People say that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. There’s a whole diet program based on this, promising that you can transform your life in as little as 21 days. Some say the 21 day habit thing is a myth while others disagree. I probably fall somewhere in the middle; sometimes you just need something to believe in, even for a little bit. Even if it’s just believing in yourself. That you can. And you will.
You know how when you carry a secret, you act all wonky around people until you finally blurt out what it is? Ok, maybe you don’t, but that’s how I am. I’ve been told that my face gives things away. This is why I don’t play poker. But yeah, that’s how I feel lately about writing. I just don’t want to. I have a quiet online presence these days because my energy is devoted elsewhere. Some days it’s all I can do to go about my daily routine or post a pic on Instagram to keep some sort of business momentum going. Writing takes a great deal of effort right now.
My secret is a happy one, but it still terrifies me to voice because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Still, that’s part of this journey. If you’ve read previous posts, you have an idea of what motivates me to build what I build and my struggles to get to this place. So. A few weeks ago I celebrated 21 days of recovery. (I KNOW. HUGE. The last time I celebrated 21 days straight was over a decade ago.) On that day, I quietly retreated to the woods to reflect on the how much love and grace and mercy had been extended to me. Few knew just how big of a day that really was, and it seemed more apropos to spend it in solitude than throw myself a party or announce it in a group text or on social media. If you have been in a similar place, you know that you want to shout the news from the mountains and hug strangers and dance with joy, yet cry and nervously look around you manically while wondering if you’ll hit day 22. It’s the craziest, wildest range of emotions. Words can’t do it justice. And in those 21 heartbreaking, harsh, raw days, my short-comings and flaws and character deficits became more glaring than ever – some realized by myself, some pointed out painfully by those I love. I was overjoyed to have come that far, yet overwhelmed to the same degree.
“Addictions are safe little deadly hiding places where sensitive people retreat to ensure that the only people who hurt us is…us.” ~Glennon Doyle Melton
When you stop using your addiction to cope with life and how much you despise yourself, the layers you built up (in my case for over 16 years) slowly get chipped away, and you are left extremely raw. Yep. That’s where I’ve been. Licking my wounds, waiting for the new skin to get thicker, and trying desperately to shelter myself even a little bit from the blows while in that vulnerable state.
It’s taken a conscious effort and unspeakable effort to re-train my brain to stop believing the lies about myself. No one should go through life with that much self-hate. The problem was, I went from hating myself to being stripped of everything, and realizing then I REALLY didn’t like the me that was left behind. There was no place to hide any longer, and the most offensive person in my life was…me.
Now, weeks later and still in recovery, I’m often overloaded and overwhelmed. Life keeps throwing me curveballs and I find myself in situations that are stretching me far beyond my comfort zone, but instead of resorting to my old ways, I’m finding that I’m…surviving. Growing. Not thriving yet, but I can’t wait for that day, because I know I’m getting closer with each step. Every day that I tack on another day of recovery, my head becomes less foggy and life comes more clearly into focus. I find solace in the woods and in my shop, surrounded by strangely-behaving animals I know aren’t there by accident. Like Sam, who wanders down the mountain to see if I’m home, then disappears, only to return five minutes later with his old buddy, Zach, in tow once he knows for sure I’m around to play with so not to waste his old friend’s energy. He’s the most considerate dog I’ve ever met. Like this friendly grouse who wandered out of the woods in central Vermont and followed me around for awhile, then chased my truck as I pulled away like an itty bitty velociraptor.
(So cool. Yet so odd. Grouse usually are very elusive.)
Like Diesel, who seemingly has forgiven me after he frolicked in my epoxy jar and lost all of the hair on his back end. (That’s a story for another day. I still feel really bad from screaming when I first saw him, thinking he had mange.)
Or like this fox who ran up to the truck last weekend in broad daylight.
Wild animals are acting really bizarrely around me. Like, really. And they aren’t sick or rabid or frothing at the mouth or attacking me. They are just coming close, so close I could reach out and touch them, and they stay close until I decide to leave. They never leave me first, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by me. I can’t make this stuff up. Sometimes I wonder if Wall-E is misfiring to the point that animals within a 30 foot radius are hearing a high-pitched noise, hence explaining their strange behavior. But then I remember what someone once told me.
When you are as raw as I am right now, it’s natural to withdraw. I know God is reminding me that I’m not alone, even if I choose not to be around a multitude of people as I heal. I am getting stronger. I’m learning to hold onto things with an open hand. That those who sit next to you in the gutter may not be the ones you expected would be the ones pressing their shoulder to yours with their quiet strength. That there is strength in weakness, especially when you realize that that strength doesn’t come from within. That I am lovable and loved, even if people say or do things that lead me to believe otherwise. Even when I do things that lead me to believe otherwise.
“Some people don’t feel like they deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces trying to close the gaps of the past.” ~ Into the Wild
It was only appropriate that as day 21 approached, I built the Party for One. Made entirely out of reclaimed materials found in my shop or under the deck, this little portable table/bar unit was slowly reconstructed out of discarded shop materials to become something functional. Surprisingly, these funky, small, stand-alone bars that I built last year were huge sellers at festivals. I guess I’m not the only one who likes to celebrate solo.
I intended to pop open some bubbly and celebrate, but the mountains were calling. So I went.
Here’s to living a brave life. Because there is so much to celebrate for even waking up this morning. Give thanks for a new day, because mercies are new every morning.
“Not what I was, not yet what I will be…”