“The devil often poses as a family kind of guy.” ~ Marianne Williamson, The Healing of America
America’s jaw tightened and clenched. She ground her teeth.
Her neck and shoulders ached with incessant pain from carrying her heavy, heavy head filled with dread and worry.
Her breath shallowed, then quickened out of control, on the edge of a heart attack.
Rage became her. She even flipped off truth a time or two.
Like many women caught in and committed to a bad relationship, America’s lower self took center stage. She didn’t have the answers or know how to be her better self. She questioned her identity and flirted with denial, as we tend to do when stuck in relationships not yet done.
Then, he crossed the line, threatened violence, and came close to choking her. She had marks on her neck and would never forget that look in his eyes as he hurt her.
His justifications, rationalizations, and blaming her crashed like a floor full of broken glass. America picked up the pieces. She washed the steps he’d taken to find her.
She’d tried her best with him, but lost herself.
America made a new vow, to return to her more soulful, peaceful self. Exhausted from the chaos of a relationship gone awry, she decided within the fear, before she had the answers.
Like I did, when I determined to be done with my husband, but still, I shaved his back that one last time. Change called me before how answered.
America released the relationship, the tangle of truth and lies, the betrayal of time gone by, with her standing by his side. But how?
She knew a man named Joe, an old friend, someone she could trust in her unsteadiness.
As I did in 2011. Considering divorce and desperate to determine my direction, I escaped for 10 days in Arizona at my friend Joe’s resort-like home. Under blue skies and sitting poolside, I redrew my boundaries and excavated my values.
Joe fed me, asked good questions, and listened. He asked if I could give my husband more time to change. I’d given all I could and tried in all the ways I knew. Joe’s girlfriend said my husband would be devastated. She knew him well.
Still, I voted for myself, like America did.
One day, in a new year, America’s shoulders relaxed. Smiles spread, even behind masks. Protective forces gathered. Honor filled the air of America’s lungs. She breathed in safety and her whole body swallowed gratitude like an elixir.
Joe stayed consistent and that made all the difference. He did what he said he was going to do.
America knew her path forward wouldn’t be easy, but like me, she craved authenticity. So, willingness became her, engaged her.
Finding myself suddenly single after investing a decade in a marriage while wanting more, better, different, little things took on new meaning. I walked out of my 500-square-foot apartment in St. Paul, MN. Sunshine sparkled on the sidewalk where poetry was carved into the pavement, on purpose, like a love note from the universe.
Poetry kissed me when I walked the bridge between yesterday and tomorrow.
She kissed America, too—in a way only poetry can do. This time, it wasn’t words on sidewalks. This time, sunshine spilled on the face of the future. America glowed as Amanda Gorman became her new best friend.
Listening to Amanda’s words, America thought: Justice. Just us. We, the people.
Fear descended from her head and heart, down from the frantic fibers of a frayed nervous system, through her blood and bones, confused cells and misaligned structure. Down, down, through America’s belly, hips, legs, and feet, fear fell into the hallowed ground beneath her.
America’s shoulders drew back, her heart forward, and her head high. Unexplainable giddiness coursed through her veins.
Nothing appeared the same, as if she’d awoken from a bad dream. She accepted the call to do hard things.
America still wasn’t sure how, but now, finally, willingness stirred within her. Like me, after years of struggle, America looked in the mirror and got greeted by her own beauty.
That night, she attended a party with people she appreciated: Joe and Kamala, Bill, George, and Barack. Tom Hanks held her hand. Jon Bon Jovi and J.T. serenaded her.
America felt held. She felt safe. She felt happy. And the fireworks! LIT HER UP!
For the first time in a long time, America felt free, beautiful, and ready to begin again. Like she’d been waiting to exhale.
That night, America dreamed.