This picture was taken 5 years ago when I had just moved to the US. My heart was broken and I was severely depressed, longing to feel free. Willing to do anything to feel a bit of relief. Ironic, as I look pretty free on that swing.
Today I have freed myself from so many of the balls and chains that were weighing on me during those dark times. Depression as a default mode. Alcohol and smoking as coping mechanisms. Codependency as a mean to find self worth. Compulsivity as emotional regulation. Total absence of self love, self care, self worth and and self esteem. On all these fronts, things have dramatically changed. These last 10 months of sobriety feel like the culmination point of a long trek up Mount Return-to-the-self. From up here, things are far from being perfect, but despite everything, if I had to choose between yes or no, I would without hesitation say that yes, I am happy. This was unconceivable just a couple of years ago.
As I look down over the hills and valleys, I see the villages and winding roads of the future stretching out before me. I see vast plains, space on every side: open possibilities. (I also see the end of this “mountain” metaphor). It’s a nice change from seeing only stormy clouds, impending doom and failure, aka. Mordor. Now that I see the play of light and shadow, the beauty in the contrast, I get a better sense of the perfect-imperfection that is life.
Will I live with an anxious knot (the one that lies underneath all the drama and substance use) in my stomach for the rest of my life? Maybe. But now, it’s manageable. Now I know that it’s ok to feel anxious, or sad, or angry. That none of these feelings need to be covered up. That they really do pass, and that letting them arise is the beginning of their end. I know that I don’t need to make a dramatic story out of them, nor do I need to numb out. I also don’t need to sit on a swing and take pictures and pretend I can fly to try and convince the world that I am ok when I’m not. I can stay just here, feet firmly planted on the ground, feeling grounded no matter what’s up. And when I look closely, I can even notice the moments where the knot is not there at all, and I can breathe freely.
I can choose to cultivate these moments, and turn them into a second nature.
I can carry them with me.
Yesterday, after 3 days of final insanity and pushing through, I submitted the last chapter of my dissertation to my PhD advisor. I hope she likes this version and doesn’t ask for a third re-write. Cause I AM EXHAUSTED. Exhausted but happy. 10 months sober under my belt brought me to the place where I stand right now. I hope that wherever you are today you can be grateful for everything that brought you here.
Hang in there everyone