accepting Jo March

As 2009 quickly approaches the halfway point, I constantly stop and think of how just a few short weeks ago, I could’ve easily chalked up the entire first six months as a failure.

Oh, there were a small smattering of successes, but there were also disappointments seemingly lurking around each corner just waiting to take the place of those successes. And right away, I tried to throw my long-used  self diagnosis in the ring.

Quite a few years ago, I was stricken with a terrible malady of epic literary proportions. I, in fact, gave myself the deadly diagnosis of Jo March Syndrome. Jo March — the tomboy, writer, next to oldest sister in Little Women, dreamer, always longing for adventure, travel, etc. That one. Oh, trust me. I went through the list of Little Women characters and picked out traits I shared with each one, but Jo fit me to a tee. Never would I realize how perfect of a fit it was if events of the first half of the year hadn’t unfolded as they did.

Very early in the year, well, in fact, late last year, my closest friend announced her forthcoming marriage inside the walls of a local florist/coffee shop. Amidst the wonderful caffeinated and inspirational smells and sights, I felt a dark, loneliness creep in. Sure, I was happy for her, but just as Jo finds it difficult to let her sister Meg make the leap to marriage, I found this difficult as well. Just as Jo longed for everything in her life to remain the same and she didn’t want to be left behind, I longed for life to go on as it had before.

Soon after, Jo, through no fault of her own, falls into restlessness, growing pains, dissatisfaction and discomfort. Over the next few weeks and months, I found myself shunning the things I used to enjoy. I stopped blogging. I cut out Twitter. I couldn’t stand reading about the successes and failures of others as they didn’t help me any. I longed for close friendship, support, empathy and concerned phone calls. Truthfully, none of this ever came and when in late March a beloved piano teacher passed away, a part of me died with her and terrible, unmentionable thoughts crossed my mind. To me, all hope and inspiration had suddenly vanished.

After I’d finally gotten the worst-case scenario out of my thoughts, I vowed to run away. During all this stress, turmoil and uncertainty, though, I failed to realize there were people — people not having the diagnosis of Jo March Syndrome — who were going through the process with me. My boyfriend suffered too. Having spent a month with my friend, he’d gotten to know her as another sister and ironically enough, my friend’s wedding was to take place just two days after his sister celebrated her 10-year wedding anniversary. As I fidged and pulled myself out of yet another bout of depression, his mother always reminded, “This too shall pass.”

And it did. In much the same way that all dreaded and feared events pass, it soared to new heights of perfection. One step came right after the other in a smooth and natural way and nearly six months of dread and worry culminated into one weekend of new memories and fresh snapshots of the future — a future not to dread, but to embrace.

Now, I’m writing about it which, I suppose, is satisfying another symptom of Jo March Syndrome.

But, as I was leaving the wedding reception and all  the events of the past weekend and months came back to me, I made maybe the most important realization of all. If I was, in fact, living out Jo March Syndrome, then I was nearing the end of it because after all my longing, writing, dreaming and depression, everything felt complete and all I wanted to do was go home and get on with life.

In much the same way many literary heroines realize — Jo March, Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara — I was ready to go home and start up the next chapter.

There’s much more to come.


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