Well, yesterday was a very hard day. But I survived. I only wanted to drink and kill myself for a little while. I am putting it out there because I think it is normal for someone like me to think like this. I didn’t really want to do either (the drinking or the killing) but this is where my head goes when I am in a lot of emotional pain...always. Still. I am not sure it is ever going to be different for me. I have been at this sober living thing for a long time, and still, when I am pushed to the edge of myself, this is my default reaction. Because I have been working really hard all these years to learn to do other things, I can survive days like yesterday without doing default shit. Which scares the fuck out of me if I am honest. The fact that I can be sober this long and still have this intense self hatred and loathing and strong desire to off myself, is fucking terrifying. But it is what it is I guess.
After laying in the backyard, being so tempted to exit myself in all my usual habitual ways, and finding them all attractive but wanting, I motivated myself to get up and drive to the beach. I have long been a person who, when disturbed, must get to the edge of some body of water. It is like my fiery soul knows that I am in need of the water to extinguish the flames that burn so hotly within my being. Water’s edge is where I can quell the inferno. And really the only place that ever brings me any lasting peace.
So I went to the shore, as I have been doing for decades. And if I couldn’t find a shore, I found a river’s edge, stream bed or some place where I can do my process of “shore writing”. It is just how I talk to God. I have been doing this for so long, I don’t even know when I started it. I am pretty sure when I was kid and we would go to the beach in Panama. I wasn’t really old enough to write that well, but I can remember, stick in hand, writing stuff in the sand and then watching the waves take my words away, one grain at a time, in the great sweeping tides. What I felt was washed away and it helped me. Even as a little girl.
And it has become my practice. Whenever I need to let go of the pain, the hurt, the frustration, the sadness, the melancholy, the excruciating parts of being me, I taken them to the shore line and find a quiet, secluded place to write out all my pain at the ocean’s edge.
I do not think I have ever been more grateful to live so close to the ocean as I was yesterday. Twenty minutes and then I was walking, feet in sand, water washing over my ankles, trudging towards the only salvation I was going to get yesterday.
My habit is to walk to the end of the beach, as far as I can go. Yesterday there were people there at the end so I stopped short and made do with not quite so far. There is something also healing in the walking, intentionally moving towards, then writing it all down, inscribing it to the earth and then watching God take it all away with the coming tidal surges.
I saw people coming towards me and I always feel so conflicted. I mean they might see my words before the tide does. And then what? Are they going to stop and read them and then look at me aghast. I mean there was not pretty stuff littered all over yesterday’s sand. And then at the very same time, I don’t give two fucks. Like at all. I mean, they walked in on my process, so they are going to have to endure it for a moment as they walk by. I mean I have to live with this shit, it shouldn’t be so bad for them to simply read it. But I feel conflicted and not every single time. And today I can identify this conflict as the way I deal with shame, an idea that I have to let you see and the protective “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that has carried me this far in life. Shame is what is at the base of pretty much everything for me now.
So I am standing there with my stick in hand, writing out the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the shame. And I think I am done, the mad scribbling in the sand, settling down. But lest I forget some pain, and take it with me, I stand and reflect upon my inscription awhile to ensure completeness.
That is when the naked man and his dog happened by...
He said hello with a wave, then walked over my etchings on the shoreline. He read them. I stood by watching him and watched his face change. I looked away because what else is there really to do when a naked man and his dog are literally walking around in your pain.
He walked on and said nothing. I was relieved. I didn’t want to engage. I just wanted to be alone with God, the heartbreak and hurt and do my thing.
But then he and the dog circled back. And as he walked by, he smiled and asked if I was ok. I said yes because what else can you say to a naked man walking by with his dog? I was not ok. But if I told him that, then he would remain and I would be standing in the middle of all my issues talking to a naked man about them. And that was just more than I could bear yesterday. What is one to say to a naked man you have never met before about your most personal, shameful shit?
He and the dog reluctantly walked on and left me to what became choking, shoulder shaking sobs. I turned and headed for a makeshift driftwood bench, because I was not sure my legs would continue to hold me up. I sat down and cried. Then realized that my tears were too far from the ocean, and it felt compulsory to return the salty waters to the larger vastness of ocean. This too is part of my process. Like crying without letting them fall into the Pacific wrong on some level I cannot quite describe.
And as I stood there with tears streaming down, I only wanted to drown myself a little, which was a vast improvement from how I felt earlier in the day. And as I turned back to review my shore writing, I saw that it was almost gone, the words no longer distinguishable, only random letters outlined barely in the sand. And I knew that I could now move on. I could return to my life, a little less burdened, shameful and alone. That God had taken my words, returned them to the pervasive ocean, me and my thoughts, feelings and words, assimilated into the greater whole of life. And I was changed.
I walked the beach slowly, stopping to enjoy a short lived but beautiful dolphin show. I took notice of all the happy naked couples and all the families and dogs enjoying the beautiful day on the beach. God’s playground for all. And instead of feeling sorry for myself that I am not lovingly coupled, or adored or loved like that, I am not part of a whole complete family, I am still somehow ok. Broken. Lost. Scared. But standing still within this particular storm. Understanding that it all must fall apart in order to be put back together again. And that there is no other way for the breaking to occur, it must be painful. It must bring me up short. It must feel like it is worth dying over. That is the clue, the key really to living. Allowing it all to come at you, to break you down, and then if you are lucky enough to find yourself still standing, you begin to select the pieces of yourself that you value and pick them up, dust them off and re-assimilate them into this new greater whole you have become as the Godquake has shaken you to your core.
I laughed to myself as I walked up the hill to my car. Shore writing has never brought a naked man before. And it was fitting since so much of my life’s problems have been caused by naked men...and as I rose with each footfall to the cliff’’s edge, I smiled. And I knew that I would survive and be ok. That God never stops having my back, even when he has to kick my ass all over the beach. Godquakes are just how he shakes me free of all the ideas, thoughts and feelings that I heap onto everything creating space for what God wants me to have, experience, love and be...and it appears, that that process, is always going to require new levels of surrender. Again. Still.