But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26
“You can’t go back.” She says, with her usual certainty. I am irritated by her strident conviction. I want it to be untrue. Her confidence is abrasive and I feel smaller next to her. Later I will debate this with my then partner. Of course, we will say, you can. You just go there, visit the place, rejoin the company. You can go back if you want to.
Today I am struck, though, by the truth of this.
For the past two months I’ve been wrestling with challenging mental health, fighting to stay alive when all I want to do is escape my body, which tricks and troubles me at every turn. I have been running a litany of loss in my head, coupled with a generous dollop of self-criticism. Pull yourself together. Get your act sorted out. What on earth have you got to worry about? Don’t you know how lucky your are?
I live with perpetual demons of anxiety and panic, beings determined to limit my life choices and opportunites, fixing to disable me and tie me down, imprison me and block off all escape routes.
Until today. When they took off their masks and revealed themselves as friends. Angels.
They counsel self-compassion. They counsel self-care. And more than anything they gently remind me that I cannot continue to do things the way I used to.
There is no going back.
I have been Lot’s Wife. Looking backwards, regretting, revisioning, what-iffing the past. And desperately trying to re-route life back to the place I knew. Somewhere safe and familir. Somewhere I knew my way around.
I wonder about the pillar of salt, a pure white column of unshed tears.
Cry me a river.
My anxiety angels show me that the path is before my feet, and it goes ahead of me, into the shadows. They show me to walk it gently, feeling my way forward. They whisper that all the things I once believed essential may not be so. They ask me to rest a while under the trees, shelter in the shade of wild blackberries, allow the moon, sun, wind and rain to kiss my skin and ease me back to wholeness.
And not the same wholeness as before. This is snake-sloughed new wholeness. A fresh being here now, raw and screaming into life.
They tell me to ask for what I need, and that this is allowed. They tell me to take my health seriously, and to be kind to myself, just as I would to another feeling as much as I do right now. They tell me that my body is my home and holds its own wisdom. They tell me to allow this rather than going on the offensive. They promise that there is nothing wrong, this is exactly what is needed.
They ask me to trust in the next breath, to claim my place as a child of the universe.To walk bravely into the new world.
There’s no going back.