The Price of Peace: How Losing You Meant Finding Me
They say Rome wasn't built in a day, well embracing who you are and awakening to who you are meant to become doesn't happen that quickly either. For me the journey to self happened in more of a hopscotch kind of motion with me sometimes holding firmly on 2 feet, and other times wildly wobbling on one on the brink of collapse.
In order to understand why, you have to start at the beginning. The first time I ever heard someone say they needed peace I was very young. Like most my inital encounter with it came at the hands of my mother. My mother was and is a single mom of 2. That meant even with my very large hands on family things were not always easy. We had some amazing times with road trips, and sleepovers with my cousins that meant a big bowl of noodles with 3 forks and Babes in Toyland playing on VHS. But, having a young single mother also meant there were struggles. My mom and I grew up together in a sense so there was no lying or sugar coating about our situation. As time went on I saw my mom work hard, earn barely enough and hope for a better way. It was in reference to this struggle I first heard the word peace. The way it was described I thought peace meant having money and being able to pay bills on time. Growing up I would tell myself, " I'm going to have peace when I grow up, " which led to making my own money at 11, and paying for my own things so my mom wouldn't have to and in my mind I was helping us both have some peace.
Fast forward to my teenage years filled with the typical teenage drama with a sprinkle of the complexities of same sex relationships, being "out and proud", while working and taking college classes and peace took on a completely new meaning. It was no longer about just money for bills now peace also meant finding a way to "live my truth" while also maintaining my grades, keeping an active social life , shouldering the expectations of my family, defending my sexuality, and so many other things all while still keeping a smile. I was told by all of my friends that I had the best life because my mom wasn't strict and I had freedom but I was unhappy. In fact I was suicidal. Preceding an attempt at ending it I felt peace meant no longer being in this world where you have to fight hard for everything, on top of being crushed by peer pressure and obligations, while being judged by people who claim to love you. Peace meant saying good bye to everyone I love and finding my ultimate freedom in death. But, even that didn't go as planned as my attempt was thwarted by what I now years later see as an angel. Since that night I've always prayed that he would somehow know how grateful I am for his intervention. In the time that followed I lost friends, family, even a partner as I promised myself I would do right this time and never again see my gift of life as a burden. It would all be for the best or so I thought...
Without understanding what this change would mean I failed to realize that this new idea of peace would mean losing the man who raised me and adding him to my blocked list in every way. He hurt me so badly when he told me how disappointed he was that I was embracing my sexuality unknowingly destroying my image of fatherly love. This was at a time when love was all I wanted yet love seemed to not want me back. I lost my father figure, I lost my actual father (whom I hadn't seen in years), lost a close connection with my family, and inevitably I lost myself in a cycle of emotional, physical, and substance abuse that would span the next few years of my life.
The promise I made to embrace my life had come to a halt as I drowned my pain in alcohol, drugs, and bad relationships and I came dangerously close to losing my life yet again.
It seemed at that point that peace yet again needed to be redefined. Yet, in my very real depression and anxiety it literally meant nothing to me. It was an unattainable fairy tale that I had no interest in reading to the end.
Following an unhealthy divorce I found myself standing at a crossroads. Not only did I need to address the scars my marriage, abuse, and miscarriage left behind, I needed to figure out who I was now. Was I a scorned woman? Maybe a bitter ex? A naive new dater? The uncertainty of it all was both exciting and scary as hell! I couldn't be sure what was next but I knew for a fact that gaining a true sense of self, and understanding this new chapter in my life was a must. The beginning of that wasn't finding peace or clearly defining it. No, this journey needed to become about more than just the word it had to become a choice. I had to CHOOSE peace at every turn no matter what it meant giving up. So I began unpacking the guilt I had in giving up on people and situations , packed up my happiness and exited stage left.
It was during this time that peace became less about superficial things and more about my energy, my interactions, my health, my space, my words, my thoughts and the power they held, and more importantly what I wanted the legacy of my life to amount to.
I needed to ask myself what standard was I measuring myself against and whether that standard was high enough to match my dreams I had for my life...
WHAT IS PEACE NOW?
If I had to describe peace to you today I would say it was the feeling I get when I close my eyes and breathe deep, feeling the air fill my lungs and my chest expanding, allowing a smile to cross my face, embracing that moment right before I breathe out. THAT! Is what peace is, that single second of pure solace. It is stillness and movement, silence and selective noise, it is feeling the smile both inside and out.
These days when something tries to get me down, when my illness causes my body to flare, I remember what I felt like before knowing real peace. That time when family members hurt my heart, when lovers turned against me, when money was short, when my diagnosis was cruel, when my self worth was shot, when my friends became acquaintances, when my self esteem reflected others image of me instead of the one God-ordained for me, when the happiness and comfort of others trumped my own, that time when giving up was an option, I remember that and say to myself NOT TODAY! *Shameless #GOT plug* lol.
The level of peace I have obtained today is worth every failed relationship, and every good bye spoken. When you feel real peace you aren't willing to sacrifice it for anything. So if you were ever blessed enough to feel my love, be my friend, or even just get to know me and our relationship is no longer there know three very important things are true; First I wish you no ill will, nor do I hate you. In fact I wish you every blessing because I found peace in our parting and I'm thankful for our season. Second, I gave as best I could to you. I made every effort to be fair, honest, kind, and forgiving so I found peace and comfort in the good times while acknowledging that it was you and not me that failed us. While that may seem harsh peace demands that you hold yourself accountable as well as others. Third, and this is the last but certainly not the least, I love you still. Surprising I know but it's true. I love you and love who you were for me be it friend, lover, family, or LESSON. I love you with my whole heart but I LOVE ME MORE! That is the greatest gift peace gave me. Self love and the ability to see the necessity of pain, loss, growth and change is the true prize to be sought. I paid the price by losing you but that payment came with the reward of truly knowing me and that in itself is truly priceless....