I should probably start by saying that I have been working through my recovery in a structured, Christ centered, step program. I’m not going to go into detail about it, but lately it has been the goal to dig up a lot of old hurts (both to me and by me), find the root cause of issues, and catalog any and all of my transgressions. Naturally, this has been extremely difficult. I don’t mean that I am having a hard time identifying them, but that the things I have kept buried for a long time are now finding their way into my daily thoughts and emotions.
Another special gem that I have begun to see clearly is the series of people who have been hurt by me, and choices that I have made that have directly, negatively impacted others. This part has been one of the worst, as my mistakes seem to be set on repeat, projected on the inside of my eyelids. Some days I try to distract myself from thinking about it, but other days I think that it’s good for me to see the consequences of my actions.
This post might not be clear and coherent, as I usually have a specific goal or plan, but today is not that day. I just have a pile of broken glass ideas, that with any luck might resemble a mosaic when I get them all out.
I was speaking openly about this year to someone the other day, and she brought up a concept that I haven’t really allowed myself to grab hold of fully. After kindly listening to my story as I tried to get through the details without completely losing my mascara, she dropped some truth on me. I need to grieve the life I lost.
*Insert deep breath here*
It is clear to me that I have been spending the last few months in a state of intermediate acceptance, where I saw the truth in what was going on, but I refused to release all hope that I could get it back. The real truth is that holding on to something that doesn’t exist anymore is only causing me more pain. If I let go of what I want and allow myself to accept what I have, then it stops being about looking backward and starts being about picking myself up and moving forward.
2016 was an intense year. 100%. Hands down. I gained community, I made my first adult car purchase, I moved out of the house I grew up in, I was given a role in a business dream, and a thousand other tiny pieces of joy that formed the canvas for where I was going to paint my future. Although I couldn’t have known any better at the time, that was my biggest mistake.
The truth of that year was that I was being given a very special gift. So much of that life consisted of things I spent a long time not believing even existed. I could have gone on living without ever knowing that those things were real, that there were people who invest in each other, and cheer each other on every day. But I received the greatest of gifts, among them, a couple of the greatest people I have ever known.
I have gained the sweetest memories from that time, and although I allowed myself to believe in the idea that this season was the beginning of my new reality, I am so thankful that I got to be there to see and feel it all for myself.
Maybe it would have been different if I had known that I wasn’t going to be able to keep it, but I still believe that I would have approached it all differently, and hopefully handled the changes better.
Along with the process of grieving my losses has come the pain of knowing what I have done to the people involved with my struggle. Being able to look back and see how things really were, and not how I was seeing them at the time fills me with something like regret. I see myself making choices and living my life in a way that added stress and hardship to those around me.
As you can see, it has been quite the experience diving in to all my life’s mistakes, friendships I have let fade away and bridges I have burned with a lifetime of great people. Part of that hit me really hard from an unexpected source last week.
I had a best friend in high school and we told each other everything. We were together every weekend and she was there with me on the worst day of my life. I still remember a night that, while we waited in the school parking lot, we danced on top of our cars in our letter jackets to the song Fireflies by Owl City. It is still my favorite memory from high school. That’s a super brief history, I know, but the point is that she had a beautiful baby girl last week. The most wonderful news and the happiest day of her life, and it just reminds me of the fact that I always meant to be there. I never intended for us not to be in each other’s lives. I guess life is hard that way, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the loneliness I find at times is because I have burned the bridges with almost every good person in my life.
There’s this internal argument between my emotional and logical minds where one is saying, “you can’t just write apology letters to everyone you have ever hurt,” and the other side that is already sealing envelopes and yelling back “BUT THEY HAVE TO KNOW HOW SORRY I AM.”
On top of that there’s this thing that I just can’t figure out. On one hand, I know that isolation is bad, and that only bad things come from being isolated. But on the other hand, I have actually seen with my own eyes the difference that being free from me can make. How can I in good conscience choose to let people invest in me when I know full well that it is not what is the best thing for them. I’m the one who knows better, I’m the only one who can be responsible, so how can that be the wrong choice?
I guess by now you see what I mean about the lack of coherency. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ben Rector lately, so I added the relevant songs to the music player at the bottom of this page. My reasoning for adding “Sailboat” I think will be quite obvious, with concepts like being lost at sea, waiting for something, speaking and not being able to hear anyone listening- since that is my every day. “The Feeling” is a song that describes something we have all experienced, feeling this certain way (as he describes in the song) but a certain line has really been on my heart as I deal with these hard things that people don’t always see.
The line is:
It’s the heat you feel when someone brings it up,
Someone who doesn’t know enough
To know it’s deep inside,
And just how hard you tried.
Give those a listen if you feel like it and please forgive me for the jumbled mess that is this post.
Fireflies and wax-sealed envelopes,