It’s the 2nd day of the year. 2013. And I’m sitting on my futon in my red walled room, a candle and cup of peppermint tea within arm’s reach, cinnamon sticks boiling in the kitchen. And here I am, writing. Doing what in 2012 I learned to do: to sit with myself and write. To trust myself and my process and my stories. It took me 37 years to do it.
2012 was hard. So hard. For just about everyone I know. It was one of those years that I will look back on with a stinging satisfaction when I’m 83 and I’m humming my granddaughter to sleep on my lap. So much happened in 2012. So much.
I got my heart broken. And I’m not talking about heart break from romantic love though there was some of that too. In 2012, my mother broke my heart, again. Friends broke my heart. But most of all, I broke my own heart. I had to. It was the only way I could heal.
See, in 2012 I finished the first draft of my memoir. I confronted and wrote about the pain I’ve been carrying for 37 years. The pain I made my lover, my friend, my roommate. The pain I’d grown so comfortable with carrying I didn’t see how it was eating at me. Keeping me from being the mother, the woman, the writer I’ve always wanted to be. In 2012, I saw that, faced it, and it broke my heart.
It broke my heart because it forced me to see how fucked up I’ve been to myself and to people because of my own pain. Because I didn’t know how to deal with it. Because it was fucking me up so bad, I lashed out. I was frustrated. I was angry. I had a short fuse. I existed on the brink of flip. See the edge, the cliff, that’s where I was, ready to flip out at the slightest provocation. That was the kind of pain I was in. But I kept running away. The idea of facing it, writing about it, though I knew I wanted to write a memoir, though I knew I had to, the idea of actually looking at that mirror terrified me. So I ran. I ran for years. In 2012, I stopped running away. In 2012, I ran into the reflection in the mirror. And I broke my own heart in the process.
It’s what I had to do to write this book. To free myself. I had to face my shit. And I had to realize that I was living the same cycles of abuse that I was writing about. I was doing it to myself. That shit rattled me. It broke my heart. Again.
But the only way out is in, right? So I went in. And that’s how I became a woman. At 37.
In 2012, I stepped my writing up in a way I never have. I’m already one of the hardest working people I know. But this year, this year I took it somewhere else. I knew that I had to do that in order to finish this book. I knew it was time.
This year I learned to trust my process. I learned that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I learned that I’m braver than I thought. That to do this I have to be brave. That this book will be a bomba on my family and I’m doing it anyway. Why? Well, because it will be just that, a bomb. Because maybe then someone will talk. Because I will not let my daughter carry the silences, the secrets that have weighed on my family for generations. It has to stop here and no one else is going to do it so…
In 2012, I took my power back. Stopped feeling guilty for choosing myself. For not breaking my head when I was judged. For letting go of people, including my mother.
This year I broke patterns I’d been repeating ad nauseam for decades. Like my tendency to sequester myself when I’m feeling heavy. Though I still struggle with the inclination, I’ve learned to reach out and surround myself with love. I did it for the end of year celebration in a way I never have.
The holidays are tough for many. Especially when you’ve had a rough year. Especially when you’re single. The holidays just have a way of leaning in the lonely in a way that can be real devastating. I was feeling it. I was thinking about everything I’ve been through this year. I was thinking about my mom and her silence. I was thinking about my brother and sister and what a mess they are. I was thinking about a love I recently ended. I was thinking about my life and all the work I’d done and how reliving it had really broken me in many ways. I was focusing on the breaking and not on the coming back together. When I’m feeling this way, I stay away from everyone. I sit home, read, drink tea and cry. I cry a lot. This year I didn’t do that. I talked myself into buying two bus tickets for me and my Minnie to Philadelphia and I went to surround myself with love. It was spectacular.
I spent my new year playing charades, being insanely silly, drinking bourbon and laughing, laughing hard, so hard my abs hurt the next day like I’d done an hour ab work out. So hard my head hurt. So hard I didn’t cry. I still haven’t.
It’s not that I’m all cried out. I’m in the final stretch of the memoir and I know there are countless tears left to cry. But today, the first two days of this year and the last one of 2012, I’ve been reminded of what I have, how far I’ve come, how much nose to the wall work I’ve done to bring myself here.
I did a ridiculous purge before I left. Like 13 hours of purging and filing and organizing. I threw out at least a hundred and fifty pounds of papers. In the midst of it, I found a crisp $20 bill, as if the universe was telling me that the purge was clearing up space to gift me even more than she already has. On the bus ride back home, I received word I got a grant I applied for in the fall. Wepa! I felt so inspired, when I got home, I organizing my jewelry. Hung my earrings up on a scarf on the wall so it looks like artwork. Drilled a panel onto the wall to hang my necklaces. I’m not sure what this energy is but it feels light and wondrous so I’m going with it.
I’m in the final stretch of the staring and while I’m scared, I trust and that’s really all I need.