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From the Other Side

…that’s what I keep telling myself as I feel what’s left of our love slip through my fingers.”

It was December 17.

A year ago today.

I sat on an unmade bed and held a brand-new journal in my weary hands, bleeding out words in a desperate attempt to make sense of my crumbling life. My heart had been broken for too many months already, and I kept telling myself to hold onto hope I barely believed in anymore.

With the lyrics to Beautiful Things running circles through my tattered brain matter, I wrote and wrote and and wrote and waited through the darkest days for a glimmer of light.

I want to show you a handful of these words from December 17, a year ago:

“…in bits and pieces, I’ve been able to catch glimpses of myself on the other side of this.

In those glimpses, I am strong. I am loved.

By God, my family, my cousins, by Abram, Erika, Josh, Stephen, Melissa. 

In those glimpses, my life is full.

I am loved completely and will be loved completely.

My heart will find a home in God — even if I have not learned to rest there yet, I will.”

I want to show you this, too:


I took that picture a year ago. Standing on the cold sidewalk in front of Spyhouse Coffee, smoking cigarettes and trying to find enough oxygen to make it through another day.

God, those were such dark days.

Those were days of torn-open ribcages and frozen fingers and just a little too much cheap whiskey poured straight down my throat. Those were days of long cold walks to the Mississippi River, just because I didn’t know where else to go. Those were days of imprecations against the void and relentless arguments with the divine and profanity-laced Advent prayers for a Christmas miracle that would never come.


Last night before I fell asleep, I texted a few friends to say

“Whatever happens in the future, I’m going to look back on this little chapter in our lives with particular fondness.”

I can’t remember the last time I had a cigarette, and I’ve had exactly one drink this month — a glass of wine at dinner last night.

I’m not sitting on an unmade bed surrounded by broken dreams and relentless grief anymore. I’m curled up in an armchair in my new house, wrapped in a soft grey blanket next to my clumsy single-dad Christmas tree. A fresh cup of black coffee is cooling on the floor next to me, and the boys are asleep in my bed for a few more minutes before I wake them up and get them ready for school.

In these glimpses, I am strong. I am loved. In these glimpses, my life is full.

I survived the shit I never thought I could.

I lived. God, I lived.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I wondered if I would. I can’t tell you how many times (a hundred? a thousand?) I asked somebody, anybody to look me in the eye and tell me it would get better.

But they did, and it did.

And I want you to know that. Because maybe you’re sitting on an unmade bed this December 17, writing on the first page of a new journal some words that you never thought you’d have to write. Maybe you’re standing on the sidewalk breathing cigarettes and wondering how you’re going to survive this shit.

And I don’t know how you’re going to, but you will. I know you will. And maybe it will take you a month, or maybe it will take a year, but one day you’ll look back and see that you made it through.

I’ll see you on the other side. 

published December 17, 2015

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