Holding On

I am not a morning person. I am the type to set three alarms and sleep through them all. I am usually gracing my workplace just shy of way-too-late. Still, there is something magical that happens for me in those first few moments of consciousness. There is a personal and spiritual luminescence, a complete sense of clarity. I no longer roll out of the bed in a complete fog, no matter what the hour. I am more in touch with my feelings and my wisdom when I first open my eyes than I am all day. Today was no different.

Last night was a difficult one for me. I experienced an acute rush of heartache. When the ache started in, squeezing my throat closed and pushing me forward into a puddle of hysterics, I lost, for a moment (okay, maybe an hour, maybe even a little more), any sense of groundedness. I hadn’t yet, in my sobriety, felt quite so low. Still, my former self would have sunk quickly into self-loathing, or self-harm, or into a bottle. Anything to drown out the pain. This time, despite the racking, I somehow stayed afloat. In all my years of numbing, it was, honestly, good to know that I can truly feel. Good to know that I have come to a point in my life in which I can authentically withstand emotional discomfort.

A friend recently shared with me her mantra “This is the way it is now.” I like this better than the overindulged in “It is what it is,” but I suppose they both point to the same basic concept. Today I am using this mantra with every breath. Right now, this moment, is all I really need to know. And, I need to recognize my powerlessness and practice acceptance. There is so little we can control. If I can accept each moment as it comes, just each moment at a time, I know that I am okay. Right now, for example, I am typing. Just typing. Listening to the clock tick and letting words flow from my mind through my fingers and watching them accumulate on the page. Yes, I am okay. More than okay. I am, I suppose, living out my own little dream. I am a writer. I am grateful.

Lack of control used to frighten me. Panic me even. I held on, so tightly, to desired outcomes. I wanted to create a sense of power and control, so I used to act in ways that I thought might seal my fate. I didn’t want to take unnecessary risks and gravitated toward shallow interchanges with people, particularly with potential romantic partners, in order to deflect any possible trauma. In only presenting a portion of myself, in refusing to truly feel, I guarded myself against hurt. My interactions were somewhat low brow, but at least I knew where I stood. There was no pulling the rug out from under me.

This is not the whole picture, however. I am blessed, so blessed, to have a clan. I have a community of female friends that have, over and over again, lifted me from my own sorry depths. There is absolutely no way that I would be the woman I am– a strong, healthy woman—without their strength, love, and compassion. I was raw with these women. I was real. Yet, now, in my sobriety, I see how I was practically sucking the marrow out of those relationships. I took more than I could give. And, somehow, they stood by me just the same. How fortunate I am! There must be something in me to love after all.

Now, I am refreshed to know that I am able to give 100% of myself. Some days maybe 75%, other days maybe 125%. I am able to not only offer my own strong arms, but am willing to take personal risk. I used to complain (as I did here recently) that I wasn’t truly being seen. How can one be seen when one is trapped inside a pint of bourbon? How can one be seen when they only present a quarter of who they truly are?

About a month ago, a friend expressed, that with my healing, with my spiritual growth, with me standing on my own two feet, she didn’t know what role she now played in my life. She didn’t know how to live along side me without offering advice, without pulling me out of the wildfire. This, for a time, caused her some confusion and uneasiness. “Am I still needed,” she may have asked. “Who is this woman that is so content? Who is this woman who isn’t jumping, with all her being, from crisis to crisis? You are happier and more solid than you have ever been,” she said. While I do not wish tumult on anyone, I only hope that I can repay the kindness that my friends have shown me. The acceptance and the faith. The lack of judgement. The strength. I believe that I am fully prepared to do so.

So, this morning. This morning, despite the fact that my eyes were practically swollen shut from crying, I woke with an utter and thorough sense of peace. As I accept the fact that I have no control, that a power greater than myself is at play here, I understand that every ounce of heartache is a step in my journey, a brief obstacle on my path. I can stand at the foot of the obstacle, looking up with fear, and let it paralyze me, or I can begin to climb over it, scoot around it, face it with dignity. Facing this obstacle may mean a period of emotional strife, but it also means more growth. How comforting! As I have said before, you can lie in your bed and die or you can throw off the covers and step onto your two steady (or not so steady) feet and put one foot in front of the other. There is little other option.

I find that I now trust in the Universe, in an entity that I don’t mind calling God. I look inward and see my own divinity. I look at others and see their light too. There is no room for resentment or for fear. Everything is at is should be. This is what it is like now. And now. And now. Damn girl, just hold on and breathe.

There is a quote by James Frey– yeah the writer that caused all kinds of controversy with his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces— that states “Be strong. Live honorably and with dignity. When you don’t think you can, hold on.” Regardless of the fact that this quote came from a man who falsified his own truth, I try to live by these words. In the most difficult times that I have had in these last three years, and there have been a few, I remind myself of my own strength and I hold on. I just hold on.

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