My gratitude began when I imagined the smell of a permanent marker strike against a calendar—a memory evoked from childhood.
Another day. Another week. Another month.
Looking out at my surroundings, I was amidst an indoor galaxy of mismatched rented furniture, none of which I could call my own. The months were caging themselves and I wondered how it could be that I contracted so effortlessly into hibernation, even though the summer days lengthened before my eyes.
The same eyes continued to moisten, replaying a homemade movie reel of all that was behind me in introspection as I “locked down.” I was not just streaming another re-run of my story, but had lived it and had no choice other than to surrender into it with gratitude.
I was grateful that lockdown revealed the strength that I thought I did not encompass. It was about being locked into a space that I broke free from. It showed my limitless capacity to hold the space for all that I needed to. It revealed that I too could have a miraculous moment of surrender.
It was because of my introspection that I had learnt to fall in love with the peace before my storm—not the other way around. I learnt a way to uncover the heavy pit of thoughts and discovered they were not bottomless. They were the same thoughts that gathered in my mind, just as those freckled, star-lit skies I yearned for, but mine had hope now.
As I looked upon my own night’s sky within, there were parts of myself that felt scattered from each other. I began to align them by finding small steps that connected me to spaces of joy each day upon waking. I remembered, in that moment, anything I wanted was only accessible as long as I did not force it out of impatience. I stopped forcing myself out of being in a different space, time, or outside of who I was.
My past was not going to change, yet I held the power within me to alter who I could become from my experiences. I had to accept the influences they had on my life and flow with them, not against them.
Within three weeks, my father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I left another narcissistic relationship. The family I did have, did not talk to one another. Introspection was all I had left, so I showed up because I had to, which guided me to the entirety of who, what, and why I needed to create the life that I have.
In that moment, I needed joy, peace, and the compassion that I was reaching for externally. I had allowed myself to slip far into the cracks of my fear—greased by my own means. I spent great lengths focusing on all I did not wish to see, missing out on the depth of who I was. Only now, I can see the great loss of it all.
It was only by unravelling my feelings toward lockdown that I understood my coping mechanisms, my need to control my life and not live it. By releasing the notion I ever had any control over life to begin with, I ultimately felt less “locked down.”
I never understood, until that moment, why we have to experience chaos. Having my share of trauma, and knowing that there most likely will be more, gave me peace. And I say these words with awareness, not with preparation.
I’ve discovered that experiences exist to test our faith, which in fact is to find love for the self. I was so blindsided by various spiritual practices, and used whatever I could to mask them as my “remedy.” The truth was that I always found myself in full circle again. I discovered, through persistence, in the most grounded and compassionate way, that I can always create this feeling for myself.
I dove deep and discovered all that I had and had not accomplished, yet with familiarity—with my unkempt chaos in front of me—the beautiful truth of lockdown was I could still love myself. And this is why I am grateful.
The introspection was not something I had to pretend to do anymore, although it would have been the easy choice. But life is not about being easy. All of the questions about who I should or shouldn’t be were friends who I no longer had to meet. And while my heart was never shy of loving, anyway, the underlying truth was not to let myself be forced into anymore experiences I was not comfortable with.
It was taking power back in my own way. It was learning to not go anywhere other than where I was. It was surrendering to my discomfort, and not another’s. It was surrendering to my long pause without knowing if it would equate to anything at all.
The long pause, which lockdown ultimately gave to us all, is yet another blow to our confidence, but not one that we cannot get up from. We cannot let it heal us, without letting it rise within us.
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