I read the quote, "Love is like a well with steep sides. Once you fall in-- that's it, you will always love that person," in Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls novel.
On page 432.
I stopped and immediately searched for a pen, highlighter, a post-it note, my phone... anything to write down and remember that line. It's the truth. As much as you might want to cross out, cut free, slash loose, break away from, and perhaps subconsciously wish impending doom upon those whom you've loved in the past, it's true that love for that person will always exist.
It came to me on a very specific day that has historically had no significance in my life, and now it carries a new significance.
January 8, 2022.
On this day, I attended a women's conference. One of those new-year-envisioning, woo-woo-manifesting, self-limiting-belief-releasing women's conferences. It was a small group, but what we shared and processed together was not small at all.
We wrote down on a piece of paper what our greatest fear is going into 2022. The woman next to me took a deep breath and said, "this is hitting my core here."
I said, "I feel it."
What is my greatest fear going into 2022?
That love is not safe.
That loving another will always come with pain. That trust will lead to abandonment. That happiness leads to disappointment. That love is not, never was, and never will be, a safe space for me.
And then I noticed I was wearing a ring I bought in Maine right after an awful break-up. It's crisscrossed mixed metals of gold and silver with porous lines like coral that wrap around my finger. When I bought this ring, the woman behind the counter said, "pick a saying," holding up a clay jar with strips of paper in it. I love stuff like that, so I closed my eyes and picked a piece of paper.
It read, "I can choose love over fear over and over again."
I folded the piece of paper, put it in my coat pocket, and decided that every time I look at this ring I will repeat that phrase: I can choose love over fear over and over again.
It hasn't gotten easier, to trust in love, but the Universe has given me opportunities to display that I can trust in love, even when I'm afraid. So, here I am, in 2022, dealing with the same shit just in a different year. We did an exercise where we closed our eyes and breathed in and out repeating the phrase, "I am safe, I am safe, I am safe."
I wanted to blurt out, "We're not safe! I'm not safe!! Are you all safe????"
I don't feel safe. I love, I get hurt. I trust, trust gets broken. I make a decision, somebody is not happy with the decision I made. I choose me, they don't like that I chose me. I question myself, my sanity, and if the world is truly a safe place.
No matter how many times we repeat to ourselves, "the world is a safe place," it isn't. It never was a safe place and it never will be a safe place. There are companies, businesses, people, couples, singles, police officers, and e-bay merchants out there just trying to take advantage of you. Nobody else is looking out for you, you gotta look out for yourself otherwise you'll get thrown down on the ground like the desired victim of bullies on the playground.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a childhood best friend. Not the bullying part, but about experiencing great depths of pain and what we must endure in this lifetime. I said, "Even though this is the most painful season of my life, the one I'm currently living, I am grateful that when my soul showed up on the earth and signed up for this thing call life again for the thousandth time, it signed up for all of it. I am grateful that I will have felt and literally worn every crevasse and corner of this thing called life by the time that I pass it on."
I know not why we must endure.
I know not why people go missing.
I know not why Amber Alerts must exist.
I know not why people battle illnesses and pass away from cancer or Alzheimer's disease.
I know not why some babies never get to take their first breath. Or why other babies may take their first few and then slip, in just a few moments, from life to lifelessness.
I know not why people cheat, people lie, people run, or why people hide.
I know not why governments are corrupt and world wars erupt.
I know not why there are suicides, self-harmers, or those who cannot look themselves in the mirror.
I know not why there are mental illnesses and personality disorders.
I know not why all of this must take place.
But I do know that the one thing that can be found in all of that is pure, unending grace.
And where I land, as we enter into 2022, is that I am here. Still.
There will, of course, be more to come in this life that will not make sense, but in all of that I can take comfort in the grace of being me. The grace of living fully and that-- I can choose love over fear over and over again.