If you know me at all you know that I’m just now coming out of a very long period of what can only be described as OMGDOOOOOOM. For three years or so now – pretty much since the pandemic started and my kid went off his meds (so, June of 2020), I’ve been in a very dark place, and by “dark”, I do not mean the rich, moist soil where I’m putting down roots kind. I mean that I was looking into the abyss and the abyss was looking back.
Over the course of this three year period, I’ve experienced a lot of loss. Friends who turned out not to be a good fit for me (by which I mean they were more interested in what I could do for them vs. actually being in relationship with me). A lover who tucked tail and ran when the going got tough. A bestie who succumbed to cancer. Half my income (which is what happens when you are too depressed to work at the pace you’ve always worked/market your courses/stay on top of your socials, etc.). A metric fuck tonne of weight, and even at one point, hair.
I joke, but not really. It really felt like I lost the plot there for a while and I woke up every morning wishing there was some kind of reset button that *wouldn’t* devastate my friends and family. Alas, there is no such thing. Or, maybe I should say “thank goodness” because if there were a reset button that met my requirements, I would have hit it, and I’d have missed this part right here where I am coming back to life.
I’m not sure what changed.
And I think that’s really important to note because everyone and their grandmother is out there selling this idea that if you just do THIS ONE THING or THAT ONE THING, things will improve. They have programs to sell you with step-by-step instructions in how to walk yourself back away from the abyss and if you just give them your credit card and your trust that your life could look like their life, you’ll be okay.
That’s bullshit, though. We all know that, right? Because there is no one-sized fits all way *into* the dark places we find ourselves in and there is no one-sized fits all way OUT of them, either.
For me, the way out was a combo-deal.
An absolutely unshakeable devotion to my therapist. Not necessarily to therapy because you can bet there were times when I showed up but dialled it in. My therapist, though? Devoted. I let her know the way when I couldn’t.
A continued devotion to my students. Even when I felt like I’d rather eat glass, I showed up. Even when I showed up MESSY, I showed up. Even when showing up meant I might get my stuff all over them. I showed up.
A continued devotion to my children – even the one I’m no contact with for reasons I won’t go into here. I have a contract with them. Until there is no more breath left in my body, I will be here at the other end of the line. I brought them into this world – a thing they did not actually agree to (unless you believe in that pre-incarnation agreement stuff, which I don’t think I do), so it would be the ultimate betrayal, I think, if I *left them here on purpose*. So I won’t.
Pottery. This is not something I am devoted to so much as I feel it is devoted to me. I show up and it serves me. I sit at the wheel and stuff happens that sustains me. I pinch a pot and I feel alive. I show up and I am nourished, grounded, the empty well refilled in a way that *nothing else* has ever refilled me.
Music. The curation of playlists that reflect where I’m at. The opportunity to break into song on the regular.
My return to my fest fam.
And something I can’t quite name that feels like a supernatural power that lives somewhere in the middle of my body like an opalescent orb of spinning light that has an unquenchable thirst, a ravenous hunger *to know what comes next*.
I think the normies call this “the will to live”.
I’m not a normie. I’m a poet, so we’re going to stick with “thirsty opalescent orb of the need to know whatthefuckcomesnext”.
I like the way that rolls off my tongue.
This morning did not start as a pure moment of crystalline beauty. It started with an awareness that I have an abscess brewing in my gums, no health insurance (thanks, ex-husband, you fucking dick), no health care card (thanks, executive dysfunction, you fucking dick), a bill for 200 grand (also thanks to executive dysfunction), a super messy house, (executive dysfunction is also the villain here), no idea how I’m going to pay my rent next month, an elderly dog with congestive heart failure, a cat who is taking revenge on me for leaving the house for a few days and leaving her in the care of a stranger by peeing on anything I leave on the floor, laundry to do as a result, and no idea what to do, really, about any of it…
…except make coffee and do what’s next on the list. Swish with salt water. Give the dog a million treats and pets and all the loves. Assure the cat that she can live without me for a week now and then and do the laundry. File the paperwork. Take my vitamins (especially B12 and milk thistle – if you know you know). Sit out in the sun with a true crime podcast in my ears and my iPad in my lap while I doodle. Go to pottery. Spill into the art journal. Keep my appointments with my clients and students. Go to therapy. Hang out with friends when they come in from out of town or have a day off. Wander around in Victoria Park with an iced coffee. Let cobra chicken nibble my toes while I feed them frozen peas.
A part of that, I think, is staying honest – with myself, with you. The thing I do where I get really quiet and isolate through the very hard times is no longer a thing I *want* to do because that is a shame-based decision. I don’t talk about the times I drink myself sick out of boredom because I am ashamed. I don’t talk about struggling through weeks of suicidal ideation because I am ashamed. I don’t talk about the betrayals I’ve experienced or the ways my INFJ door slams have harmed me or others because I am ashamed. I don’t talk about the fact that I was a sixteen year old when my baby daddy plucked me like a ripe fruit right out of foster care because I am ashamed.
Or, maybe I should say that I *was* ashamed.
I’m not ashamed anymore.
What I am is someone who has suffered a lot, who has been in the process of unravelling all of that, who has to claw her way back from the abyss on the regular, who fails and fails and fails and yet, keeps trying…
…What I am is alive.
What I am is here, now, in the liminal where I am a dumpster fire butandalso a masterpiece. Where I’m broke butandalso I bought myself a ticket to see The Tea Party. Where I am terrified butandalso I am hopeful. Where I am broken butandalso I am strong in the broken places.
I just wanted to tell you.