Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day

The Fourth of July is about freedom, strength, courage, a celebration of our forefathers independence from tyranny. Over the weekend the neighborhood fireworks, parades and flag waving made me think about my own struggle for autonomy.

As hard as it might be to believe, there was a time when I was darker and twistier.  It used to be  I had something negative to say about oh,  everything.  I tried,  I really did to be more sunshine, more happiness but it felt fake.  It was just easier for me to be critical, judgmental, contemptuous and distant.  Turns out though sunshine and happiness is what makes life worth living.  It's been real work for me though trying to learn to be bright and shiny because for so long I fed myself CRAP.  That's one of the reasons I'm not employed.  You know, because it's a real job learning to be bright and shiny.

A few years ago  my life bottomed out and I had no idea what to do.  My plan to fix things was to curl up in a fetal position on the couch, pull the covers up and just stay there indefinitely.  Sunshine and Happiness likes to support me and all but she thought perhaps, just maybe, I might want to try something different, something maybe a little more effective?  Long story short,  she put me in a car, drove me 7 hours to some hick town, dumped me out and left me there for 5 days to get my shit together.  And....    

It worked.

In March, 2009 I attended the Breakthrough program at CARON in Wernersville, PA .  Upon leaving  and for the very first time in my life I had absolutely nothing bad to say.  My experience there was one of the best of my life.   At CARON,  I confronted the things I was most afraid of and lived through it.  When I left Wernersville, I  was on my way to letting that shit go.  I no longer needed to be dark and twisty.  I knew I was going to be OK.

Mary Oliver's poem The Journey is about just this type of freedom.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I'm grateful to be bright and shiny today.  Happy Fourth of July! 

CARON Breakthrough Group March 2009