Tough, but good

Where I am in my life right now is someplace really, really good. I am in a place -- financially, emotionally, physically -- that I never knew I would have the privilege or right to experience, and I am grateful every single day to have made it as far as I have. It took a lot of work, and it took a lot of convincing myself that what I've done to get here is a big accomplishment. It's difficult to see it that way at times when I have this tendency to compare myself to others around me. But that's not fair. It's not about how I measure up to others, but how I measure up to who I was before. I am, and will continue to be, a work in progress, and that's okay. I have to remember that.

The good, and bad, thing about being in such a good place right now is that my brain decided, "Oh, okay, you're safe and happy right now, so this would be the perfect time to go through all those boxes up here you shoved aside when you had other shit to deal with." Cool. You know that quote by John F. Kennedy? "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." Well, the sun is shining, and I'm out on the roof.

Essentially, I spent a lot of my time growing up living in what I consider "survival mode." I got through each day, sometimes by hanging on by the tips of my fingers. I fought just to get through my weeks. So when something bad came up -- something that threatened to pry those fingers off the ledge -- I would push it aside to deal with later. I had to recover from this problem/threat first, and then I could handle that one.  I repressed, sometimes in the moment, so I could survive. But because I was always in this instinct of protect, survive, move on, I ended up collecting a lot of these problems, cluttering the back of my mind. When you're always in survival mode, there's no time to deal with anything but surviving. There's no time to deal with problem number two (or three, or four, or five...).

The Void, I've called it before. I put the problems in boxes and shoved them deep, deep down. And now they're resurfacing. Which is tough, but good. Tough to deal with -- but a good sign, because it means I'm safe. It means my brain thinks I'm capable of opening everything up now. One box at a time.

But it's hard, when there are so many boxes that I don't know where to begin. Or I don't always remember what's in those boxes. And that part scares me most of all, I think. I'm not sure how many boxes of trauma I've stowed away, and I have no idea what's going to happen when I open them up. What will I find?

One of those boxes sprung open this morning. I had the same nightmare, three or four times in a row. But it didn't feel the same as a regular nightmare. It was vivid in the same way that my nightmares tied to memories are. And it was exactly the same, each time it played out. I woke up in a panic, realizing this was not just a bad dream, but rather something from my past I was remembering. The details at the end of the scene I had to watch on repeat this morning are a little fuzzy still, but my brain is slowly trying to untangle it for me, in a way that I will be able to manage. Again: tough, but good.

I will take it one memory at a time. It's nice that I have someone who is always there to remind me that no matter what I find, no matter what I remember, I am in a better place now. I am safe, I am happy, I am so much stronger. This past Saturday I got my fourth tattoo to remind me of this. It's a little sprig of lavender blooms. It reminds me of growth, of fragility. Of grace, silence, and calm hope. I will carry it with me, always.


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