Welcome to the island of misfit toys

Life is juxtaposition. Anxiety and fear are interrupted by beauty. We may experience deep love and also painful disappointment and even hatred toward someone. While a child is being born, someone else is passing away. 2016 has been particularly intense for me, and the juxtapositions are haunting me a bit as I peer over into 2017. 2016 has been like a cask-aged bourbon, concentrated, uncut with water. It has kind of knocked me over, actually.

A long planned and anticipated trip to Eastern Congo to learn from and partner with women victims of war crimes was cancelled 2 days before departure; I was laid off of the most wonderful and life-giving job I could imagine; the country elected a demagogue who is and calls out the worst in human privilege and hatred. I have created no art. None. Two of my closest women friends moved out of town. And frankly, I have pretty much given up on any deeper connection and friendship with men, perhaps with one or two exceptions. At least for now. I miss male companionship, but it is easily complicated with inconsistent expectations and game playing. I am too old and honest for that. I started wearing a ring on my finger to create a boundary. I don’t want to think that deep friendship with men is not possible at my age, but there it is.

I feel like I have grown tight and restricted. I feel adrift. Dislocated. Ungrounded. I have referred to myself this year as “A shepherd without sheep”; feeling like “I am on the island of misfit toys.” And have resorted to some unhealthy coping techniques to ward off loneliness.

No. Me. Gusta.

And yet so much good is afoot. I was offered a temporary part time job at the right time – and subsequently asked to stay on full time for a season. I have had some lovely times with unexpected friendships and felt deeply loved by a few precious ones. My table is full and my home inhabited by a ridiculous dog. I instituted “music and bourbon on the porch” on Sunday nights this summer which was a big hit. I have enjoyed travel, times with my family, especially my girls, even though we all live in different parts of the country. I don’t have cancer. My relationship with my former husband has blossomed into a comfortable and loving friendship.

Still, I feel like I am living outside of my real life; kicking around the fringes of meaning making and relationship. I am ready to be launched into what is next. But I don’t know what that is or how to create it. Some days I have a sense of urgency that is almost apoplectic. I am not comfortable in my own skin.

So here I stand, knowing that much waiting probably remains. I am in this space and owe it to myself and those who love me to be present to life. So this New Year’s Eve, if you think of it, hold a little space for those of us out here on the Island of Misfit Toys. The company we keep in the waiting makes all the difference.



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4 Responses to Welcome to the island of misfit toys

  1. jaytrock says:

    Oh! Is that the name of this place? I am with you, Shannon – Jay

  2. shannonbeck2 says:

    You bet you are, Jay. Love to you and yours!

  3. Shannon, I enjoy your writing and your insights. Well done. I too feel dislocated or mislocated in the coming year. Not sure where the next step is or whether the next president is going drive us into the ditch. But I’m confident that community and relationships are critical to our survival as individuals and for our planet. That is what I’m committing myself to in the coming year. Blessings to you in the new year.

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