Yesterday I left my lights on at work. (#gome) Three of my coworkers alternated spending 10 minute shifts with me trying to get my car to start. After almost an hour of standing in the cold, waiting for Starr's dad to come look at my car, I looked around and thought, "God damn it, is this what this is going to feel like every single time something goes wrong with my car from now on?"
I wanted to call my dad and I couldn't. He is not there, on the other of the phone line, waiting to pick up anymore. I took a shower last night and let huge, ugly sobs escape from my chest. I broke down in the most vulnerable way I know how: alone, naked, with myself in the shower. It was how I finally accepted that my first relationship had to end in order to make room for growth. It was how I tried to cope with being 1,000 miles away from a familiar face in college. It was how I reconciled with myself and forgave myself for my young and stupid mistakes. After I forced myself to take deep breaths so I wouldn't have a panic attack, I reminded myself, "It's okay to feel things. It is okay to feel this way. You just miss your dad. You are still grieving, and right now you miss him like hell. It is okay. You are okay."
I realized this last night, while trying to give myself a pep talk: You don't need to listen to your darkness. I stood in the shower and repeated, "You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve to be clean and take care of your body. You are allowed to be vulnerable."
I repeated those words until the "You" statements turned into "I" statements.
I deserve to take care of myself.
I deserve to be clean and take care of my body.
I am allowed to be vulnerable.
I am allowed to be vulnerable. I am allowed to be soft. I am allowed to take up space. I am allowed to think good things about myself and I am allowed to make the choice about what kinds of thoughts I let stay in my head.
Last night, it was a choice between getting lost in the depression because all I wanted was to just have one more conversation with my dad, or doing what my dad would have done if I had called him. He would have listened to me freak out and then he would have given me a pep talk. A gentle, "I believe in you. You can do this." He taught me how to do that for myself now that he is no longer here. I think that's what all parents want for their children: the ability to pick yourself up when the ones who raised you are not physically there anymore.
Thankful, beyond thankful, for faith. Faith in love and words and suffering and the power of growth. And for my dad. And for what losing him has taught me about family and the bonds you have with other people. About the time we spent together and the lessons he taught me. They are what I will carry with me for the rest of my life. His legacy, locked away deep in my heart.
Love you, Dad. Miss you.