When did it get so fucking hot? I thought anxiously, praying to god the sweat beads accumulating on my upper lip weren’t as noticeable as they felt.
I was severely under-dressed when compared to the overall fanciness of this shindig and severely overdressed for the suddenly scorching late-spring Michigan weather. My outfit consisted of black leggings, cheap brown calf-high boots, a faux-suede camel-colored jumper, and a long black cardigan. It was about 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky (nothing to see here, folks! Just a 25 year old dressed like a shabby Nanook of the North in blistering heat). I was dreadfully hungover. The outfit I chose was the best I could do…an ensemble I believed adequately covered up the bloat and excess weight I’d been gaining and attempting to hide for five or six years (p.s. mission failed). At that time, I didn’t own a breezy cocktail dress – not one that fit, anyway. I looked haggard.
To say I wanted to crawl under a table and die would be inaccurate, as that would have meant remaining at this ritzy bridal shower – replete with a champagne bar and sorority sisters with spray tans and sky-high heels. What I wanted was to simply and immediately cease to exist. Ann, the bride-to-be, stood welcoming guests in a lacy white shape-hugging summer dress – her smile boasting serious wattage from a hundred yards away.
I don’t belong here…I don’t belong here…I don’t belong here.
Hell on earth is sitting in a room full of beautiful strangers, feeling as bad about yourself as humanly possible, shaking internally with hatred for all that you are – including your inability to strike up a conversation or even pretend to be somewhat comfortable.
When did I become this person?
After enduring about an hour of said-hell and before the ceremonial opening of the gifts, I pulled Ann aside. I made up some bullshit lie about why I needed to take off early. She was gracious and I gave her a hug and rushed out of the banquet room as fast as my stubby, sweaty, hungover legs would carry me.
Ann’s bridal shower was a low unlike any other I’d experienced…and there were plenty of lows available for comparison. This one felt different. It was as though someone had taken all of my most cutting insecurities and charged me the price of a registry gift in order to witness them live and in color.
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”¹
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”
((slowly raises one eyelid to see if I’m out of this goddamn space yet))
As Holly² so eloquently stated in a recent Instagram post, “If you need to find me I’m swimming in the ass-crack of this statement. If you’re there too I’ll find you. xo”
And so here I am along with Holly and probably a few billion other humans…somewhere between ‘no longer’ (praise God) and ‘not yet’ (please God).
I wrote something in July 2016 ruminating on the first 18 months of being single (though it could have been written at literally any point in the preceding months or years). It reads:
If someone told me 18 months ago, immediately after my breakup, that I’d still be living in Grand Blanc, still working in financial planning, and still struggling to stick with so many goals…I would have probably found the closest, tallest, building and flung myself from the roof.
A few months ago I realized the first part of my recovery was rooted in this very thing – the thing I spent forever loathing. A lack of change in the primary pillars of my life was necessary. It was always going to have to happen this way – same town, same job, same small circle of people. In order to begin recovering, I needed to make peace with all of it exactly as it stood. It was grueling, beautiful work. Cliché as it sounds, when I began finding ways to love these facets of my life (geography, occupation, money, body, etc.), I no longer fought against the current or cried out for change.
I was so thrilled to be ‘no longer’ (a mess, a drunk, a smoker, an embarrassment, actively dying, heartbroken, lost etc.) that I didn’t even care about the ‘not yet.’
But then my humanness started poking through the grounds of my newly manicured existence.
It’s not enough. What’s next, B? How can you improve? Where’s the progress? Fuck the ‘space between no longer and not yet’…get there, already. And by the way, where is ‘there’? What’s the plan?
Humanness. That conniving prick.
I am no longer:
- Actively killing my body via alcohol and cigarettes and fast food
- Afraid of myself or my actions or my potential to hurt people
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- A stranger to my family
- Unhappy and unfulfilled in my work
- Self-conscious in a bathing suit
- Looking for another person, place, or thing to complete me
- Incapable of sitting alone with my thoughts
- Holding on or romanticizing past relationships
- Willing to set myself on fire to keep other people warm
I am not yet:
- Able to maintain balance as it relates to food (all of the donuts or none of the donuts, amiright?)
- Someone who meditates
- Out of debt
- Great at cultivating female friendships
- Able to utilize social media without one thousand percent believing everyone else has a more exciting, more beautiful, more put-together life than I do and then feeling bad about my life in comparison
- Comfortable or outgoing around new people
- Proficient in the art of saying no
- In a place where I can see myself committing to another person, getting married, buying a home, having children, or choosing a graduate degree
I am still in the space between no longer and not yet. I suspect we all live here forever, to one degree or another. I’ll die here, too. There will always be something on the horizon worth sowing the earth beneath my feet…worth the work to get there. Even when ‘not yet’ feels urgent and terrifying and like I’m losing the game of life, somehow. All that I need will come to me at exactly the right time.
On Sunday I attended a bridal shower – the first I’ve attended since that agonizing spring day in 2016. (Given the nerves I experienced while driving to the event you’d think I have PTSD where bridal showers are concerned.)
It was far from perfect. I clammed up at times and stumbled over my words when girls I used to know or knew-of from years gone by asked questions about my life now. I wasn’t the life of the party or even all that great at carrying on a simple conversation.
I sent the following text message to my partner, “I am nervous and awkward and this is hard for me. But I’m here and sober and doing it.”
And that, I suppose, is what it means to honor the space between no longer and not yet.