So many great things have happened this month, of which I wanted to write about and share; but then along came Halloween and a bigger reflection materialized.
This time last year, I felt like I had soooo little. I was hibernating with friends and family in New York. I was in that state of being broke where every swipe of the debit card makes you ache with wanting the decimal point in your balance to be in a different place.
I was also in that state of homelessness where you have someplace to sleep, and people to take care of you, yet you have no physical address to call your own.
And I was battling that lingering state of sadness certain women feel when they see certain women who seem to have it all.
Last Halloween, I was with my dear friend Belinda, who was on leave from Prague and taking a sabbatical in New York. She knew Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. (Nestled a week and a day before my birthday, All Hallow’s Eve kicks off a season of celebrating, of which I enjoy deeply.)
She wanted to make me happy. So, we spent the day together and she invited me along with her friends for trick-or-treating with their kids in SoHo. It was fun, we had fun. I was happy. Until post treating, we were having a glass of wine in the home of her friends, and I couldn’t help staring at the baby bump nestled in one of the women before me. I had to steal away to the bathroom for a quick, drenching cry because I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The struggle was real. As were my hormones.
I’d crept away from the family affair to be alone and I’d wandered through the streets of NY where I landed upon the Halloween Parade. I stood among the costumed strangers and laughed and pointed at the hilarity of costumes like a life-sized Sun Lovin’ Ken Doll still wrapped in his toy box packaging. I remember trying to be a real New Yorker and enjoy the celebratory chaos of the crowd while holding onto the mantra, “We are not afraid” as only hours earlier, a terrorist had driven his pickup truck into runners along the Hudson River bike path near Chambers street, killing eight.
It was an interesting time.
I was also mindful that I was going to need a lot of therapy to help me realize and get past the fact that I had been in a verbally and sometimes physically abusive relationship with an alcoholic who may or may not have been bi-polar or something else. I haven’t really written about this yet, in plain sight. Without innuendo. Because I hadn’t been in the right state of mind. I hadn’t felt courageous enough to write it. I’d told my friends. I’d told my family, after the fact. I just hadn’t written it; and that, to me, is the hardest to do. Because my words are me.
Yesterday, my friend Morenike wrote on Facebook how she witnessed a man literally dragging and beating a woman on the sidewalk right in front of her, and with boxed pizza in hand for her waiting family, she had to yell “GET OFF HER!” because no one was doing anything and she knew she was the one who had to. And it made me think of courage.
Courage comes in all kinds of forms. Sometimes you’re faced with something right in front of your face and you have to fucking do something. Sometimes you’re faced with having to leave when you’re not sure where you’re going to go. Sometimes you’re faced with knowing that things are not right; that things are NOT going to change and that you must be the one to make the change. And you must.
Sometimes I’m amazed that I was in the type of relationship where part of my nighttime ritual, as I’d click off the living room lights, would be to also pack a bag with my laptop; phone and charger; wallet and keys and leave it near the door in case I had to run out at night during a 3 am drunken episode. Sometimes I’m shocked at how loud I could scream at someone with such rage I never knew I possessed which resulted in ME slapping and punching and shoving, and not in defense of the same coming to me. Sometimes I’m stunned that I saw it all coming from the beginning, yet I stayed because I’d made a commitment. We were trying to be happy.
I didn’t realize how unhappy I was. After it all, my dad, while choking back his tears, had told me, “Don’t ever let someone take your light again.”
That stuff is in the past, except for the parts that linger. And those parts are a part of me; probably forever. What makes a huge difference is knowing that I am where I am today, and who I am today, a year later, because of the sum of those parts.
I started this post with the intention to just sort of merely point out the fun, sunny fact that I was in a new place. Like, “Hey guys! It’s sunny in LA and I’m happy and isn’t that coooool?” I wanted to point out, in an IG sort of way, that I’m feeling fortunate and truly loved. And that I dressed as a cat again to show my strength and growth and “isn’t that cooool?!” Who knew that to get to those words, I had to get through all these others that came before!
As always, I hope this helps someone today. I hope this helps someone to be courageous and do what needs to be done. It helped me. Happily.