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17_Journeys Chapter Two – Late Winter, 1991

Late Winter, 1991

I didn’t understand what I was doing. I completely abandoned myself, and my son and I ran free. I pushed every boundary and lived as close to the edge as I could without falling off. I allowed my experience to hover near death, careless of my breath. Chaos became a lifestyle. I didn’t value my life, but I was still seeking a reason to live, someone to give me value.

I doggedly chased that moment when I slipped ‘in darkness,’ begging for its freedom, hoping it could show me the way. I didn’t find it. I let the wrong kind of darkness consume me, and I became lost in it. I wandered aimlessly from experience to experience, completely forgetting my original mission. I dive deeper into the darkness until I put myself in the position again of abandoning another child. 

The parents who took her, who were so grateful to have another child, would be the ones to save me in the end. As a part of the adoption agreement, they demanded my recovery. It was through them I met my first real chance at success.

The two days a week, I spent with my therapist became my new reality. I literally put my life into her hands, and she compassionately guided me toward sanity. Growing up the way I did, I couldn’t comprehend the thoughts of a sane mind. My entire childhood was an exercise in the blind, leading the blind. She gave me sight and taught me to look deep into my soul at the truth, as ugly and painful and empty as it was then, she taught me to see my life as it was and accept it, so that I could one day release it.

She led me to a clear path, and when I stepped upon it, I felt the earth beneath me again. I landed upon solid ground, and I realized that life could have a direction. Life could be a Journey that takes us somewhere. So, I followed her guidance, and I suffered the process. I tormented over all that had happened to me in my life. I buried myself in the experience, and I began to understand my mortal existence. I came acknowledged the agony of my experience so that I could find my joy.  

As I grew, I was able to surrender the drugs that kept me afloat and sank deep into the Earth, but I still didn’t trust my mind. I became utterly dependent upon my therapist to be my eyes and ears to give me an accurate view of the world. I felt alone in the world, raw and vulnerable. There was no one for me to trust. I had only the hour we spend together to get me through. 

As it is with all great teachers, there was a point where she knew she had nothing left to give me. I wasn’t done yet, but I needed to spread my wings and learn to trust others. I needed to reach out to the world and let it love me if it could. The thought of presenting my open, wounded self to others again was terrifying to me. So, naturally, I resisted. I didn’t trust myself to think things through. She was my sanity, the voice of reason outside of the chaos of my brain. I didn’t believe I could live a healthy life without her, but she persisted, and eventually, I tried.

My first venture into the community was not the place most people would seek. I estimate it was not a place most people would feel comfortable, but it was perfect for me. Once a week, a room full of dysfunctional people sat in a circle and talked about the potential of being healthy. A therapist led the group, but I think we helped each other as much as he helped us. For me, being there was not about him anymore, like it had been with my previous therapist. What I gained there was learning that I was not alone in my suffering. I learned that my story is not as unique as one might hope, and I learned that realizing it was everywhere gave me the freedom to let it be. I always felt so isolated, so different, marred in some way, but I wasn’t. Here was a room full of people, some with situations much worse than mine. We were in this situation together, and together, we could find a way out.

As time passed, I found my feelings and even realized that it was healthy to have them. I was finally in a place where people understood my pain and my hope. These people understood real suffering and, with me, wanted to move beyond it. There were people here who weren’t okay with being broken. I finally saw others with the same desire to learn healthy love, all of us so committed to this goal that we are willing to face the gates of hell and the devil himself to find our way to the truth.  

Growing up, the people around me didn’t want to change. They talked about how life was, justifying their existence the way it was, never striving to improve it. All I had ever wanted was to have a different life, even if it meant I was the one who needed to change. I was willing to do it. I had never known any else dedicated to facing the truth of themselves and correcting their previous misinterpretations of life. 

There is no church or committee or government or gathering of any people I have ever met, more honest than those in group therapy. The honesty of the people in those circles is so pure. They are willing to share their most painful experiences and their epic failures. They are raw and open, and in the end, I believe that circles like these will be the thing that ultimately saves this planet. This willingness to be in authentic truth is critical to the healing of this world and its people. This, I finally know. This, I finally live. This saves my life and, in the end, allows me to help save others.

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