I see her seated at the other end of the bar in a faux leather jacket, ankle boots, and cigarette pants, staring off into space like the wall of liquor had been replaced with constellations. I am enamored with the quiet beauty of hallelujah that seems to orbit around her like Saturn’s rings.

I choose a stool with a space for one between us leaving the potential for conversation open but not required. The bartender hands me a cheep faithful domestic and as I take my first sip she looks over at me and smiles, points her beverage at my matching one and says

“Cheers” with the same double meaning as when an astronomer says “Good evening.”

The stars send their Sunday best out tonight, and her eyes twinkle accordingly.

She is not pink and manufactured like the self-help books that used to adjourn Borders’ shelves. She is not an advertisement for cross fit, or the makeup counter at a department store. Not like there’s anything wrong with those things, but she is not here for improvement, and she’s not here to get bye, she’s here for understanding which the bar always seems to do.

As I salute her with my beverage, I see an innocence in her eyes that must get lost to most people that are too focused on her touch or the way she walks away. And while I know that feeling all to well, I stay silent because to women like us, apologies are worth less than the beer in our cans and typically come from a similar quality of folk. But we still drink because they’re everywhere and all we think they’re all we can afford.

So with a glance I say nothing, other than “I know.”

She finishes her drink and gets up to go to the bathroom. I tip the bartender and make my way out into the night.

Even in this city, little rays of light beam down from a place that was once the heavens, too far to touch but close enough to see if you squint one and a half of your eyes. The autumn wind rustles the leaves below my feet that are laced with the same stardust that made oceans that are thousands of miles away. I feel part of the trajectory-forward moving, if not improving, and limited only by my own design.


Crawl Spaces and Armor

I’m sitting across from Marlene in her office when I begin to cry-first a couple of tears here and there, and then, after getting caught up in my own emotions, full on sobbing. The sun is shining in her window. I look outside to the park across the street and try collect myself. I’m angry that I got caught up in my own self pity, but I guess that’s what therapy is for isn’t it? She looks at me as though I were a small child lost in a supermarket looking for it’s mother, but I don’t mind.

“This is a safe space,” I remind myself. “I can be as little here as I want to.” I don’t have to suck it up in front of my coworkers and I don’t have to downplay my messiness in front of my friends. I am not required to be “strong” here. In fact, I’m almost encouraged not to be.

So I indulge. The irony is that the more I talk about what’s bothering me, the more empowered I feel by it. I am able to dissect it an analyze the pieces. With Marlene’s coaching, I’m able to figure out where it all came from and how I find myself in the same mental patterns over again:

“You are not good enough.”

“You are unloveable”

“You are too much.”

“You are untalented and unsuccessful.”

“You are an imposter. One day everyone is going to figure out all these things and want nothing to do with you.”

I after the anger subsides, I let myself indulge in the crying a little bit more until I’m ready to slow it down. When I finally stop, she smiles.

“You’re very self aware,” she says. “You’ve been through a lot and your feelings are completely understandable. I know you feel as though you’re in a scary place and everything feels like you’re in a stand-still, but we’re going to get you out of it, and we’re going to teach you how to progress when this does happen again.”

I got nothing to lose by trusting her, so I believe effortlessly.

I leave my appointment and notice how snug my faux leather jacket is around my chest and shoulders. It’s become sort of an armor since I purchased it, an adult version of the small crawl spaces I used to feel safe in as kid.

From therapy, I bike to my favorite coffee shop to put some creative energy into my keyboard. As I take to the keys trying to get reacclimated to the feeling of pouring thought onto blank screen, I realize that that I’ve gotten good at just getting by in my personal life- doing enough to seem functioning, but feeling so disattached it does nothing. I’m not going to make any grandiose vows that I’ll change, but it does feel like a good day to start trying again.