that next step-do I stay in this big house on a hill? Or do I launch out and start anew? What do I have to give up and will I find the right measure of happiness after doing so? Such uncertainty.

I fear that I will fail as much as I fear what might happen if I succeeded. It keeps me stuck in a place of half-action.

What I know is that I am strong and capable. I can fix a running toilet and clean my own gutters. I’m soon to learn how to drain a hot water heater. (I don’t do electricity). I love and I am loved. I am a Sex Goddess. I can diaper and soothe a grand-baby. Make a wedding cake for 500.  Offer solace. I have skill and it shines, when I put my mind to it.

Pieces are falling away rapidly. What will emerge isn’t completely clear to me yet. I’m a painting in process. I see colors vividly these days. Fuchsia, purple and bright red, mixed with oranges and deep raspberry. They call to me but I’m not sure why or what I’m supposed to do.

If I weren’t thinking of selling my house, maybe I’d paint it. For now, I’m content to put those colors on paper. I’m learning to paint and draw. Will I be good enough?  Good enough to satisfy myself, and for now…that’s perfect.


  • barbarashallue
    Posted at 15:36h, 01 December Reply

    What a beautiful post, Walker. I think you express fears that all of us feel. As I get older, I’m more aware that nothing remains the same and everything can change in a heartbeat. Wishing the best for you!

    • Walker
      Posted at 15:46h, 01 December Reply

      Thank you Barbara. I know that I’m not the only aging woman out there facing concerns about the future! Always nice to hear from you.

  • Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
    Posted at 15:38h, 01 December Reply

    This touched me deeply, your willingness to be vulnerable, your acknowledgment of insecurities we all hold deep within. I get it, I do, boy do I. And the grief. The grief. I get that, too. Most important, I’m struck by your newly opened eyes and I’m reminded of the adage that the real voyage lies not in new horizons but viewing the current one with new eyes. And finally, I can’t help but want to have a birthday like the one you chose for yourself. It sounds so wonderful to me. This is all so simple and yet so complicated and really merits a sit-down-discussion that can’t be had anywhere but face-to-face. Blessings, my friend, blessings.

    • Walker
      Posted at 15:47h, 01 December Reply

      A heartfelt thank you, Carol. One day I’m hopeful we’ll find ourselves with that face-to-face meeting.

  • Les Kertay
    Posted at 16:21h, 01 December Reply

    This resonated for me, in particular: “I fear that my presence in the world doesn’t matter enough.” This, too: not only are you not the “only aging woman out there facing concerns about the future,” you’re not the only person. I’m quite convinced that men and women have differing experiences around questions of aging, but your experience resonates very strongly with my own, which says to me – again – that collectively we are often more alike than we think we are. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us.

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:50h, 01 December Reply

      Les, thanks. And, you’re right…I probably should have been more inclusive. There’s much I have to learn about the emotional lives of men. Collectively we are alike–so glad you’re hear to balance that out and speak to the male point of view.

  • javaj240
    Posted at 17:04h, 01 December Reply

    This was just beautiful and so incredibly honest. Your honesty spurs me to a confession of my own: I think I’ve been in that place, that place called “Stuck” for a long, long time now. I know I have to move forward. But, I fear in the moving forward I will fall backward. Does that even make any sense?

    Thanks for putting words to what I have felt for far too long. What I do with them? I know it’s my choice and, frankly, honestly, I just don’t know. How’s that for inertia?

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:26h, 01 December Reply

      I am honored to have your truth here too. And, yes what you say makes sense–believe me I’ve been there..and I have fallen off my little wagon and gotten back on and on until just suddenly it was my time to start walking. That place of ‘stuck’ is probably more common than we realize. For me, the challenge has come when I tried to measure progress–how do I do that? In small increments, or over the course of a year? It’s kinda like the ‘are we there yet’ thing. What’s moving forward and what’s stasis?
      What about writing down about the moving forward–what would be a tell tale sign? What do you want it to look like when you’re moving forward? Is there a goal, a desired state, something concrete that would help you see the forward motion? Create the reality you want to experience.

      Inertia? Maybe. I find that baby steps are better than the the running leap. I keep a journal and I make a daily list-and check off tasks/accomplishments-even if it’s as simple as finally folding the laundry. Every now and then I write down all the things I’ve accomplished–just to remind myself that I am moving forward.
      Thank you again….

      • javaj240
        Posted at 17:43h, 01 December Reply

        I think I’ll start with a goal. That seems an easy enough step. It’s hard to move in any direction when you don’t really know where, exactly, you want to end up. Thanks for the helpful advice.

        • Walker
          Posted at 17:49h, 01 December Reply

          Hope you didn’t mind me offering advice…forget to ask permission first. It’s hard if you’re not sure where you’re heading but for me, taking a few steps on a positive direction, regardless of goal, helped clarify other things….

  • Joan Stommen
    Posted at 17:19h, 01 December Reply

    Beautiful Walker! I hear you, my friend….you are not alone in your fears. I fear aloneness, indecision, worthlessness etc. But at the same time I can rally myself and forge ahead, listening to my gut rather than my head. As you well know, a lot of good sex comes from our minds…….but our minds can mess us up when it comes to other emotions. I like my gut better when it says “yes you can/yes you are okay….” Thank you for showing how honest, raw writing looks and feels……pretty powerful!

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:30h, 01 December Reply

      Wow, Joan. Thank you. I have a tendency to stay in my head! So, the reminder to feel my body and listen to it is powerful–when I take the steps to do that. And, I’m almost always right, when I do so.
      I appreciate your sharing the fears you have and how you’ve overcome them. I see you as a ‘yes you can’ kind of person from what little I know.

  • Laura
    Posted at 18:29h, 01 December Reply

    Oh my own memory of that divine release of emotion via body work. I’m so glad you honored that experience and can move forward. Forward is scary. Stuck is scarier. Backwards is unthinkable. I wish I knew you in person, lived down the street and could clasp you next to me (if you’re a hugger, lol) I can’t wait to witness what is next.

    • Walker
      Posted at 19:11h, 01 December Reply

      I could be more of a hugger for you–I’m picky about who I let in! Thanks so much for this. I’ve had experiences with bodywork, but this one probably ranges at the top. I’ve scheduled 4 more sessions with her.

  • Helene Cohen Bludman
    Posted at 19:33h, 01 December Reply

    I was very moved by this beautiful piece, Walker. You’ve expressed so well what many of us have felt at some point. You are strong and capable and you will find your answers, I’m sure of it.

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:52h, 03 December Reply

      Helene, thanks. I am strong and capable and vulnerable all at the same time–though it’s hard for me (and others I’m sure) to accept that being vulnerable and uncertain does not negate my strength and capabilities.

  • Mindy Mitchell
    Posted at 21:16h, 01 December Reply

    Perfect. Thank you, Walker, for speaking and sharing your truth. Powerful stuff.

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:53h, 03 December Reply

      Mindy, thank you. What is it they say, the truth will set you free?……

  • midlifecrisisqueen
    Posted at 09:28h, 02 December Reply

    Walker: You are so brave and strong and ready for this next chapter of your life! You proved that by writing this courageous post…

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:13h, 03 December Reply

      Laura Lee, thank you. I am in the midst of that next chapter-building it on piece at a time. It helps to have great examples of people who forge ahead–like you with your recent move and building project.

  • lindalcrowe
    Posted at 13:23h, 02 December Reply

    I can help you drain that hot water heater, and change elements if need be. Then you won’t have to do it alone!

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:14h, 03 December Reply

      Linda! Aren’t you sweet. We’ll see… I have to read up on it and see what’s required. But it’s nice to know you would lend a hand. Maybe we can just get together for a cup of tea if nothing else.

  • Lisa Garon Froman
    Posted at 15:59h, 02 December Reply

    This is beautiful, just beautiful. I get where you are. And you’re not alone. My intuition is telling me that you will be experiencing lots of growth in your future. And this will be a good journey.

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:54h, 03 December Reply

      My intuition is telling me the same thing…it has been for a while, Lisa. I just haven’t been giving it the attention it deserves! Thank you for the ‘beautiful’, it means a lot.

  • Enjoy the process, don't rush it - Walker Thornton
    Posted at 05:05h, 04 December Reply

    […] ← Accepting the pieces, as I fall apart […]

  • beverlydiehl
    Posted at 12:54h, 04 December Reply

    When I think of courage, bravery, beauty, honesty, intelligence, compassion – all the things I would like to be, someday… You shine as a stunning beacon of them. Thank you for writing what you do, and being my friend.

    • Walker
      Posted at 13:38h, 04 December Reply

      Beverly-that is probably the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me! Thank you! So glad to have met you and struck up a friendship as well.

  • Editor (Retired)
    Posted at 14:04h, 04 December Reply

    I can relate. I hardly felt any different at 50. But right after 60, I began to feel decline. At 66, the sense of decline continues, maybe accelerates. I’m not afraid of being alone. I’ve been alone most of my life. I’m self-sufficient, too self-sufficient. Self-contained, even. But I know there are times when being alone, for a day or for a week, can feel desolate.

    The only thing I know that works is simply to put one foot in front of the other, look for light for the next step, not light for the next 10 years.

    • Walker
      Posted at 15:34h, 04 December Reply

      I have to agree that putting out that one foot is sometimes the best action when overwhelmed. I don’t feel any decline yet, but I do think about impending old age.

  • Kathy @ SMART Living
    Posted at 20:03h, 04 December Reply

    Hi Walker. I know I’m a bit tardy getting around to commenting on this post but I’m so glad that after my busy week I didn’t overlook it. It is indeed an authentic and deeply personal look into your heart and soul and I can’t help but echo what so many other commenters have said–so many of us feel the same way at this time of our lives. And regardless of how many people surround us, and how many people tell us that we are loved, valuable, important–until we believe it deep down in our soul it doesn’t matter that much. We obviously some how, some way, have to find it for ourselves. If we are honest as you have been we must admit that every single day is filled with uncertainty. And perhaps the best we can do is to face that as bravely and optimistically as we can muster in any given moment. Thank you for all the reminders and truths in this post. Please know that you’ve touched me and encouraged me at the same time. With gratitude….Kathy

    • Walker
      Posted at 05:32h, 05 December Reply

      Thank you Kathy. It’s clear from the comments here, on Facebook and emails that this has touched a lot of people who face similar fears and concerns. It is a good reminder for me to remember that we all have our struggles, small and large. I appreciate your thoughts on this…

  • Bethany @ Journey to Ithaca
    Posted at 21:00h, 04 December Reply

    Kathy Gottberg just pointed me here, and I am so glad I found this! 🙂

    So beautifully written. We all feel alone and vulnerable, when the truth is that we all share the same struggle through the fog of fear and perceived separation and aloneness. And it’s ourselves that we are vulnerable to. When we open up, expose the fear that we think we are alone in experiencing, we are risking only our judgment. Someone may misunderstand, but it’s our choice to make that judgment in our mind.

    Thank you for sharing, and I’m glad you’ve realized you aren’t alone.

    • Walker
      Posted at 05:34h, 05 December Reply

      Hi Bethany, thanks to you and to Kathy for connecting us. Isn’t it funny how we get all tripped up around judgment–one of my challenges. And, you’re right-it’s only what we think, what we face that matters. Others may judge but it’s not their journey, not their life. I have always been my worst critic, but those days are over. So pleased to have you here.

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