I’ve had a number of subjects in my head the last few days that I wanted to write about, but none of them felt quite right. Love, relationships, trust, etc. – each a prominent element of my mental and spiritual lives – none were giving me that ‘aha’ moment of clarity. Writing this now, I wonder if it’s preposterous to expect such a thing – as if any affairs of the heart can have a conclusion! But what I at least was hoping was for a miniature revelation – more of an ‘oh’ moment than a ‘Eureka!’ one. One that just made me feel slightly further along some the road to wisdom.
‘Oh’ moments like this almost go unnoticed – did, for many years. But now, when they happen, I feel the page inviting me to lay down some words. It’s an invite from something already written in the future. That feeling of sculpting out something that already exists in some dimension – it sounds like the stuff of science fiction until you experience it, and then it quickly becomes the only thing worth pursuing in life, whether you compose songs or poems or paintings or ballets.
I wouldn’t call this blog piece a creative masterpiece, but it’s still something that didn’t exist, and then did. And the thing that separated those two states of being was me. I feel as though an invisible line connects me to my future self by creating in the present, or my future selves are enticing me forward along that line. Once I am open and listening with my entire being, the clues will guide me along and I will have to do less and less thinking.
Which brings me back to the last few days, when I’ve been over-thinking a few things that I wanted to write about but didn’t know where to start. Only when I stopped thinking did something hit.
It’s got little to do with one particular thing or theory. It’s just an ‘oh’ moment.
I was ploughing through some emails in work yesterday, standing sort of separate from my co-workers, close to the safe kitchen supply of tea or La Croix, listening to music – you’ll find me in this state often. It is stable when I am not.
I’d put on a Youtube track a few hours before and since then I’d just let the Youtube recommendations flow – sometimes they lead me away from my tastes, but not this day. I’d fully put my faith in the software and had stopped holding my breath between tracks.
There was a noticeable silence after this one track, a deep house tune I’d been bopping along to. My unconscious mind was waiting; my conscious mind was busy writing an email. From that heady, potent emptiness came this warm pulse, then the breath of a synthesizer, a familiar melody, growing and wrapping itself around my heart and my lungs. Followed by a base drum beat you could almost touch. Nostalgia hit me like three extra-large (me-sized) gulps of cheap liquor, and I stopped writing. I was swept away by a wave of unnamed emotions. I collapsed into a past life.
I’m in Bury, Manchester. I’m with the man I naively thought I would spend my life with. We’re lying on the floor of his father’s living room, in front of the TV, which is playing this song on Youtube. I’ve heard it a few times before – I’ve heard it on drugs and off drugs, on vinyl and on crappy laptop speakers, alone in our apartment and in some underground club on the come-down side of the early morning. I’ve heard it dissected and inspected like a lab rat, or worse, like a piece of art that needs no explanation by a human who needs to be heard. I’ve heard it in ecstasy and in misery, and in both it has sounded the same, the same, but different. We’ve put it on for his father to hear but we’ve forgotten that, and ourselves.
I am lying there next to the man I knew I would leave one day, and I’m positively writhing with pleasure. I can feel the thickness of the rug under me, my fingers wrapped around the thick shags. My feet and hips are swaying; the texture of my socks against the rug feels like it’s making a sound but it isn’t; I’m dancing lying down, no inhibitions – I’m not even there. The past and the future have slipped out of my line of vision. I feel nothing but the song. I’m going nowhere that this track isn’t taking me.
Then I am back in the kitchen at work, nauseous, and the tears come fast and thick down my face. My body feels like its time-traveled.
I am not missing him, no – I quickly make that clear. This is more than that.
Getting sober and starting a new life can be really terrifying, because you’re basically being asked to give up a part of yourself that may have formed a part of your identity. That was how it was for me. I had long committed myself to the title of ‘hot mess’ or ‘party-animal’ or ‘troubled soul’, and to part ways with those stories I told myself involved almost cutting ties with myself and my past self, at least temporarily so that I could begin again, not bound to the past by that invisible thread. In spite of that intention, though, I found myself thinking often about my childhood, and my childhood self, and I soon realized through staying sober for an extended period of time that I felt very connected to that person – my child-self was who I was.
But there were all of those years in the middle that I couldn’t get behind. When it came to my fourth step and to examining my past in detail, I did so with a cold, analytical exactness – I tried to be as unemotional as possible, as though I was just delivering a case study of a person I’d never met. I felt like this was the most efficient way to get through it (of course, that didn’t always fly – my emotions got in the way many, many times). So even when I was acknowledging my past in early sobriety, it never felt comfortable to admit that that was me, that was me all along. I was a detached observer of the carnage of the past.
But yesterday, listening to that song, I was zipped all the way from the present to a time almost 5 years ago, to that blissful moment, and I felt all the warm fuzzy feelings of reunion. I was connected to my past self by something bigger than, or deeper than, any of the turmoil. I felt as though I was sharing an intimate moment with my past self, and there was no judgment or animosity. I felt so much love and compassion for the person I was then. I could see how lost I was, but how alive my should still was – I could still lie on the floor and be taken away by the tide of music. I had a heavy five years ahead, but I had no idea – I was fine, happy even.
Although my heart was filled with a rumor of love for him, it wasn’t for him I was crying. It was for me, it was for self-love and joy, and it was for acceptance that that was me all along. Because the thing that made me me was not my drinking, not my lying and cheating, but something infinitely more essential, over-arching and universal. It’s the divine in me, and it’s within us all. It’s the force that moved me to revere and grieve all the butterflies in Nana’s garden as a child; the force that drove me to love many, and love madly; the force that kept me taking care of myself, just barely surviving, when many times I could have happily died.
I’ve always been a fan of survival techniques, in and out of sobriety. There was a point when I had to compartmentalize my feelings of shame and regret towards myself, because they were blocking me from moving forward. And now, with the power of hindsight, I have gained enough perspective that those feelings have dissolved of their own accord. The chain that links me to my past as well as my future is renewed, but is invisible still, and doesn’t require my focus.
I am under constant spiritual reparation. I do the little things each day and I don’t notice the work that is being done, except for in these accidental – or fortuitous – moments when the universe reflects me back at myself.