On the day before my one year anniversary of sobriety, I turned to Caryn and said “I’m afraid no one will come.” We were outside on a smoke break at work, and I was referring to the sit-in that was happening that night. What I understand now is, I really meant “I’m afraid I’m not worth celebrating”. I didn’t have the insight or words at that time to articulate or even understand my fear. There were a lot of things I didn’t understand.
I didn’t understand how people lived in this world, balancing the events of their lives versus the events of their days. Put another way, I didn’t understand living in the moment. It was an abstract concept – intellectually I understood this was possible, like navigating by the stars. A thing people could do, but something I was incapable of. At times the idea took on almost a magical aspect it seemed so unreachable. Instead of a skill that could be learned, it was something one either had or didn’t. And I definitely didn’t.
I have been having a hard time separating the events of this week. I feel foolish and vulnerable admitting this. There is much fear and turmoil bubbling under my surface. I am trying to examine – to pick up one stone at a time and hold it, hear what it has to say. What are you? Where do you come from? How do you fit into the formation of my heart and is there a different place I can set you down? There’s too much weight here, something needs to shift. I do this carefully because I fear if I pick the wrong stone, it will all come crashing down and I will be unable to rebuild.
But. Last night I was told, “It’s not your job to put yourself back together.” Believe it or not, this was news to me. My inability to put myself back together after falling apart is what I have always considered my biggest character defect. Early on in our friendship, I mentioned something about being resilient to Kate and Caryn, and my lack of that ability and how so many of my problems stemmed from that. They both cocked their heads and looked at me, baffled. They told me I wrong. Caryn in her careful and quiet way, Kate with her brash declaration. I thought to myself they just didn’t know me yet – that eventually, they would see the truth. Really, it was I who didn’t see, who didn’t understand.
A thought occurred to me the other day. The opportunity for me to give up has passed. If that was meant to be my story, it would have happened by now. Even when I thought I had given up, somehow I was still crawling forward. When it happens slowly enough, it can be easy to confuse with standing still. Another thing I didn’t understand.
The biggest thing I understand today is how many things I didn’t and still don’t, and recognizing that as the gift it is.
Some other things I am learning: I can mourn the memory of those who are gone and still relish the presence of those who are here. I can cry one moment. I can dance the next. One moment does not invalidate the other. I can shed the shame and fear to experience the beauty of life with all it’s ups and downs. I can heal – not from the events of my life, but from the idea that I am unhealable. That I am unlovable because I am unhealable.
Two weeks before she died, Caryn told me she had had a revelation. I oooohed excitedly and asked what it was. She turned to me and smiled that smile of hers and said, “I am worthy love.” We were walking and she practically skipped as she said it again. “I am worthy of love.” I am so grateful I got to experience that moment. I am so grateful she had that realization, even if she did not keep it.
It’s a year later, and I am having a moment of my own. I am worthy of celebration. I am also worthy of love. This is the stone I am making room for in my heart. This is weight worthy of carrying.