Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Little Cupcake Sprinkle

When did "So, what's next for you two?" become such an offensive question?

We've been back in the States for almost two months now; traveling from state-to-state, spending time with people we love. And along the way, kind, generous, sincere people often ask--as any normal human being would--what we're going to do now. And when it happens I want to shrivel into a teeny-tiny person, the size of a sprinkle on top of a cupcake and just disappear, pretend like I didn't hear the question, and blend in with the other sprinkles until the person walks away.

I don't know what we're doing.

I know we've finished college.
I know we're married.
I know we spent two years in Korea.
But I can't easily account for the past ten years.
I seem to have tragically short-term memory.
I don't know how I got here.

So, now what?

Listening to Rob Bell's podcast recently, he released a series of daily thoughts about forgiveness. About how our failure to forgive people doesn't hold them hostage, it holds us hostage. It keeps us straddled with one foot in the past and one foot in the present. Not. Fully. Living. And, for the life of me, I couldn't think of anyone that I needed to forgive. But I listened on because Mr. Bell always has wise things to say, like this:
"And oftentimes the debts are ones we've racked up, we haven't forgiven ourselves. We are not living well with ourself. We have not made peace with our own story."

Maybe I need to make some peace.
Make amends.
Forgive myself for what was.
For the things that changed my story.
For my short-term memory.
For the ways my 20s seems to have slipped through my fingers.
Like I expected something more, but am left with what I have.

If I'm lingering in the past, it's difficult to be present and content now.
Because part of me still feels like I'm nineteen years-old.

And so...

Dear Heather-girl,

I forgive you. 

I forgive you for being 18 and wanting to fit in so desperately.

I forgive you for the time you stopped eating.

I forgive you for the times you forced yourself to throw-up.

I forgive you for showing up to college only half-way there.

I forgive you for ever believing that your worth was dependent upon your appearance.

I forgive you for the hours you spent with five different counselors.

I forgive you for the women you judged in therapy, positive that you'd never be "that bad."

I forgive you for the reasons you went to Cambodia.

I forgive you for being broke open and torn apart.

I forgive you for Cambodia being the fight-of-your-life.

I forgive you for needing trauma counseling.

I forgive you for the friendships you lost along the way.

I forgive you for the boundaries you had to make to get through the day.

I forgive you for the times you couldn't go to class.

I forgive you for each passing semester blurring into a cacophony of counseling appointments, self-harm, regret, and, oh yeah--college courses, too.

I forgive you for losing track of time and losing track of self.

I forgive you for the six years you spent recovering from that eating disorder.

I forgive you for the 4.5 years (and oh, how much money...) it took to earn a degree you may or may not ever use.

I forgive you for the two years you spent in Korea. Your friends may have shiny careers, but you don't have student loans.

I forgive you for worrying so much about the future.

I forgive you for wanting to play small.

I forgive you for being twenty-eight and feeling lost and unsettled and unsure.

It's hard to let go of what feels like so many pitfalls and drawbacks these past ten years. "If only..." are two of the most dangerous words in the English language. I can think of so many things that I wish had gone differently.

But my life isn't only one of regret.
It's just awfully easy to see them as I'm standing here with a lot of time on my hands and miles and miles to reflect on.

So, here's to forgiving myself and moving forward with hope. Because, as Rob Bell says,
"To forgive is to set someone free and then realize that it's you."