“I don’t understand where this came from and I just…I just hate it. I never used to be like this.”
“Yes you did. You just masked it.”
I constructed an idea of who I am out of hundreds of nights spent smoking cigarettes and drinking bourbon. Trimmed it with drug abuse. Dusted it with a series of destructive relationships. The things I did defined me. They let me ignore the person underneath. I was a series of actions. Choices without a skeleton to hold them. Fragility. Vulnerability. Insecurity, frustration, and anger. There was no place for them between empty bottles and bloody noses. I could pretend I was the person the substances made me. In that there was safety.
Over the years, though, those choices have become fewer and further between. The parts of me they pushed down start to resurface. Flowers through cracks in the concrete. I want so bad for them to all be beautiful and exciting. All motivating and inspiring. Those stories told about sobriety unearthing the best parts of ourselves made me think this part might be easy. But I’m learning how exhausting getting acquainted with the person you are can be.
Inundated with uncertainty. I catch myself making lists of all the things I need to fix. The same things I would once drown out compulsively. Ignore entirely. Strange and unfamiliar. An unrecognizable person climbing out from underneath years of abuse. She swears she’s been there the whole time. How can that be true?
It’s hard to be present. To sidle up to the things your heart tells you. Listen close. Act in congruence. Hard not to glaze over your thought patterns. To pull each trinket out of your jewelry box and inspect it closely. Realize the importance. Avoid trying to change, ignore, or invalidate anything. Just learn to be with it. Explore it. Pay special attention to the pieces that made you grow. Inspect all the wounds close. Do not pass judgment on the scars.
This is all new. Getting to know the person I grew into without noticing. A foreign body. I find myself curled up in the corners of our apartment, knees to chest, shaking. What if I don’t like her? What if I don’t know how to make her happy? What does she want from me?
Waking up after years of sleep. Finally understanding there is a girl who has been pulling the levers. Shut down and shut up, but still present. Waiting for a time when someone might listen to her needs. Let hands smooth down hair. Soft words and a, “shh, shh, shh…” Let her be soothed. Let her be understood. There is nothing broken here. Only more opportunity to learn. To grow. Another chance to define myself. To get comfortable in a life that could be good for me. Exhausted by the holding pattern. Listen. You are clear for landing.