at various points in this journey (extra long eye roll at that euphemism), particularly as i was railing against the injustice of it, or in a particularly deep pit of grief, i would sometimes think, you know what, fuck this. i don’t need to keep wallowing in this crap. i just need to pull up my bootstraps and get through it, you know? get over it. stop making our lives so miserable and just cut it out. and each time i’ve said those things (actually, usually i’ve shouted them, on the sofa across from my therapist) – i’ve then sat there, eyes ablaze, chest heaving, eyes streaming, fists clenched, ready to challenge everything that came out of her mouth. and pretty much very time, she would say, with such sadness and compassion, no, sweetie. that’s not how you get free from this. being mean is never the right answer. being gentle always is.
and the concept of freedom always gave me pause. i think it was because i didn’t often think in these terms: being free versus being bound or imprisoned (although jesus, why not, it’s a pretty fucking apt description)…and then, it just didn’t seem like something for which i could hope or see as being possible for me. i mean, what would freedom mean? what would it look like? how would it feel? so much of the time, i walk around feeling like i’m a raggedy, rat-gnawed shell in the shape of a woman, a fraud of a human being. how could freedom apply?
over time, however, i began to crave it. i will never be free of this experience, i cannot take away what happened to me. but the shame, oh. if i could be free from some of this shame…if i could hear the word ‘family’ without feeling choked, or if i could just bask in the affection and adoration from the people who see me, and love me, if i could stop my descent into the dizzying spirals of shame…that feels like freedom. i mean, the shame’s not ours, is it? it was given to us, inserted and splashed and threatened and shoved and suffocated into us, and we’ve been carrying it, our bodies bent and bruised and battered. haven’t we held it enough? please, let’s give it back.
earlier today, my friend asked a question about whether i valued happiness and thought it was achievable. she was asking because we had been talking about our kids, and on the kind of life we hoped they’d have (and the one we were trying to give them). she said that her eldest sister thinks that the purpose of life is to leave a mark, to contribute, but that she feels that striving towards happiness is more important. i said that i wasn’t sure about happiness as a goal, that it seemed a bit overrated; that i definitely thought life was far more than about bettering the world…and then i surprised even myself by saying that really, what i wanted was to be okay with however i was, at any given time, in any given moment. that however it felt to me, whether it was horrible or joyful or hard or wonderful, that i could accept that as the truth for me. that I could just let things…it…myself…just be. and that that was what i wanted to pass on to my kiddo.
the more i spoke, the more i realized how true it was. that for me, freedom will be standing strong in myself. knowing that however i feel is fine, and okay: no matter how different it might be from how others feel. i want to be free from the me i’ve been for so long: from the judgment i absorbed, from the shame, from the awful endless convictions that there is something wrong with me. the very stuff that got me so strong that i am still here. the same stuff that was the lullaby of my toddlerhood, the soundtrack to my life. i want freedom from that.