What begins to happen is this wild sort of integration of the self. Because in sobriety you cannot leave yourself – you cannot abandon the good or the bad, the highs or the lows – the self has no choice but to do what comes naturally. That is to say, that which is not chemically induced or artificially manipulated. The self begins to integrate. And you feel stronger because all your bits aren’t scattered randomly all over the place, instead they are collecting and reflecting and building and restructuring the halls of the temple that is you.
There is a palpable sense of cohesion. Like all the chain links inside begin clicking into place. It feels a bit fortress-like. Perhaps it is the feeling of a self-protection you never had before. You are kinder and yet also you are steelier in ways that frighten you a bit but exhilarate you even more. Perhaps it is self-respect, this thicket of vines intertwining inside of the wilderness that is you. You make deliberate decisions about what you let penetrate, what you let into your space. You find that a hell of a lot of things will no longer be allowed.
All of the shards and sharp pieces take mercy on your psyche. Instead of cutting you up, piercing at your mind and your body, they begin to align themselves with one another like making a mosaic out of shattered clay or one of those beautiful stained glass windows you see in cathedrals all around the world. Self-loathing, self-hatred, self-judgment, self-harm, self-abuse, self-degradation, all these jagged edges fit together like puzzle pieces so they can finally stop hurting you and start making themselves known to you as tools, as bits of whispers, of art. Smaller pieces of a breathtakingly worthy creation. Yes, you did yourself dirty for a long long time. Yes, it is still hard to process. But you can face it all now. You can touch it and hold it and heal it and mend it.
No matter how ugly you felt or how cruel it all became. How many times you took your precious hurting body and hurled it against the pavement. It is all coming together now so you can see it and yet remain in control of it. Offer it peace. Offer it clean water and a warm safe bed. You were not subhuman. You were not bad you were hurting. You were not weak you were strength distorted, strength overgrown. A kind of strong which strangled itself.
I don’t know if this is making proper sense. As of late, I am a collection of moth wings fluttering all the time and my mind is drifting more often than not to grander places which I have never before seen. You know what I think? I think we run from our power even faster and harder than we run from our pain. I was running fast and hard in the cold early spring morning air a few days ago and tears were just streaming down my bare face in hot electric tracks. I’m ninety-seven days sober and tears and I are now just friends. I give in, I let them come and do what needs to be done. I think of them as holy water the angels pour through me, a connection to a higher realm. I love that I do not fully understand them. Tears are faith.
The amount of fucking weight we carry all the time. It’s too much. The way we live is not forgiving enough, not benevolent or soft enough to cradle the shards and broken bits. We need cushion. We need tendering. Not so we can fall helpless but because that is where the power lives. In that place where the good dovetails with the bad in such a way that you finally realize there is always both at the same time, and neither. We are so much bigger than that. We are the being which can see all of it. As we pull on our jeans and apply lipstick and fix the hair and drink the coffee and walk the dog and drive the car and hug our precious ones and fight the good, sweet, hard, beautiful, necessary fight. One day at a time. One tear, one breath, one word, one piece at a time we are becoming whole.
Photo: self portrait 4.6.22