What they didn’t tell her, when they told her things, and gave her advice, and strategies, and plans, is that the other side, the other side of her illness, her crazy, consuming illness, is just as scary.
And though she worked and worked through it – she bared her soul and begged for mercy – she rose above it, finally, with strength and courage and honesty and all that comes with it – the residue of her illness remains a dangerous thing, waiting to nip and bite and clamp down on her again.
What never goes away is the longing, and the longing is what must be harnessed and broken and tamed before it rips free to wreak havoc upon her day. The “I don’t cares” and the “I wants” and the “it doesn’t matters” are what must be kept at bay. What doesn’t go away is knowing, always knowing that she could be just one extra mouthful away from her coping escape.
What never leaves her is the need to hide, to wear a mask, to lie, and to find excuses. All these things buzz and lurk and wait to pounce and must be batted aside. And, what they tried to tell her, is that she can’t ever put down her bat. She can’t even lean it up against a wall nearby, unless she is trying to sleep.
What she doesn’t quite understand yet is that she must follow some rules to stay on the other side, the other side of her illness. They’re dumb, not fun rules too. Like limiting her drinks, and not eating in the car. Like not “picking” at the little cookie tray at work, and not swiping a layer of frosting off the birthday cake that’s just sitting there. And the rules aren’t around to make her life miserable, or make her feel punished. The rules are what make her strong. When she doesn’t pick and she doesn’t swipe, she grows stronger indeed. When she doesn’t sip, or nibble, or have just one, she stops wanting more and more and more until the more can not be contained.
What she didn’t realize is that, while it does get a bit easier, the maintaining, the strength-building, it’s also still so easy to slip. It’s much too easy to slip and fall and feel like a failure again even after all the years or months or days of fighting her good and noble fight. A fight that sometimes requires all her might.
What stays with her, unfortunately is the shame. She’s strong now, yes, but the secrets, and the sorrow, and those moments when she felt more alone than the loneliest, smallest person on the planet stay with her. Even though she is surrounded by people who cheer her on and love her dearly, she still feels afraid, and by herself. Sometimes, she still feels like she’s the only person, the only one who has ever, in the history of the world, felt this way.
What she doesn’t get about the other side, is that it can be painful. But it’s a different kind of pain. It’s pain born from the realization of wasted days, and years, and all the energy she gave to her illness, her mad addiction, on a silver platter. Which is why she must choose to release it, that pain and her solemn regrets, over and over again. Her illness still reaches for her. It begs for her return. It doesn’t care about what she’s missed or what has passed her by. It just wants her back.
But what she must know, what must really stick, through all of it, is that she is more powerful than she may ever feel, though it might take forever to heal. It might take the rest of her life. The healing doesn’t go away either, as long as she feeds it. When she fights the good fight each day, she lives a better life along the way. And her life, her happy life, is worth it.
What they didn’t tell her about the other side, is that upon arrival, the journey isn’t over. It’s not the end of the road, and it’s not somewhere over the rainbow. Every day she climbs a mountain of thoughts. And she has to descend, through them again, before the sun goes down so she can sleep her deep and peaceful sleep. What they never say, the angels that guide her spirit, is that even when she’s had enough of it, when she’s just so over it, she will yet again, have to wake up, and fight.
What she is learning, for today, is that she is divine and she can break through her chains in order to shine. Now her strength comes like a rolling tidal wave. It comes from the child within her soul, who decided to be brave. The child within, still filled with love and wonder – can also throw a knock-out punch before that illness takes her under.
And now she fights quietly, and kindly, and with words, and with love. She’s on the other side now, but it’s a fight, oh it’s a fight, just the same.