As I packed loaded boxes into the waiting vehicle, I felt it. Not stronger than a twinge but there none the less, a feeling of I don't have this together. And for a moment it was paralyzing. I felt defensive of my mess, ready to curl my body around the dirty dishes, too many clothes and dead flowers as a means of protection.
It's welcome week, my second year at PRBI, and in many ways I can feel this year will be as hard as my first. I'm not a rookie at the moving in, and I already know some of the faces, but my heart still stirs in discomfort and discontent and I can't help but wonder (again) if this is truly where I'm supposed to be.
My heart is rubbed raw from a summer full of putting fists into old wounds and I haven't yet developed the thicker skin it takes to walk into a room with near 100 strangers and not feel like all their judgments and fears aren't directed at you.
I'm craving still quietness, closeness and distance in the same breath, which isn't conducive to welcome week, where the expectations are set for being welcoming and inviting, cultivating community.
The desire rises up in me to turn back to old habits, to cover up the pain instead of finding a way to sit with it, and I have to remind myself that recovery happens every moment, that with every breath I must make the choice to stay present and open instead of returning to those behaviors that no longer serve me.
In these early days, my heart isn't in it. I see the excitement around me, this energy floating around for new experiences and friends and learning that is vibrating with positivity, but I'm not there. I spend time doubting whether or not I should really be here, and then wonder whether or not this doubt is a sign I should walk away. Old memories seem to be lurking on every corner, standing with hats and trench coats inviting me back to their old ways and the strength to refuse is dwindling. I cry, and yell at the people I love the most. And it's hard.
My heart is stretched from the surgical art of opening wounds and I don't see it stopping any time soon and I can barely catch my breath as I wheeze "Can it be over now? I can't take anymore. Let's take a break. We can keep healing and recovering later."
They say if you're not working towards recovery you're working towards staying stuck in addiction, that not moving isn't really keeping you the same but contributing to the going back.
I'm trying. This welcome week I'm welcoming more than just the freshmen. I'm welcoming pain, welcoming anger, welcoming sadness, welcoming tears and frustration and the unknown and the doubt and depression and addiction and fear. I'm learning to sit with the darkness instead of trying to run from it, even if it's just for twenty seconds at a time.
For these twenty seconds I will just focus on my breath. And then the next twenty, and the next twenty.
I breathe and I picture the light inside my body expanding and contracting, and for that moment I feel alright. I am enough. I have enough. I do enough. It is enough.
"Everything in me is tightening, curling in around this ache. I will lay my heart wide open, like the surface of a lake. Wide open like a lake."