Week 4 : Uncovered Memories

To follow up on my last post, I successfully made it through a 2 day stay-cation with my in-laws! I chickened out and didn’t tell them about the year of sobriety though… oh well, baby steps.

It turned out to be a wonderful weekend despite ingesting my body weight in Grapefruit La Croix and Twizzlers Pull-and-Peels.

What I really want to talk about in this post is what happened on the second night of our stay…

It was dark, probably around 9:30pm and the whole family was watching a movie in the living room. I excused myself to go outside and get some fresh air. I stood on the back porch and let myself be enveloped by the silence. I looked up at the stars splayed out above me and was instantly transported to a moment, nearly ten years ago, when I began working as a camp counselor at a YMCA camp in the Rocky Mountains.

I had fled to the camp as a refugee from my life. I had made so many bad decisions and taken so many wrong turns that my existence had become a dangerous, unsettled mess. When I arrived at the camp the first day, I stumbled to my cabin and slept for 48 hours straight. When I woke up, I walked the .5 miles to the bathhouse and stared at myself in the mirror unable to recognize the person I saw staring back. I was skinny and hollow and broken. It was the first time in two years that I had been sober long enough to really see myself.

There was nowhere to run, no substance with which to numb it away, no choice but to look into my own eyes and acknowledge the heart that lay shattered behind them.

The 75 nights spent at that camp saved me. I was too young and scared to begin to process the ordeal I had just been through, but I found enough s p a c e to observe my brokenness from new angles. Night after night I would look up at the expansive sky and talk to it like it was a long lost friend. I would ask for help, try to make amends for my shameful behavior, sometimes I would just cry and let the moonlight cast shadows on my dampened face.

Last night, all this came back to me like a gust of wind.

At first I felt a familiar fear which was quickly replaced by a subtle inner trusting. A quiet contentment that I can best describe as a warm, soft blanket around my heart. The night sky didn’t offer the compassionate listening it once had. It didn’t need to. It could just be. It could just exist as a dazzling unknown. A gentle reminder of all that we cannot grasp or understand.

I took one last glance at the stars and smiled knowing that I carried my long lost friend inside of me.

She wasn’t lost anymore.

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