Against all logical reason, thank you for this day. Where I gave in to fear, anger, sadness, confusion and hopelessness. Where I lost myself for a long time, I sat in an alley and cried, and I wanted very badly to give up. I scared myself and I scared my family. And I am sorry that the people who have chosen to love me have had to go through this process with me. The shedding of this ill-fitting exoskeleton that has defined the shape of who I am for most of my life - this ugly thing that I don’t yet know who I am without. What is underneath is still unformed, sensitive to light, soft and too vulnerable. And I am lucky, so very lucky, that certain people in my life are still here. Learning compassion and forgiveness, not always by choice. That God is shining it’s simple, persistent light into my life, and that things are growing in that brilliance. That I am moving through it, out of it, turning my face in a new direction. Learning how to say, "Not this time -" to that invisible destructive force that still tries to control me.
And I understand that in the beginning, progress may only seem visible to the person who is working towards change. Who is able to sense the things that are shifting inwardly, before they become outwardly obvious. At the risk of that, I am writing here that I feel I am in the process of breaking free. Free from whatever it is, defined in that murky realm of mental illness. At times it has been comforting to have a name for the vessel I have been traveling in, as it so often feels that what can’t be seen on the body isn’t treated as real. But I can finally see myself as if walking away from a large body of water, towards the inward land that rises above me. And when I turn to look back at the shoreline I can see that the vessel is only a shell of a former way of life, and I have no need for this boat anymore.
I know it is not easy to shed a thing forever. That I will still find myself in the pit of it, trying to find a door. But even when it feels overwhelming I know that part of me will be walking towards that high peak, putting distance between myself and the deep abyss that I have passed across for many years. I can feel the sun on my face and there are things before me, “green pastures I have not seen.” And I am not willing to stop until that old vessel on the shore is a speck in the distance that finally disappears.
So thank you for days like this, when I have come very close to losing everything. When in the midst of it, hugging my knees on the curb at the end of Ames street, I saw a figure walking towards me in the distance and realized it was Vicki pushing Tula in a stroller on her way back from the park. As I stood to head in the other direction, away from Life - lest I be caught out - there was something inside of me holding on to the realization that as out of control as I felt, I still had a choice. I could walk away from Vicki before she might see me, or I could stay where I was and let her find me. Or I could even stand up, and walk towards her. All around me, life’s good intentions were continuing to unfold. And like stepping out of a shadow world onto a bustling street, I could choose to re-enter Life.
Later, that same relentless force of Love that operates even in the midst of hopelessness drove my car towards People House where I found myself in the same room I thought I had quit therapy in, with Gloria’s arms around my shoulders (Why Gloria? And how did she happen to be there when I showed up distraught at the front door?) Both of us smelling like peppermint, and she had made me laugh. Then she was crouched on the floor leaning over my feet, reminding me to feel the ground beneath me. And something broke within me, and I was able to breath again.