Backwards, forwards, upwards, and onwards. This has been the way I’ve been living my life for over a year now and I can’t turn back, nor do I want to. The last few weeks have been a daze of both international and domestic travel complete with trains, planes, and automobiles. As I sit and write this final piece in my series, I can’t help but be reflective and thankful for every experience I’ve had so far. I wanted to feel it all–the awesome and the terrible–because I had to. I couldn’t take the sweet without the sour, so I jumped into this new life head first.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. I felt helpless, scared, alone, isolated, and any other dark and depressing adjective you could think of. But I also knew, deep down, that that person wasn’t me. I didn’t like the person I was when I was in that place. Pessimism was my own worst enemy yet I opened up the door, invited it in and asked it to stay for a while. Then I realized that it was overstaying its welcome so I kicked it to the curb. Thank goodness I did.
Nearly nine months after I left Florida for a complete reboot, I found myself returning–a homecoming of sorts–a few days before the Thanksgiving holidays. This time, I had my guy and my girl with me and we were traveling as a trio. I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I know what kinds of feelings I would encounter upon arrival. People always say to expect the unexpected, but I didn’t even know what the unexpected would be. We saw some of my nearest and dearest friends, made some new ones, and spent time with my family. The whole time I was there, though, had me feeling unsettled. Something was stirring inside of me and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. If you shake up an unopened bottle of soda, pressure inevitably builds and if you open it up at just the right (or wrong) time, it explodes everywhere leaving a wet mess in front of you.
I was that bottle of soda.
The familiarity of the town was both comforting afflictive, the dichotomy of both those feelings causing vexed states of emotion within. I wanted to pull myself out of it, but I somehow couldn’t. Even between visits and laughter, there was an underlying melancholy that was just so present. I knew what I needed to do to snap out of it, but it required a great deal of support that I wasn’t entirely sure I could ask for. Then I remembered that my relationship has always been built on a foundation of trust and honesty, of openness and compassion.
So one night, I told him I wanted to go to the site of the accident. I wanted to confront it. It had been over a year and I had managed to avoid ever having to be there. That night, I needed to do it. A number of things crossed my mind. Before, I feared that going through it would make it that much more real. Now, however, I feared that going through it would warp time and change everything as I knew it, that it would cancel out and erase everything good that had happened and was continuing to happen. As we made our way down the brick road, every bump made my stomach turn and I could feel my breath getting shorter and more tense. Inching closer and closer to that corner, my stomach and chest felt like they were caving into one another. Before I knew it, we were there. I pointed it out, I acknowledged it, I defied it. Instead of going through a wormhole, it felt like there was a sudden release, as if instead of going back in time, time was suspended and I had just driven the car off of a high cliff. It felt like I had plunged into deep water in slow motion and could feel the lukewarm water start to fill up the car. I could feel the water rise from the tips of my toes, up my shins, and then it ended once it hit my knees. It was like the car had buoyed itself up from the water and now I was just in it. Floating, safe and unharmed. I did it. I let out a huge sigh which then turned into a huge sob. The catharsis was both humiliating and empowering at the same time. Then it hit me: I just went face-to-face with the intersection of death and the crossroads of the beginning of the rest of my life. I felt like I had allowed myself absolution from it all.
I look at my life now and feel overwhelmed at times. Sure, a terrible thing happened to me. And not to downplay any of it at all, but awful things happen to a lot of unsuspecting people every day. I didn’t want to be anyone’s charity case. I didn’t want to be a sad story. If anything, I wanted nothing more than to have normalcy, without any of the tragedy. I am living with so much more passion and adventure. I wake up excited about what might happen that day. I remain in the present and plan for tomorrow because, really, that’s all we have, right? I have become so much more whole than I thought I could ever be and I know in my heart of hearts that a lot of it has to do with how much love I allowed myself to feel. There is so much ahead of me. There is so much to look forward to I’ll take admiration over pity, happiness over sadness, light over dark, and above all else, love over hate.
Backwards, forwards, upwards, and onwards. Let’s keep this party going.
This is the fifth and last piece in a series from Tanya Fujiki-Hastings, a Momfilter contributor, who writes a blog called T Spoon of Sunshine. Her first post is here, her second is here, her third is here, and her fourth is here.