“Hello.” she said, in a soothing, breathy, alto voice, kind of like Adele’s. “Welcome to The Haven, how can I help you?”
I stood there dazed, surprised I had even made it to The Haven in time. I was unable to formulate words and was afraid to try, remembering my son’s snickering just that morning, at my inability to correctly pronounce even three syllable words or come up with the name of common, everyday objects like “coat” or “shoes” in my flustered, multitasking state.
The lobby was welcoming and soothing just like the receptionist’s voice, with sunlight gently filling the room and deep couches ready to envelop a visitor.
I slung a pair of soccer cleats on the counter like they had been dead weight in my arms and was holding one of what should be two shin guards in my hand along with my cell phone, whose screen was illuminating my Google calendar schedule that had multiple, overlapping, color coded blocks all over it.
I tucked a of loose chunk of stiff hair, matted dry from orange glitter glue, that had escaped from my pony tail that morning while attempting to complete a kindergarten project for my youngest, behind my ear. I then carefully leaned forward to take a sip of my coffee, hoping that would bring some mental clarity, but I was distracted, trying to keep my elbow fully extended to the sky so my son’s backpack wouldn’t fall off my shoulder. I’m not for certain, but I think I was saying, “6:15, 7:25, 5:45, 6:30”, over and over again.
“Ma’am?” she asked. “Can I help you?” after noticing I was flinching intermittently with each alarm that sounded on my phone, set to remind me to do something.
After patiently giving me a minute more to explain why I was there she said, “Just have a seat and I will be right with you,” and she escaped out a door behind the counter.
Behind the closed door this same receptionist obtained a voice and demeanor much more like a football coach than a yoga teacher or a “just breath it away” life coach.
She said to the group of people, waiting behind the door for orders, “OK team, we have a self-admit, female, most likely freshly 40, with attempts at verbal communication producing little more than mumbling. Per her Google calendar she is maxed-out and overwhelmed but still trying. She had with her what looked like packed dinners for her children containing vegetables and a reasonable snack. We need an APB out due to concern that one of her children may have not been picked up at scheduled location and time. Patient is wearing jeans with tennis and seems OK with this choice, so we cannot rule out the possibility that she has fully given up on attempts at fashion. We are going to need to start at ground level with this one.
After just a few minutes I was escorted to a room with an over-sized couch and even larger TV. Laying on the couch was a fluffy, soft blanket and neatly folded on it, a knee-length, capped sleeved nightgown made of that synthetic fiber that drapes and stretches and feels cool when you first put it on.
On a plate beside the table were warm chocolate chip cookies and a bag of nacho cheese Doritos. On the TV in front of me were a list of the Top 10 Best Chick Flicks sure to bring on unattractive, blubbering tears. I was told that if I was unable to decide on which one to watch, one would randomly begin playing and I would be sure to love it. At that, she left. I changed and slipped under the blanket on the couch and picked up a cookie.
As the movie came to an end the receptionist came in to help me settle into a nap. With a servant’s heart, she picked up my tissues and kindly helped me brush cookie and chip crumbs from my chest and issued no judgement after noticing that I found it most comfortable to tuck my silky night gown up under my breasts. After tucking me in from head to toe she said, “Time is not an issue at The Haven, sleep until you are done.”
So let me tell you something. I haven’t done this for a long time, way too long actually. But I have been known to greet my husband as he came in the door from being away at his fifth or sixth WVU football game weekend for the season, hand him a baby, and with a small overnight night bag in my hand, gently but also like someone holding in a breakdown, say something like, “I’m not mad and I love you and the kids. I will most likely be back sometime, but I do not care to disclose where I’m going due to fear of being contacted”.
At that, I head over to my parents’ house, knowing they are out of town and I can soak up the comforts of my childhood home, alone with cookies, chips, chick flicks, blankets, therapeutic tears, and sleeping/waking as my body sees fit.
The following day I return home to find my wonderful children playing somewhat normally and cooperatively with each other in the yard, who come running to cover me with hugs as kisses as I pull into the driveway. My awesome husband is most likely found blowing off the back patio with his backpack leaf blower, while smoke billows from the MASTERBUILT smoker filled with some large piece of meat rubbed with a perfect combination of spices. His pause on the trigger and exuberant wave and smile over the noise of the blower idling lets me know he is relieved that I’m home and didn’t truly “loose it,” but also reinforces the fact that my husband doesn’t like being interrupted when he’s “on task.” It is this overwhelming sense of renewal and appreciation for all my blessings that makes me wish everyone had a haven. And thus, my daydreaming began.
Like I mentioned above, The Haven can be self-admit or your family or friends can drop you off at will or if needed, gentle restraint can be provided until you independently realized that you need to be there.
While driving yourself to The Haven is probably under most circumstances unsafe, I have been known to do it. Windows down and wind whipping me in the face while yelling “whoo-hoo” like a freed, wild-woman out the window as I drive away from my house watching my family in the yard become smaller objects in my rear-view mirror.
Upon checking into The Haven in this state of mind I think I would want to start off with music and dance therapy vs. sad movies, naps, and warm cookies. The dance therapy room would be pounding with energy and packed with people (of course only ones that don’t bother you and pump you up) Every song that comes on next is your favorite, and at The Haven you can dance with unbridled expression almost as if the music is dependent on you to keep it going. Profuse sweating with wet hair whipping around is highly encouraged.
Some of you might find this interesting. I do. By selecting option #3 on The Haven’s answering service menu they will promptly send a large truck and team to your house and load it up with all the crap you need “to go thru, organize, find places for, give-away, or trash.” If you begin to question the contents, need, or possible value within a box or plastic crate that you haven’t opened since you set it aside in a corner of a room or closet years ago, they jerk it from your hands and say exuberantly, “be free!”
They then drive the truck to the back lot of The Haven and dump the contents. They then hand you your most recent unachievable To-Do List and matchbook and firmly say, “You know what needs to be done.” After the flame has caught you get to throw small balloons filled with gasoline on the fire to coax it along as needed or as you see fit for entertainment’s sake. NOTE: Closed toe shoes and safety goggles are required for this activity. However, if you can’t remember jack squat, of course The Haven can provide them.
Speaking of service, The Haven is highly accommodating and ready to personalize your needs. If you want to check-in with an alias and wear a wig, that’s cool. If you need to break stuff, they can make that happen. If you are a yeller and feel better telling people off or pretend to tell people off in your mind, they will give you a microphone! If you are OK with “Men Allowed” at your haven, so be it. My daydream is personally still flip-flopping on this decision.
They are very efficient at The Haven and keep a record of your person preferences and dislikes. For example, in my chart it says, “ALWAYS and IMMEDIATELY offer to take her bra and issue a cool, knee-length, synthetic fiber nightgown that she is permitted to wear to ALL events while at The Haven.”
After your initial therapy has taken place, you transition to other levels of therapy, or shall I say rebuilding activities. Each activity would take place in its own, separate room. There could be rooms full of children and husbands who just do what you say. The first time. No whining. No arguing. No “forgetting.” No blood boiling. No anxiety. Just easy.
There could be a room with a huge closet, filled with fashionable clothing with no tags that shout out your size. Every piece that is put on fits perfectly over and over again and looks on you just as you hoped it would! Then, as a special gift from The Haven, each visitor would receive a 10-piece wardrobe with unlimited mix-and-match possibilities.
There could also be a room filled with hard boiled eggs, in which you get to peel. Each one would shed its shell with ease and leave within your hand a smooth, slippery sphere untainted with divots or gritty remnants. NOTE: If you have never pleaded to your hard-boiled egg something like, “I really just need you to peel easily this morning, OK?” then I haven’t either.
You could then transition to less absurd rooms like painting, gardening, and DIYing. I think I would still have a long napping room preceded by a warm cookie tasting room, even at this level of healing.
Before leaving The Haven you get a massage and can attend a gentle stretching yoga class, only if you like of course, and for which my chart denotes that I request light sports bra support. Then, after a refreshing shower and having your hair blown out you get some tips on applying makeup in your 40’s and how to deal with foundation settling in your fine lines and wrinkles and where to put eyes shadow if your lids are beginning to hood. You are then served a fresh meal on the patio where it is 72 degrees with a light breeze and dappled sunshine glistening off the flowers surrounding you. You share your dining experience with hummingbirds, wondering if their nectar is as sweet as your new jeans that don’t have a size, feel great, and look even better!
Hope you enjoyed your stay at The Haven.
Come back again before you’re in the state we found you this last time.
XOXOXO, The Haven Staff
The truth is, I don’t think I could truly enjoy writing stories like this, laughing at my shortcomings and struggles, if my hope ended with my ability to daydream. My assurance, trust, and belief are in my Creator, who made me with intention and purpose in each detail. I am fully known and loved despite my failings.
I’m distracted everyday with attempts at soothing or fulfilling my soul by my own or the world’s means, still messing up sometimes so, you could wonder if the Spirit of God had ever touched me. I’m no longer however, paralyzed by condemnation or a slave to its fruits of doubt, anger, or sadness that it harvests. I turn sooner now to my Savior, beginning my day with him, my Father, sharing my first thoughts of gratefulness with Him in the morning. I no longer wait until I’m tired and overwhelmed from living by my own means, turning to Him only once I need a net to catch me.
HE is my HAVEN of REST, my REFUGE and STRENGTH, a HELP in trouble. He is my ROCK, my SHIELD, my FORTRESS, and my DELIVERER. All words of David, who truly knew, loved, and desired the ever presence of God.
It is this haven friends, that I long for you all to experience and take rest in.
With love, Susan