First the Pain, Than the Rising

First the Pain, Than the Rising

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Having an aha moment the other day. I mean is there anything better than that?

The title of this blog post is a well-known quote from the lovely and inspiring, Glennon Doyle Melton. I’ve been a fan of hers for about a year. I read Love Warrior in a two-day blur and ever since these words have tolled around my head. Recently I’ve been feeling everything on the peripheral. I’d rather talk about my feelings, than say what they are. Anger. Happiness. Sadness. Disappointment. LONELINESS. That friend right? But, I had an aha moment over breakfast the other day (need I say coffee was involved), where I realized it really doesn’t matter what YOU think. Or you. Or you. As much as I embrace and live for my community, my tribe (a word I don’t ever say lightly since I’ve worked so hard to find my place in this often isolating, scary, messy world), I need to embrace my self just a hair more.

Okay, this is what happens: way back when we are like 13 and standing in the school cafeteria (all these shaming moments somehow begin with a plastic tray of poorly cooked food and high school chatter), we make a choice. We either find our place at one of the tables and sit and stay out the remaining years of our adolescent OR or we spend the next handful of years trying desperately to find our place. Guess what my cafeteria experience was like? And I said I didn’t care. And I said there was just too much going on at home anyway (like that was some well-thought out justification for NOT having friends). And I said they, these girls who had never seen pain, had never known what it was like to think “maybe I just won’t make it through tonight,” whose parents not only came to every event, but came with cameras, and flowers, and other family members, they didn’t want a girl like me. Right? So I had already started to categorize myself as other.

When I got to college I wore really fancy clothes, and I didn’t care about very much, and I was in a hell of a lot of pain. If you touched me I swear I’d just bruise on the spot. And then my junior year happens in college, so we go through three years of more school still numbed to my pain, and then I figured out…I’m gay! Oh man those feelings of other than, and not good enough, and where are my friends, came whirling right into focus, but this time I decided not to wander, I just sat. I sat where I was and I started talking. A lot. About who I was and what I was doing and wearing and who I liked and didn’t like. And I got my heart broken multiple times and I wrote about that. But I did so much talking, so much talking about, that I still wasn’t feeling right? If you asked me how I felt it would’ve taken me 10 minutes just to find the right word.

Two weeks ago I made a shift in my life. I asked my therapist for her guidance and together we looked at a feeling wheel. I started naming my feelings one after the other. Fear overlapped with desire overlapped with joy overlapped with disappointment and loneliness and contentedness. I was starstruck because when I started to allow myself to feel, I started to feel better. More at ease, less like I was other than and more like I just was. I. Just. Am. Miracle right?

To add another layer in the last few days it’s all come back to me, how I feel, what action I take, what I put in my body, what I put on my body. I’m gathering the evidence wherein the times I feel lonely or scared are the times I’m so disconnected from my body, I’m in so much pain because I put the blinders on and choose something destructive over just sitting with my emotions. The sitting is scary, but it’s human.

I’m embracing it. And I’m feeling better. I’m feeling like I can show up for my life and be present without constantly thinking, “but when this happens I’ll be better off.” There are no future guarantees in this life, but I have now. Right now is a guarantee. Do what you want with it.

I Didn’t Know It Could Be This Good

I Didn’t Know It Could Be This Good

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I never just rely on my own words because why would I? I’m not reinventing the wheel, plus there are so many good words in the world to share and love. // Words are by Rupi Kaur, but image is from my friend Sasha’s IG.

I had no idea. I feel like a sappy Hallmark card, BUT all the time. And some stressful and incredible shit has gone down during this week. I sat in the room with my abuser for an hour and a half. I gave the friend a choice to opt out of our friendship if she needed to. I gave another friend space, so I could see what road our relationship would take. I fucking grooved along with another. I wrote. I shared. I had a therapy session where I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. I learned how to love myself even if it was cloudy or I didn’t get the job or if I couldn’t get the date.

I really didn’t know it could be this good. Ever. At all. It was one of those things I would think about before I fell asleep, a life constructed purely by my own imagination. The space that would feel like a home, the friends who would mutually love and care for me, the books that would fall perfectly into my lap, the writing that would flow, uninhibited, raw. I haven’t stopped reminding myself this week though of the time in my life when I didn’t think I would make it. I was very close to suicide as a kid. I didn’t know it, but I also didn’t know how to continue to live in such a loveless scary household. I had the “nice” stuff, but I didn’t ever feel nice on the inside.

And so I constructed a less scary story for myself and I climbed inside and sat. For years. I didn’t love myself in this story, I was waiting for someone to do that for me. I didn’t do the things I loved or the things I feared because I doubted I could do the former successfully or overcome the latter. I was miserable. It was a hard place to live. But for whatever reason I decided to keep going. Call it luck, faith, the Universe, something kept promising another life that would be mine.

~

Last night I had a dream I drank. I had a glass of wine in my hand. I thought about what I was throwing away, but suddenly I looked down and the glass was half-empty. I had drank unbeknownst to me. It sort of always happened that way anyway. When I woke up I rolled my tongue around my mouth so concerned was I that it would come up retched, tasting of morning-after booze. I opened my eyes. I was completely okay. Better than okay.

I’ve been sober 102 days. My friendships continue to blossom into these beautiful, incredible things. I cooked dinner last night! I built a nightstand! I said “I love you” without fear. Who am I? How did I get so lucky? Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I constructed a life that is better than I could’ve ever dreamed up. All of the pain and sadness and confusion. The nights that ended in tears again. The drunken stupors. The manipulation and exhaustion. It all got me right here. Sounds pretty beautiful to me.

In How to Be a Person in the World,” Heather Havrilesky writes: “Life is not about knowing. Life is about feeling your way through the dark. If you say, “This should be light by now,” you’re shutting yourself off from your own happiness. So let there be darkness. Get down on your knees, and crawl through the dark.”

I’m writing this because a friend reminded me to write. This. Down. I never want to forget what moving into my life feels like. I never want to forget what it means to fall into your Lucky-Charm-eating-self at noon on a Saturday. I just refuse to. Plain out.

I know that light fades, but I also know that darkness is only temporary. If I embrace it, learn to love it, I can create my own light no matter what the external circumstances. It doesn’t always look perfect and it won’t. But it’ll look like mine and I think that’s exactly right.

5 Ways to Embrace Your Light:

  • Designate it Unicorn/Magic/Motherfucking Self-Care week, find a buddy, and love the shit out of yourselves and one another. Check in. Make a playlist. Cry. Write. Just try. I promise that sometimes/usually can’t means won’t, so allow yourself a little trial and error but also a little kick to the butt.
  • READ! I cannot emphasize that enough. Even in my darkest darkest days I read. Then I read Bukowski and Plath. Today I read Rumi, Mary Oliver, Cheryl Strayed, Glennon Doyle Melton and a lotta other ladies for the most part who have found their light throooough their pain. Through is the keyword.
  • Show-up for the people you truly love. I don’t care if it means bringing them coffee on a bad day, calling them instead of texting them, or giving them a little bit of space to go love themselves. Showing-up looks different for everyone and every relationship, but put some concentrated effort into it.
  • Do one thing you told yourself you can’t do – cook! Knit! Skydive! Dance in your living room with nothing but socks on. Please report back! I promise a happier, fuller heart as a result.
  • Start again always. Always. We’re going to fuck up along this new/better you/loving journey. It starts with one week of concentrated effort, but this is a lifetime of work. Just because I’m living in my light, doesn’t mean I’m  a new person suddenly. I still say “fuck you,” when something goes wrong (even if it’s a super small thing). I curse out slow walkers because like MOVE IT, BUDDY. And my insides are basically always ready to flight or fright. It’s okay. I’m still loving myself through it. If it’s 11:50pm and your day went to shit, find a way to embrace the last 10 minutes of it.