Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty.

Sigh.

I finally watched it this weekend, and it was… Well, to put it mildly, it was hard. I’m not exactly sure how to express what it was for me, but I feel this need to sort what was for me for myself. I need to understand what happened to me not only as I watched this film, but more importantly what happened inside of me after I watched it.

It was raw emotion. A slimy nose and a wet face. Nearly a whole box of Kleenex. It was bloody and bruised heart-pain. Deep scars gashed open. Barely healed rips ripped yet again. Elephant on chest. It was the darkest places and emotions in my soul. Fear. Rejection. Doubt. Loss. Grief. Anger. Exquisite sadness. It was every horrible, painful, heart-wrenching emotion I’ve experienced in the last three years, all at once.

It was also every good thing. Every fantasy, every hope, every dream, every wish. The lightest, most beautiful places and emotions in my soul. The heart filled with love exploding in my chest, the tears of joy, the racing thoughts of all the beauty and good that I ran so fast and chased so hard trying to keep up with before it disintegrated into a lonely fog of misty memories…

It was every dialogue between Howard and the projections of our three most relatable experiences as human beings…every single one and from all sides has been me at some point in the last three years. Despite the hard things it brought up in me, it also brought to the surface my truest reality and recollection of these years: that they were absolutely the worst years and the best years of my life all at once, and I wouldn’t change one single damned thing.

Perhaps they were my best worst years, or my worst best years… I don’t know. Overthinking aside, they were definitely the worst and the best all at once. I experienced more emotion, more pure and raw and true love being felt and expressed from deep within me, more conscious realizations of the truth of time, more acceptance and patience with death, than I have ever experienced in my life – or will likely ever experience again in this way. It’s funny how the most beautiful things in our lives can be the most terrifying. The most precious things about ourselves, we don’t see the same way others do because no-one ever tells us…and then, when we do see it, we feel like it’s too late and all for nought.

Nonetheless, observing myself and seeing myself on the roller coaster from the ground, so to speak, I realize that it was not all for nought. What would have amounted to zero was not being there at all…

During these years I have stepped out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I have done things I had never done and never imagined doing. I have experienced things that I have only ever dreamed of. In the process, I have made some mistakes that were, and continue to be, the most painful for other people that I have ever made. But I have learned, and I have forgiven others and sought forgiveness. Whether I have received it or not is not up to me…the most I can do is to offer mine and to forgive myself.

I have opened my heart to give and receive love without giving in to fear or doubt, and at the same time closed my heart to love for precisely those reasons. I have had the most beautiful, soul-awakening, life altering experiences of my life in these short 36 months, and I have turned away nearly as many in these last 12.

The short of it is, I have lived.

I wish that I could say that the following statements were figments of my imagination but they’re not. In the last year, it is the fact that I have lived that is my burden. I’ve heard it called everything from “just grief” to survival guilt. I think it’s a bit of both. And, admittedly, it’s a bit silly at a number of levels. Considering I have a young son to raise and who loves me, and that my only fear is dying and leaving him without a mother, it’s especially ridiculous to feel guilty that I’m alive at times. But, I do.

The mind doesn’t have much of a say in these thoughts, really. The heart can’t be tamed – not one like mine, I’ve been told. And mine is still all over the place. CPTSD aside, I’m not mentally ill. I’ve ALWAYS been a very sensitive and emotional person. I’ve also always been looked down on for that. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that I have spent the last year – grief, heartbreak, rejection, whatever negativity aside – wasting the life I have left… That’s the main thing that I took away from the movie.

The thing is, BECAUSE of the CPTSD and the anxiety – which are, technically, mental illnesses – I can’t rightly blame myself or be harsh with myself. It’s NOT something I can help, or just change. It doesn’t work that way. As I pondered this I found myself having a mind fight with Louise Hay and her spiritual/psychobabble bullshit. My state of mind is not something that is so easily healed by simply talking myself out of the bad and into the good with affirmations and hopeful daydreams. Or maybe it is… I’ve no desire to drop a house on anyone else’s experiences. But for me, it feels more like delusional and irrational thinking than what I’ve already been accused of with my fear and pain.

Oh, it’s all so ridiculous, isn’t it!? The whole of life, and humanity, and the way we humans think and feel and act and live… The scenarios we find ourselves in very rarely ever make sense, even with the spiritual/psychobabble bullshit in the mix. NOTHING makes sense. I don’t think it was ever meant to… We think it does, we talk ourselves into believing that it does and that this fits with this and that fits with that…but it’s just a big, disillusioned blend of cause and effect, chain reactions, and a little bit of mystical enchantment here and there – signs and so forth. Do we talk ourselves into believing things or is what we see actually the way things are? I don’t know. I don’t know at all. I never have known, although I’ve tried to make myself believe I have in order to “remain sane.” That’s when they really began to call me crazy.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s crazy. I don’t think any of us are crazy. I don’t think religion or dogma or spirituality or science or any of it is crazy. I don’t necessarily think it makes any sense, either. And, I don’t have any idea what I believe or what I want to believe anymore. But what I do know is that if people are happy believing whatever they believe, let them believe it, because to be where I have been and where I remain, either being told not to believe in a fantasy or being told that what I do believe is ridiculous or being told that there’s nothing at all to believe in… It’s the worst place a person can ever be to believe in nothing at all and not to care…

I suppose that’s why this movie had the effect on me that it did – because I DO want to care. I don’t necessarily want to believe, or want to be told what to believe, or to search for what I believe…but I do want to feel, and to care. And that’s what is missing from this life-long feeler and lover and wonderer of life and all that’s in it. The only time I feel any of that anymore, really, is when I look into my son’s eyes, or when he holds my hand or hugs me, or cuddles under the covers with me watching movies at night… I am beginning to feel it a bit more out in nature again, which probably has a lot to do with the changing of the seasons and a new spark inside that always comes along for me as winter turns to spring…

I find myself at a loss for anymore words at this point this evening…except to say that these are definitely things that I want to continue observing and considering. All I know for sure is that I want to keep going, even if it’s just to prove to myself that I can do it.

2 thoughts on “Collateral Beauty

  1. My friend! WOW. What a journey you have been on. And I still don’t know the half of the story. But the way you describe healing and pain and sorrow, these words, as hard as they are to write and as raw as it feels to put them onto a page, are where you begin to heal. And with each post, with each book (because there will be books), with each poem, with each photo, you will bring another to tears – tears that say, “She GETS it! My god I didn’t think ANYONE could get it, but she does.” You’ll receive mail. You’ll still deal with asshats who don’t understand. Maybe that includes me.

    These days I don’t subscribe to much religious thought or pseudospirituality but one author I still read is Rob Bell, author of Love Wins, and two quotes I still love from him are:

    1.) The pain, the hardest experiences, the grief – that’s where all the stories are.
    and 2.) The greatest sermon in the world will always be, “Me too.”

    Ascribe what you will, but I believe your message – the one in the better times that says “We are the universe” and the ones pulled out of deep sadness – preach more to the world than most of what counts for self-help.

    You’re an inspiring human being Christy. And as small as these words may seem to make a dent, I’m a better person for having crossed paths with you. PLEASE do not stop writing. THIS is where you heal. Whatever that looks like, it happens here.

    Like

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