Earlier this year, I had a vivid “wake up in the middle of the night” dream.
I found myself in the space between asleep and awake, repeating the phrase, “Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.”
My eyes popped open, as if I heard a fire alarm and needed to evacuate the building. I grabbed the turquoise iPhone on my nightstand and captured the prophetic mantra.
“Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.”
I was shamelessly entrenched in a season of heartbreak, and also preparing to lead a feisty tribe of women into the woods for a three-day self-defense retreat.
My ex-boyfriend had severed all forms of communication and moved across four state lines, wanting nothing to do with “girls like me.”
A few character traits he used to describe my “witch clan” were crazy, out of control, and chaotic.
“Girls like me” were dangerously destructive.
I thought about reigning in my wild, but after a few boring days of robotic existence, I chose to channel the creative fire, rewrite the story, and reintroduce myself to the world.
I wrote my nutso heart out.
Friends encouraged me to go out on the town, online date, and for the love of god, stop writing sad poetry. I appreciated the sentiment and briefly considered setting up a Tinder profile, but I was contently tucked away in my bright sunny apartment with plants named Mary, after the Virgin, and Danielle LaPorte quotes splattering the walls.
One of my favorites: “Metamorphosis is naturally destructive.”
I spent most nights and days relentlessly writing my way home.
I would see signposts on the healing path and be certain I had reached the mountaintop, until the 2 a.m. wake-up call, mixed with a feverish heartache—it felt like my insides would leap out of my chest, similar to that Alien movie I’m too scared to watch.
Even still, “girls like us” ram our stubborn heads into a challenge, as determined fingers continued to passionately hit the keys. My guttural instinct knew I could save myself from this universal sentence that we’ve all felt and spend our days trying to avoid.
Writing has been the most reliable companion on this Texas-sized roller-coaster.
The best childhood friend sitting next to me on long road trips, not saying anything for hours, and then Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” plays, and you both roll down the windows, wail on your “hairbrush microphone,” and lyrically dance out every word.
Writing allows you to get naked with your inner “soul mate,” who will always think you’re hot, even after the big slice of pizza from last night’s debauchery.
My fingers stroke the letters, and I transform into Helen Keller mastering Braille. Unconsciousness streams, as I become the meditative witness of Oz behind my dirty laptop screen, which annoys my “computer nerd” friends to look at, but I still haven’t cleaned.
When words rain from my manic mind, I enter a “judgement-free zone,” like it says on the walls of Planet Fitness.
Writing is a practice that can peel onion layers, with or without tears, chopping up creative ingredients to cook hamburger hash, prime rib, tofu scramble, or eggplant parmesan.
Redemption is always a song, because verbal vomit can be cleaned up—like when I was eight and threw up in the front seat of my mom’s suburban, called “Old Brown.” I was so ashamed, but she lovingly tucked me in bed with 7UP and saltines, then went outside and mopped up the mess, because that’s what moms do.
Writing is a process of letting go, like the best multiple-orgasm sex, because of brave vulnerability, intimacy, and synchronicity.
I was committed to face-planting, until I wrote myself into a new story and reintroduced myself to myself.
I’ll never forget that late spring morning in the shower, hot water baptizing my face, as I violently prayed to anyone out there, “Please save me from this Heartbreak Hell.”
Would it ever go away? I desperately needed help, even though I saw a therapist once a week. I stuck my middle finger up at the cliche “time heals all wounds,” because it had been almost six months and I still Facebook stalked him.
Writing is a circular process, asking the questions and then having faith you will one day superhero morph into the answers. Life is the same process.
A few days after my shower-pleading episode, an Easter Rising salvation” was delivered in a “slip in the back door” kinda way.
An old student friend came to Washington, D.C., to meet at my favorite coffee shop; there’s a sandwich on the menu named Angela, after me, because I write there most afternoons. I was excited to see her and reconnect, until the purpose of her visit was divulged: she was here to tell me, face-to-face, that she was now dating my ex-boyfriend.
I was invisibly bitch slapped to one side, but after a few stunned seconds, I bounced back, respecting my student’s integrity and laughing maniacally at the comic tragedy we call breathing. She was my angel in disguise.
If someone would have told me the path to liberation would come packaged in paradox, I would’ve shut my eyes, put fingers in my ears, and pretended to be invisible for the rest of my life. But instead, I called my best friends, drank beers, belly cackled, danced on rooftops, did handstands in boots, purchased that flight to Puerto Rico that I thought I was too busy for, and fell in love with my Puerto Rican musician lover, who doesn’t know I call him my lover, but it’s still fun.
Life is happening now. Don’t miss the beautifully messy moments in search of answers that are not yours yet to know. Give up on the perfection that does not exist.
We cannot control the cards we are dealt, but we do have the power to write our way into freedom, every morning, with tearstained faces and bloody knees, scarred from stumbling out of bed.
Arm yourself with a sense of humor, forgiveness, and an 18-wheeler full of grace, compassion, and big tooth laughter.
Slide into the home plate that is waiting for your return, with strawberries on your thighs, messy hair, and a heart unafraid to break open—because you found the courage to roll in the burning ashes, spread the war paint across your tender cheeks, and trust that every fragile bone in your body was born to rise again.