If you read my previous post about signs, you know that I had been experiencing a crisis of faith. No big deal, it has to happen once in every epic journey. Ask Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia or Santiago the shepherd boy in The Alchemist. Both characters experienced moments when they asked themselves, “Why the bloody hell am I following these signs only to get my ass handed to me repeatedly?” Clearly, I am paraphrasing, because Lucy is too sweet to use curse words – I am not.
I suppose that is why it is called an epic journey and not a short jaunt around the block. An epic journey requires setbacks, reroutes, periods of darkness and being dutiful little students of life and jumping off unknown cliffs. It’s just part of the game. It requires getting metaphorically smacked around to build strength and character. Who wants to be a boring character in their own story? That won’t be interesting to talk about around the campfire.
We all know the phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” right? I believe it to be true in many ways, but I also think I needed my friends and family to remind me of who I am this year. I have always been the one pointing out signs and rallying the troops to continue to believe that this is all going to work out, but darkness overtook me this year.
I am going to try to walk myself and you, my dear readers (hi, Mom), through this. Hopefully it makes sense in the end.
Last December, I was on a flight from Daytona Beach to San Diego. On that flight I made fast friends with the man sitting next to me in the middle seat. (I think I hold the land speed record for making friends on flights.)
His name is Chris and the two of us got into a conversation about faith and believing in God and the bigger picture. Chris and I were carrying on and on for probably the better part of an hour when the man sitting at the window took off his sunglasses and looked at us and said something to the effect of, “Man, I have been listening to you two and I am really inspired. I wish I had as much faith as the two of you.” It was a beautiful moment. That was me at my best, wrapping people up in the love I have for this world.
In January, I started a personal development seminar aimed at discovering what was subconsciously keeping me from having a successful relationship. That was like the start of both an archaeological dig and the demolition of an ancient fortress. I was utterly clueless about the Pandora’s Box I was opening. Upon completion of that seminar, I signed up for another one. Maybe out of gut instinct that I knew I had not uncovered everything in the first one.
At this point, I had torn down enough of my subconscious structures and detonated enough bombs around my proverbial fortress that I felt completely exposed.
Quick side note: I learned how to demo things from my dad who once tore the front porch off the house by attaching one end of a chain to the porch and the other end to his pickup and then driving off. Separately, he used a chainsaw to cut a hole for a picture window in our house. That’s demo, my friends.
So, this month, I was surveying the rubble of my long-held beliefs and thought patterns. Granted, they weren’t the good or effective thought patterns, but they had kept me really safe for 34 years. Basically, they were comforting. And suddenly, I felt like I was standing naked in a snowdrift.
Then somehow, amid this demolition and ultimate exposure, I got all twisted up. I didn’t quite know what to make of everything. Had I wasted all these years chasing pipe dreams? If all those belief systems had been holding me back, am I really this faithful believer in the Universe? I got scrambled up real bad. It took me down, I was a far cry from that woman on the airplane inspiring strangers to believe.
Most of this year, I was in a place where I was functioning but I had lost sight of what for. I made many tearful phone calls to my mom. I relied heavily on my friends who believe and I made list after list of the things that I am grateful for. I was fighting like hell to pull myself up by my bootstraps.
Luckily, every time I reached out, there was a hand to hold. No one let me fall through the cracks. There was tough love, there was nurturing love, and there was the love that reminded me in no uncertain terms that I was stronger than the illusions that were playing with my head.
These eight months of 2019 were me dealing with my darkness. Finally, I found my way out thanks to the biggest and best cheering section in Heaven and on Earth.
The thing that grabbed me by the hand and yanked me right out of the last bit of this battle was going to see the Avett Brothers concert in San Diego. There is nothing like the healing power of live music but especially when it’s the Avett Brothers. I have been following them since I saw them in 2006 at the Social in Orlando with Nina when we paid the tidy sum of $7 to have them change our lives.
I went by myself to see them last week and danced and sang my heart out. Every lyric reminded me that I have come a long, long way and that I am not alone in the way I have felt battling the darkness. By the end of the show, I had made pals with a woman who said to me, “I don’t know who you are but you’re awesome.”
Safe to say, the true Holly is back.