In many ways I viewed coming back to Southern California, coming home. This is where I lived for 15 years. This is where my closest friends are. This is where I feel most like me. In essence this is where I grew up. This is where they have wonderful non-chain restaurants.
Yet, coming back has been wonderful and more difficult than I thought. A lot has happened in the last two years. I’m not saying you can’t go home again, but I wasn’t prepared for the adjustment.
Ah yes adjustment, that could be why I keep dreaming of fake weddings which are ironically about death, the end of an era so to speak. That is definitely the case for me.
Coming here is a great new beginning, not just a continuation of the life I longed for while I was in Ohio. That life is over. Friends move on, get married, have babies, move away, or you just have less in common. It happens.
So this is a new beginning. With new beginnings comes awkwardness, uncertainty, fear, exhilaration, nervousness, and risk. Yet there is also much anticipation for what will be and what I am becoming.
One of the great things about this time, before I find a job, is that I am having a chance to reconnect with people that weren’t as big a part in my old life. I had coffee with a friend I haven’t seen since college. It was great. I’m also meeting new people and am actually going to church. I’m having a chance to reconnect with God, outside of the bubble that is my family and all of the baggage that entails. I like it when its just me and God. I am finally able to reconnect with his love for me. I couldn’t feel it there for a while.
All of this means that I am slowly getting back to me and coming back alive. I feel like I’ve been sleeping, surviving, and enduring, that is not living. I’m scared out of my mind about many things but I’m finally getting some traction and moving forward. I am grateful for this time of reflection, healing and rejuvenation. So much to process. So much to decide. So much to absorb. While I’m starting to worry about finding a job, I know this time is sacred. I wasn’t ready to jump into a job when I first got here. I’m getting there.
Who doesn’t love a good story? The love, the fight, the drama, the comedy. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read book. It is what transports us to another time and place. We are inspired, horrified, scared, captivated and engaged.
All the while we are writing our own story, full of the same emotions, plot points and events. Yet there are so many elements of our lives we keep hidden. We’re afraid we’re the only ones. We’re worried about being judged. We’re ashamed of what happened to us or what we’ve done.
Yet my old pastor always said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” It makes a world of difference as soon as we begin to give voice to what is happening to us, what we’ve been through and how we are feeling. It empties out brain space. It frees up our heart to move on, so we don’t get stuck in the mire of our circumstance.
This is in part why I chose to blog. Some write stories. Some sing songs. Others write poetry, paint or play an instrument. Anything is better than being silent. Anything is better that being alone. Anything is better than quiet surrender. We have to fight for ourselves. We have to shout, in a way that is healthy, so we can be set free.
My friend Jenn is choosing to give voice to her story of breast cancer. At 34 she is facing a stage three diagnosis, a mastectomy, chemo, losing her hair and fighting for her life all within about a week. To reach out for support and keep those who love her updated on her progress she is blogging through it. I am amazed at her strength, resilience, faith and the joy in her journey so far. I know there isn’t much I can do but pray and her blog helps me do that more specifically.
We are also part of a bigger story that God is telling through us. All of our stories overlap and interact with others. We are not alone. We are part of a huge family. In that there is comfort, encouragement and faith. In the midst of pain it is easy to burrow inward. It is easy to become destructive or self-sabotage. But having the courage to speak out means that we can be held accountable, someone can give reason to our voices of insanity. Or in some cases someone to just give us a hug and tell us to hang on.
I think my friend Erika is right in that we are all a beacon of hope for someone who isn’t as far in their story as we are. We get to lead the way for someone, if we let ourselves speak of what God has done, how he has provided, how he has healed, how he has disciplined and even through how we suffered.
It’s easy for me to forget these things. I want to shut down. I want to block out. I have done that a bit over the last few months. The pain of my parent’s divorce was just too fresh. The death of our family unit was overwhelming. I was fighting out of wallowing in it. I was trying to help my parents. I was trying to be there for my brother. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. I just slipped into survival mode.
I am so grateful for those friends that have kept me sane. I am so blessed with their love, joy, distractions, prayers, encouragement and support. They have made this time of pain tolerable. There have been moments when I didn’t want to talk to God. I was angry at him, yet I knew that I was getting his voice through them. They kept speaking truth. They kept speaking love.
As I come out of the shock and denial of what is happening I can finally begin to give voice to everything. I am starting to process out what it all means to me. I learning how to have a different kind of relationship with my parents and my brother.
It’s all a process.