When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability...to be alive is to be vulnerable.
A friend had a very big family emergency this week. This isn't about that, because obviously that's not my story, but reading her updates as they flew to her family from Iceland a couple of days ahead of schedule, seeing her bouncing through grief from thirty thousand feet, she at one point commented that she was simultaneously working on a knitting project for an expected baby, and the juxtaposition of truths got into my heart.
I know a lot of these e-mails come across as a little fluffy. I know that reading along with what is more or less my own mindfulness practice isn't always the most interesting or enlightening, and I also know it can be irritating (because sometimes I find it irritating when other people do it). I know sometimes the lead doesn't follow through. But in the writing and the sharing I'm making some small discoveries that are making a difference in my life, and I kinda hope that's happening for you, too, at least a little.
One of my self-encouraged therapy tools for my anxiety is trying to remind myself to take one thing at a time, to tackle worries in a way that allows me to take up the things I have some control over and put down the rest. Trust me when I say that I know how irritating it can be to be told to do that when you're in the pits of it. I know it well. I know, I know, I promise I know. But I also know that when I have any control over my brain, if I can pick things that have any kind of realistic action behind them, I can make the big churning wheel of stuff feel a lot less worrisome.
I am the child of alcoholics. Regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of alcoholism at any given time, I will always have grown up in an alcoholic household, and there are a lot of things that means for my life, but not all lessons break us. There is a thing I have corroborated with other children of alcoholics, which is that the idea of "everything will be better in the morning" gets built into your psyche long before you realize that the reason it's better in the morning is because the adults are more sober than they are in the evening. Realizing that fact was a little jarring, because I found myself wondering if it could continue to be true for bad days unrelated to alcoholics, but whether because it's part of my brain now or because sunrise really is a mood reset, it tends to work out for me.
In any event, the one-day-at-a-time thing that I talked about last week mostly, more or less, works. On the worst days, it's minutes or moments and we get through it. Breathe, let it out, shoulders back spine tall legs long eyes up. Step. Step. Together forward.
My sleep tracker has a function that can set your alarm based on the sunrise time for your coordinates. I used it today, got up before it was hot, dressed, walked the dogs, made breakfast. I transcribed an episode of Mo's podcast, wrote some e-mails, ran the vacuum, sat on the terrace where the air smells of lavender and drank my coffee. All that by 10:30. Sunrise, today, reset me.
It's not a perfect system. In darker moments, even in the last couple of weeks, the light barely poked through. It took a pile of moments scrimped and gathered and hoarded to feel like I made it to morning. But a second Found Sister's first neice was born late last night, and in this moment I'm in holding pattern waiting for the call that Friend R's new small one is joining the world. All of this is a constant reminder that, sooner or later, the sun rises, and one tiny thing at a time, we get back on track, even when the track is a little different than it was before; a little more clunky and wobbly, for a while.
Sooner or later, a new life comes in and completely, utterly fails to replace a lost one, because that's not how life works; no one is replaced. Still, the universe expands with a cry and a glimmer and makes space for the beloved newness.
We have all, at some point, been someone's beloved newness. Even if that newness faded, we will all be beloved and new again, sooner or later, and we will in turn discover things that are beloved and new to us. In the dark, we can only keep our eyes open for the cry and the glimmer and the new.
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