I've recently taken to reading through my old blog, the blog whose domain I did not renew and which now sits in a deep dark corner of the internet, accessible only by me and those souls unfortunate enough to randomly stumble across it.
It's long. And incredibly messy. And not entirely pretty. And actually altogether rather cringe-worthy.
And I can only take it in doses but something in me has softened towards it, softened towards that girl who, five and a half years ago, created a free Blogger account as part of her creative writing independent study in college and didn't quite know what to do with it.
I wasn't aware then of how important that space would become.
For four years ago began the deepest transformation of my life, and it would be a year yet before I began journalling religiously, and those intense blog posts are all I have to document that chaotic time.
I culled this post from June 2010, exactly four years ago, and it felt pertinent to share, one of the less scattered and more coherent entries from that year.
I've been searching for little moments of clarity in my life. Any ray of sunlight cracking through the blinds, a spot of green thrusting through the pavement, the tiniest stream of water trickling. All of these suffice. I welcome them with congratulatory arms and a wide smile, an inner patting-myself-on-the-back. Acknowledging moments of clarity is like praising a child for something seemingly small and arbitrary, like peeing on the toilet. Except they're not small and arbitrary at all.
I realized that I wanted growing things surrounding me in my bedroom. I bought houseplants and pretty pots.
I realized that I wanted to pick raspberries from the bushes in the backyard. I brought a bowl and a book with me and lounged in a lawn chair afterwards.
I wanted clean sheets. I changed them, washed them, and put them back on.
I wanted green tea. I ordered it.
I felt drawn to read Rumi, to soak up his every word. I purchased The Essential Rumi, on Amazon, used.
These little cracks of sunlight and buds of green and droplets of water are not just that. For soon the blinds will be thrown open and the plants will overtake the streets and the floodgates will break. These moments of clarity will let in a million moments of clarity, and my layers and layers of clothing will be pulled by the threads, little by little, until they can be torn off and I'll be able to see my soul, pure and bare.
I just made a pretty sizeable rip. A whole ray of sunlight burst in, for I was able to witness the part of my soul that was whispering to me, yes! yes! you know what you want! And I realized: I don't want to go to grad school. My life right now is not about more schooling and social justice issues and confines and flat-broke-ness. I need to explore myself. My soul needs to breathe. I saw that my soul wasn't coaxing, or coercing, or shouting these things to me, either. It was just talking, plain as day.
Before it was starving, but now I'm offering it these little crumbs, as I listen to its words, and slowly, it's gaining strength. I'm gaining strength.
I'm pulling up my blinds, very slowly.
That was inevitably what every day of those three years felt like. Deep inner crisis > mind-blowing epiphany > words scribbled down > trickle of light gets in. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
(And those crises, they were the kind of crises you don't wish on your worst enemy, the kind that cause you to lose all the air from your lungs and ostensibly believe you may not take your next breath. You know the kind?)
That time, it was a time of forging and hammering, of turning upside down and shaking out, of taking out everything single thing I knew and inspecting it and deciding if it could still belong or not.
They were hardest three years of my life.
And then eventually the blinds were thrown open, the green overtook the streets, the floodgates opened. But it was all those little trickles, not any moment of luck or right-place-right-time, that got me there. It was hours spent journalling and navigating this new inner terrain. It was thousands of dollars spent on psychotherapy. It was buckets of tears. It was a fucking long and slow transformation.
A year ago, three years after living home with my parents (which was only supposed to be a year at most, of course), I found a nannying job in Providence. I quit my job in Connecticut. I packed up my childhood bedroom. And I got myself to a new city and new life. Everything was changing.
It was like I had hit this final stage of transformation that catapulted me into independence and confidence and inspiration and joy. I found lovely roommates and lived in a beautiful bright turquoise room. I was earning real money and creating my own business. I eventually moved to a new apartment with even better roommates and accepted an even better job and was even happier.
But we never truly arrive anywhere, do we? This was not my final destination. Nor is anywhere, really.
All that transformation that had happened in the past three years was still a part of me. I wasn't running away, but there was a small piece of me that was saying, "Phew. That's done with. Glad I won't have to deal with that shit anymore."
Only moving to Providence was simply the next leg of the journey. I knew when I decided on this particular city that it would just be a step. It wasn't far enough, adventurous enough, exciting enough.
It was my way out. Plain and simple.
And it ended up being a really lovely way out. Providence is a beautiful place and I'm certain I was meant to come here.
When I was interviewing for my current job at Brown, I was a ball of nerves walking in. And in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the building, I had a moment of calm and heard myself say, "Trust, Ruth. If you get it, it will be for a reason. And if you don't, it will be for a reason. Just do your best, and trust."
I ended up getting the job, out of nearly a hundred applicants. I laughed to myself as I thought back to my pre-interview self-reassurance, and figured I'd better trust it.
So I did. I took the job. I was finally a college graduate, with a salary and benefits, living on my own outside of my hometown. I had an amazing group of friends who I'd go out with every weekend, laughing until our stomachs hurt until 4am. Everything was falling into place and I was rolling with it.
And then winter hit.
And my god, if the winter of 2013-2014 wasn't the worst winter I've ever known.
Before I knew it I was learning some tremendous truths about some of my friends, and many of them started falling away. Before I knew it I was sitting in a doctors office hearing that I'd need to have surgery and lose my ovary. Before I knew it I was in the midst of the most absurdly dramatic tangle with a man and my closest new friend, ending with myself on the outside, as it goes. Before I knew it I was suffering from extreme anxiety, the likes of which I thought I'd moved past. Before I knew it I was waking up on New Years Day completely disheveled and hungover and un-alone in my bed, wondering how on earth my life had become so out of control.
And yet, and yet.
The winter battered me, sent me such incredible loss, and yet I emerged. With more love for myself than I've ever known. I've never quite experienced such deep turmoil and confusion while still maintaining a deep sense of okayness, like there was some solid patch of ground I had cultivated deep within me that wasn't going anywhere, no matter the storm.
I stood on that tiny but solid ground all winter and when the sun finally emerged in spring, I was standing even stronger.
Funny how that happens.
I feel as if I've undergone some intense, rigorous plan of study and received some kind of advanced degree in being alone. You see, as everything was falling away around me, I had this thought.
Oh, so I just have to learn how to be alone. Okay, Universe. I can handle that. Thank you for the blessing in disguise.
And so I told my brain that it was time to really be alone. That all this time, I had been alone but not quite alone enough. Not really, truly, unequivocally alone.
Because here I was, alone again, and unhappy. And if I'd actually learned how to be alone, wouldn't I be okay with it? Wouldn't I be able to let all that heartbreak and loss roll off my back because hey, I'm down with being alone?
And so I pulled back from life. I stopped dating, and wrote men off altogether. I spent an absurd number of hours contemplating the difference between loneliness and being alone. I filled pages and pages with thoughts on the matter. I tore apart the definitions of want and need and tried to figure out if I should be needing anything outside myself.
It wasn't until two very dear and wise friends each made a tiny little comment, one after the other, that snuck into my heart and exploded into my body, when I realized.
Oh. This is not the point of living.
I have the words just love tattooed on my left forearm. Because as I emerged from those tortuous three years, the one thing I came out knowing is that there is only love. That's all that matters. That's all that everything comes down to. That's the point of everything. Just love.
Forcing yourself to be alone and vehemently convincing yourself that you must not love yourself enough until you're okay with that alone-ness is not love.
Wait, I'll repeat that.
Forcing yourself to be alone is not love.
It was like light bulbs were going off in every corner of my being. Every cell in my body was lighting up.
Yes. Yes. It is okay to want. To want human interaction, companionship, connection, intimacy, deep relationship.....just plain company.
And it is possible to do this without compromising any sense of independence. It's doesn't have to be one or the other, black or white.
You can be awesomely alone (I've taken to using the term "solo") while still desiring human connection.
(In fact, my favorite blogger ever just wrote a post on this that explains this idea of want vs. need in the most beautiful way.)
You may already know this. And if you do, I am clapping my hands and smiling at how much you know. Because this felt like a life-changer. A wrapping-up of the past four years of being alone and opening my heart and mind to so much new-ness.
Because we all want love. In fact, I will be so bold as to say we all need love, for survival -- both our own love and love from others. It is an intrinsic, necessary thing and I'm glad I can say from experience that
life without love isn't much fun.
It's been four years now. Four years exactly. When everything began changing. Shifting. Morphing.
It's this delicate balance of letting go of the past but holding onto who I am. Letting go of the pain and chaos and hurt while holding onto the heart and resilience and steadfastness.
We, as women, are stronger than we know.
I've emerged from the winter and things are brighter and clearer now. I'm creating new relationships. I'm making space for joy and clarity and creativity and responsibility. I'm making big plans. I'm letting love in. I'm sussing out a future.
And I'm nearing the end of my road in Providence, I believe. She's served me well, this beautiful city on the coast.
And now I'm ready for more.
I'm not sure I would exactly choose to be single and childless at 26 years old, but if I am then I'm declaring that one of its perks is the ability to fly off to distant corners of the country, even the world, without looking back. And maybe staying there for a time, turning my eyes to new sights and extending my heart to new people. Staying in one place at this moment in my life feels like a wait-it-out kind of scenario, as if I'm simply hanging around holding my breath for my life to begin, and my body positively squirms inside at this thought.
Now feels like the time for exploration and adventure and excitement. It feels like I'm going on year five of my life, my real life, the one I paid for with sweat and tears and time and money.
I'm ready for more. And I'm ready for love.
This blog space has been somewhat vacant of late, and that's not without my constant desire to be writing and filling it with words. But somehow all this time, nothing felt right to say without saying all this, first. As if I needed to catch all my metaphorical readers up, first.
And so it feels as if I've rearranged the furniture and smudged with sage and cleared the air, and am ready for more.
I'm going to be sharing a few of my old blog posts I've come across, ones that, looking back, I see are filled with such wisdom and importance, written at a time when I couldn't even tell up from down.
An ode to that girl, if you will.
Thank you for joining me here.