It’s always the darkest before the dawn.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel
It’ll get worse before it gets better.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
However long the night, the dawn will break.
There are so many sayings and cliches and aphorisms about getting through dark times. And if you’ve been going through something for a long time, then these trite words may fall flat. They can taste stale and dry in your mouth, and coarse on your heart.
This month has been difficult. This year has been difficult. This life has been difficult.
And sometimes, I forget how I even got here.
So it’s time to remind myself of the miracles that brought me here…
When my mother was in labor with me, she had an adverse reaction to her epidural and blacked out during labor. The last thing she remembered was the medical staff pushing on her stomach to get me out before she went unconscious. I was due in January, but at over 9 pounds, they even thought I was twins.
My mother survived and I came into the world, healthy and whole, on Christmas morning.
I don’t know if my childhood was miraculous, but the next miracle I remember was a Christmas one, on my 18th birthday.
My dad and brother went up in his private plane for some flying. I had driven them out about an hour or two east from my our house. My mom was working that day.
But it’s Christmas, and the airport terminal wasn’t open. My dad wasn’t really thinking like a sane person at this point. So although he wasn’t into holidays anymore, he didn’t think about how the rest of the world worked.
He didn’t make sure I had a place to hang out. Even the hangar was closed.
I was stuck outside in the cold. And this was the time before everyone had a cellphone. There was a payphone outside the terminal that I was able to I think leave a message for my mom.
So I had to hitchhike back to town–which I was lucky to find anyone out at all since it was the holiday, and it was a miracle that I wasn’t abducted or harmed. I called my mom at the McDonald’s near our church, and she met us there after I called her.
And although I am recounting about the miracles that have graced my life, I can’t help but note the emotion that was absent from this episode.
My dad didn’t apologize. My mom wasn’t upset. There were no hugs or tears. The people who picked me up were nice, but they weren’t horrified. I wasn’t angry or hurt.
It’s been 22 years and I fail to find any emotion about it…I only find cozy rationalizations that keep me warm and safe.
My dad was and is sick. My mom wasn’t really emotionally there for me. And I was used to getting through tough things without any sort of deep emotional resonance or identification. And maybe that’s why when I wrote about this in grad school, that’s partially why no one could find much empathy or sympathy for me.
That same year, I had to wait to go to college for a year because of my father’s increasing mental health issues. It was a miracle that he let go of the paranoid delusions holding us both hostage and gave his IRS returns as proof of income to my school. I had prayed so hard to leave while I was drowning in dysthymia.
After 3 years of schooling and battling my now clinical depression, I had to leave college because of my family’s deep spiral–mental illness, imprisonment, foreclosure, tax liens.
Even finding out that I was about to get kicked out of school was a miracle. I had decided to skip class that day and the resident head of my dorm knocked on my door to tell me that I needed to go to College Aid and figure out a way to pay my bill.
It ended up being a tense meeting with a College Aid adviser and the Dean of Students who didn’t like me because of a crazy subletter who wrote her a letter full of lies about me.
And, she was actually most likely dealing with early-onset dementia. The reason I didn’t have the money was because my parents were very slow in getting me the info I needed for the FASFA so I could get financial aid.
So from that meeting, I was able to get some student loan support, but most of the funds had been used up by spring quarter. I had owed $10,000 and was only able to pay half from loans. So, I got kicked out soon after that for nonpayment. I wasn’t allowed to graduate with the people I came into school with.
And if that banishment is a scar, it’s one that feels like a thick and long keloid, one that can kick up some phantom pains every once in a while…
(I’m mostly over it, after almost 20 years, but it definitely still makes me sad sometimes.)
It was a miracle that brought me back into school 3 years later. And this still feels like the biggest miracle I’ve ever received in my life.
The Dean of Students had died suddenly because of her illness and the new Dean of Students was an academic adviser and close buds with my academic adviser.
The resident head of my dorm was the daughter-in-law of the Dean of the College. So she, along with the head of housing, my adviser, and her husband had written a long letter of support with a lot of evidence I had to drudge up: news articles of my dad’s conviction, letters from the IRS, the foreclosure notice on the only home my parents owned.
Yes, here is the evidence of my family’s undoing. Can you forgive this debt of $6000?
I remember sitting at my computer in my bedroom, about an hour away from where my college was, reading an email from the Dean about how she was going to consider paying only a part of it and leave me with the rest (expensive phone bills).
The waiting for this answer was one of the most excruciating times of my life.
But then–good, unbelievable news: the Dean of Students has agreed to forgive the whole debt.
I went to campus to her office, to get the voucher to that I would take to the Bursar’s office. To be in that office again under happier, more hopeful circumstances felt like I was finally coming back home. What a fitting way to close a circle of estrangement and shame.
This is still one of the most surreal experiences of my life…walking, or was it floating?, to one window, giving this voucher for my debt. I felt like I was silently robbing a bank. It’s the only time I’ve held that much money in my life. I joked that I could run away to the Bahamas for a while instead of paying this debt.
I held my flight of fancy walked just a couple feet to another window and paid off my debt that had kept me away from school for three years. I graduated the following summer.
Then there’s the miracle of making it through grad school. My thesis adviser had sabotaged me by not paying me much attention with my thesis. We barely got together throughout the whole second year, but I didn’t know that was bad.
I had my thesis defense cancelled the day before.
I had no idea that she didn’t think I was ready until I had spoken to the program director. I didn’t really have my “I was told by Apple Care” steel ovaries to raise a stink in the department. So I kept my head down, reformed my committee with the better adviser and successfully defended my thesis.
Beyond graduating from college, that was my most triumphant moment of my life, and only 5 people were there to witness it–my committee and two friends.
And, as much as I really resent this part of the journey, during and after grad school, it’s just been miracle after miracle to not be homeless.
Staying with friends, staying in Airbnb’s. Being able to eat. Having a car for some time. Finding work. Finding new friends. Creating a business from basically nothing.
And still, I resent it. I resent it all. I resent the alchemy I’m forced to use over and over. And maybe, just maybe…I resent having to rely on the Universe so much, for every little thing.
And now, that’s even coming down to the very air I breathe.
I resent all the loss, all the struggling, all the things I’ve been passed over, all the times I’ve been taken for granted…
I resent that I sound whiny instead of grateful.
Earlier today, I finally was able to face the owners of this house about the stupid toilet seat that needed to be replaced after a year of asking.
And then–to deal with the person I now call the creep, this lanky, leather, nicotine-stained, psychotic thorn in my side.
All of that resentment comes up again, little infant squalling bawling resentment:
Why are my basic needs of safety not being met?
Why am I stuck in this house?
Why are they not acting quickly enough?
Is the law really that convoluted or difficult in terms of evicting people?
It’s tiring, but I have a new toilet seat and an assurance for more open communication.
But in the meantime…
I know another miracle needs to happen, is about to happen. So much here has gone wrong and worse. There’s a chaos that has been brewing and growing–which is the sign that things are about to change for the better.
“When everything is falling apart, it is a good sign that everything is coming together,” says Henriette Anne Klauser, author of the book Write It Down, Make It Happen.
She goes on to describe the process of childbirth, where the one giving birth feels like they can’t go on. It’s called the “transition,” it’s right before a child is born.
And it’s right where you’re not supposed to give up. You have to keep pushing, so this new life can be brought forth.
So I didn’t get the answers I wanted today from the homeowners. Of course, I didn’t, I think. Impending doom starting shaking at my pant leg.
And the chaos seems to just stick around like a never-ending Floridian summer thunderstorm, the kind that you can’t ever get your windshield wipers to wipe fast enough so you can see at least 5 feet in front of you for just 5 fucking seconds.
I don’t know how I can move out of here, no matter what happens with the creepy housemate, as business is a little slow.
And it’s more than just moving out of here, it’s moving out of this mess of a life that doesn’t seem to have created much happiness or joy for myself.
I desperately need to break out of this cycle of subsistence and get on with the hopefully more boring, less dramatic 2nd act of my life.
And I feel so tired, trying to fight this on my own. I’m doing what I can energetically, spiritually, practically, etc.
But under a Capricorn moon this evening, I wonder if I’m ever doing enough. Am I listening hard enough to Spirit? Am I sacrificing enough? Am I cowering where I should be courageous? How can I keep pushing–and where? In what capacity?
Where’s the on switch for the good stuff and the off switch for the bad stuff?
But there’s one truth that I need to embrace, more than more own resilience and ambition and alchemical prowesses:
Miracle-making is always a team sport.
I didn’t make it back to college on my own. I didn’t make it through grad school by myself. I didn’t stay off the streets or from sleeping in my car when I was broker than broke back in 2014 without help.
And the messages I continue receiving, from astrology readings, from tarot readings, from synchronicities–it’s going to take teamwork to make the dream work.
Yes, another tired ass cliche. But cliches are cliches for a reason–they’re usually true.
I don’t know who is going to help this time. I mean, I have some clues but… I’m definitely at that point where all I can do is dangle some hope out in front of myself, even if it feels like I’m lying to myself.
There is a Santa Claus. There is a Tooth Fairy. There is a way out of this.
And then there’s the miracle of being here at all, beyond my harrowing birth story. It’s the universe itself, and how we’re on this perfect planet in its perfect conditions and that the universe even was created at all…
If there’s anything that has been helping me gain perspective about whether I will have another smoky day in my room, it’s that this situation is infinitesimal to the bigly-ness of the universe, known and unknown.
I am made from mostly carbon, but I am also made from the same stuff that started the universe–miracle-making stuff.
It took billions of years for me to get here, and I’m not going to give up now.
I thought writing this would cheer myself up. But alas, it really didn’t. I’m not as grateful as I could be, either. I think I’ve grown tired hearing and telling of my fables of endurance.
But, I at least can remind myself that although it may take years (gah, years!), things do eventually work out. It may be not how I wanted, or when, but the cycles of struggle I endure do end in triumph (and increased strength and stamina and wisdom and grace and empathy and compassion…)
There’s a steely core of resilience that isn’t really moved by my emotion or circumstances. I think sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me upright when everything around me is in flames or blown away as ash by the winds of changes.
So yeah. I’ve lead a remarkable, unbelievable life, and the only thing that drives me is that it’s not yet one I’m really or fully proud of.
There are so many chapters of my life that I want to skip over or cringe when I remember. There are probably many more miracles that I have forgotten…
And it’s not that there’s a lot that I’ve done that I’m ashamed of. It’s that there’s been a lot of things I’ve endured that are shameful and somewhat Sisyphean.
Although I own my full story, the threads of loss and resilience aren’t ones that I can fully value yet. Part of it is that I’m still in the middle of the story’s unfolding. I can’t see the point of the plot yet. And that’s OK, for now.
But for the most part, I’ve been typecast. And I long for a new role, a new characterization.
This is not all that I’m capable of. Not in the slightest.
To throw in a little astrology, this has been a long journey of the nodes of fate. I’ve been evolving from my south node in Aries, the warrior, to my north node in Libra, the diplomat.
I can conquer and overcome and slay all day. But there’s no one to come home to. There’s no home, period. My life has been played out on the battlefields of life for decades.
So, I’m tired. My sword and shield and armor all weigh me down.
So, I wonder…
How will I act in a home of love? What new miracles are living inside of me, like dormant seeds, waiting to be germinated? What will the fertile soils of stability grow in my life? What new life is squirming to blossom and bear fruit?
What will I look like when I’m not defined by my daunting circumstances?
I want to surprise myself…because I scarcely have a clue what will happen…
I’m sure the end to this “Florida is full of fail” chapter of my life will be no less miraculous. The writer and reader in me is wondering how the heroine will get out of this predicament this time. She’s a bit of a wily, nervy Magician. She totally has it in her.
And even though it will take some other heroes and heroines to assist in the creation of this denouement, I trust this woman to get her happily ever after.
I trust her to get home safe.
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