I guess you could say I made it. In one sense it was an entire year ago, August 12th, 2018, my mom helped me pack my things (actually, she packed all of my things while I slept in) into her car before driving off towards New York City. Road-tripping across the country for three days with my mom was the perfect setting for a coming-of-age tale about an only child leaving the nest for the first time at the ripe age of 30. Even as I attempted to claim my independence as a young woman setting out on her own, I took all of the help and support from my parents I could get. I wish now we would’ve made more pit-stops and taken longer with the drive. If you ever have the chance to take some extra time doing something with those who truly love you, I recommend you do. An extra day or two makes no difference in the grand scheme of it all.
I can’t remember one year since turning 18 that my parents weren’t a 15 minute drive away. My dad would often check in to see if I changed my oil or how I was doing on money. But now I was putting more space and time between us than ever before. I’d traveled further across the globe at times, but I was always due to arrive back “home”. This time though, I was leaving to create a new “home” - one on the opposite side of the country from them. I didn’t know exactly why I was moving other than opportunity knocked, and I figured that was as good a reason as any to pick up and relocate my life.
We like to measure our accomplishments in time. One year anywhere at anything marks the endurance of our commitment. A year at a job, a year in a relationship, a year abroad… a year at anything says, wow you did it a year! So now a year into surviving NY, I achieved the very things I'd hoped to achieve. I've done some stand up in the Big Apple - I even got paid once. I have one job at a salon I adore that affords me my life. Things are tight, but I make it work - I've made a life in NY. But I’ve made it in another sense other than just time paid and goals met. My relationship of “home” has evolved into something unexpected. It’s not only where I reside on a map, it’s where I reside with myself. My body is my home - home to a life, home to many experiences, home to many thoughts and ideas regarding all of it. And while Colorado may always be my traditional home, a place I can retreat to with family and familiar scenery, I’ve learned wherever I go - it is I who is the truest sense of "home".
As someone who spent much of her life immersed in self-loathing and using any substance under the sun to drown out the feeling of being “me”, this was an oddly familiar feeling to experience. It’s like seeing someone you haven’t seen in ages, only to have a warm embrace and pick up right where you left off. I believe my awakening back to myself was largely due to cutting out alcohol for bouts of consecutive time - which is why I've officially decided to give it up foreseeably. My mind is always spinning, but it seems more manageable when I'm not confronted with the fear and regret of what I did the night before. I've probably blacked out 1/3 of my life at this point, so there is much time to make up for. When you're not working tirelessly to escape/abuse/make yourself disappear, it's amazing what you have time for. It's amazing what you're open to learning. It's amazing how you're able to show up in your life.
This feeling of being "home" makes me wonder if I have a soul. I'm not insisting that we do. But I'm not insisting that we don't, either. I’m always walking this line of logic and spirituality. I suppose there are worse realms to exist between. I really enjoy that the two have started to compliment one another more in recent years. Meditation is now proven to increase good shit in your brain - everyone should at the very least try it... daily, for like 5 minutes. But like with God, we haven’t proven that there is in fact a soul. And I'm okay with that. I'm learning to be less focused on what happens next and more focused on what I can do now.
Although, I’d like to believe we do have souls, and that I picked all of my experiences out once upon a time in some cosmic waiting room before arriving here as a human. But if I’m being honest, if our lives are supposed to help us transcend due to the grit we endure, my soul is definitely playing it safe. It says to the desk person in the cosmic waiting room: “I’ll have TWO parents who love me please! Yes just me! Yes, I’ll be a woman so she has some struggle, but let’s make her white and born in the 21st century, she’ll already have the right to vote. And yes let's throw one trip to rehab in for some edge…!”
My soul wants to transcend, but also chill. I get it, soul, I get it. Regardless if we have a soul or not, or if consciousness truly resides in the brain, and once the brain goes so do we - regardless of any of that; I am home for this experience on Earth. My mind, my body, and my brain are all systems working together fiercely to keep me alive.
I have to give myself credit where it’s due. I pumped my body full of enough poison to kill a small horse at times and yet I persisted. I hated myself so much that when I looked at my naked body in the mirror all I felt was shame and disgust, and questioned how anyone could ever love me since my stomach was round and I had cellulite on my legs. Cause that’s what determines love, right? That’s what I’d been taught by many people in my life. That your body should fit into the mold society cast and if it doesn’t, it’s not worth having. I also learned that anger and shame are the best responses to anything you’re not happy with. Isn’t that sad? Not just for me, but for all of the people (I was raised by many humans family and otherwise) who taught me these things. How sad it is that this is also what they learned. What a travesty for humanity that we’ve been reduced to commodities and waist sizes by a conglomerate of powerful humans who couldn't give a single fuck about our well being as people?
Despite existing in the environment that was created to keep me down I've learned to like myself anyway. That doesn’t mean I always love myself, or that I fully accept my body. If you’re on the whole "love your body no matter what" train, I’m proud of you! But sometimes I still don’t like my stomach and that’s fine. I can notice it now and move on with my day. It doesn’t turn into starving myself or puking in the toilet, and that’s progress to me. Because as it turns out, there are much, MUCH, bigger fish to fry than my waist size.
I believe systems have been put in place to keep women (among many other groups of people) small, quiet, and hating ourselves, and I refuse to cooperate anymore. It’s true however, having visited some of the seediest corners of life I feel I’ve been propelled to expand away from them with a force I couldn’t have otherwise. The woman who didn’t want to die, who didn’t want to hide or be small, who wasn’t offended by rejection but inspired to learn more about herself and about this world has grabbed the reins now with a vengeance; and I’m letting her take them.
I’ve drug my body through the bowels of addiction, to the depths of spirituality, back to the edges of nihilism. I’ve believed high, and I’ve believed in nothing. I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read in the pursuit to understand what my purpose is. But it seems so clear now that I’ll never actually know all I wish to know, and nothing will ever make perfect sense. The meaning is in the pursuit itself, and I get to decide what that means, if anything at all. It’s a position with a great deal of power from one angle and total helplessness from the other. I’ve lived much of my life from the side of helplessness, but I see now I was always gravitating towards the side of power. Maybe both are necessary?
All of us start at different places on the spectrum based on our circumstances, but regardless I believe we all have it in us to move forward or backwards with every experience. I imagine the spectrum must be three dimensional and with every back and forth, it can still propel upward towards something greater. What's the greater? That seems to be the question... but even if the greater is nothing but a concept of our minds, isn’t it nice to find some meaning in the meantime? What is your greater? You get to make it up don't you see? I’ve learned beyond a few basic rules of life i.e. don’t kill anyone unless you have to, don’t steal, don’t punch your kids/wife/husband etc. you truly get to make up your own set of rules. \You can borrow from others or set your own. You can experiment your entire life with what works and what doesn’t! Maybe that’s what it’s for after all...
Ultimately, in all of my findings, I understand my life has less to do with me alone and more to do with everything as a whole. We work day and night to fix ourselves to be better, but for what? Better for what? To look a certain way? To have a bigger house? To drive a nicer car? If the entire Universe was designed so we could compete over who has the nicer "things", then politely kill me now :)
That can't be it - not for me personally. Going through life as an empty shell of a human searching desperately for love and affection in all the wrong places won't work for me anymore. I’ve already searched in the wrong places; man babies, drugs and alcohol, toxic friendships - all of which weren't for nothing. They helped me get here, now. But I’m ready to be better for something greater than me. Something that helps humanity and not just how I feel about my fucking pant size. If you want to be better that’s a great start. Find something worth being better for. Determine what your better looks like and run towards it like your head is on fire and it is the water that will save you.
It might just save you from yourself. XO