My fingers are dancing fancy pirouettes above the keys, enticing me with carefully positioned finger pads to follow my thoughts.
My fingers want to write something meaningful.
They are exhausted by my dreary meandering through the same old details of my past, tired of lovingly tracing the same razor lines up my arm, and dreaming of past madness. They ask me to write anew. But no, not with a knife. Those have only been used for their intended veggie-chopping purposes for the last 373 days, and that record of redemption will remain unbroken.
I am unsure what to say.
I type, pause, read and delete this entire thing.
I start anew.
If there is one thing that I know for certain, it’s that it is never too late to start anew. I am thankful for this. If I could inspire one point within the lives of others through thought-waves, it would be that it’s never too late to make a change.
I’m not a therapist, or a spiritual teacher, or any sort of teacher. I’m a student, so my talk is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that this nifty little piece is on Round 11 thus far with not much to show for it except that I keep trying.
At age 18, I don’t profess to being wise, or marketable, or worthy of a Reality TV show (though it seems that anyone can have one these days). All I am is honest and exquisitely flawed, and I can honestly say that no matter our circumstance we can always begin anew.
I have been told by many therapists to avoid using “never” and “always,” but I never paid attention to that.
In my life, I have been seized with a desperate determination, many times, to begin anew (finding these times were always available). Many of these occasions occurred in hospitals at first, whether through lifesaving refeeding for my eating disorder, or through the spectacular kindness of my individual therapist (at my third and last hospital) who sat with me for hours past our weekly time while I read the letter I wrote my Dad, my abuser, expressing my rage—turning this anger away from myself, to where it belonged.
I haven’t finished the letter, and I don’t know if I ever will, but the mere act of beginning and scratching out 22 pages of barely legible Go to hells (of vehement and creative varieties) was itself a magnificent triumph.
Yet, that beginning did not mean I’d never return to a ball beneath my desk, sobbing into a snotty hospital sheet.
Beginnings don’t mean that the end is over. Beginnings mean that we have more time to be beautiful, awesome, flawed, creative, compassionate and mindful before the next ending sends us back beneath our desks. I used to spend a lot of time there, in a nasty corner of the rug which was probably covered with a vast array of bodily byproducts (though I chose not to think about it).
When I graduated from the program, I idealized my future, comparing its possibility to that of Evan Almighty, who’d made me his captive audience on the Plexiglass TV on multiple debuts, as I remember. In the beginning, that seemed reasonable.
Affirmations are only as healing as we make them.
This beginning was painfully short-lived and unrealistic. Twenty-four hours later I replaced my desk with my even smaller hardwood closet at home. It took me a long time to separate my skin from rented square-footage, pain from promise, past from my bright future.
In a mere 24 hours into my beginning, which I didn’t really consider much of a beginning, having believed my therapy somehow exempted me from suffering, I came to a crashing halt. But I’ve said this before and haven’t stopped yet, which is my point. And so, I extracted myself from my closet, then incrementally from my room, then from my shower and eventually got myself to school.
I relearned how to study and be with “normal” people. My precious classmates, especially in English, patiently taught me that yes, this is a new moment and yes, I am welcome here.
Every day that I got my tootsies out the door, or sometimes just on the floor, was an opportunity to begin anew. Today, I continue with those lessons. Every time I drag myself to the mat, on days when I would much rather be blowing bubbles with anthrax, is a chance to begin anew.
I need to take that chance. I think we all need take that chance to start over.
My fingers get so tired of the woe-is-me refrain. So I’m deciding to write something different. I choose to change my precious story and start anew. I have so much to learn from what happened to me, and I think one of the most important things to learn is let it go, and one day I will.
To begin anew, I believe that beginning anew is one of the hardest, and kindest, things we can do for ourselves.
The self-care of self-grace is a gift that we each deserve in every moment.
Self-grace is the ability to say to ourselves that no matter how tight our muscles are that we will bend and breathe into new experiences. It is taking child’s pose as a state of surrendered blessing instead of grumbling about how we aren’t good enough while we sink back (and I know that I, at least, am guilty of this).
Self-grace is loving yourself as deeply as you hate other things, things like clogged toilets or hate crimes. Self grace is forgiving yourself, laughing with yourself, and apologizing to yourself.
I have emerged from a dirty, claustrophobic patch of carpet beneath a hospital desk and made it to my senior year, alongside four amazing guys and my phenomenal English-teacher-yogi, and learned the art of self-grace. Before, I was waiting with breath held for my father to give me this grace, which is only partially better than blowing bubbles with Mr. Anthrax.
Now, after a few treacherous days home sick with sad music, I’ve realized that I’ve had an uncomfortable amount of time to think. I’ve realized that self-grace is a birthright, and that we can begin this process again and again from one moment to the next.
We are infinite, malleable and constantly evolving.
We have the power to start now and make this moment amazing, even if quietly.
So make a change, start a beginning, shape and accept an end.
Be alive in this moment, because this moment has the power to take us from a soiled patch in the hospital to our senior year, to our wedding, to legalizing someone else’s wedding, to our grandchild.
All of these moments in between keep our fingers typing—because we have things to say and people need to hear it.
And when we start anew, there is a ripple effect. The world can be changed forever.
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Assistant Editor: Laura Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise