In December of 2010, I hit my rock bottom. It's been almost five years!
It was shocking to see the differences between Alicia v.2010 and Alicia v.2015.
Physically, I ache for what's happened. In five years, I've aged fifteen years. The stress has taken so much out of me. There's worry lines where there used to be supple skin. My eyes look old, showing the wear and tear recovery takes. I ached for the younger version of me. Only five years ago, I looked so fresh. Today I sit with inflammation and ulcers, I've had my gall bladder and tonsils removed due to inflammation. My hair has thinned considerably and I have gained ten stress pounds from trauma alone.
This is hard for me to sit with.
As I read the words I wrote, I could see a stark change internally as well. My worries and concerns were surface. I worried endlessly about things that were outside of my realm of control. I didn't know myself at all.
As I read the words I wrote, I remembered how I felt when I wrote them. I remembered my insatiable appetite for external validation, for approval from others.
I had a much larger blog following in those years. People wanted to read about my shiny life, about my funny kids and the nice things Danny did during the honeymoon phase of his addiction cycle.
I blogged almost daily.
Today my number of readers has decreased. I blog when I can, when I feel I should either for journaling purposes or because I feel I absolutely MUST... As if God has something He'd like for me to get out of my soul and onto cyber paper.
I do this without thought of disapproval whereas before I sought strictly for approval. This means I've upset people, made them unhappy with what I've chosen to write about on my blog.
So that's progress.
I've traded shiny for tarnish.
I'm okay with that.
I used to believe that really living meant people knowing who I was, admiring me for what I had to offer.
Now I feel that really living means moving to a small house off the beaten path and admiring what God has to offer.
James Allen has said that Christ's tomb isn't something found on foreign soil... It's a deeply personal metaphor existing within. As we roll away the stone of selfishness from our souls, Christ himself is awoken within. His light and light come forth from inside of us. His resurrection has never been a single event. It is a commonplace miracle brought forth usually through excruciating life events: death, betrayal, grief, loss, trauma...
These events offer us a ticket to Christ's resurrection, a chance to REALLY begin to live.
Does this means my worry lines will disappear? That my ulcers will never again send me to my sickbed?
It does mean, though, that I'm finally living. It does mean that I'm seeking Christ instead of Self. I'm not doing it perfectly, but there's a sort of beauty in that fact as well.
"Suppose a person who knew nothing about salt. You give him a pinch to taste and he experiences a particular strong taste. You then tell him that people in your country use salt in all their cookery. Might he not reply. 'In that case, I suppose all your dishes taste exactly the same: because the taste of that stuff you have just given me is so strong that it will kill the taste of everything else.' But you and I know that the real effect of salt is exactly the opposite. So far from killing the taste of the egg and the tripe and the cabbage, it actually brings it out...
It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of "little Christ's", all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented -as an author invents characters in a novel -all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to 'be ourselves' without Him... It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personaity, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own. ...
But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away "blindly" so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. The real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him."
And so my real, new self emerges... Physically beaten but emotionally and spiritually enlightened. Awareness abounds in my brand new soul and my aging, aching joints alike.
One day at a time I will surrender to God and find myself. And those days will stack themselves neatly into years, and those years will be looked back upon as lived fully: joyfully, painfully... But fully.