small shifts

Yesterday was not my best day–but, I think, it was an important one.

Nine years ago yesterday morning, I woke up to an EMT in the hallway outside my bedroom.  He woke me up to tell me my Mama was being rushed to Denver Health.  They suspected a heart attack.

I remember laying there–watching him disappear, in some odd slow motion.  And then it was like I paused–like I was in a dream and someone hit a button.  And then I remember scrambling to find clothes and rushing out the door to catch the two buses it took to get to the hospital.


That was the day that changed everything.  There’s an Alma that existed before that day that is pretty much gone.  An innocent, less broken me.  And then, there’s everything that came after and the me that survived all of it.

So, that day–yesterday–is always hard.  I always end up grieving something–and usually it’s the part of myself that was sacrificed in all of it.  I miss that old me, but I don’t want to be her anymore.  I much prefer this version of me.

The day itself–just because it’s attached to that date–is always a challenge.  Every single anniversary date, I really just want to stay in bed all day long.  I want to curl up in a fetal position and sleep through the whole damn thing.  Every year, I know I’ll cry.  I know I’ll be extra sensitive and angry.  It just is.  I’ve accepted it.

On Sunday night, I made a commitment to myself to be kind to myself on Monday.  I would do the right things.  I wouldn’t beat myself up.  I would stop when I needed to.  I would lean on people.

I pried myself out of bed at the very last moment yesterday.  Logged into work.  And that’s when chaos started.  It felt like the Universe was throwing trucks at me.  I had no less than four people tell me they couldn’t make scheduled appointments because some loved one had a heart-related event.  Two were being honest.  Two flat-out lied.  As a survivor, I can tell.  I can’t treat them differently, though.  One of the truthful ones had a loved one with my Mama’s condition.  There was an awkward moment when she asked me how my Mama was now.

For a split second–I just wanted to be kind.  I wanted to lie and say my Mama was fine.  But I know, for me, being honest is important.  And it’s also what I’d want if I were in her shoes.  I told the truth–tried to give her a better version of it than what was stuck in my head.  I tried really hard to make sure she knew it would be okay.  Because–no matter what–it would be.  Eventually.

That interaction alone?  Two years ago–it would have sent me wailing and into breakdown.  I’m very sensitive to other people’s pain.  And when it’s a pain I know all too well?  It’s rough.  So very rough.

But I didn’t break down.  I didn’t cry for most of yesterday, in fact.  After that suckerpunch, I took a breath.  I recognized that I needed a break.  I reminded myself that I couldn’t do anything about those situations.  That I couldn’t work and be present if I was battered on the side of the road.  That their pain was not my pain.  That I was not that broken girl anymore.  That I survived.

I got dressed and went up to the roof.  And I watched the skies above my city for about 15 minutes.  And then, I came back to my apartment.  I made a choice to take care of myself.

I ate a light, fairly decent breakfast.  I ate a good, easy lunch–albeit I was super late.  I drank all my water.  I took my herbs and my supplements.  I took breaks when I felt myself spinning.  Mostly, I just let myself be what I needed to be.  When I needed tech support help and faced incompetence–I let myself be angry and disappointed.  I paid attention to my emotions.  Especially as more trucks were thrown my way.  I didn’t feel the need to fix everything–and, in fact, I chose to let people help themselves.  For once in my life, I hesitated and let things be for a bit…because I didn’t have that ability in me at that moment.  And people somehow managed without me.  I didn’t have to be Wonder Woman.  At the end of the day, I gave in to my emotions.  I ate cookies and milk.  But not all of it–like I wanted to.  Balance.  Kinda.

The day was made a lot easier because people reached out to me.  I was a little shocked by that.  I posted about things on social networks–like I usually do.  But whatever I said this time seemed to bring people out.  Normally, I say things and mostly feel ignored.  It felt strange to feel supported.

I asked my roommate about it later because I was curious.  Did I say something differently?  Did I come across as more broken or something?  Well, apparently, I did say something differently.  But maybe it was because I was still connected to what I was saying.  I wasn’t just pushing the pain out of me to get rid of it.  I was living with it and sharing it because I needed to be seen.  What he said made sense to me.  But it was so bizarre to me because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything differently.  I guess the difference really is just that I’m different now.

The day started shifting, too–from this shitty, taxing, challenging day–to a different sort of day.  I had thought of the day as a series of tests.  I often feel like my life is a series of tests.  Like the world is trying to get me to break.  For whatever reason.

But what if the Universe was just trying to show me who I am now?

I’ve always been strong.  I’ve always been brave.  I’ve always been resilient.  But what if now all these things that I am aren’t about keeping me safe or keeping people at bay?  What if now all these things are about being in my life–owning and loving it–and inviting people in to share it with me?

I’ve always felt protective of everyone else.  That’s part of the reason for the armor I used to constantly bear.  Partially to save myself from being hurt, but also to spare others from the burden that’s me and my mess.

Maybe–what my therapist said about me being healthy had an impact.  Maybe it made me believe that I’m not the effed up girl who needs to be fixed.  Maybe I’m starting to see and own who I actually am: a girl who gets it, but sometimes needs support and a little push, to get there.

Maybe the world is kind.


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