God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. –Reinhold Niebuhr
the scene: a church basement, a hundred addicts holding hands, and me, who doesn’t really need to be here, who doesn’t really need anything,
and you, who definitely isn’t here, you, who called me damaged, who used to call me, who is maybe just a ice cream truck lullaby summer daydream, you, who helped me make a god out of being seventeen,
me, who is maybe just constantly screaming, me, who doesn’t really need to be here, who doesn’t really need to be here, who doesn’t really need anything
You and all the things you meant to me, the sweaters I gave back to you or I would still wear them every time I sleep, this homesick domestic image of bliss, your family, and steadiness, and You Don’t Know How To Drink, your backyard, your car, your rock and roll, your Blink, your bedroom, your walls, your smile, your sex, your heartbeat, your calls, your hands around my neck, your hold, your grip, the hours in your bed -
where the pieces meet, where knees beat together, humming nervous rhapsody over an old melody where somebody only plays the black keys -
this right here is where I ask you to remember me. sunlight streaming in, your face peering up at me, a mouth that wept “I am so fucking in love with you” and for once it was meant, and even though I medicate so it is not just these memories and me I have to ask you to please, please remember me with my hair still blonde, grinning in your room, alone with my guard down, because I know am walls a hundred feet steep and canyons twice as deep but I don’t need to be in this room with these people because I wouldn’t drink if you called me (if you’re reading this it’s because you help me breathe).
when you think of me, think of me tenderly, with the trees in the back and a nice summer breeze, and if you want to forget then by all means forget please, but just know that I still can’t sleep without you next to me.
I took a day trip to hell to see if I could take the heat. the devil gave me a bottle of water and said stay but you were right, it really doesn’t taste that sweet.
Amy died last year. I want to tell her, Look. I want to tell her
Today is a good day to focus on self-care. I don’t mean manicures and massages, I mean emotional self-care. Sometimes we let ourselves go too long without checking in to see how we are doing. I’m guilty of that. I’ve been squashing the voice inside me that has been asking for a break, a pause or a change in my emotional environment for a while now.
So, here’s my morning thought: I woke up thinking about acceptance. (Accepting what is and what isn’t) Having the strength to change what you can, accept what you can’t and having the wisdom to know the difference means everything in the pursuit of happiness. (Hello, Serenity Prayer!)
Today I will remember who I am and how hard I’ve worked to accept myself… flaws and all.
I will remember that no one sets my value but me, and not accept the unkind words of another as truth.
There it is. My self-care pep talk from me to me☺️
Wisdom. For a very long time I thought I was wise. Although I have long been pretty intelligent and a willing and able learner, often times I have used whatever knowledge I possess in the completely wrong manner. When I wasn’t being a wise ass - cutting people down with sarcasm - I was too often arrogant, a know-it-all. I can see that both of those were ways in which I tried to shield myself from being known - repelling others with my barbs and putting up a protective shell with my so-called smarts. All of that “wisdom” was a front, a bunch of information that I held out at arms length to keep me away. So how do I see wisdom now? I see it in the bravery of others who have been knocked down by life - as we all are inevitably - and who have stood tall again and shared with others how they got back up. I see it in the open, compassionate and genuine spirits of people who tell the truth, no matter what. I see that wisdom never did come from what you hold in your brain. Wisdom is the heart, is of the heart, it takes the shape so often symbolized by the heart - love.
To know. How do I know this? How could I? There has not been a quiz yet, but there are many tests. Every day I get to make decisions about what I think I can change about my life and what is out of my control. I am quite often wrong. More and more I realize that ratio is not what I thought it was. And as I see how much of life is beyond the influence of my will, I keep learning, keep knowing just a bit more. The knowledge has come laced with pain on many occasions over the past year or two for me. Though quick in their delivery, absorption aided by jagged feelings, the settling of those bits of wisdom has at times been buffered by my stubborn denial. Denial that I cannot fix it, that I cannot change other people. But as I surrender to the notion that the scope of my influence stops somewhere just beyond my nose, I allow myself to know.
The difference. As the singer/songwriter Erin McKeown writes in her beautiful ballad “Proof”:
What is God? What is truth? There’s no proof.
If I am asking God to grant me serenity with what I cannot change and courage to push through what I can, then I probably ought to ask for help figuring out the difference. That wisdom isn’t something I make up. It may come from other people, but I believe the truth they speak is being presented to me only when I’m ready to hear it and it’s sponsored by “a power greater than ourselves”. There is no proof for that. And I don’t need any. Not anymore. I only need to trust that I will know the difference, that God will help me discern it, that the truth is waiting for me.
So I say the prayer. Every day. (Speaking of that, check out Erin’s song Manifestra, too. It’s fantastic.) It gives me “the strength of a thousand beams”. It carries me, lifts me and holds me. It helps me trust. It helps me find center. It reminds me what is good, what is truth. It helps me deconstruct myself and find the best parts, the ones worth holding up to the light and growing from.
I often find myself reciting the serenity prayer in my head:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
I’m not a very religious person, but something about reciting this prayer grounds me. Especially the last part, the wisdom to know the difference. Recently, I made a very bad decision, and I’ve been blaming myself for not knowing myself well enough to protect myself…for not knowing the difference. For leaping into a situation where I should’ve had enough wisdom to run the other way. At 27, I still haven’t completely figured myself out, I’m still learning what makes me tick.
What I do know is that’s okay. Life is for learning, and at 27 I shouldn’t have all of life’s answers. That my mistakes will give me the strength to make the right choices in the future. That courage shows its true colors when faced with adversity. And that wisdom develops over time.