It didn't arrive in a gallant swoop.
It was more like an apparition slowly becoming visible through a thick fog.
Like a distant song being played somewhere across the water, with fragments of the tune making their way past the rhythm of the tide.
It was the thing that I tried so hard to not know.
Houston, we’ve had a problem.
Fiercely skilled in denial, I closed my eyes to the facts. Pretending not to see. I tried to just make myself busier. I didn’t want to hear the words that I knew I needed to say.
I didn’t want to believe what I already knew to be truth.
I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem.
But time has a way of telling the truth. And denial, over the long haul, just takes too much damned energy.
I was overweight. Tired. Unhappy.
And sick. I drank too much coffee.
I must have known how revolutionary that truth would be. Somewhere inside me, I must have known that it would be the end of the world as I knew it.
I had been walking a tight rope for a long time. Knowing that my body didn’t like alcohol. Knowing that even one glass of wine stuffed up my head and left me with a half-day hangover. Knowing that I was using it to turn down the dial on my “Type A-ness” to make myself more palatable. Likable. Tolerable. Willingly drinking poison to shape-shift me into the smallest, most-invisible, simpleton shred of myself.
I must have known that I would lose everyone, even before the push-back happened.
How long are you going to be doing this?
When are you going to stop being so boring?
When do we get the “real” Meadow back?
And I think of Lovell, Swigert and Mattingly. The brave astronauts of Apollo 13. How mid-mission, a huge system malfunction threw them off course. Without any of the safeties and conveniences that they thought they would have, they were left with a plastic bag and some duct tape to get themselves back to earth.
Sitting in outer space, no communication with home. Riding in a small compartment that wasn’t made to do the job that they were asking it to do. Hoping that the damaged heat-shield could withstand the inferno of reentry to planet earth.
Change is like that.
But there’s a dark side of change. The part where we are left alone with ourselves. Cut-off from outer communication. Left only with the change-back-voices ringing in our ears. Removed from our safeties and conveniences.
Change takes us to bare minimum.
Sexy, right? Stay with me though.
I want to share this part of the story with you because it’s important, even though it sucks ass. It’s kind of like child-birth pain, it’s one of those things that people don’t really tell the truth about because you’d never do it if you knew how fucking hard it really is.
Even though I was initially shocked by the change-back-attacks, deep down, I must have known. I must have known that my boyfriend would dump me. And that my social network was a flimsy collage pasted together by the residue at the bottom of our empty wine glasses.
I must have known that when I stopped turning down the dial on my Type-A-ness that I’d be unstoppable. A force. Only palatable by the strongest of humans. And how extraordinary that really is.
I must have known that I would be riding in that small compartment, cut-off to outer communication. Hoping that within me, there was strength enough to endure the inferno of reentry.
And I also must have known it’d be worth it.
I must have known that I would not only withstand the heat, but that I’d come through it forged stronger, brighter, and more alive than ever.
I must have known that I was willing to lose the boyfriend, the social scene, the dumbing-myself-down. Willing to burn off all impurities in order to find the essence of who I really am. And what I truly want.
I must have known that there would be others that had gone through that hell-fire. Who had not only survived but came through thriving. And that those survivors would be my soul-friends.
I must have known that the man that I would call “Husband” would be meeting me on the other side of that exile, having gone through the hell-fire himself.
I must have known, just like those astronauts knew, that even through the darkest of exiles. Even through those infinite moments of silence. There is something that penetrates those darkest and loneliest of corners. A silent voice confirming that we are not alone. And that we are loved.
And in that dead stillness, we find within ourselves this unstoppable flame. And if we just close our eyes and breathe.
And the whole world opens up on the other side.