1a.m., the ceiling fan spins until I am nauseous.
4a.m., I’m uncrossing my legs and leaning back, pressing a red cheek against a cold tile.
Because 1:45a.m. was for splashing cold water on my face. 2:00 found me gripping porcelain. 2:53 found me back in bed, pressing my thighs against the mattress to stop the shaking.
After that first night, it happened just like sleep walking.
Then when the 1a.m.s stopped coming, the sleep walking feeling didn’t.
August 2014 taught me about being wrong, about walls and climbing them and falling from the top of them, about coincidence over “meant to be,” about people being wrong about me.
September taught me about anger and silence and isolation, about secrets, about second chances and how sometimes they are just given to us for closure.
October taught me about family and how money and water are thicker than blood, about loneliness and quitting, about trying to take control of my own thoughts.
November taught me nothing short of how dangerous it is to feel nothing at all.
December taught me about trying to forget and what it takes to mean it.
Then it was 2015, and January taught me about what it feels like when you stop avoiding, stop prolonging the pain.
It was like when I discovered that I could be wrong, I kept waiting for the moment where I would finally be wrong about all the bad.
June 2015 reminded me of all the times I should’ve stayed.
I was writing to 60k people, telling them that I believed in them, remembering how the boy who lives off of tenth street used to tell me how much he believed in me– how he was the first person to tell me he believed in me.
I thought about the weight of those words, how I had forgotten them; I thought about how much I didn’t think about the boy with the blue eyes, how I had forgotten him; and I thought of how much I hadn’t wondered about God, how I had forgotten Him.
Then I cried to remember all the things I had forgotten, cried because I had tried so hard to forget– cried because I wondered why.
Yes, June taught me how important it is to never make yourself forget.
Forgetting does terrible things to a person.
And then I thanked God for His good memory.
And I swear that there are times Tech tower shines a light on all of the ghosts I tried to shoo off.
I stopped counting my blessings and started counting the red lights on tenth street.
I stopped counting sheep and started counting mistakes.
I remember florescent yellow lights of a hospital waiting room, and I can’t forget the words I didn’t say.
I remember the hospital waiting room I didn’t make it to.
I can’t forget the funeral I never made it to.
I can’t forget the dream job I walked away from because I didn’t believe the words I was shouting for myself.
I remember all the hearts I pulled close in hopes that it would push away all the pain.
Waking up every day just to taste all of the words I never said still sitting in my mouth, swallowed down by my own passiveness.
Never thinking too much about God, because thinking too much hurt my head and my heart– because if God was good, and I couldn’t prove it, then I had no right to speak of Him or to Him.
So, I forgot.
I put Him in a box and made him exist for me when it should’ve been the other way around.
And God, how I wished I could get back to the girl who talked to Him all the time–about the song on the radio or the weird dream she had the night before–instead of the girl who talked to Him all the time just to ask Him why He works the way He does.
Then a boy sat on the floor of my room and asked me why I had stopped letting myself think about God, and I had to tell him about how this cynical heart lost its wonder and just started demanding explanations.
This past month, I did something I never do: I went to the local movie theater–alone–bought a single ticket, and saw a movie by myself.
I wish so badly–after this four month hiatus of not being able to write down any good truth–I wish that I could tell you that I held my head high, that I laughed and enjoyed every moment of what was happening on the screen, that I spoke to strangers and made friends with the people who sat on my row.
That would be a good comeback.
That would be something worth reading.
But I can’t say any of those things.
Because the honest truth is that I couldn’t stop tapping my fingers; I couldn’t stop thumping my foot; I couldn’t stop chewing my lips. I was anxious the entire time.
And you know what? I made myself sit in that anxiety. I made myself stay.
When I walked out of the theater alone, I sat in my car for a few minutes.
You see, those 1a.m. wake up calls might have gone away, but I got that same feeling every time I sat down in front of a computer screen.
For the first few weeks, I thought maybe it was because I didn’t want to go there, to that place of deep thought where I felt the lessons God was trying to teach me.
But then I sat in a theater alone, sat in that anxiety until I hit a wall.
You see, I’ve been terrified that if I sat down to write, I wouldn’t have anything to say if I wasn’t writing about the boy who lives off of tenth street or the boy with blue eyes.
Do you wanna know what 2015 taught me?
2015 taught me about mistakes and letting go of them.
2015 taught me that I’ve got more to say than just lessons I learned the hard way.
That I’m more than mistakes.
The truth about me?
Sometimes, I want to work at the shack on the outskirts of town selling locally made soap instead of living a life worth writing about.
Sometimes, I want to get lost in a crowd of faces who don’t know my name in some city I’ve only been to once or twice, and sometimes I sit in my car at the gas station just an few minutes longer, smiling about the greasy old men in the parking lot saying hi to each other on their way to work.
Sometimes, I want the boy who broke my heart, and sometimes I beg God for a man I can worship next to the way I stand in worship with these sweet friends He’s brought into my life.
Sometimes, I sit in coffee shops looking at people who are sitting by themselves, wondering if they are happy, and sometimes I sit in coffee shops wondering if I’m happy.
I am learning, I am growing, I am seeing, I am trying to understand; I am failing, I am falling, I am searching, I am asking; I am deciding, I am changing my mind, I am speaking, I am listening– I am choosing, and always choosing.
For the entire year of 2015, I have been obsessed with the Prodigal Son story in Scripture; the relationship between father and son, the way it is reiterated in different ways throughout the rest of the New Testament.
As December comes to quick close, I breathe more than I replay memories in my head. I slow down, and I make sure to sit in moments long enough to remember them. And I think my favorite part about the Prodigal Son story (as of late) is the fact that, when the son asked his father for his inheritance so he could leave– his father gave it to him. He gave it to him, watched him walk away from his love and his company, waited for him to come home, and welcomed him in.
Far too often I’ve found myself asking for my inheritance so I can go it alone.
And far too often, I’ve let my leaving keep me from coming back– start making lists and excuses as to why there won’t be room for me at His table anymore.
But there is room at His table. He never cleared my spot away. In fact, He’s waiting to throw that big feast for me.
2016: enjoying the feast at His table, thanking Him for never forgetting me.
And a whole lot of being brave about the things I’ve got to say.