The Whole Picture
I first began writing in August of 2015.
I recently scrolled through my blog to re-read some of the articles I haven’t revisited in years. The raw, unfiltered pain is evident; I was constantly dispelling a stream of consciousness onto my keyboard and onto the internet forever.
On August 10th, 2015, I wrote:
I’m not sure if it is a human tendency to want to run from pain to avoid it at any cost, or if it is a characteristic of my alcoholism, a reflexive habit to do anything and everything not to feel pain. Here I am four years into my sobriety, a broken relationship and a painful rebound later. Something in me has shifted. I no longer want to escape the pain. Something has finally clicked in the confines of my heart and I know that the only way through the pain is exactly that: through it.
This was my turning point. This is where it all began.
I recently wrote about trusting the universe, having faith in a higher being or energy, and choosing to trust-fall into the unknown on a daily basis.
Looking back at these articles I wrote in my young adulthood, I can see the glaring advantages of trusting my gut and leaping into the abyss of not knowing what will happen.
Often, when I’m writing about leaning into discomfort and pain, I’m writing about pain that we are already experiencing. Pain that we know.
Leaning into fear is a completely different process.
Every time I am in a place of fear, I can’t see the whole picture.
I hate not seeing the whole picture.
I cried that other night, crippled with fear, about what I was going to do with my life long-term. I cried about not being able to save people, about not having control over others’ actions and especially addictions, and I cried about not knowing the outcome.
But what if the point isn’t to see the whole picture?
What if the point is to come to a place of peace about not knowing?
What if, as I literally roll my eyes writing this, the point is to live in the journey?
SO CLICHÈ but also very true.
I was recently advised to “embrace the mystery” by someone who I look up to.
He told me a story about driving through Baltimore, years prior to moving here, and not having any idea at the time of what his life would look like a few years later. He was in a toxic place in his life, lost and afraid, with seemingly nothing to look forward to.
He said that he spent so much time worrying about what was to come, and that he probably would have gotten there sooner if he stopped worrying and just allowed himself to live in the unknown.
When he tells me about the person he was, I can barely even picture it.
He is so full of life, of love, and of ambition. I watch his eyes light up when he talks about his family, I watch his smile grow wider when he talks about his friends, I watch him laugh when I’m scream-singing Broadway musicals in his car, and I watch his heart beat faster when he looks at me.
On that same day in August of 2015, I wrote:
One day, I would love to be with someone who sees me. Who really sees me. I want a deep connection that defies all reality and hits me in the depths of my soul. I want someone who I can sit with and feel the energy between us without making small talk.
But I do not need that right now.
I couldn't have possibly known when or if I would ever experience that.
And I can't possibly know where this next journey will take me. And if he will be in it.
But today, I don't need to know.
And for the first time, I no longer am seeking security in a false reality where I could ever possibly know.
But more on that another time.
The mystery of not knowing is something I continue to struggle with the most.
I can choose to take it on as fear, stress, uncertainty, frustration, and dread…
Or I can choose to embrace it as a myriad of exciting opportunities that haven’t found me yet.
Whether it’s a relationship, a change in career, a relocation, or my continued internal search of purpose, I am never going to fully know what’s next.
I can hear my 24-year-old self crying in her empty apartment, trying to muster the courage to lean into the pain and feel the weight of being alone. She did the best she could with what she had. And she made it her mission to seek out that which she needed in order to continue growing.
But now, my task is to lean into the fear of not knowing what my life is going to look like.
I am at the point now where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can trust my gut and rely on my intuition to make informed decisions. About work, friendships, and especially about romantic relationships.
When to detach, when to engage, and when to jump in with both feet.
I wake up every morning with a sense of calm and peace that I have never experienced before.
Throughout my life and even my sobriety, I have had a pattern of waking up with anxiety. Waking up with the fear of what’s to come, of what I don’t know, or of losing something or someone I love.
But I don’t feel that today.
I feel whole. I feel enough. I feel safe. I feel protected by a blanket of both uncertainty and trust.
My turning point was when I actively made the choice to stop running and start feeling.
Today, I am choosing to embrace the mystery.
Today, I am choosing to throw the "whole picture" out the window and be here now.
When it comes to the whole picture, it only gets more blurry the more you try to focus on it. I have found that it will consistently and without fail get clearer when I stop trying to figure it out.
I encourage you to do the same.
You might just save some time getting to where you’re going.
I know I have.