Celebrating Freedom

I closed a major chapter of uncertainty, anxiety, and shame today. I feel lighter than I have felt in years. I had a phone call this morning with my lawyer. I had a lawyer. Never thought I would say that. It wasn’t related to anything criminal, but I needed a lawyer to help me get through some difficult things. This morning, in a pleasant phone call with the woman who has been my lifeline, we reviewed some details and financial info, then I said goodbye to my lawyer. Hopefully for the last time, unless it’s to meet her in person (we’ve only ever spoken on the phone), I thanked her for her help and hung up. A huge weight lifted off of me, one that I’ve been carrying for a long time.

The lightness was tempered when I thought, almost immediately, of the long road ahead and the many things still on my plate to tackle. But instead of letting that thought drag me down, I consciously decided that I would allow myself some time (the whole day sounds good) to revel. I’m giving myself permission to be joyful and free for the rest of the day. I took myself to one of my favorite spots for lunch. For the first time in memory, I sat alone at a bar and drank a beer and ate lunch. The old Cheers– style bar regulars who sat on either side of me were pleasant but didn’t make small talk. I was all alone to savor my strawberry cider (okay, it was cider, not beer, and it tasted like dessert) and salad.

I was also alone when my saga (the one that necessitated hiring a lawyer) began, but I was crushed under a boulder of guilt, shame, anxiety, FEAR. Today, I celebrated the end of my case, alone as well. But now I feel free. And while I was eating lunch alone, I realized I’m no longer really alone. I have a team of people who know me, like really know me, and support me. I have a boyfriend who knows about depression and anxiety, both mine and in general, and still loves me for me. And now, best of all, I have myself. Strange to think that I never had me before. Now I know how to support myself, how to understand and handle my feelings, and how to be inquisitive and compassionate with myself. I finished this massive battle on my own, with only the team that I recruited for backup.

When I hung up the phone with my lawyer, even though it was an innocuous call and I wasn’t worried or anxious about it, I said out loud, “I am a badass bitch.” Well, really I exclaimed it and jumped out of my chair. Then I fell to my knees on the carpet, leaned over a leather chair and thanked God over and over for getting me to today, while tears steadily hit the leather below my bowed face. I am so lucky, and so lucky to realize that I’m lucky. Whatever happens, my pain had a purpose, and I’ll be uncovering the full depth of that purpose for the rest of my life. And while the hard stuff will return and I will feel the pressure of worry again, for today, I have permission to be carefree, from the only person who has the power to control how I feel…ME.

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Getting What We Need

Despite Simon and Garfunkel‘s lyrics’ getting stuck in my head on a regular basis, and despite my best efforts not to need anyone, I am neither a rock nor an island. That is the unfortunately tardy realization I’ve had over the course of the past year. For all of my life, I have held everything inside: emotions, disappointments, failures, anxieties, insecurities. I have suppressed feelings and avoided finding my true self. I have given almost no thought to who I am, what I want, what I like, what I can’t stand, and most importantly, what I need. As a result, a lot of imploding has happened since last January. It was a long time coming, and it continues to be painful every day.

But a glorious thing happened when I admitted, first to myself, that I am not a rock. I am penetrable, I am vulnerable, and I am broken. I began, finally, to get what I need. Denying my needs for companionship, reassurance, affirmation, and support has made me weak. It took a long time and a perfect storm of circumstances to bring me to my knees, to finally break me down completely enough to force me to open myself up to change. Many like me, including some in my family, will go an entire lifetime without ever recognizing that they are missing the connections they need. We all need to be connected to God, to others, and to our true selves. It may sound crazy, but I am so thankful to have been so deeply broken at the relatively young age of 34. Barring some unexpected death knell, I have time, to get it right, to find what I want, to build sustaining relationships, to live the way God wants me to live from this point on.

Now, having reached the nadir of my struggle, I have begun to climb up slowly. And from the moment I began to accept my vulnerability and share it with someone I trust, I have seen that God is providing what I need to keep climbing. He is helping me widen the circle of people who take my hand and pull me forward. He helps me understand and accept my vulnerability so that I can move beyond the things that have made me weak. And He provides assurances that I will continue to have what I need to complete my journey. I am finally getting what I need, and it feels warm and comforting and I am thankful.