So – this is my first time back in over a year. Time for some process through storytelling. Time for blasting the writer’s block. I am fairly certain this is going to be a jumbled mess, but I don’t care. I have to get back in the saddle. I need to be in the saddle more than once a year. I’m not guilting myself. I do that sometimes – the guilting – not as often as I once did – but it does happen. This isn’t one of those times.
I just had one of my “sitting with it ” moments. My “going with the flow” moments. My “letting it all out” moments. They still scare me when they come – because it never really is about one particular thing. I can never just put my finger on IT – the cause. It’s just a feeling, and it takes me. I’ve learned to let it. I immediately have that, “Oh God – what if somebody sees me” feeling. I don’t stop it, though. Today I felt it coming while at a stand-still in the barista drive-thru line. Leak, leak, leak… I held it back long enough to get through the line – so I could order (it was a male barista – women baristas have watched me cry). As I drove away – I let it all go – because I know – when I let it go – the IT comes – eventually. Sitting with it – not burying it – brings clarity of one sort or another. Always.
So – yeah – that just happened. The Driving and Crying. The people in other cars looking at me with pity or looking away. I’ve learned – over the last many years – that the glances and aversion don’t matter. My car – my process. As I said – not the first time. It is the first time for something else, though. In that moment – as I headed home to get going on my “study day,” a voice in my head said I needed to write about what was happening – about the “driving and crying” – about the not holding back – about the way it comes out of nowhere – about the letting go. About the “sitting with it.”
I read an article on “awe” this morning. I read of the benefits awe brings physically and emotionally. I only had to read a few sentences and my mind was reeling because – honestly – I am in AWE much of the time, and I have never really thought of it that way. Okay – it’s not the gape-mouthed-oh-this-or-that-is-amazing awe (although that has been known to happen on occasion – okay – regularly). For the most part, though, it is different than that. I’m searching for the word. Maybe it’s like a dumbfoundedness. I think this will make more sense as I piece this all together.
Swirling thoughts. Stick with me.
In my recovery coaching studies – the marijuana unit spoke of novelty – how pot brings a sense of novelty – without having to go out and find it. I remembered how that was true – for me anyway. ANY and EVERYthing seemed a little more special when I was high, you know? Kind of like when you are buzzed on alcohol – but not. Can’t explain it – but I do know that you know – if you’ve been there. It makes life rosy. Thing is – for me anyway – when I’d stop – I had a really hard time finding the rosy without it. I could find it (the rosy), but it took something pretty astounding to make it happen.
There would be a period of flatness – gray – for me – when the rosy faded away. Then every once in a long while I’d hook up with a friend and smoke a little. I’d remember just how rosy the rosy could be in those moments. Then the moment would pass, and I’d be tossed back into the gray – the flatness. For me – smoking actually caused a period of depression to follow. I figured it out fast. That’s just me. I have addictive tendencies. I had to leave it behind. And I missed it sometimes – when life took the turns that life takes. I got worried when pot was legalized, because I thought I might get lured in by one of those green signs. I thought my occasional longing for rosiness wouldn’t be so easy to hold at bay. Then that worry just went away. I can’t say the thought of a little rosiness doesn’t cross my mind. I can say it doesn’t stick around. Not anymore.
Today I realized this has something to do with me getting my natural awe back. I think it’s because the simplest things bring it, and I really didn’t even realize it until just now. When I studied about “novelty,” I actually got down on myself – yes – that aforementioned guilting. I was thinking, “Girl, you’ve gotta get out there and hike and climb and see the world. You need to bring in some novelty you lazy-ass. Go!Go!Go!” I didn’t go. And that’s okay. I didn’t need to GO anywhere.
Enter the article on awe. This morning. I was getting the kids ready for school. I had read a little bit of the article and voiced a little blurb about it to my husband as he headed upstairs to shower. I didn’t think much of it – except for making the Awe/Novelty connection. I chatted with my husband a bit and watched him walk our youngest and our dog down to the busstop. I gave him a ride to the ferry.
After dropping him off – that feeling started coming. That oh-I’m-gonna-cry-any-moment-here feeling. So I let it go and things started clicking. Things like: I posted a photo of myself in the ocean last night. It’s my head poking out of turquoise water. I have very few “bucket list” items, but swimming in turquoise water was one of them, and I got to cross it off after a particularly challenging fall/winter. In the post, I gave some info about what the cold months had brought for me and my husband and how grateful I was for the trip we had spontaneously taken with the kids a month back – and how much I love him and our little family. The likes and comments brought me great joy. I realized I have really formed a community – virtual or no. This is something that never would have happened when I was drinking or even in my earlier days of sobriety. I would have never brought attention to my past. I am in AWE of that connection – the authenticity – a connection with people who have known me all throughout my life, many who have seen my struggle and my growth and they are happy for me.
That thought collided with: I LOVE my life more than I ever thought I could, and it is pretty darned ordinary. Thing is. I am a recovering alcoholic. Things could have gone the other way. I could have a not-so-ordinary life. I could be alone. I am not. I am a good Mom in a healthy marriage. Sometimes I get bombarded with images of this life all at once. It’s like a fast-moving slide show – one image fades into the next. I realize I and my life are – indeed – miracles. Gratitude completely takes me. There is a drawn-out-awe-induced moment of “How the hell did I get here? How did I accomplish so much change in a ten year time frame?”
Those thoughts collided with, “Oh my God, 10 years have passed – almost 11. I am going to turn 48 soon. My Mom died at 48. What if I die at 48? No – I LOVE this life. I am experiencing awe and novelty every single day all on my own. No foreign substances needed – and I didn’t even realize it. I need more time here appreciating it. Everything will be fine if I make it to 49. No parallels. NO more parallels. My life. Not hers. I’m here now. Stay present. Yeah, but, I don’t want to go anywhere.
And then I see it clear as day. I’m vulnerable. I’m happy, grateful and soul-filled. When my heart is wide open, I am at my most vulnerable. In the past, I would have never gotten to this conclusion because I would have drank it away or smoked it away or sexed it away. As a matter-of-fact – my first impulse today – when I walked in from the car – was to hop on Facebook – not write – even though the voice in my head told me to come home and write – to give it a voice.
Seems like anytime true vulnerability presents itself, a desire to numb it soon follows. Hop online. Turn on an episode. Grab something to eat. Eat something while watching something.
A-Ha! That’s why letting it go in the car works. No distractions – unless you grab your phone… Don’t grab your phone. I’ve been guilty of that as well. Put your purse in the back seat. Allow your thoughts to flow.
If you made it to here – thank you for sharing my process. Writing like this has that V word written all over it for me – for so many reasons – reasons scanning decades. And yet, I feel drawn. I feel like I can’t let my old stuff silence me. I feel like it’s time to listen to those who tell me I am a writer – and especially my inner voice – the one that consistently encourages me to share.
Open. Own. Embrace. Explore. And for those like me – Share.
And so I will close with this from Brené Brown (one of my all-time favorites). “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”