The Voice Inside That Never Shuts Up

Every day, after returning home from middle school, I sat at our kitchen table. Hours before my parents would arrive back home from work. I’d eat my afternoon snack and I’d wonder what it would feel like to be an adult. Long hours I spent there, in that square, wood, and wicker chair — wishing I was someone else.

Most days, I still feel like that little girl. Unsure of where I belong or how I’ll get there. I still wonder if all the things I waited on, after all these years, will really, truly, bring me the Happiness I dreamed they would. Yet, as ever, I look forward. There are things I know I will always have: An unfaltering curiosity. A deep, unprecedented faith in love. And, a strange belief that — somehow, despite the odds — everything will be OK.

As I write this, it is my thirty-third birthday. And, I’m not sure how to explain this past year. Everything changed. — My heart, the people who surround it, the dreams it dreams, and the place it resides have all spun forward into new realms of Happiness — places that, I am quite sure, I will never understand. And, I think, these gifts, and many more, are the real fruit of seeking out my own joy. — The little girl at the kitchen table could never have foreseen this.

After more than three years of weekly Wednesday posts, never having missed a-one, this will be my final blog post here at Saucy Sobriety. These past few weeks, I’ve thought long and hard about how to leave things with you. What to impart that could possibly communicate or encapsulate everything I’ve come to understand from taking part in this process. — The thing that will comfort those of you who still sit, waiting and wishing, at the kitchen table. — But, to no end. Because, blog posts or none, there will be no end to this endeavor. Happiness and the discovery of self are pursuits I could never abandon, even if I tried. And, I remain steadfast in my advice, that — you, too, should continue to seek these things in life.

If this past year, heck, these past three years, have taught me one thing it’s this: Happiness is not something you’ll stumble upon. It is something you build. — Do not sit in wait. — No one is coming for you.

Brick by brick. Story by story. Friend by friend. Mistake by mistake. Place by place. Lesson by lesson. — We find our own Happiness. We find our own sobriety. We find our own love. — Within.

Inside each of you, is an incredible light. Something magical and intangible, that I cannot explain. I cannot explain my own light, either. But, as our time together comes to a close, I know that this blog has been one step of many in my unending journey to do just that — to find the hidden magic and bright light that reside inside each of us. My quest, is one that will forever seek out joy and understanding in this life that, otherwise, can be pitiless and cruel.

The day-to-day can be ruthless. Heartless. Thankless. Yet, I strive on. And, maybe, like the little girl in the kitchen, you too will recognize the small voice inside. — The one that tells you the next moment may carry with it everything that you’ve been seeking. And, sometimes, to your surprise, it does. And, it’s in those moments that we find reward, despite all the heaviness.

Happiness and sobriety are the same thing. They are gratitude — for everything — as it is. The present moment is the only tangible thing we’ll ever have. We can hold on to the past, so much so, it halts us, hurts us, and makes us ill. We can hang our hats in the future, but, to be certain, the future we’ve envisioned is NEVER the one where we’ll actually arrive. So, in the here and now, we must take what we’ve been given and find some way to treasure it.

In this moment, my phone bings and chimes. Friends and family send me birthday wishes. I open cards from my parents, my bosses, my grandparents, and in the background, I listen to music that makes me feel joyful. And, though I feel as old and out to sea as I ever have — I know I am a little boat who has learned to break the big waves. — I am surrounded on all sides. With love.

Today, more than anything else, I want to thank you.

If you were a regular reader, or just one of the few who click through these posts every now and then, it means so much to me that you’ve taken any time at all to take part in my story. To know someone has listened to me and heard me, is perhaps the greatest gift I could ever ask to be given. Your time, attention, compassion, support, and empathy have been the glue that’s held me (and this blog) together over the years.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

Thank you for contributing. Thank you for being witness. Thank you for passing through.

I’ve said it before — I’m crap at goodbyes. So, I’ll leave you here:

Happiness is the reward for seeking. In its pursuit, you will discover who you are and where you’re meant to go.

Listen to the voice inside that never shuts up. — She is telling you something worthwhile.

Hear her. Write her. Sing her. Dance her. Read her. Cook her. Sell her. Sew her. Walk her. Run her. Drive her. Bathe her. Climb her. Swim her. Fuck her. Comfort her. Cradle her. Raise her. Plant her. Judge her. Dress her. Dream her. Hide her. Hate her. Find her. Feed her. Open her. Punish her. Shut her. Forget her. Forgive her. Starve her. Break her. Save her. Reward her. Release her. Kiss her.  Kill her. Cut her. Mend her. Bend her. Resurrect her. Love her. — But, never, never leave her.

Whoever she is, whatever she is, wherever she is — day in, day out — stick with her.

When you are bereft, she is your Happiness. When you are lost, she is your Home.

 

 

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The Light In The Attic

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Be Open, they said. — And, so, I was.

Open to opportunity. Open to new experiences. Open to the road less traveled. Open to new teachers. Open to difficult lessons. Open to all these external things, places, people. — Open. Because if I wasn’t, I knew I’d regret the things I’d miss.

This past month, I challenged myself to “Be Open.” And, I realize this goal may appear to be a lofty one. But, this month has been, by far, the most meaningful yet in my Year of Happiness. What does being Open even mean, really? The answer, I discovered, is not what you might expect.

I opened myself up to a lot this month. I did things that, for me, were risky. I moved to a new place that I was unsure I’d love. — It turns out, I do love it. I committed to a business venture that scared me. — It paid off. I made myself available to people without expecting anything in return. — I was paid handsomely, in gratitude. I allowed myself to receive generosity from others, avoiding my route response of tit-for-tat. — And, I have come to know and appreciate a new kind of humility.

But, the big payoff for allowing myself to be Open, was not that my risk-taking resulted in joy, success, and kindness. The big payoff was that, in making myself Open to all these other things, all these outside things — I became Open to myself.

In the past month, it feels as though I have walked, heavy footed, through the dusty attic of my soul and have flung open all my windows. Little flecks of dust that sat, stagnant on my floorboards, have risen up from under my feet to dance in the sun. Even at my best, I have never felt this available or eager to explore my own hopes and dreams. I am no longer frightened by things that once seemed too big for me to comprehend, much less achieve.

Being Open to myself has made me realize that, win or lose, success or failure, home or just another stop on the road — this is what we are here to do. We are here to experience. We are here to be lofty. And, perhaps, that is why we shy away from things that seem imperfect or leave us with questions and doubt. Being Open is not about the outcome, though it can be wonderful to be rewarded by your Openness — being Open is about the pursuit.

Since I was a small child, I’ve stopped myself. I have always been pragmatic. A thinker. An over-thinker. And, while this may have saved me from a few scraped knees and helped me to ace a few tests, it also stopped me from falling, failing, and getting back up.

My sobriety has taught me that failing is the best thing we can do in our lives if we hope to change and grow. Failure is its own kind of intelligence. It builds a kind of confidence that no amount of safety or studying can assemble. We cannot let fear outweigh everything else, we must use it only to shine light on the destinations where we should be headed. This month has helped me to see that standing still for perfection’s sake won’t get you any closer to the things you’ve dreamed up. Action, with reckless abandon, can bring us to wonderful places in the world — and, can also bring us to wonderful places within ourselves.

Being Open is like telling someone to take whatever is right in front of them — always — no questions asked. Don’t wait for the best offer. Don’t research everything down to a science. Don’t scheme and plan and manipulate the outcome. Being Open is like a scavenger hunt that keeps getting better. Whatever is in front of you, will take you where you need to be — maybe not to the end — but to what’s next. You don’t have to like every stop. You won’t like every stop. But, being Open allows you to get where you’re going without halting completely. Pragmatism and perfectionism have their place, but, not in the pursuits of day-to-day living. — Draw a map today. But, be Open to throwing it out and starting again tomorrow.

Today, the attic of my soul is lit by an Autumn sun. The same one that has set its match at the foot of the Catskills, where the color of the trees will soon set the horizon ablaze, and with it, something inside me, too. For the first time in my life, I am truly Open to burning. To letting dead leaves wither and fall. To letting cold winds whip through all the rooms that live within me. To leaving behind all these old things and walking bravely toward new ones.

And so, I commit to, in every kind of weather, flinging open my attic windows wide.

 

 

 

One Face To Rule Them All

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I’ve been a lot of things. — But, I’ve never been two-faced.

I’ll say exactly what I’m thinking or I won’t say anything at all. No-holds-barred or total silence. That’s how I roll. When I first moved to the West Coast, I got a lot of flack for my New York City attitude and candor. Portland may be progressive, but, ladies with loud, fast, and foul mouths were a commodity in my circle.

At first, that made me self conscious. I got a lot of looks, like, “Did she say that out loud?” or “Wow, she’s obnoxious.” But once I established who was a part of my tribe, I started to realize that being genuine — despite my volume, speed, and vulgarity — will always be an asset.

My mom talks about being “an open book.” The whole “what you see is what you get” approach to living. Sometimes it can feel like you’ve got a lot to lose when you put everything out there. Humans are freakin’ complex . At any given time, we have access to a lot more than just one face. And, when you’re unapologetically you, you put that one face out there to be judged. The sad truth is, no matter how good/kind/genuine you are — someone will always judge you harshly.

Surrendering those faces you think you need, is essential to your Happiness. The only face you really need, is the one that sings your soul and honors your intuition. Scary? Hell yes. But, when you’re genuinely you, Happiness is pulled toward you like a magnet, because you no longer have the stress of managing the fake-faces that you’ve grown accustomed to wearing.

Surrendering everything this month has been far more magical than I’d anticipated. I never imagined that, in under four weeks, I would be feeling more genuine than I ever have in my life. I’m learning that when we are living in joy — or at the very least, attempting to — we become available to ourselves in new, unpredictable ways.

Wear your own face. Just the one. — Always. It is the sincerest form of Surrender you can practice. In a place of Surrender, with one, true face, we can be our most authentic selves. And, from this place of ingenuity, we can be the most present for ourselves and for others.

Even if your Happiness hasn’t been running full throttle, I hope you’ve managed to tag along with me this past month. The last four weeks have shown me that Happiness is only as far away as you’ve thrown it.

I am really excited about what’s coming. It’s going to be big. For me — it’s already big.

Here’s my Year of Happiness round-up if you’re late to the party:

Month 1: Surrender

Week 1: Start where you are. — Happy is a choice. So, choose it! The timing is never going to be perfect and it won’t feel truly organic for awhile. So, just start. Smile more. Do things that you love. Make the people you love a batch of cookies. Start here, start now. Start big, start small — Just start.

Week 2: Slow down. — I know. I know. You want some Happiness immediately. We all do. But, Surrender is a process that involves patience and reflection. It’s not a race. Take your time, because, the more thorough you are now, the more Happiness you’ll have room for later. Be deliberate. Don’t rush like I did — it’ll save you BIG TIME on speeding fines.  A cliché proverb worth repeating: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~ Lao Tsu

Week 3: Write a new story. — Surrendering who you were is hard, but, hanging on to the old, musty version of yourself is harder. Being present for the life you’re living today makes reaching for Happiness a heck of a lot easier. The past made you who you are today — so surrendering your old, sad stories may leave you feeling a little lost — but you’re not losing anything. Create your new story from a place of joy, and watch Happiness start showing up for you in new and beautiful ways.

Week 4: Face yourself. — Sometimes surrendering to your most authentic self is scary. There are times you’ll feel rejected or judged. But, more often than not, being who you are — just you — not someone you wish you were, will attract the people who fit seamlessly into your life. Being genuine attracts genuine people and genuine people bring with them Happiness beyond measure.

Thank you, my lovely readers, for being here. If you’re still following along, I want you to know how much I appreciate your being a part of my amazing tribe.

 

 

Little Fish, Big Sea

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The subway. It’s revelatory. I’d forgotten.

Every time the conductor cries out “Stand clear of the closing doors!” and the bell chimes, I have a sort of epiphany.

It’s been awhile. But, I’m back on the train — literally and figuratively.

These moments. These people. These — STOPS. I think about them. With every little movement, something huge shifts. Someone changes. A woman turns the page of her book. A kid shoves his scooter under the orange and yellow seats. A guy stuffs a bagel with cream cheese into his face and the white glop oozes out the sides of his Everything and over the wax paper and down his fat, pink fingers. — It’s a show. A glorious fucking show.

I sit on the 2 train, awed. I wonder — Have I been gone so long that these vignettes of mundane existence, these glimpses into the drudgery of everyone’s daily, city commute, have suddenly become the most romantic thing in the world? Maybe it’s because I’ve only been home for a month. And, sure, everything is still shiny and new. But, no, the more I think about it — it’s so much more than that.

I boil it down to get to what’s different and, — I think it’s sobriety. And no — not just the fact that I’m clean and sober — whomp, whomp, patontheback, patontheback — it’s more. It’s one of the side effects of sobriety that have slowly begun to crop up. A kind of gift. It’s something I was denied while I was living here years ago, but now, I suddenly have access. And that, that thing I’ve finally tapped into — is the ability to admire the machine of which I am part.

Here, in  New York City, sober, I have allowed myself to become small again. Something I never could have permitted myself to do before. Back then, I wanted to be a big fish. The biggest fucking fish in the biggest fucking sea. And, blazing forward in my self-obsessed fury — to become and to have and to live and to consume — I missed it. I missed the incredible beauty of living a small life. I never saw these little pieces. The city under a microscope.  I never appreciated the infinite and tiny parts of this incredible and unique place that, without asking anything in return, surrounds and envelops me with beauty and intrigue.

All this. Right here. A big sea. A HUGE FUCKING SEA. And me, somehow, no longer terrified of being a guppy. To the contrary — I wish I were smaller. I want to see it all come up around me. My eyes well up as we clatter through the dark tunnels of the NYC underworld. I keep thinking of all the things I missed while I fought so hard trying to get upstream. — All the pages that were turned, all the scooters that were shoved, and all the cream cheese that was oozing. — And, I missed it.

But, I catch myself and I smile when I hear it again. — “Stand clear of the closing doors!”

And, one last straggler — a man in a suit with a missing button — squeezes through the metal doors and joins our little school of fish and, together, we all dive beneath the waves of the East River.

 

 

Photo: “Portraits, 2-3 Train” By: James Maher; http://www.jamesmaherphotography.com/photoblog_view_post/637-portraits-2-3-train

 

The Great Squirrel Chase

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This weekend, I evicted a squirrel from my apartment.

I first saw his ratty, grey tail peeking out from under my enormous television set. First, I panicked. Next, I reached for my yoga mat. Which, obviously, I proceeded to wield as an unruly weapon.

Even in my hysteria, it seemed simple enough. — I just had to lock the cat in the back bedroom, open the front door, and then usher my squirrel guest out, with gusto, flopping my yoga mat this way and that.

As it turned out, we were both quite terrified. So, I called my friend Tony who lives across from me in our apartment complex. No answer. Then, I tried my landlord. No answer. Then, I called my father — in New York City. Though separated by five thousand miles, he was the one who did not fail me. And while he did laugh at me like a hyena for five minutes, he also remained on the line for my intense, steady, and, dare-I-say-it — hunter-like — progression of profanity. Which, progressed as follows:

“Holy shit! Oh my God he’s in the closet now! Fuck! He’s making noises! Holy fucking shit, I can’t see him! What if he fucking bites me, Dad? Dad — Stop laughing! That stupid fucker just ran into the kitchen. God, that asshole’s a stupid motherfucker. THE FRONT DOOR IS OPEN YOU ASSHOLE!!! Jesus fucking Christ, he just ran out the front door. He was, like, fuckin’ airborne Dad. He’s out. Holy shit. He’s out! Fuck.”

My heart was beating like rapid fire. — And, there I was, yoga mat in hand. — Alive.

In truth, I’m rarely present. I run over the past in my mind, I plan the future, I design escapes and intrigue. But, I’m not here. It’s tough to get me in the moment.

One evening, my ex, after hearing me spout off about this or that, asked me how it came to be that Ram Dass was my hero — my guru — if I was constantly struggling to “Be Here Now.” — “Why didn’t I try harder to live in the present?” He wondered. I didn’t have an answer. It’s hard to explain to someone else how you can love a person that has the one, intangible thing that you want most, but, can never seem to grasp. It’s not coveting. It’s reverence. And, it’s nearly impossible to describe to someone who cannot comprehend any spirit that’s bigger than their own.

It’s funny, because that very same ex got me a framed “Be Here Now” poster as a gift. — A reminder I guess. It’s purple with a white lotus flower in the center. And, even though my ex is gone, the poster remains, situated happily on my mantle. So, after I had called, texted, emailed, and tweeted to everyone I knew — I plopped down on my couch to draw in my breath and stare at my purple-poster. I smiled with my teeth for the first time in months.

Excitement. Joy. Suspense. Hilarity. A SQUIRREL. Here. Now. IN MY APARTMENT.

That squirrel was my gift. Maybe from Baba himself. The moment where I was reminded: I am a real, breathing creature, wielding a yoga mat and taming wild — albeit tiny — beasts. Even when the moment had passed — the tiny creature bounding out over my two-step stoop, the feeling he awakened in me remained. — A feeling that will not escape me so quickly.

Sometimes, we can only love those that are present — without us. We can bask in their light. Their awareness. Their true presence. We can read the words that they have spilled across thousands of pages in countless books, we can watch their YouTube channels, we can sing chants along with Krishna Das. We seek out the presence.

But, sometimes, it will come to you: A squirrel who shits all over your house —while you chase it wildly with a yoga mat — while your father laughs in your ear — while your heart pumps in your chest. At the end of it all, you watch something leap to freedom. — And, it’s you.

I thank the purple poster and, for old time’s sake, I text my ex.

Because, I need to tell someone — I’m here. Now.

“Now is now. Are you going to be here, or not?” — Baba Ram Das

Strange Communion

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A year ago, I wrote a birthday essay in a vain attempt to convince you that I hadn’t completely failed myself at age 30.

I year later, I find myself wondering: What does it mean to fail yourself? And, what brings us back from the edge? — I’ll admit, I’ve been heady.

Recently, I was asked: What do you believe? And, as I made numerous attempts to pen a witty, annual retrospective, jovially escaping all my unstructured thoughts and feelings, I kept returning to that question — What do I believe?

I stare at the wall. I avoid your eyes. I want to tell you. I just can’t articulate the concept. And, it frustrates me when I can’t make my language speak to you. It should be easy. Hearing each other. Understanding. We are comprised of beliefs. Beliefs make us up. They are the dark matter that hold our cosmos together.

Beliefs. An army of them. — An onslaught. — Learned beliefs. Inherited beliefs. Lost beliefs. Stolen beliefs. Hurtful beliefs. Freeing beliefs. Soulful beliefs. Selfish beliefs. Intoxicating beliefs. Lucky beliefs. Fateful beliefs. Loving beliefs.

Too many beliefs to explain or unlearn. All patched together in a ratty quilt of celestial protection. — One square informs the other. But, get this — they’re not all believable. How can that be? I hear you wondering. Unbelievable beliefs? To you, it sounds absurd. But, is it? Does it make me a fraud? A fool? The wolf in sheep’s clothing? Am I a liar? A tyrant? A moron? Maybe.

But, whatever I am, I own it — this odd menagerie of soulful things — they make up my spiritual life. And, I won’t risk ridicule. I won’t offer up the only thing that’s allowed me survive. I have reverence for my strange communion.

Prior to getting clean, I’d stopped believing altogether. I was angry. I lived in my own, sad ceremonies. And, even those small, broken beliefs helped me to save myself.

I’m sober when I should be drunk. — It isn’t believable. But, it’s true. Certain faith makes it possible for me to be OK without having to be wasted. But, even as I walk on this solid, stable ground, I end up taking a few steps backward. I revisit the old, angry places. Some beliefs are hard to abandon, even with time and wisdom under my belt. Even with all my heroes and my heart.

We cannot always be everything we believe in.

That would be enlightenment. And, I will be the first to tell you that I am still a student of myself — of you. And, after another year of introspection, I’ve come to understand that the same belief that you once thought would sink you, will be the one that saves you.

So, what do I believe?

I believe in whatever spirit guide, constellation-riding, woo-woo-hippie-fuck-savior got me this far. It was enough to save me. Though, I never did see it, face to face.

But, it was never seeing that made me the believer.

 

*Artwork from Be Here Now, By Ram Dass*

An Unseasonal Sun

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I had to find it. — All things go.

In 2012, when I first got sober, I played Sufjan Steven’s album, The Avalanche, upwards of a thousand of times while I drove my car all over Portland, inhaling and exhaling countless Parliament cigarettes. Smoke trailed from my nicotine stained fingers, out of the rain-spotted-car-window, into the wet Oregon air. The song “Chicago,” in one of its three album versions, was always on repeat — singing out an impossible promise — “All things go.”

Back then, I was sure — nothing was ever going to go. Not the feeling of dread, or the pain, or the loss. And, certainly not the heaviness of that world. In the early days of sobriety, everything felt so permanent. But, in my car, with my windows rolled down and my cigarettes and my Sufjan, I clung to the few, small things I did have. And, those little bits allowed me to hold the small belief that, if I just kept driving — eventually — I’d arrive somewhere.

Two days ago, and nearly three years later, it happened. — All things went.

I felt some kind of magic pulse through the concrete under my boots. The sky shone a strange hue I’d never seen before. And, in a second, after years of waiting for something I was certain would never come, I returned to a place of surety I’d left behind long, long ago.

After three years of stepping in and out of the same puddle, I stood there, on the sidewalk, in my muddy shoes and I let an unseasonal sun, warm my tired, soggy feet. Inexplicably free from all my old chains, I felt it. — I was no longer waiting. Not for anything or anyone. Not anymore.

It’s all arrived. Everything. And, the things that I thought would never go — went.

The pain dulls slowly. But, its memory is now the innocuous thing that reminds me that I am stronger and more beautiful than ever before. I don’t let tiny words hit me like big arrows. I’ve worked hard. I’ve earned my place. And, in this place — I’m free to just let go.

Of course, there’s the actual letting go. The act of releasing all the crap that holds us captive. — The meaning we’ve assigned to things and people. And, that shit takes time. Time that moves slower than any clock or calendar would have you believe. It requires blood. And, your heart will bleed. My heart bled. For years, red trails followed me from my apartment to my car to my office and back to my bar stool. But, more than ever, here, now, I know — wounds will heal. Blood, clots.

The people and the places I lost along the way — I was meant to lose them. But, every faded face and weathered park bench gave me something. They are the rings of my tree. The substance of my bark. All that time is built into my body and allows me to stand, unmoving, when the wind would beg me sway. And all that blood I spilled — it’s just the old sap I pulled up from an almost-dry land.

Clouds move with the wind off the Cascades. Some days, we are gifted an unseasonal sun.  And, on those days — I drive. I roll down my car windows, and, with almost two years cigarette-free, I blast Sufjan at max-volume. I put my arm out the window and I cut the warm air on the Burnside Bridge with the side of my flattened, airplane hand.

I had to find it.

All things go.

 

 

 

 

You Crazy Diamond

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Light is a sort of magic to which I will be forever drawn.

I long to capture the intricate details of light’s dance with my darkness. But, the beauty there is one that my own words fail to express. I still take comfort in spelling it out on a blank page: L-I-G-H-T. The kind that’s too bright be ignored. — It’s a part of my make up. I know where to look for it.

I always end up losing my light — only to find it in the most obvious of places. Haven’t I learned? Everything remains the same. I go back to the beginning. People come and people go. The illusion is created that, maybe, this time, it’ll all be very different. I battle and find peace in my continual “same-ness.” It’s like being stuck and moving simultaneously.

The cure for a case of chronic same-ness is to attach yourself to a great adventurer. I’ve been known to love the type before. The person that can’t sit in the same chair twice. The one who isn’t happy unless they are doing something wild. They travel incessantly. They change their minds mid-sentence. They show up late. They forget to breathe. They find no comfort in space. They have no attachment to home. They need something different. Something uncharted. And soon, they’ll be gone. Because, if you can say it’s yours — you’ve stayed too long.

Me, I find beauty in the nuance of my same-ness. I see where little things have changed. I note the sky’s movements. How clouds morph and disappear. I watch as the sun cloaks itself, then undresses — yellow light spilling over the trees outside my apartment window. And, when the windows black out, my perfect sky fading to black, and sinister clouds move in — I seek it out. My L-I-G-H-T . After standing in the dark too long, my branches arch toward the sun. My bones know the way, even if my eyes cannot see.

I stand still again. I listen to Pink Floyd albums while I’m in the shower. I know all the words, but, I’m singing to myself. The same song plays. — Only this time, it sounds different.

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.

People always get it wrong. Light. Dark. It’s never one versus the other — It’s the balance. The Dance. The Yin. The Yang. The Lost. The Found. Cyclical things. Intricately linked in the space time continuum. Weighted in eternity. Ancient and unchangeable. Every day, the sun remains our flare. It shoots up the signal in ever-changing same-ness. It announces a new day. One where everything is unwritten.

L-I-G-H-T.

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond.

Strangers With Candy

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Sometimes, I don’t know myself.

Getting sober has been a crazy evolution.  I’ve glided, then bounced, through various stages of metamorphosis. But, despite charting my own movements, I’m still a stranger.

What’s even scarier than not knowing the person I’ve become — is liking her. She sees things in a new, easy-going way. She’s funny. She doesn’t care about crap that doesn’t matter — for the most part anyway. She’s more and more consistent with every month that passes. And, sometimes, that means she’s a consistent mess, but there’s a stability in her clutter that feels like some kind of Darwinian progress.

She’s shown me that when I let myself cave and make some room,  I have the ability to develop into a different, better version of myself. For a time, I kept things as small as possible — contained them. I used to think that if any one thing got too big — it would all go to shit. Back then, I was set on taking things. Now, the space I inhabit is given to me. There isn’t an internal struggle for territory any longer. I’m kinder to myself. I respect my own wisdom. And, while I will still break my own rules, my own promises, and occasionally my own heart — I know that I can trust myself to see things as they are.

A fog has lifted. My mind no longer talks in a desperate, panicked voice. I’m less apologetic: Life’s too short for desperation. — Take me or leave me.

This stranger I’ve allowed to inhabit my space — I listen to her — even if I choose to ignore her advice. Like me, she is sensitive and pragmatic, but, she knows where a bit of tough love and recklessness will serve her — and us. She has good ideas. Sometimes, I even think I trust her.

So I do this thing — this dancing with myself. And, it’s not so bad. We cut a rug almost as well as my father and I do at family weddings. This woman suit I wear — it fits better than when I first tried it on. I’m almost comfortable. Maybe the older, more rigid version of myself has finally softened. And, suddenly, this person I never intended to be — the one I avoided — has become the best version of me yet. Go figure.

Sometimes strangers will offer you candy — let yourself be tempted. This other version of me — She was patient. She was kind. She moved slowly, allowing me to change without seeing or feeling it. She snuck into my day to day being. And, just like that — I was someone new.

Like a chameleon, I shed that skin — old feelings and people — it feels good. I discover that those things we hold on to so desperately are the things that we need to let go of most. Discarding the older version of yourself, the one that no longer fits, is liberating — like tossing out your “fat jeans.” It’s more than a costume change. It’s a declaration.

Give in. Go without a fight. Evolve.

Take the candy.

 

 

 

 

Just For Laughs

Photo Oct 07, 7 05 36 PM

My giggle has snowballed.

What started off as a thin curve in the corner of my mouth, now parts my teeth and lips. Old, stale air busts out of my lungs, exhaling dust, like a door being pulled off an ancient, sealed tomb. It’s more than just a breath — I let everything go. I once sat, tight-lipped and quiet, but now — wild noises erupt from my face.

Laughter. It’s happening.

At unpredictable times, with unpredictable rhythms, and in unpredictable places. It’s disconcerting — and glorious.

Up until recently, laughter was something I used with caution — I guarded it. I covered my mouth with my hands. Laughter seldom passed these lips that, for a long while, only spoke solemn words. Back then, I let all the jesters in my life perform without reward. I held on tightly to a pain that, I was sure, laughter would invalidate. So, it leaked it out in small spurts, like little coughs, that barely sounded.

I have since learned to let things escape.

Now, I hold my knees together while my stomach shakes. I laugh — tears streaming from the corners of my eyes, running over my cheekbones — which are sore from smiling. Sometimes, I think I need to be sedated. But, instead of quieting the squeals of my sweet abandon — I let them loose. It frees me up. It makes space for the things that need the room. It allows others to do the same. The word “infectious” is not an appropriate one here. This thing — this audible joy — is not a disease. It’s the cure.

Laughter is its own form of permission. The first time I set it free — along with the ancient air that sat trapped in my gut — I felt like I might be sick. I didn’t know what I was letting go of. I have learned to embrace the vacancy. There is just an empty space now, but, it’s not a void that needs filling. So, I leave it — happily unoccupied.

Today, I snort out my pleasure like a pig in shit. I sit in front of the TV screen and let it hit the chords I cannot hit myself. I let a friend’s sarcasm rub me the right way. I feel it — my own fresh air — rushing up the sides of my chest. I belt out chuckles that travel from the couch to the kitchen.

Laughter is the great necromancer. Something in me is alive again.

I feel it rise in my throat. I throw my head back. I let it escape me.

Now, who’s got a good joke?