Words on a page.

“No matter what we do, we can make it our ministry. No matter what form our job or activity takes, the content is the same as everyone else’s: we are here to minister to human hearts. If we talk to anyone, or even think of anyone, then we have the opportunity to bring more love into the universe… When you know this, when you fully live up to the opportunity to heal, you achieve an energy that pushes you forward in worldly endeavors… You are powerful in whatever moment you choose to be. The choice to be used as an instrument of love, right here, right now, is a choice for personal empowerment.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I’ve been thinking recently about my life’s purpose. Life’s purpose. It sounds so intimidating, like someone’s life purpose needs to be this incredibly important thing. But it’s much simpler than that. We have certain talents, curiosities and passions, that pull us through life in a certain direction, that make us lean forward and ask more questions, and it’s our job to keep leaning in. To use these gifts to serve, connect, make small differences in everyday moments. To bring more love and light into the world in our own very unique way, however small or simple. How do I fit in?

I want to tell a story, my story. As a woman, mother,  writer. As the wife of an opiate addict, who is learning how to lean in and let go, who is discovering the power of the universe and everyday moments and how we are all the same, how addiction is a family disease and we all heal and recover in our own ways. I am here to write, and this is my story.

My ego is telling me it’s not my story. That I’m using my husband’s disease to find my purpose. That I need to find something on my own, apart from him, because what if he wasn’t suffering from addiction? Then what would I write about? But he is. And we’re together for a reason. We’re helping each other expand and grow. Yes, it is his addiction, and his recovery. But I am healing, too. This story is of my recovery – of how this family disease forced me to look at the universe differently, and look at myself differently, and continues to force me to see every situation with new eyes. To see every situation with the eyes of love.

After I originally published this post, I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert interviewed on the podcast On Being. She spoke about passion versus curiosity in a way that really resonated with me – that really just helps push me forward any time I question what I’m doing here or if what I have to write matters.

Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes, not so available. And so, when we live in a world that has come to fetishize passion above all, there’s a great deal of pressure around that.

Curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly, and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you. And it may not set your head on fire; it may not change your life; it may not change the world; it may not even line up with previous things that you’ve done or been interested in. It may seem very random and make no sense. And I think the reason people end up not following their curiosity is because they’re waiting for a bigger sign, and your curiosities, sometimes, are so mild and so strange [laughs] and so, almost, nothing — it’s a little trail of breadcrumbs that you can overlook if you’re looking up at the mountaintop, waiting for Moses to come down and give you a sign from God.

Sometimes, following your curiosity will lead you to your passion. Sometimes it won’t; and then, guess what? That’s still totally fine. You’ve lived a life following your curiosity. You’ve created a life that is a very interesting thing, different from anybody else’s. And your life itself then becomes the work of art — not so much contingent upon what you produced, but about a certain spirit of being that, I think, is a lot more interesting, and also, a lot more sustainable. – Elizabeth Gilbert, from the On Being with Krista Tippett podcast episode “Choosing Curiosity Over Fear”

I am very fortunate to know on most days that telling a story through the written word is my passion. I certainly know it when I’m trying to express myself verbally, and I’m wishing instead I could go into a room by myself and take the time to type of my thoughts, then hand them over to whoever wants to know. Perhaps it’s just the introvert in me, but it’s the writer in me, for sure. And on days when I’m staring at a blank page, unable to find the words, comparing myself to others and wondering what the hell I’m thinking, I will remember what Ms. Gilbert said about curiosity. And I’ll try to show up here.

So, here I am. No name, no face, no age, no city. I write anonymously to free myself from judgement of the people I know. I am working on letting that go, too, but until then – just words on a page. Telling my story. To you. I’m not expecting to change lives, and I don’t believe one’s life purpose has to necessarily do that. A connection is all I can hope for. If you’re searching, maybe you will find hope in these words and know that you are not alone.

Search and surrender.

“Creativity is a powerful way to celebrate who you are. It is spiritual energy that nourishes our vitality. It is a way to replace negative thinking with positive action. When we create, we plant ourselves firmly in the moment and teach ourselves that what we do matters.” Courage to Change

I write during the in-between. In my head. During small moments in my car, or washing dishes, or sitting in my cubicle at work – thoughts will enter, a sentence will form, present moments turn into short bursts of text on the page. Except there is no page in front of me, and I’m forced to tuck away the thoughts, hoping I’ll remember them when I actually have time to sit down and write. I never do – remember or have time. I make time by sitting down and just starting to type, but before that I tell myself I should be doing something else, and then when I spend a few more minutes not doing that something else I realize, OK, just write.

So I sit down, start writing. Sometimes the words flow. Those thoughts almost never come back, though. I reach back in my memory, try to visualize the words on the page, the moments when they appeared. Poof – gone.

Funny, that it’s the thoughts I want to hang on to are the ones that go. Then, during meditation, when I try to focus on the present, when I try to turn thoughts into clouds that I acknowledge and then watch as they float by – that’s when they keep coming back.

“You’re not supposed to stop thinking,” M tells me. So then I’m just thinking about not not thinking.

There it is. Now watch it float on.

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We’ve been going to crystal singing bowl healing sessions. I keep falling asleep. The bowls’ vibrations flow through me in circles. I can feel the sounds dip and curve in my body, in my head, ringing through my ears. Sometimes they give me a headache. Sometimes I can feel the vibration deep in my gut. And then, I awaken. I don’t remember falling asleep, though. Instead, it feels as though I teleported to nowhere and then returned. Snap! Just like that. The first time, I was convinced I “went somewhere,” and the instructor told us about “yoga nidra” – a state of consciousness between awake and asleep. Yes! That’s where I was. The second time, I thought maybe I entered yoga nidra again. “You were sawing logs,” M told me. I felt disappointed. Like I missed out on an opportunity to be closer to the universe, to the energy I’m trying so desperately to feel.

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I often feel like I’m grasping for spirituality, maybe trying too hard. It seems to come much easier for M, but then, he’s always been more in touch with a Higher Power – a feeling that we are all connected, that someone is looking out for him.

I’m afraid of being a phony. Always worried about what other people think. Shopping for mala beads online and then asking myself, What will I say if people ask me about them? Will they think I’m just conforming to a trend? Trying to be someone I’m not? Will this bring me closer to what I’m looking for?

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Distractions. Grasping for every new thing, hoping it will be the thing that heals me, that brings me to that place where I am suddenly connected and at peace and it all makes sense. But shouldn’t I just keep it simple? Prayer. I need nothing to pray, just open arms and the will to surrender.

“When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender some more.” Gabby Bernstein

Somehow, I even manage to overthink prayer. I should pray, I tell myself. But when? Do I need to set aside a time to be spiritual, to bow down to a little Buddha statue, diffuse frankincense, line up my crystals and ask the universe for…. what?

I keep thinking that all the things will help me, but really, I think what I’m doing is OK. Thinking about prayer. Acknowledging that the universe has my back. Prayer doesn’t have to be a talk with God but rather, my own communication. That might look different than someone else’s, maybe someone who sets aside time every Sunday to worship, or every day to read the Bible. Maybe my prayer is simply looking up at the sky and knowing that it was created with love, and that love flows through me, and that is enough. It’s all going to be OK.

And those things? The crystals and the jewelry – they’re all OK too. As long as I don’t fall into the idea that they hold the answers. They make me happy, they make me aware, they bring me closer to myself and my husband and the energy around us. They are tangible things I can hold in my hand, wear around my neck, look down at my wrists and remember that I have opened up my arms, I have surrendered, and I must continue to surrender every day.