Standing Back Up
I turned 31 earlier this year. I was going to try to write a birthday blog post like I did last year, but lo and behold and surprise surprise, that did not happen. This is partially because I didn't have a lot of new information to give. 30 passed by in one kind of surreal, blurry mess, and while I don't think I've ever experienced more emotional and spiritual growth, the world somehow stood still at the same time. Or rather, it felt like it was standing still, but really it was moving on as it always does, unaware of the individual chaos stopping each of us in our tracks at different times.
I've been contemplating 2018, and just had delightful and productive planning session with a couple of friends at a coffee shop, listening to peaceful music and brainstorming what life will look like as the calendar moves forward. I don't particularly like making goals. Once I put them out in the world, I tend to rebel against them before I even begin. I don't like the obligation; I want to feel as though I am free to do what I want whenever I want, although I am learning that living a completely spontaneous life usually means that nothing gets done. I think the healthiest way to live is through flexible discipline - do the things that matter, be consistent, but allow for variation and last minute changes. It's inevitable that at some point, the rug will be pulled out from under your feet.
My hairstylist - a resilient, inspiring woman - and I have a mutual therapy session every time I go in to get my hair cut. We always seem to be emotionally in sync, though our experiences and circumstances are different. She knows some of the secrets I have only told those closest to me. Every three months, she washes and snips away at my hair and we catch each other up on how our lives are going. One of us will make a statement about growth, or grief, or anxiety, and the other one will say, "What the hell, it's like you're inside my brain!". Being understood at that most basic level is invigorating.
Last week, as she was chopping my hair to the shortest length it's been in over a decade (eeek!) we talked about the comfort of rock bottom. Being face down on the ground, forehead smashed into the dirt doesn't sound particularly comfortable, but if you've been there, you know. When there is nowhere lower to go, you can make yourself right at home. The anxieties of the world slip away, because your wallowing is your entire existence. The only goal is to make it through the day, from sleep to sleep. To not have to think about real life is a dark, warm numbness.
But that state can't last forever. It never does. Cheryl Strayed puts it beautifully: You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and you realize you’re okay.
And this okayness, this warm-sun-on-the-face-moment? This is where the real work begins. Because after all that time on the ground, safe in your mental hideyhole, muscles atrophying - this is when you have to stand back up. And as easy as that sounds, that shit is not to be messed with. Instead of numbness, you begin to feel, and feeling is the hardest thing there is to do. You begin to care about things, and wish for things, and desire growth and change and life and happiness, which means you have to ignite your ability to strive, which in turn ignites your ability to be anxious and hopeful and worried, all at the same time. Instead of being indifferent to whether or not you're alive, you begin to fear death, because there is so much you want to get done before your life is over. And sometimes you crave the numbness, because it was so much easier to be mentally asleep. But the pain and the tears and the waking up to the world are worth so much more.
So. 2018. 31. This is where I'm at right now. Standing back up, knees creaking. Stumbling and learning to speak again. Reclaiming my self worth, and my passion. Healing. Something small, every day. Sometimes it hurts like hell, and other times I feel as though nothing can stop me, like when I took a power nap this afternoon for the first time in ages, and woke up feeling like I had transformed into Superwoman (regular nappers, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS).
Being a human is gross and messy. But we all know that, don't we, even if we often shy away from talking about it? It's what unites us, and I'm so grateful and glad to be a part of it. To have the capacity to fall down and stand up, more than once. To learn lessons the hard way, to find redemption and love and humanity in the darkest corners. To know that it'll be okay. I can't imagine life any other way.