The sun driving up in the early winter morning produces a cream and silver ombré lining seamlessly flowing into the deep blue expanse above. I see the silhouettes of trees from out my kitchen window, their existence and beauty now more prominent than noted before. The measure of light changes everything. I think upon that truth and inspect it for deeper meaning. “Has it really been eight years?” I ask myself, with a dozen other questions emerging like water from beneath the ground, unseen and surprising.
A few days after that moment in my cold kitchen, I sit down once again to write and wonder if the depth which divulged the poetic language would be possible to reproduce for the countless lines I’ve told myself I would create. “I’ll use that paragraph when I decide to write a novel,” I think. Yes, a novel–a “novel” idea that is only birthed in that moment due to the internal agony I feel over wasted potential.
Well, this is not a novel–yet–so in proper form, I present a good ole, perhaps mistake-ridden, blog post. “Write hard and clear about what hurts,” Ernest Hemingway was once quoted as saying. A little print of this quote hangs above my white antique desk clipped to a distressed wire-laden board with a wooden clothespin. “How hipster and cliche,” I grimace as I scribble onward. How uninteresting to disclose something so remarkably conformed.
With the New Year the masses thumb through memories. I suppose you may think I’m going to reminisce and state my triumphs or goals for the future, but hopefully by now you’ve perceived otherwise. I will supply my shortcomings, which aren’t short at all. I will write hard and clear about what hurts, some of which still stings.
Eight years ago my life changed dramatically in a moment, in one night. My original intent was to give you the almost predictable version recounting the event and the list of gratitude that is inextricably linked. That was the plan–I admittedly laugh to myself at this point. I’ve found the best of plans go awry when devised by people.
If I only gave but a nod to the eighth year anniversary of this event, adding nothing of the consequences which reverberated up until this very day, I would be doing a disservice to God, you, and myself. I’ve already shared the story multiple times, but there’s always another facet to be seen and heard each time a story is shared, both for the hearer and the narrator.
I don’t want you to be deceived in reading this, visualizing a benchmark of fabricated perfection that so often media paints. A striking difference is seen here. Amidst the very culture and pressures that are being promoted, a false-reality presented on social media and other avenues, there is such a notable depth of hunger for what is real, raw, unfiltered, and true in this generation. We’re living in a generation that detests and is disgusted with glossy falsehoods. I see a generation crying out for more, for satisfaction, for more than what’s been had, and to be known. I’m with them. Give me reality. Give me truth. Disillusionment produces a cry for truth and roots. So here’s what’s real and what you’re not seeing.
What you don’t see is that most times I don’t sit at my hipster desk with the pictures and quotes clothes-pinned above. I end up weeping on the floor in the fetal position, crawling to my desk, tearing my laptop off the white, weathered surface and kneel, my face pressed close to the screen, typing furiously whatever intelligent thoughts were just encapsulated and realized in the moment of a barren soul before God alone. I then put it to words and life by punching keys. Sometimes what comes out doesn’t even make sense until I finagle it. I go about reordering sentences and streams of thought, laying out puzzle pieces that form an image when placed correctly. My fingers don’t move as fast as my brainwaves nor eternity, so there we are.
That desk, by the way, is simply a hand-me-down that has sat in the room until it became trendy again 25 years later in another generation. So. Cool.
What you don’t see is that most of my writings don’t make it public. They’re too personal and raw. Well, with the exception of the oversight on my part to change the privacy settings on a handful of personal writings for a couple…years (oh, dear). Since then, I’ve found sharing personal and private writings on one site wasn’t such a good idea and have divided them into two separate streams.
What you don’t see is that eight years ago I was going to kill myself. Looking back, I wonder if that was it, the moment I finally “won” and succeeded in ending my life. Attempts had speckled the past to no avail, evidently. I would wake up, white room, white sheets, white gown, sterile and cleaned up. IV’s and monitors singing a mourning song this soul didn’t want to hear, stirring me from sleep. I would receive an evaluation and be released with a plan of action typed neatly in black and white, a laughable stark contrast to the then present reality I hadn’t planned on existing in, blurred and unintelligible.
What you don’t see is that eight years ago I heard someone say my name, alone in a room painted with seven different colors, one for each year I hadn’t slept peacefully without substances. One spoke to me, who wasn’t a man or woman, answering and responding to the thoughts behind my face. He spoke to the pain and the shame that had somehow interwoven with my being, unbeknownst to me up until that moment. I had accepted the shame and guilt as who I was rather than what was done. And indeed it was done and finished, but I had the most terrible time reliving it. He began to carefully untangle the shame that cloaked me in darkness. He extracted each splintered piece of my fragile glass heart from where it should have never gone, and retrieved and refashioned it into its original intent and purpose.
What you don’t see is that prior to that moment were moments where I OD’d on the bathroom floor of my parents’ house and saw and knew that the impending destiny beyond life was real, and it gripped my soul even as I felt I was falling beyond reach.
What you don’t see are the scars on my entire body from trying to cut the memories and pain out of my frame as a twelve to eighteen year old. You also don’t see the discomfort when asked as a 20-something year old what all the marks are about. It’s hard to see these things with only words on a glowing screen.
What you don’t see are the moments I sat curled up, knees pressed to chest, sitting in a corner crying and hiding.
What you don’t see are the moments I would whisper or shout to the sky, “If you’re real, show me!” along with a list of ways that I would know this was indeed the being that heard the very words I spoke.
What you don’t see is a five year old being sexually abused by a man with a badge of honor wearing blue.
What you don’t see is a sixteen year old being raped by the person she didn’t think would and then selling her valuable frame, to her soul’s disdain, to buy her next drug stupor.
What you don’t see is a seventeen year old being drugged on a date with intent to be raped.
What you don’t see are the demanding and oppressive internal anxiety, fear, foreboding, angst, dread, and distress that occurred cloaked behind my deceptively cheerful face. The high cost of numbing positive emotions seemed a small price to pay, so long as the negative emotions were suppressed too.
What you don’t see are the flashbacks that would randomly cause my body, mind, and emotions to relive what I wanted to forget most. The uncontrollable flashbacks served to compound the original pain and humiliation by witnessing to and revealing the existence of events I tried so hard to hide and deny.
What you don’t see are the countless inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that colored my childhood and teenage years. You don’t see the withdrawal symptoms, the continual ferris wheel of medications and their side effects, the packing of bags again and again, the day a relapse was discovered and the shame that threw just another brick onto the weight I felt on my chest.
“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
If you don’t see those things, you don’t see rightly what is right now. What happened eight years ago would mean nothing if I simply told you, “God spoke to me one night and in a moment I was set free from drug and alcohol addiction.” Whatever inadequate summary I rattled off, it would not do it justice or convey the meaning unless you had a fuller picture. Every moment prior, mundane or extraordinary, culminated in this moment eight years ago. The context gives the interpretation and lens for the event. And truth, while historical, gives light to the interpretation of a thing now. The measure of light changes everything.
It’s this moment I celebrate. But it’s not without remembering all that was before. I am also endowed with great hope for the future because of this happening, proof and testimony of only a fraction of the capabilities of God. Nothing and no one is outside His reach.
Rebecca Blair Horin