I arrived home from a visit to my home town and found a little package from an organization called Find Your Anchor. It was the most beautiful little package. I am in love with it.
This little blue box is filled with reminders of what there is to live for, and why I am a needed and loved part of the world. It is such a generous and gracious nudge toward hope. Each time I open it and read a little bit of wisdom or encouragement, I recall my reasons for being—for staying.
Lately, I have needed those reasons a lot.
While away, I had a horrible but necessary, and likely healing in an eventual sense, conversation with my dad that turned into me sobbing like a child and him hugging me like—well, a dad. Which is what was needed, because the conversation was about how I was left unprotected to be abused for years and years. At one point he commented that I didn’t tell anyone. And I cried out, “I was a little girl!” That’s when the sobbing started, and the understanding came across his face for what seemed like the first time.
I wasn’t able to say it in any other way than I was. And I was SAYING it. Just not with the actual words. I was saying it with every sign and symptom of trauma that I could exhibit—and my family treated me like I was difficult, challenging, crazy, and unruly, instead of recognizing what I was trying to convey.
So, I came home to this little box, after a really emotional and draining visit. It was a gift from the Divine of which I am still receiving benefits. It was especially helpful a couple nights later, on the eve of the new year.
I don’t know what it was, specifically, that was so bothersome. I was alone. I was broke. I was restless. I was emotional. I was still processing a lot from the week before. And I was, suddenly, despairing.
It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, to feel the way that I did. And that made it even worse. Because there is nothing worse than being in the throes of a suicidally depressed mood than being there with no conscious understanding of why you are in that state. The nonsense of it all makes it more depressing. I got out my little box from Find Your Anchor and read some of my 52+ Reasons to Live from the card deck. That helped a little. I started to find an anchor. I started to find a bit of hope. And somewhere in the midst of that glimmer of hope, I decided that I needed to go out, and budget and responsibility be damned, I needed to have some fun.
I got dressed up and went to my favorite bar. I hung out with some old friends and met some new people. We had champagne toasts and noise makers and lovely hats. It was all very festive. And then everyone started heading out after last call, and my despair started to set in once more. I tried to convince some friends to keep hanging out, but they were all partied out, because they had started their fun much earlier than I had done. So, I went to another bar where I have not had bad experiences, and have met some pretty cool people.
I met some pretty cool people again.
I got contact info for two women before I left, and then left with a couple and another guy to go hang out in the couple’s hotel. This is where I move from the despair to the darlings. Because this couple was amazing. They were the most wise, authentic, and beautiful people. I had such an amazing time getting to know them and hearing their stories. And then it was late—or early—and time to go. Or at least the other guy was leaving, so I took that as time to leave. I’m not sure if I was intending to leave with him, or if he made it seem he wanted me to accompany him. But I started walking the same direction as him when we left the hotel. And then he started walking REALLY fast, and then broke into a run. I yelled after him, “What are you doing?” I didn’t hear him respond. And it didn’t really matter, because there was another guy nearby asking me if I knew where he could buy cigarettes, so I took his arm and walked him to the nearest convenience store. After which, he walked away from me REALLY fast! Which didn’t really matter because I was right by the bus that heads to my house and it was pulling up right then, so I got on the bus. I missed my stop because the driver was chatting me up, so I walked back a stop and headed home and went to bed.
And then I woke up and realized I had texted my guy many times. Probably around the time I was on the bus or walking home. But I didn’t remember doing it.
I had a moment when I was upset enough to send him 5 texts in a row and I didn’t remember feeling it. I dissociated from a moment. I thought that I was feeling fine after going out and meeting fabulous people, but those two dumb dudes being douchey had put me back into despair without me even recognizing the shift.
Thankfully, I had someone to whom I could reach out. And the things I said to him were oddly positive—like, thanks for not being a dick like these other people and proving that decent men exist, sorts of positive. But it still wasn’t an ideal interaction, and dissociating is really far from good mental health in my experience. It’s extraordinary that I can be in such a good place and such a bad place within moments of one another. The swing of that pendulum should probably be breaking bones in my poor little body as it tries to keep up with this brain!
I slept most of the day on the 1st. I think that my body and mind needed to take a sabbatical of sorts. And perhaps if I had taken that break before the events of the night before, things would have turned out differently. But that is pure speculation. It may not have changed a thing. But it was much needed rest, regardless.
The following day, my guy checked in and asked if I was alright. We talked a bit about my mental state, but mostly we just curled up in his bed and kissed and slept and cuddled, which was beautiful. He is a darling. I told him that I love that he doesn’t need to run. He laughed. But the point was that we are really honest and communicative, and he knows I’m not ready to date someone seriously after everything I have been through this year. We are in a casual sort of non-dating thing, and we both seem really satisfied with that. We care about one another, for sure. But we both need a deep connection in order to trust someone with our whole heart. Right now we are supportive and sexual partners, and pleased with that connection. The assumption that there is always a woman chasing you for a marriage and babies and commitment that steals all your fun is false, men. The assumption that any partner wants to stifle and break and put you in bondage is silly—unless you are into BDSM, obviously. A loving partner wants you to flourish and grow and become your best self. If you are running from something, check the mirror for clues as to what you fear. And not the rearview, but your bathroom mirror. Look at yourself (for the really slow people in the audience).
In hindsight, I had a great New Year’s Eve. I met some amazing people, got myself out of a terrible funk with a bit of helpful encouragement, and had a lot of fun. The fact that I had a moment of frustration with weird dudes and a depressed mood early in the night didn’t keep me from finding some enjoyment, spending time with friends, confiding in a person who cares about me, and getting a bunch of much needed rest. It was a mixed bag, in some sense, but that is probably a good metaphor for the start of the year.
Because life is full of ups and downs.
I expect this to be one of my best years ever. I am my best self ever, and I am working toward some really great goals, so I fully anticipate great things will happen this year. But I am also not naive, and I know that bad things sometimes happen to good people. There will likely also be a few challenges. The year will probably be a mixed bag. It will have ups and downs.
It isn’t the ups and downs that define our lives; it is how we react to those ups and downs that defines us. Life isn’t easy, and always reacting with perfect grace isn’t possible, but we can work to do our best as often as possible, and to correct whatever mistakes we make as we go along. And when I think about this I start to consider life in the sense of an epic tale.
Life is something we dare to pursue.
True life, in its best form is a daring event—a quest of epic proportion.
There are grave moments, and there are literal mountain tops, and there are fellowships that cannot be broken, and there are resistance movements bound together by hope, and there are travels that span the globe, and there are challenges that push us to know ourselves—to find ourselves—in ways we never could if we didn’t dare to walk this road and take this journey and fight this fight.
I walked into a strange and unknown thing on the first of the year. There was despair, and there were darlings, and there is a daring quest set before me, which I will boldly accept, knowing that I will be a different woman on the other side.
I don’t know who I will be 360 days from now. But I know that she will be more aware, more passionate, more educated, more connected, and more prepared for what the next year of life might hold. Because I am happy to walk into the unknown and to live a daring year. No matter what it brings, it will bring me closer to my best self, and that is always good.