I’ve spent so much of my life trying to get it together, to arrive at that place where everything is aligned and balanced and right. For so long I believed that if I did A, achieved B or attained C, all my external ‘things’ would come together and make my insides whole. When things fell apart for me a few years ago, I thought it was the end. I thought that failing dismally at ‘getting it together’ was about the worst place I could be.
It turned out, however, that having it all smashed apart, scattered like the aftermath of a hurricane, was actually what I needed most.
My alcoholism decimated my self-esteem, my relationship with Tyrhone, my mental and physical health and more. I felt as though the gaping hole that had always existed within my soul exploded, sending pieces flying outwards into space, never to be seen again.
I still struggle to find the words for that rock-bottom feeling – shock, shame, terror, anger, panic.
They are not enough.
My ego fought the notion that things were really so bad (I had a job and a house filled with trinkets and IKEA flat-pack furniture, dammit!) but that deep, dark, Falling Apart feeling allowed me to see the truth that things were really quite dire.
The biggest shock, however, was walking into a recovery meeting full of other Fallen Apart people and feeling my soul’s scattered pieces buzz and hum with life for what felt like the first time ever.
It usually has to get pretty bad for someone to walk into one of those rooms. We don’t go for the free instant coffee, believe me. I had to be broken down by shame and blame and what I later heard referred to as ‘pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.’
It took getting to that place to walk into a room filled with more love, truth, beauty and hope than I’d ever had the privilege of witnessing before.
In all my years of trying to get it together, I had never glimpsed the beauty available in admitting it had all Fallen Apart. I was too busy pretending and covering up to allow myself to be beaten down enough to get honest about how I was feeling – how I’d always felt – that there simply wasn’t enough booze or drugs or men or parties or new shoes in the world to fill the hollow, gaping abyss within me.
There still isn’t.
The kicker, which is highly infuriating and unfair, is that there isn’t even enough travel or yoga or blogging or writing or instagram photos to make me whole either.
I still try, of course, to do what I think I see other people doing, to achieve and strive and attain in order to get my stuff together, but a funny thing happens when I think I might almost be there.
Things fall apart again.
When I think my relationship is a sealed deal, I’m quickly reminded that it is not as we once again teeter on the edge of going our separate ways.
When I think ‘I’ve got this recovery thang down!’ and fancy myself a spiritual guru with a devoted following of one (me), I almost immediately find myself wanting to disappear into a bottle of Cab Sav and a carton of Marlboroughs, never to return again.
Because none of the external stuff actually works, you see. There is no prescription of success or security, adoration or bank balance to cure what I have.
A lack of faith, self-love and most of all acceptance. Of me, of everyone else and of life, which happens the way it’s going happen whether it suits me or not. And those times when it doesn’t suit me are the very times when I am being changed and transformed in spite of all my grand plans and lofty ideals for my life.
I have realised that a really good place for me to be is the opposite of together.
Apart. Scattered. Un-gathered (is that a word?).
Because when I give up trying to get it all together, whatever that actually means, I can see, just for a fleeting second at a time, how beautiful the mess actually is.
Falling Apart is what allowed space for Truth and Grace in my life, and since they are the only things which have ever filled me up with a feeling of warmth like a soothing cup of tea before bed time, then that is where I want to stay.
When things Fell Apart, Faith and Love took me on a journey – around the world and within my heart –
to search for my scattered pieces.
And rather than putting me together, they showed me it was exactly the way I was meant to be.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
Glennon’s work has been a huge inspiration to me, influencing my writing and my recovery more than I can say. So I am giving away two copies of her book, Carry On, Warrior – a paperback for US readers and a Kindle version for the rest of the world.
Leave a comment below to enter and let me know which country you are in (or would like the book to go to). I’ll contact you for your details if you win. Winners will be selected by a highly technical system of me asking Tyrhone to choose a random number… then another one.