I just realized today something that should have been obvious to me years ago: this blog is my church.
I come here when I am wounded and wondering, when I feel the ache of being human in a way I need to let go of. I come here to witness myself in my own pain.
It’s kind of ironic that this is true, given the ink that gets spilled about our “edited lives” that are shared on Facebook, the picture-perfect moments we capture on Instagram. But given my general tendencies to tell the truth and my desire to stare life directly in the face, I suppose it makes sense that I want to air only the ouchy stuff. For when I am in the deep is when I most need to remember I have company, always; that I am merely, and majestically, being human. (And thank you, dear friends and company, for being here when I need to be witnessed most.)
I am shedding and shedding and shedding right now. I hate that six years after my life went truly upside-down that I still have to look back to that as a reference point, that I still find places I am holding on to what’s gone. In changing over my closet from winter to summer, I have come across dozens of pieces of clothing I’m still holding onto from 2010—clothes that are probably, what?, six sizes smaller than I am, as 2008-2010 was a brief moment in my life I was thin. I don’t lament the thin, not at all (it was fun, though). I lament the sense of security, safety and success I was living in then. Those things are gone. For good, most probably. And yet I love three of those dresses in particular, and still can’t make myself part with them, even though right now I’m knee-deep in half-filled garbage bags of stuff that Has To Go. Because I love love LOVE the woman I was when I was wearing them. Fearless. Happy. Open to everything. An untouchable kind of confident.
I was larger than life then in a way that made me feel… larger than life.
And now I’m just Stacy-sized: whatever the size of the dress, the size of the personality (undeniably big) and the human (undeniably small) who resides within in me remains the same. I’ve gone from being a big girl with big dreams (and a lot of hidden pain) to being a life-size, war-worn woman who is tender, confident (still that), optimistic, open, and wounded.
But as I go through my closet, it’s not just those dresses I am holding onto. I’m still holding on to the end of that particular career. The end of feeling like I was on a ladder for which there was only one direction ahead: ever upward. The painful reminder that there simply is no moment in life where you acquire the necessary goods—husband, children, career, financial security, happiness—and arrive at the Safe Place I so fervently hoped existed when I was a young girl, a teenager, in my parents’ home, promising myself a calm, stable, well-made future.
I keep thinking I have finished with that fantasy, but no. I bump into it again and again, so deeply ingrained was fervent promise to myself. But it’s time to get rid of all that. The navy-blue interview dress for a corporate job I will probably never again have. The collection of handbags and evening bags, for the kinds of events I will probably not ever go to again. The dozens and dozens and dozens of shoes I keep because they are objects of beauty, but that are ridiculous in my life and in my closets now. And sure, I have room for them (great benefit of being single is I get to take allllllll the storage for myself)—but now I am seeing that it’s time to let go, of as much as I can, in as many ways as I can.
It’s gone. That life is gone. And I moved myself into a new one, with great intent and care. And I love it. Being up here in the green and the woods feeds me, keeps me connected to the parts of me I trust the most—and keeps me disconnected from the shiny objects that pull me toward wanting status, that beastly outside validation that tells me I am good and smart and… worthy.
These many months of not working were a blessing and also a curse: I had to live solely in my mind and come to terms with what is in there when I am not building a shiny new rocket ship for some company or another.
But something amazing and wonderful happened to me, too, in this insular, brooding year: I finally was able to fully inhabit all sides of myself at the same time in a way I’m not sure I have ever done before. And that happened in no small way because of an amazing, soulful man who came into my life. In his company, I always feel a hundred-percent me, all of me, the whole me, all the nonsensical juxtapositions and the weird clash of being hyperconfident and wildly insecure suddenly making sense (or at least not not making sense), and that big, beating heart of mine I am always carrying around in my hands, seen and treated so tenderly.
But I have to let go of that, too, for reasons I won’t share. But mostly because it’s the right thing to do. True love waits. If you love something set it free. If I can’t stand on my own, then I can’t stand with him and vice versa. Choose your cliché or aphorism.
So now I feel as delicate as a butterfly with wings that were brushed too harshly by a tree branch, damaging the fine structure that allows flight, life.
I’m always letting go. Always trying to find the quiet inside where I can know and believe (those being two different things) that I am worthy of love. And now what I need to know is that the love that walked into my life and made me feel like…. just me — big/small me, brilliant/goofy me, confident/wounded me, loving/hurting me — is mine to keep forever, in really meaningful ways.
But it’s oh so hard to stand on your own sometimes. And I get tired of how many times in my life I have had to do it.
And so I come to church, to this sacred space, where I can say aloud “I’m hurting,” an act of prayer that reminds me that pain is not forever, even if the ache it leaves in its wake is.
And I come to church also because it’s through my pain in life I’ve learned to connect with many things that are bigger than me—grace, belief, selflessness, acceptance. Those very grand humilities are what have always pulled me through.
I’m on my knees, friends, looking for the glory. And I know it will come. It always does.