You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt
I picked the word “courage” to be my token word for 2009 and once again, life has served up to me, these opportunities, to learn the full meaning of wearing courage. These lessons that involve letting go, relying on my resiliency to keep getting back up when I fall down, accepting and yet trying to change my human flaws that try to rip my confidence away, as I try to put on the face of bravery, are brought to me…to keep me humble as I face “my giants” with courage.
In this present moment, the giant I am facing and fearing is “not smoking”…or so I thought. The thing is, in this past week I have found that “not smoking” is only the outside layer of my giant. Underneath the “not smoking”, are years of layers, of ugly filthy issues that stink from being past their expiration dates. I am on day 11 of not smoking and every single day these issues expose themselves to me and I have nothing to hide behind. I told you smoking was “it” for me but I never realized how much I have hid behind it. How much it was my false courage. I have called alcohol, “liquid courage”, and now I call smoking, “courage on a lit up stick”.
So many feelings and stresses that I was able to stuff inside, just by a puff of courage. I was able to still that quiet voice inside of me…I was able to keep quiet those things that wanted to scream. I could pretend I didn’t feel like crying…smoking stopped the tears from falling. Back in the day, drugs did this for me. It’s why I was high, every moment of the day, for years. With smoking cigarettes, I didn’t get high anymore, but it became it’s own high.
I remember the very first time I smoked. I was eleven. A year later, a friend of mine, taught me and another girl how to smoke for real(to inhale), in a back ally behind a bar, that all our families were in, celebrating a wedding. The 3 of us sat with a tray of drinks we had stolen from the bar, a joint and we each had a pack of cigarettes. He made us keep smoking until we were doing it “right”. Then we smoked the joint. All I remember is that for the first time in my life I felt free from internal pain. I was numb and numb felt good…it felt perfect. I was hooked.
I came to believe that as long as I was numb, it didn’t matter what was said or done to me. I could stand before my father and just watch his mouth move. It didn’t matter that he didn’t like me and that when he spoke to me, vile words came out of his mouth…it didn’t matter or penetrate to my heart…or so I thought. A guy could smack me and I would not feel it…it didn’t matter…or so I thought.
And thus, through the years of living and growing, and countless guys in my life, it didn’t matter how many bruises were left on my body or on my soul, it didn’t matter…or so I thought. I was violated on so many levels and I coped by hiding... by being numb, but that doesn't make it okay. Keeping it a secret your whole life doesn't make it go away or mean that it doesn't matter.
Since I became free of drugs, I have dealt with many of these issues over the years…to a certain point. I came to realize that these things that happened in my life, do matter, but there is only so much you can with things that are in the past. Of course there is forgiveness and grace and letting go. Even though I’ve tried so hard to not remember, I am human, with a memory that cannot forget. Maybe I’m not suppose to? Maybe there is another lesson in it for me? Or for someone else along the way?
Removing this layer of smoking has unearthed this truth for me. Standing naked before all of you and the rest of the world has brought me to my knee's... Realizing that as long as I keep hiding behind things like smoking, I will never see clearly what I need to see. Seeing clearly might hurt but in reality it won’t kill me. It's time for me to be truely courageous. It's time for me to face my giants. Much like David when he was fighting Goliath, I must rely on something bigger than me. And that scares the crap out of me.
I feel so caught in the middle right now. I look back to 12 days ago and the safety I felt in my smoking. I had no clue to what lay inside of me and the layer of denial that protected me. Right now, in this moment, my body, soul and mind scream for that familiarity. I feel empty and lost. I am scared. These layers that are exposing themselves to me, leave me naked and robbed. I am feeling. I am crying. I am humbled.
In my mind, I fast forward to what it could be like in 6 months from now. I want to be there. It’s getting from here to there without anything to hang onto. It’s facing “my giants” without false courage, whether it be liquid or on a stick or anything else for that matter. It’s like I am free falling and praying that I land some place soft…some place better.
It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to. Marilyn Ferguson
Thank you for all your kind words of support. Thank you for not judging me or looking down on me. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. Thank you for standing with me as I face my giants. Thank you for reaching out your hand to me and pulling me up. I love you guys!