How are you?, she asked.
I don't know, I replied. I honestly don't know.
In the moment, we were around a table, a bunch of women, sharing stories and experiences and wisdom. There was solidarity, friendship, laughter, honesty.
Sitting down at my desk in the half light of dusk, having walked through the cold early spring afternoon back to my flat, I felt as though I would burst into tears.
It feels like nothing has changed.
One year ago I was facing the terror of an empty bank account, not certain I would have the resources to see this adventure through. This year, the accounts aren't as close to empty, but they're heading in that direction faster than is comfortable. I think I can see the PhD through to the end, but may have to make even more sacrifices in order to get there, the consequences of which for my health and wellbeing I cannot predict.
One year ago the darkness was encroaching, enfolding, engulfing. I'm not at engulfed just yet, but I think I am moving towards enfolded.
One year ago I was feeling alone, doubting my calling, doubting my gifts, not sure that anyone cared if I composed another poem, told another story, ever wrote anything on this blog ever again. I still don't know, though I feel as though I ought to be more certain. The general situation of financial insecurity bleeds into all other areas of life, so that I no longer take joy in the writing, but need more from it in affirmation, response, engagement, capacity to earn money. And although I have made even more friends in the year since last Easter, some of them souls I loved the instant I met them, I still feel alone.
And so I wonder, what can I change? How can I feel more secure in myself, in my place in the world? Will I ever reach the end of the story of financial instability? Will I ever be free of the darkness? What can I change to help myself find joy in the midst of all the doubting?
I do not know. I honestly don't know.
I don't think I will give up just yet, but I do not like the uncertainty. And I do not like the influence uncertainty has on my ability to make good decisions, to work to my potential, to even remember what is that potential.
So I may, perhaps, still cry.