Shine Until Tomorrow (Part II)
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
I remember the knots that formed and tangled a twisted ball of anxiety, settling into the depths of my stomach, as though they were getting comfortable, settling in for a long stay. I remember my hands being uncomfortably clammy and nervously shaking; no matter how hard I tried to steady them, the tremor persisted, a result of the combined effects of my devastating anxiety over what was to come and the opiate withdrawals that had already set in. For the first time, the withdrawals paled in comparison to something else: the mounting fear and uncertainty of what lay ahead.
I was waiting on my dad to come get me and take me to treatment. And “anxiety” doesn’t seem a strong enough word for what I was feeling. I was anxious about facing him after our last dramatic, heartbreaking, shameful (for me) encounter. I was anxious over the world I was walking toward and about the fact I was walking away from the only world I had known for quite some time. Change, even when it’s as crucial and necessary as it was then, has always been something that sends a jolt of uneasy energy coursing through my body.
I remember sitting there, my mind searching for anything I could tell myself to summon the old, familiar strength that I knew was inside of me, the strength that had kept me alive and going so many times before. I also remember considering whether or not I should try to pray, not realizing that I had been in communication with The Divine the entire time – we are never closer to our creator than when we are in the midst of our darkest days.
And then I saw him.
I’ll never forget the sense of relief I had just from seeing his face, or the sharp pain that followed, taking my breath and stopping my heart mid-beat. He smiled at me, his eyes carrying many things: love for his daughter, fear for his daughter, hope for his daughter, aching compassion for his daughter, and even forgiveness for his daughter. His daughter, who felt she deserved none of those things. But I was relieved. I was relieved not to find anger behind those eyes. There was only love.
I left the hospital with nothing, just as I had entered it, climbed into my dad’s car, and we headed into the future. Looking back, I’m glad it was my dad there with me that day. It couldn’t have been anyone else – it needed to be him. I needed it to be him. I needed his strength, and I needed him to remind me of my own.
We stopped at a Target on the way there to get me some clothes, underwear, socks, and other basic essentials. I can’t remember a time that I had less in my life, as far as physical possessions go, but the thing I noticed most was how little I had on the inside. It was, by far, my most empty soul-state.
It was a dreary day, which felt heavily fitting. I remember staring out the passenger window again, my legs shaking with restless energy, my brain too tired and defeated to care that the symptoms of withdrawal were clearly building with each passing second.
We drove. My dad tried to say a few encouraging things here and there – I honestly don’t remember too many details of the drive. I remember his Sirius XM radio playing – he was alternating back and forth between the 60s on 6 and the 70s on 7 stations. I had been begging for signs that my future wasn’t as hopeless and desolate as my soul felt. I begged for the signs but didn’t officially pray – I was too afraid to pray.
Clinging to my newfound fight and hope, both of which I discovered during my stay at the psychiatric hospital, I got my first sign. Music has always been our thing, my dad’s and mine. Some of my earliest memories are of my daddy singing. I’ve always said my favorite sound in the world is the sound of my daddy singing. Anyone who knows him well will tell you that he has a voice that will cover you in chills in under a second.
Growing up, he shared all his favorites with my siblings and me. For whatever reason, it took hold of my soul a little more than it did my siblings. My mom used to tell me that she’d often find me in my room, alone, reading a book and listening to my Beatles cassette tape. Dad taught me all the greats: The Beatles; Nat King Cole; Crosby, Still, Nash, & Young; The Moody Blues; Carole King; and countless more. My favorite was his favorite: The Beatles.
While we drove, out of all the songs that could have played on that Sirius XM radio, even out of all The Beatles songs that could have played, the one I had often called my “theme song,” came rushing through the radio waves to us, to both of us. My song had come to comfort our hearts on that dreary day . . .
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it be…”
My sweet dad, wearing the bravest face he could muster, reached over and pointed to my “Let It Be” tattoo on my arm, met my tear-filled eyes with his, and said, “There’s your song, honey. There’s your song. Let it be. You’re gonna’ be okay.”
It was a simple enough moment, but my heart felt like it was exploding. Something in that simple, beautiful moment, between my lifelong hero and me, opened up my heart to the possibility of hope, the possibility of healing. Something in that simple moment found me in MY “hour of darkness,” wrapped me in its warmth, and whispered the only words I needed to hear to me, when I most needed to hear them.
I knew I was on my way home. I knew I was on my way back to myself. I knew I was going to be okay. I knew it was time to stop fighting so hard against myself. My daddy was taking me to get better.
Finally, I could breathe.
During those weeks, I learned so much about myself – learned why I was the way I was and why I did the things I did. I also learned why I spent much of my life feeling so misunderstood, even though I never doubted if I was loved.
I met my people in that beautiful place in the woods, some of whom I still talk to from time to time. They opened their mouths and, from them, came my story. We cried together, and we laughed together. And I mean that true laughter that comes from deep within your belly and radiates out in layers. It was a hard, emotional experience, but it was cleansing in a deeply spiritual sense.
And maybe that’s its own story for another time. But the point here, with all of this, is this: I don’t care how far down you’ve gone. I don’t care how many mind-numbingly terrible things you’ve done. I don’t care how low you’ve felt, how without hope you’ve been. I don’t care how far into the darkness you’ve ventured. I went all the way down to the bottom, did countless awful things, felt low and devoid of hope, and I moved INTO the darkness, allowing it to become me.
And I’m here today to tell you that you’re worthy. You’re worthy and deserving of happiness. You’re worthy and deserving of the opportunity to figure out who you are and what your soul’s been trying to tell you. You’re worthy and deserving of being able to truly FEEL the good AND the bad. You’re worthy and deserving of that deep belly-laughter that makes you remember why you LOVE life and why life once felt beautiful. You’re worthy and deserving of redemption and grace. We all need a little of both sometimes.
You’re worthy and deserving, and you have it within you. The fight is there. The hope is there. Dig DEEP. I mean, get up in your soul and DIG – get your hands dirty, and search with all that you have. There is a light that will always shine on you, and it can shine until tomorrow and the next day and the next. It can shine for you until you’re ready to do it yourself. But you gotta' LET it. Don't snuff it out before it's done its job.
And you’ll get there. It likely won’t be easy, but that will just make it that much sweeter. It WILL be worth it because YOU are. You always have been. And remember that, even when it feels like you are, you’re not alone. You couldn’t be if you tried.
And trust me, here . . . better yet, trust Paul McCartney (he’s never let me down):
“There will be an answer, let it be.”
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