2014 began in acute pain: a broken heart handed to me by a long-time lover with demons; disintegrating, burning hands from the effects of pompholyx eczema. It was unimaginable that either condition could be brought into remission. I was a metaphorical and literal open wound.
Readers of this blog know what followed. I stumbled into an Al-Anon group to try to cope with the distorted and unmanageable nature of life, owing to unsuccessful efforts at controlling my former partner’s disease. It seems so obvious now, but I didn’t realize until fully immersed that I needed the group years before I loved an alcoholic. I was a habitual codependent. While my parents were neither drunks nor drug users, addictions of all types basically wear the same clothes.
Six years ago, before the death of Jesika, before divorce and cancer, before the hard and enormously wrenching choices that put me on the path to the personal and professional satisfaction I enjoy at present, I darkened the doorway of Dr. T – my longterm therapist. My first words to her were something along the lines of, “Fix me before I lose everything.” Her initial response was some version of “I’ll work with you to figure things out if you’re ready, but you might lose some things. And maybe that’s ok, because maybe they’re not the right things.”
Scary words that left me with a huge decision: status quo or reinvention. I didn’t know much about myself at that time, but I was aware that I couldn’t continue on in the same way. I was exhausted. So I came back the following week, and the one after that. The first things we worked on: eye contact and graciously accepting praise.
The six years I’ve spent relearning to navigate the world with the help of Dr. T have not been marked by regular, linear progress. I think anyone who stood by me or suffered as a result of the Great Christmas Breakdown of 2011 will nod their head in agreement. Awakening and change have not come easy, as I suppose nothing worth the effort ever does.
However the inception of 2014 and the convention of the four horsewomen has unleashed a tidal wave. Bi-weekly therapy, Al-Anon, beet juice and a personal determination to break the unhealthy patterns that yielded repetitive relationship disasters. Last week while talking to Dr. T, I likened the experience to an unusual and dated pop culture sensation. I told her that I’d been procuring the right pieces for years, finally put them all together, and then like the great Evel Knievel, revved up the motorcycle engine. This year, I’ve come roaring back, and the personal growth leap I’ve taken feels like jumping that motorcycle over 13 cars. And I stuck the landing.
It’s kind of amazing to feel like you can do anything after decades of keeping yourself imprisoned. The people who were supposed to love and care for me as a child might have put me in the cage, but only by recognizing that I gradually became my own warden has the negotiation of freedom become possible. Serenity, courage and wisdom, nurtured one day a time, can produce death-defying feats.