I skipped a year of the annual writing retreat.
Our group has been getting together for seven years. We rent a house in the Branson, MO, area. Our retreat is usually in January, but it was late April this year. I couldn’t attend last year because of my work schedule. Two years ago, I savored the retreat experience, then I arrived home and my life exploded when my ex announced he was leaving our marriage.
This year felt like circling back.
I am in contact with my retreat friends throughout the year, and they walked with me through the divorce process. They checked in with me often, and several of us met in St. Louis in the midst of it.
I looked forward to the retreat, but I also knew it would involve some remembrances, and not all would be pleasant. Plus, I’d be reliving some experiences through the writing experience.
Sometimes circling back is painful, but it can also be healing.
Circling back doesn’t mean I camp in the past. It’s helpful to revisit the past just enough to evaluate how I’m doing as I deal with the yuck of my yesterdays. Circling back is a reality check.
So many people try to avoid the painful stuff of their past, perhaps pretending some things aren’t part of their reality. That can be a necessary survival tactic in the short-run but can become a poor long-term approach to coping.
Dealing with the past is sometimes unpleasant, but when we loop back into it for quick reality and healing checks, we can grow. Throughout the retreat, I had moments of deep sadness, but I also had gratitude for where I am and hope for where I’m going.
I’m thankful for circling back. Figuratively, I drove around the circle a few times, then moved on down the road. Literally, as I drove home, I looked around at the vibrant colors of spring and took a deep breath of contentment and courage.