Where I Am

Where have I been, you ask?  Continuing my journey, I suppose.  The quiet, hybernative phase of my journey- just one of many.  Like seasons, the cycle of introspection has been upon me and I've been hunkered down, at a loss for words or the drive to share my thoughts, more focused on observing and piecing together the puzzle that is my existence.

What I have learned: I dove deep into the muck that I've avoided for decades so that I could reemerge a more whole soul.  I began the process of writing as a fragmented individual, living a life segmented in boxes.  Through the daily blood letting of remembrance, of building the past out of memories that have stained my mind, I pieced together the tattered quilt patches of my past to assemble the foundation for which I grew up.  It is there, with its pain and sorrow, its heartache and loneliness, its raw, unapologetic truths, that I began to see the purpose of my life.

I can no longer play the martyr, because I realize that life is not a constant tally of the times we've been wronged and the times we've been done right by.  We are the culmination of those experiences, of course, but more so, we are the insights that are born of those moments when we are most worn down.  Each new experience that threatens to crush us, simultaneously promises to build us up if we choose to act with honor, truth and grace through the darkness.  If we look, head on, into the fear and the pain and accept the moment with an open heart and a willingness to grow- not just survive.

I've always loathed the term "survivor" without ever knowing why.  I now understand.  Survivors do not thrive, they merely get by, making it from moment to moment.  And there is a need for survivorship from time to time in all of our lives- when the very best that we can do is to merely survive.  But I want to go beyond survival.  I want to touch that place that lives outside of the boundaries of living just to get by.

That is where I am today.  Life is a set of challenges, they continue to come, I continue to face them.  But if I can accept each new turn with a new perspective, from a place of growth instead of a place of defeat, then I am experiencing and honoring the purpose of my life.

I reached this place several months ago, but have been meditating on it in quiet solitude.  I wasn't ready to announce it or to explore it beyond the subtle background ruminations that my mind has been working through.  It needed to simmer in my soul before I could speak it out loud.

And true to life, it was almost immediately put to challenge.  In the past two months I've been faced with the ongoing difficulties of raising a son on the autism spectrum as well as a health diagnosis of my own: inflammatory arthritis.  While I struggle to give my child everything that he needs to thrive in his world, my own body is taking hit after hit from an auto-immune disorder that is attacking my joints and leaving me with very little energy.  Every day I wake up to the pain in my hands, my feet, my hips, the fog in my brain, and every day I try to find the good in the situation.  I think about what it is that I'm supposed to learn from this- if only that it's to hold my head high and experience this disease with as much joy and grace as possible.

I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine, a young woman who is nearly 2 decades younger than I am, who has experienced even more hardship in her short life than I had lived through at her age.  She's running, running, running, just as I did at her age.  She is making good choices, living a responsible life, but cramming her life with events, activities, work- anything to silence her mind and keep the memories at bay.  I listen to her story, I feel her fears, I know her need to never slow down.  And I promise her, one day she will be ready to slow down.  One day she will be ready to turn around and face her past.  She doesn't believe me and I understand.  But I was her, and I know that life is a journey and right now she's in the survival phase.  She'll move through it (it may take decades) but she'll get to a place where one day, survival will no longer be enough.  That's where I am today.

That's where I am.


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