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What I Need

31 days ago I closed out the hardest year of my life.  Completely alone. Since then a truth stirs inside of me that I don’t want to face. 

My fingers hum as they hold onto this truth. They hang on the edge of the keyboard, hovering in anxiety.  When they start moving the flimsy wall that I have built to keep the pain at bay will break.  The words will come, and my tears will fall.  Again.  

So, my fingers hover and freeze as they have countless times over the past year. The outlet that has saved me in so many ways rendered silent. The words simply carry too much truth. 

But tonight, I lie here in the dark.  Alone and the only one awake.  The only one to carry the weight.  Always.  I listen to my children breathe.  The short inhale and heavy exhale of their small lungs faithfully sustains my life.  Their breath gifting me with courage, over and over. 

And with their great gift of courage, I begin to move forward. My mind steadies.  It acknowledges the pain my body carries, and with dread, my fingers finally begin to fly…

2022 stole all of me.  Every single bit of me that I had picked up with bloody and torn nails and diligently put back together from the wreckage of over a decade of abuse. 2022 stole every piece of what remained and what had been painstakingly rebuilt. It was the year that finally broke me completely.  In a way that I didn’t know possible. 

And yet, in the strange and beautiful way that only life can, 2022 also handed me one of the greatest gifts of my life.  It gently taught me love in a way that I never before knew existed.  Pure, whole, and true to its core. Beautiful and tender. Love that changes you and marks out a before and after.  Illuminating sun and warmth and joy that reaches to the darkest parts of you and lights up the entire world.  I learned the true depth and breadth of love that I am capable of. 2022 unearthed the radiant parts of me that I had long ago buried and kept hidden.  The treasured and valuable parts of myself that I have to offer but had locked away, guarded tightly. All of this made me face the terrifying truth that I do so desire to be loved and valued in return and that I long to be truly seen and known.  A fact I had shoved down so deep it was jarring in its resurrection. 

In its greatest truth, 2022 blew through me like a side wind leaving me cut open and wounded in ways I didn’t know possible.  It swept me up, poured my insides out and left all of me in pieces on the floor.  Dazed and abandoned.  Shattered wholly.  Alone in a way I have never before felt.   

In the aftermath, all the parts of me are spread haphazardly like shards of glass scattered in the dirt, never to be put back together in the same way.  This I know with certainty, for this pain has marked me like a glaring red birthmark upon pale skin.   Grief a thing I have long understood, but pain?  I was completely ignorant to its true existence, its true unrelenting nature. They are different, grief and pain, and I can say with confidence I am now a friend to both.  

This pain I now know so intimately stripped me down to skin and bones and left me hollow.  It makes me doubt every single thing I have built my life on, but in its kindness it has also given me empathy for things I could never before understand.  How you just want to make it go away.  How you can be desperate beyond words. How hurt can be so deep it can steal your breath and empty your bones leaving absolutely nothing inside you.  

In my most vulnerable place, I am aware that this past year also gifted me hope when I had thrown it away completely. The hope I glimpsed and allowed myself to finally feel after refusing to for so long was shattered, but for a moment I tasted her promise.  Her solidness and goodness tiptoed lightly into my heart just for a moment, and I guess that is something. 

It is still there, this brokenness. This pain that seems unsurmountable.  Still sitting so very stubbornly inside of me.  Gnawing.  Some days it comes in nauseating waves, over and over.  Unrelenting as it washes over me.  I am also aware that somehow I keep moving, and out of this great shattering there is a strength rising that I didn’t know I had left. If I peek close enough I see roots of it growing blooms in the far distance. 

Through all of this, this one song keeps playing in my mind.  In my ears.  Over and over I hear it, and the words sit heavy on my chest. 

“If I can’t have the things I want then give me what I need.”

And I know that in so, so many ways this has been the heartbreaking story of my life.  A stripping away of every dream I dared to chase.  All the things I set before me. Working so hard for something only to watch it break apart in my hands, slip through my fingers.  Again and again.  Zero control over a damn thing.

So 2023.  If I can’t have what I want, then just give me what I need. That’s all I know to ask. Bring me what I truly need, what my babies need.

Strength when I have nothing left.

Healing from so much brokenness and disappointment. 

An ebbing of this overwhelming pain. 

Peace in the chaos of solo parenting 3 small humans with an exhausted heart and defeated spirit. 

Safety in the silent, long and empty night.

The light to return to my eyes that have been filled with so much weeping.

Sleep. God, how I need sleep. 

Rebuilding from what has been destroyed.  

Your voice, God. How I long to hear it again.  Your silence in this pain such a giant betrayal compounding the worldly betrayal that already is enough to break me.  

So, 2023, if I can’t get the things I want, please just give me what I need.


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