Getting There

“Everything you are against weakens you.

Everything you are for empowers you.”—fortune cookie

A few months ago, I read The Bell Jar and felt relieved that, at least, I was in better shape than Sylvia Plath’s character. A crazed electro-shock patient: This was my litmus test for sanity and coping.

Then, the veils began to lift (they really do always lift, as annoying as that adage about “giving it time” is). Drives in convertibles. Beach-sitting. Boardwalk-strolling. A sunburn that makes your flesh tingle. Writing again. The feeling that some part of you is waking up from a very long slumber. Expansion, expansion, expansion. Kayaks on lakes that look like mirrors. Carnivals. Parades. The Better Theory. Bonfires.

The biggest challenge I faced: learning to extricate myself from these attachments I form. It is so hard to let go—to grieve as you would over a death. Why usher that in?

Because, silly girl. If you get yourself healthy, health will follow.

But it’s a bear to figure out. It’s thinking with your heart and then trying to apply logic to it. It’s no longer making excuses ("Change! Outlined goals! The problem’s been recognized!”) and seeing your subtext when you speak (“Come back! Come back!”). It’s learning all of that, and seeing where there is disease, and figuring out a way to move forward without anger or hostility or resentment. Everything—and everyone—I am for, empowers me. So, I decide to root for those who would hurt me. I wish them the best, I blow them kisses, I throw them flowers and smile and say, simply, “I love you. And I have done all I can.”

True empathy—true love—is knowing when someone is better off without you.

The sense of being strong and doing what is right felt good; even as it became increasingly difficult. That knot in my belly! My growing disconnect. A burdensome sense that I’m too far ahead now; these last months reconnected me to the woman I always wanted to be: independent, unafraid, giggly, excited all the time. I’d been so worried; made timid by the possibility of sliding backward. Unhinged by all these dreams.

I did all this for you, and you still __________.

I made these changes like you asked, and you turned around and __________.

The scorecard perpetuated itself (most behaviors are quite easy to predict). And then, silence (but not always).

Travel opened up. Nigerian headpieces in church vestibules with empty wine bottles and giggling girls. Hotel bars shaped like living rooms with fishing bait available behind the counter. Speed boats down creeks. A Chevy truck on the open highway. The north, the south, the sensation of seeing something completely new.

I stop sometimes and whisper to myself, “Thank goodness it’s you. I really missed you a whole lot.”

I may actually be realizing the life I have always longed for.