(This blog post comes from my journal, back in summer.)
Another beautiful sunny damp summer morning, echoes of song birds fill the gaps of silence. A flock of birds fly overhead, white poplar fluff covers the ground like huge white snowflakes. The view from where I’m sitting is a little magical oasis, something of a fairy tale, sweet smells, vibrant greens. Birds scavenge the dew-laden grass for worms, frolicking, calling out to others of their own kind — woodpeckers, robins, ravens, magpies, swooping among the lower branches of the beautiful trees.
I never predicted that I’d still be alive today, especially sober, not hungover. My difficulties are different now, having to face my depression, internal dialogue, anxiety, alcoholism. I never really believed I was strong enough to admit, let alone be willing enough to try something different and make the necessary changes that require absolute honesty with self and others.
My plan didn’t include a life without alcohol, a 12-step program for living, freedom from self, with peace or serenity, so who or what had all this planned for me? It’s like some sort of invisible force that had my best interests in mind is somehow leading me around, engaging my thoughts to think differently than ever before, a re-birth of sorts. I’m learning how to do EVERYTHING the opposite way I was in the past. It’s very scary at times, and requires the type of work that I used to avoid at all costs.
Life was this constant race, either I was running, or being chased — always on the go. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t stop. I needed alcohol to fuel myself; the more I burned, the more I needed. I used to tell my students “the only time you have too much fuel on board is when you’re on fire.” How ironic it was then, when I figuratively crashed with a full tank! You never think it’ll happen to you — well, you might want to rethink that! My life has been a series of unfortunate events, one fucking thing after another, as my writing has attested to.
44 years old and I’m just starting to get it figured out. I’m so very grateful I’ve been given a chance for a do over. For reasons beyond my understanding, God has spared me from many fateful deaths. I survived where others have not. Endured endless loss, abuse, tragedy; circumstances where others have not been so lucky.
My two feet are still planted firmly on the earth despite all odds. So I look at it this way — I must keep preparing myself for my departure, whenever that day comes. God has seen me through every day of my existence on this planet since 1976. I’ve been given endless opportunities, some wasted, some not. I can’t afford any more waste. Each day from this moment on is truly a gift to be treated as such. Not only to survive, but to thrive, finding that precious balance that seems so elusive at times. After all, moderation is not my middle name! The push hard, all-or-nothing attitude is what got me in trouble in the first place.
This is the last day of June 2020. I can rewrite my story, alter my future just a wee bit. Use my past to make a better future for me and the people around me. Take on a different direction than the one I was living before. Suit up and show up for each day, choose to be happy, regardless of loss, sadness, and depression… to find a better way and be brave enough to go after it.
By working really, really hard on living the best life I can, I honor the friends and family that have passed on before me. Be enough for yourself as you were to all of them. Be good and kind and gentle with thyself. Stop the internal torture you so easily revert to, ease up on the expectations you hold yourself to. No one can do it for you — but you! You’re more amazing than you realize. The day will come, when you fully and unconditionally love yourself for better or worse, just continue to be willing and work towards self love, rather than self loathing. It won’t be easy, yet given time, patience and practice and a little bit of luck, you’ll achieve that as well.
Take time… to work, it is the price of success. Take time… to think, it is the source of power. Take time… to play, it is the secret of perpetual youth. Take time… to read, it is the fountain of wisdom. Take time… to be friendly, it is the road to happiness. Take time… to dream, it is hitching your wagon to the stars. Take time… to love and be loved, it is the privilege of the gods. Take time… to look around, it is too short a day to be selfish. Take time… to laugh, it is the music of the soul. -An old English prayer