Using four clear push pins, I hang a large poster on my wall which displays Mary Oliver’s poem The Journey. It reminds me that people will always claw at me to fix their lives but that all the while I can only save myself. The howling winds and dark night sky and all that. It is a gorgeous poem because it is so courageous but not in some unattainable sense. It is brave and brutal. And real.
Let the others pass into the background. Only you at the center of your life. It seems selfish but now I see it in brand new light. The more you give yourself away the harder it is to find your way back. We spread ourselves out so thin that you can see the tiny stars gleaming right through us, like veils. Like ghosts. No arms and no legs but trying to carry the world on our backs.
When I was a teenager I became a mother. When I couldn’t handle what was happening I drank. Most of the time I handled myself beautifully, with strength and conviction. Without flinching. And some people thought I was very strong. I thought I was strong too and I even felt that way sometimes.
But you can be the strongest and the weakest at the same time. You can take care of everyone else and simultaneously need desperately to learn how to take care of yourself. You can mature in some ways and cripple in others but all of that stays in the same body, the same mind. It walks this earth as the one and only creature that is you. So you let people see one side but you hide the other. Or you think you do.
There’s a lot to unpack I guess is the thing to say. And there’s a strong argument to be made (I know because I am making it right now in my head) for not sharing any of this shit before I have had proper chance to process it or whatever. But isn’t that where we get into a fuck lot of trouble? Waiting for the right time. Thinking someone else will come along and tell us how to live our lives. Or not. I am starting to see that most people would prefer we do not live our own lives but rather fit ourselves quietly, conveniently into theirs.
Sobriety is disruption. You interrupt the pattern that is you. And this has strange effects which extend outward like ripples on the surface of a pond when a stone drops in. And once the surface begins to move there’s no collecting it back.