Thursday, January 26, 2017

The world has gone mad, it seems.

It is my first week of the step down from a "higher level of care", being weaned off of the treatment center slowly but surely, going only a few days a week rather than living there twenty-four seven. It is also the first week of a new, potentially fascist president, and it seems that all of my fears on a personal and societal level are being validated. These days I find myself hiding in uncertainty and fear, making a home in paralysis and overwhelming anxiety, too incapacitated to accomplish anything meaningful in my life.

I am afraid of everything, from relapsing and being in the throes of the Monster forever  to fear for my friends facing discrimination and oppressive policies. I've been told that fear is a healthy response to change and transition and potential danger, but this angst is eating me alive. I am deteriorating : disintegrating : crumbling under the weight of this.

I am not sure how to turn myself to stone to protect my heart from the corrosive effects of fear and feeling everything so deeply.

They throw out catchy phrases like, "feel the fear and do it anyway" but the words fall flat when I am faced with this new reality: facing a world that is terrifying and strange and where I may not be strong enough to stand, and simultaneously facing a world where injustice abounds and my friends need me to stand and be strong enough to fight for them.

I feel myself pulled back into the tension once more, finding myself caught in the middle of the spectrum of LIFE and DEATH. And while I've made so many steps in treatment anchoring me firmly on the side of LIFE, this Fear with a capital F claws at me, yanking me back towards the darkness, back towards self-destruction and despair. 

I don't know who or what to turn to: What do I hold onto these days? What's pumping air into my lungs? What will be the story of my survival? 

I close my eyes and take a deep breath and pull my fuzzy purple blanket up around my shoulders and think of how I got to this place, how I started eating again and how I pushed through each meal and how I began to heal my own wounds.

And I remember the staff at the treatment center bringing over a keyboard to the hospital so that I could play, so that I could sing. It was my antidote to the meals that I thought were going to kill me, it was my refuge after difficult conversations in family therapy, it was one place where the anxiety dissipated and I felt at peace. And I remember reading my spoken word pieces to the therapist, feeling confident and grounded for the first time in ages. I remember writing till I felt like the pain was out of me, till it was on paper and I could breathe again.

There is an Andrea Gibson poem that says "We have to create. It is the only thing louder than destruction." 

That is my answer, at least for right now: not turning my heart to stone, but creating. I have to create.  I have to. I have to pursue art with everything in me, dive into that which is holding me and pulsing through my veins lifelifelife. 

No cheesy platitudes will help right now - the fear is too strong and the world too bleak. But I can create, countering destruction and uncertainty with the best weapons in my toolbox.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Liminal space: the space in-between, the transformation period, the point between wound and healing, the space between an inciting incident and the protagonist's resolution, a period of discomfort and waiting."

I'm sitting on the concrete sidewalk in an empty parking lot across from the treatment center. It's 70 degrees outside in Texas in  January and I sit with my face towards the sun, soaking in the rays, breathing in fresh air and wondering, wondering where in the world I go from here.

Next week I begin my transition from the treatment center back to my real life outside, back to a world that I'm not sure I can handle. This is the place where the rubber meets the road, where words and theory become action. This is where I test out my own strength, try standing on these shaky legs and see if I can walk. I know that I am not the same person who walked in through those sliding glass doors two months ago. I have done so much deep, core work within these hospital walls. But what if that isn't enough?  What if that doesn't translate to action, what if I fall flat on my face and don't get back up again?

"What was different this time around?" she asks me, a well-meaning question that I have yet to find a good way to answer. She is right to be skeptical that this time will be any different: I've been in treatment many times and subsequently relapsed many times. She is right to wonder. I mean, what the hell, sometimes I wonder those same things myself. But I also know with certainty that things inside of me have changed the last few months. I'm not quite sure how to begin to describe to someone the internal shifts that have taken place over the past seventy days, how to tell her that the world looks a little different now, how I am a little bit different now, how you explain to someone an intangible internal movement back towards LIFE, a resurrection of sorts, a profound transformation of a once-ghost-girl. I'm not fixed or healed or recovered, but I am more integrated and centered and whole. I am not happy and sparkly sunshine and glitter, but I am grounded and anchored and living more in line with my soul. I can't give her what she wants, straightforward, objective evidence that I will not relapse again this time, that this time the treatment will stick. I can't give her the answers she craves. But I don't think healing works like that anyways. It's rarely nice and clean and boxed together perfectly into easy answers. I can't give her what she wants, but what I would tell her is this: after years of feeling fragmented, I finally am beginning to feel like I am stitching myself back together. The dissonance that once consumed me has begun to die down, and I am finally - Jesus, finally! - beginning to feel whole.


I am living in the liminal space, no longer in chaos, feeling more cohesive and aligned than before, but not on the other side of this war yet either. I am a girl in the in-between, stuck in the tension of what is and what is not yet, caught in the middle of a life that I want and the life that I have. I feel the constant pull and the dull ache and the growing pains of Becoming. But it is more tolerable now. I feel like I should be more afraid than I am. The fear is still there: of the change, of the unknown, of being alone, forever alone, and falling back into the throes of the Monster. But I am also not nearly as afraid as I expected I would be. Here, in this space, for a few moments, I almost feel at peace.

... And just like that, my mind starts spinning again, the peacefulness interrupted by all of possible scenarios of how things that could go terribly wrong. I long for certainty and structure and to know that I will be okay / deep breath / but thing is, I do know that. I know that I will be okay, and the image comes back to me, the image that has held me for a while: weaving. This is the image I turn to repeatedly when my mind starts to run wild. My statement of faith says that I believe in a a god who takes the messy, frayed threads of my life and weaves them together into something whole and beautiful, moving each piece with care and intention. It's not that I believe that everything happens for a reason - I don't - but it's that I believe that she-who-is can take the darkest threads and work them into this masterfully crafted tapestry. That she takes the messy threads that I hand her and weaves them together for beauty and healing, both in my life and in the entire world. My friend calls it "tenacious hope" to believe that things will work out, that we will all be okay and that god is in this somehow. Maybe it's naive, but I have to hold onto that stubborn, tenacious hope. It carries me, holds me, guides me and gives me fight to keep eating my meals.

So as I continue to walk in this liminal space and until I reach the other side, may I remember my truths: I am not alone. I have people around me who care about me me very much. she is with me, always, guiding, empowering, encouraging, holding. I am loved, deeply and without exception. I am part of creation and deserve kindness and care and reverence. she is weaving these threads into something magnificent. And finally, no matter what comes, I am going to be okay.